This General Election has become a by-election opportunity for a protest vote
To mark tonight’s Sky News Debate, Sky News projected the faces of the main party leaders - Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg - onto the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, echoing the famous American landmark Mount Rushmore. The Sky News Debate will be shown live on Sky channel 501 and, in high definition, on 517 tonight from 8pm.
The incongruity, of course, is that the colossi at Mount Rushmore are made up of the United States’ modern political greats: the postmodern shadows projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover are but reflections of mediocrity.
When David Cameron decided to run with the ‘change’ agenda, he could have had no idea that the people would take him quite literally so extremely: the pendulum swing should have been between red and blue; the resulting purple would have been a temporary infusion as the nation watched dozens of seats vote Cameron.
But yellow has entered the mix, and the murky grey is making an indelible stain.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise.
When every party decides to focus on the ‘middle ground’, preaching banal and generic identical mantras of ‘change’ and ‘fairness’ in the ‘future’; offering almost identical programmes for government; focusing more on the personality of postmodernity than the philosophy of modern political philosophy, it ought to come as no surprise that the electorate fancies all three slices of the cake in almost identical 30% portions.
What is there between New Labour and the Liberal Democrats? What divides the Liberal Democrats from Cameron’s liberal Conservatives?
Sure, the anoraks know: the ‘Westminster bubble’; the journalists, the bloggers, the politicos; those who hear the nuances of philosophy and can see the subtle shades of policy. But the majority of the electorate taste the flavours in the wind; they are blind and deaf to neo-classical economics, hundreds of billions of debt and the issue of European Union. Their antennae are attuned to personal taxation, education, health and the integrity and authenticity of the leader.
And so, after years of being fleeced by corrupt MPs, after the expenses scandal, after debasing the nation’s politics, it looks as though the 65 year-old Conservative-Labour hegemony of vested interests and a ruling élite is over.
The people are having an almost-glorious revolution as they cry a plague on all their houses in roughly equal proportions: 34%-30%-29%.
The lack of a decisive majority might push the UK into a Greek-style fiscal maelstrom, but voters are too disillusioned to care. The more anti-politics the message is, the more attractive it sounds. The more liberating from the status quo a message sounds, the more inspiring it seems.
In the mind’s eye.
Which can be more easily deceived; confused by illusions and fooled by the ghosts of imagined experience.
To want to treat this General Election as a by-election opportunity to cast a protest vote is understandable. But when the people wake up to the reality, they will yearn for the era when politics was about ideas and philosophy was debated.