I love elections. I realize that a sober Marxist analysis shows that they are not the be all and end all of democracy. Not even close. But I can’t help myself pouring over polls, looking at little coloured maps, and staying up late for the results with Jon Snow and the swing-ometer.
As a kid I remember being taken by my parents to the polling station at the community centre and waiting whilst they did something incredibly important and grown up. And the thrill of voting for the first time in the disastrous 1983 ‘Falklands’ election. When there was still a proper Labour Party I was an assistant agent for some local council elections and got involved with the archaic business of tellers taking polling numbers, crossing off names on ‘Mikado pads’, knocking up voters and going to the count. And of course canvassing – strangely I enjoyed canvassing. Particularly campaigns when the candidate actually stood for something. Johnny Bryan in Bermondsey – Lesley Mahmood in Liverpool Walton. Dave Nellist in Coventry South East. I got around a bit.
In the (New) Labour stronghold where I now live there is precious little evidence of an election. at the moment. Despite the recession and the current political crisis there has been no canvassing or even leafleting – except for my own rather pathetic contribution to the No2EU campaign. In fact depressingly the most visible evidence of the election is the number of prominent posters for the “Christian Party’.
I voted early today; and at 7.15am the polling station was pretty busy – hopefully that’s a sign of something.
There are no prizes for predicting that there will be a significant protest vote today. Scanning the ridiculously long scroll of a ballot paper I couldn’t help reflecting, again, that No2EU is not a good name. Given that research shows that a disturbing number of protest voters will make their decision on the spot in the voting booth, I worry that a lot of genuine people will end up wasting their votes on the Socialist Labour Party (Scargill egoist-fan club) or the Socialist Party of Great Britain (simply bonkers). So if anyone is reading this and is still in any doubt, go and have a look at No2EU now …