Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Crash and Burn

As the election campaign enters its final weekend - a bank holiday weekend no less - it is not surprising that the news headline this morning is a non-story about how Gordon Brown would like MPs to decide all future wars. Hardly a campaign pledge likely to win any votes.

It seems to me that interest in the General Election is now dying away. An unscientific analysis of my visitor logs shows pretty clearly that hits have been on a gentle decline since April 19th, when for some reason excitement hit its peak. Despite the Iraq rumblings returning, the electorate is still not charged up about this campaign. Indeed, it's possibly fair to argue that they may have been when it started, but are now utterly fed up.

Imagine if we had the USA system. This country probably couldn't stand two year election campaigns. Hardly surprising that turnout hits such lows over there.

But when you look at it, is it really surprising that this campaign is going to be remembered as one of the dullest? Why have the Tories, who started the campaign with immigration and asylum, come back to it for the closing days? I thought they wanted to demonstrate they weren't obsessed by it. Meanwhile, Howard has took a pasting for his views that "regime change plus" would have been a good basis for invading Iraq. His statements on Question Time actually make him more gung-ho than Tony Blair, now I look at it again.

The newspapers, however, seems to be revelling that at last the debate has turned to health. They are pleased that a real issue has emerged. They would say that, of course; they need something to fill their column inches after all. Actually, apart from MRSA - which is hardly a political issue - and now the GP 48 hour thing, the discussion on health has been extremely narrow. It is probably uninteresting to most people. Every time the three representatives of health issues from the main parties appear on TV, I find it incredibly difficult to see the difference. You couldn't fit a cigarette paper between all three parties stances on the NHS. Once more, it is unsurprising why this campaign has been so dull. No one is interested in talking about the future of NHS funding. There is no honest debate.

Thus, in the absence of anything more interesting it was inevitable that someone would end up doing a study about which politicians are the most attractive. That someone being the BBC. Even they are struggling to keep people engaged.

Before the election was called, I was predicting one of the lowest turnouts in history. I thought it would go below last time's low of 59%. On reflection, I believe this could be wrong. I have been mildly surprised about the amount of people who are politically motivated this time, and so I'm predicting a similar level, or perhaps just above at around 63%. But it's still a travesty that most people will not vote than vote for the winning party.

I also predicted that this election was gearing up to be the worst ever. It's not nice to be vindicated on such cynical statements.


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