This morning, I declared that I don’t understand why political parties campaign the day before polling day. Everybody has already made their mind up, so what’s the point? They’re only talking to the decided masses after all.
No sooner had the words left my mouth did a sinking feeling embrace my whole body, a heavy weight that’s still there now. Because I realised that I am one of those voters. Because, despite spending the last few days editing the most wonderful articles about who our writers are voting for, I realised that I still have no idea who I’m voting for.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought I did. Early on, I dismissed Labour because, quite frankly, I can’t find it in myself to vote for a party that is currently being investigated by the EHRC. Labour’s anti-Semitism problem is well known, and something I don’t want to go over here. The issue itself is repulsive, and so is the party apparatus’s response to it.
I also dismissed voting Tory. Despite Johnson’s ‘promise’ to finally deliver Brexit, I can’t bring myself to vote for a party that has inflicted misery on this country. Austerity, the rise in food banks, a callous approach from the DWP, the NHS at breaking point – all under Tory rule. Vote Tory? I’d rather poke pins into my eyes.
Eventually, I settled on voting for the Yorkshire Party. The Yorkshire Party spoke to me because of their commitment to pushing for Brexit, their commitment to local democracy, their commitment to pushing for Northern infrastructure investment that has long been neglected under Tory and Labour rule.
But, well, something doesn’t feel right. In fact, nothing feels right at the minute. Our political system is imploding all around us, as the Liberal Democrats neglect the ‘democrat’ part of their party name, and Labour neglect to remember that they should be for, and most importantly of, the working class.
That’s the problem, you know? There is not one political party operating today who can actually make a valid claim that they represent the needs and desires of the working class. Rather than accepting that the working class is constituted by autonomous individuals who can make their own decisions, parties defer to crude stereotype and paternalist rubbish.
Want to see Brexit done? You’ve been misled, my dear. Genuine desire to see crucial investment in infrastructure and health care? There’s no magic money tree! All this done under the illusion of parties saying they really do care about you if you’re working class, but only if you do as you’re told, and listen when some politician or other tells you what you really want.
Frankly, the political process has been seized by bourgeois illusions, dedicated to pushing bourgeois interests. With a wink and a nod, the political parties pretend to give with one hand, and then take with another. It’s sly, it’s discrete even, but Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems, are all guilty as charged.
I appreciate that I’m probably sounding like a crazed Marxist who’s biding his time until the revolution begins, and the opportunity to overthrow the bourgeoisie is presented. But I’m not. I’m angry, yes, but, overall, I’m disappointed.
It’s a difficult emotion, disappointment, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this. The political system has failed spectacularly, presenting us with an option between useless party 1, and useless party 2. More interested in catchy phrases, and launching an insult that will actually make a mark on the opposition, political parties have forgotten who they should be dedicated to: the people.
Of course, one option is spoiling my ballot. I’ve never done that before, never having felt the need, but it seems more attractive by the second. The best way to express disappointment, after all, is to refuse to give validation to anybody. A spoiled ballot is the ultimate expression of rage, the best way to say that you do not consent to being ruled by wolves in sheep clothing.
There it is again. The big, bad, but. The feeling deep down that tells me this isn’t enough, that a spoiled ballot will disappear into oblivion as soon as it hits the big black box that forms a staple of every polling station. As the new emperor is crowned on Friday morning, will they really care about how many spoiled ballots there were, how many people didn’t want them? Probably not.
As I write this piece, I have The Beautiful South blaring out of my speakers. Their upbeat music, underpinned by an almost melancholic tone, seem to hit the mark rather beautifully today, in a way that I wasn’t quite expecting. ‘Those birds will peck your soul out/And throw away the key’ is almost an exact description of the choice our country is faced with tomorrow.
At the end of the day, I know I will go to the polling station tomorrow. I will make a mark on my ballot paper. I will walk out knowing that I engaged with a democratic process denied to so many millions around the world. But in what capacity?
And there it is again. But.
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