Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Thoughts on Election Eve

Five years ago I wrote a blog on why I intended to vote Liberal Democrat. Well, I wish I could tell you to vote Liberal Democrat again. I was thoroughly impressed with their performance in this campaign and the debates. Many of their policies make sense to me, and it I believe is high time we addressed the thorny question of electoral reform. Nick Clegg has promised this and I wish him luck.

But here’s the Independent’s exceptional Johann Hari on the changes wrought by a Conservative council in West London. This is a story of a council that turfed an eight-month pregnant domestic abuse victim onto the streets, advising her to seek accommodation in the private sector after closing down vital homeless shelters that Labour set up. This is a story of a council that closed a century-old youth club facility that, under a Labour council dispensed CV advice and UCAS forms. Now the kids that used it are on the streets and, oh, here’s a thing, ASBOs are up! Crime is already up under the Tories and if they win the parliamentary election it will rise across the board.

Perhaps most tellingly, this is a story of a council that sold one of London’s most beautiful parks, where local kids played football, to a polo consortium that tore out local facilities and now shuts the park down every so often so that rich Tory yahoos from Eton and Harrow can come in and play a sport that nobody gives a toss about, and then piss off and drive their coupes around west London and get smashed on £200 cocktails in Mahiki!

Who needs a polo pitch in Hammersmith? Get in your bloody four-by-fours and drive to Windsor!

The Conservatives don’t want London to be a city where the rich and poor and local and immigrant live cheek by glorious, messy jowl. They want to force the rest of us out and hand our city over to toffs.

This nightmare vision – which is happening, today, in Hammersmith and Fulham, and Wandsworth, where I live, and other Tory-controlled councils – is what Dave ‘Botox’ Cameron has in store for us all.

The Conservatives have come at us claiming to have changed, claiming to have become the party of tolerance, but that mask of tolerance has not just slipped, it is on the ground in pieces and behind it is the same old, twisted, evil face that stomped on the miners, brought in Section 28 and the Poll Tax and privatised an improving railway system for a quick buck.

That face has taken in many. It’s taken in progressives; it’s taken in people who want to get back at Gordon Brown for being a tad socially awkward at times, or people who are still smarting over Iraq. It’s taken in people who have forgotten the amazing work Labour has done in the past 13 years to make this country brilliant.

That face speaks to a more sinister spectre than closed youth clubs or help for single mums. The Christian right is lurking behind Botox Dave; its candidates, one of whom was linked at the weekend to prayer centres purporting to ‘cure’ gay people, are standing in this election and taking out injunctions to stop our media asking them tough questions.

I can't stand to see the Christian right gain leverage over British politics; even with Barack Obama in the White House their influence still looms large over American politics.

If Cameron gets in, better not be young or gay or disabled, better not be a low-earner, better not get pregnant, or be a victim of domestic abuse. Better not drive while Muslim, or walk down the street while black. You’ll get nothing from them.

If Cameron gets in, kiss bye-bye to the progressive agenda for the next five years, and maybe more for, as Jonathan Friedland wrote in this morning’s Guardian, they will get to work on gerrymandering the country to reduce the number of MPs at Westminster – a stated policy and one you can bet they will follow up – and shore-up a Conservative majority for the next election.

This naked political cynicism scares me silly. In the last few weeks, the Conservatives have laid into people like me and other left-leaning progressives for trying to scare people off them with negative campaigning. But with their attack ads plastered over London they sure can teach us a thing or two about negative campaigning. Talk to the hand, Tory boys. I’m done listening to your apologists.

So here’s my negative campaign. Unless you are rich, white and straight you should be damn scared of a Conservative majority. You should be scared out of your mind.

This is why the only possible choice for me tomorrow is Labour, and if you value what this country has become, fairer, safer and more tolerant, then I believe the only choice for you is Labour.

If, like me, and the majority of Britons who supported a centre-left, progressive agenda in the 2005 election, you’re proud to live in a country that is politically correct, then the only choice is Labour.

If, like me, you have the guts to forgive boobs like Iraq, identity cards and the risible Digital Economy Act, then the only choice is Labour.

Yes, we’ve got problems, but I would prefer 10 more years of Gordon Brown than 10 minutes of David Cameron.

Please vote tomorrow and keep this country on the right track.