“Strong, stable leadership”, confirms May

“For the avoidance of doubt, strong, stable leadership”, continued the prime minister. “And if you’re unsure what I mean by that, I mean strong, stable leadership.”

And so it continues. On and on and on. What about the NHS? Strong, stable leadership. Brexit? Strong, stable leadership. What are you having for lunch? Strong, stable leadership. Anything else to add – any policies or stuff like that? Strong, stable leadership.

It’s unclear whether May is following a grand strategy or has simply suffered a stroke, but even by political standards this is getting a bit much. Slogans and soundbites are part and parcel of elections, but there’s a point where ‘message discipline’ starts to look quite a lot like bullshitting. We’re yet to hear anything of substance about what this actually means, as May and her MPs are too busy deflecting questions with this inane, meaningless line.

More than that, it’s actively damaging for people trying to make an informed choice on who to vote for. It’s hard to form opinions on who’s better-placed to take the country forward when the incumbent leader has morphed into Hodor from Game of Thrones.

“Strong, stable leadership”

Labour aren’t exactly succinct in summing up their positions, but at least they have them and try to discuss them, the commie bastards. The Lib Dems are crystal clear on theirs, they just happen to also, fatally, be the Lib Dems. Even UKIP have ‘policies’, sort of, in a kind of ‘shouty drunk family member everyone avoids’ sort of way. But the Tories? Strong, stable leadership.

To combat this in my own increasingly tortured mind, I’ve taught myself a sort of Pavlovian response. Every time I hear ‘strong and stable leadership’, I immediately think ‘Hodor!’, which I figure is equally meaningful. Give it a go. It’s oddly calming.

 

Hodor!

Voters caught between rock, hard place, various pointy objects, and large turd

And that’s exactly where Theresa May wants them.

“Mock my red, white and blue Brexit will you? Fine, but don’t be upset when I CRUSH you”, the Prime Minister probably didn’t say.

But possibly did.

So here we are then. Who do you pick from this cornucopia of idols, this raft of gods made human? Which of the deities on offer shall we humble Brits choose to part the waves of the Channel and give that there Europe what for? In case you’re in any doubt about the runners and riders, here is a quick summary:

  1. Theresa ‘fuck you all’ May – Champion of Tory ‘Battle Royale’ 2016. Victorious through a combination of backstabbing and Andrea Leadsom. Would stab own mother in back for small piece of cheese.
  2. Jeremy ‘fuck all chance’ Corbyn – Principled man with number of well considered policies. Gives balanced answers. As a result, will get annihilated.
  3. Tim ‘who the fuck’ Farron – Your guess as good as mine
  4. Paul ‘fuck off’ Nuttall – Fuck off. Only included him to say fuck off. Fuck off.

However will we pick from such a bountiful harvest? Christ, it makes Sophie’s Choice look easy.

Right, that’s the sweary bit over. Let’s try and extract something useful out of this farce.

On the plus side, this is funny

The reaction to the snap election – presumably called because we don’t have anything more pressing that we ought to concentrate on – has been interesting. If May has achieved nothing else, she has at least succeeded in at last uniting the country, albeit only in a long, weary, apathetic collective groan.

 

One of the biggest dangers of this election could be apathy. It feels like people are tired of politics, of the bickering, the infighting, the lies, the bullshit. I certainly am. A lot of people won’t want to vote for May and her band of Brexiteers’ vision of a future Britain. At the same time, people aren’t exactly going to be rushing to the polls to vote Labour or Lib Dem. We’re sorely lacking in politicians to get behind, politicians to trust and follow. The sentiment of ‘what’s the point, nothing changes, they’re all the same’ feels increasingly commonplace, and is understandable.

That said, I think it’s misplaced. Things do change. Political parties aren’t the same. Votes matter, and who you vote for matters too.

Think back to 2010, when the Tories came to power. Ever heard of a food bank in 2010? Nobody had, because they barely existed. The Trussell Trust gave out 40,000 emergency food supplies that year. By last year, they were giving out in excess of 1,100,000 – an almost 30-fold increase in just 7 years.

Homelessness? Doubled since 2010. Homelessness funding? Halved since 2010.

Can’t get a doctor’s appointment? This government has strangled spending increases in the NHS at an unprecedented rate.

Everywhere you look, public services have been cut for the most vulnerable. People we should value in society – teachers, doctors – are constantly asked to perform the impossible and consistently improve provision on less and less money. Who gets the blame when they can’t pull that rabbit from the non-existent hat? Certainly ain’t the government.

Have the Tories managed to cut the deficit as they promised? Have they fuck. It’s accelerated at a prodigious rate.

People have never felt poorer. More families are in poverty than ever. We’re a meaner, pettier, more hateful society than I can ever recall. We are big on rights and small on responsibilities. We rely on charity to do what the state ought to.

We kiss the arses of the worst men in the world because they might buy some guns off us. Our PM holds hands with the World’s Greatest Dickhead in the hope they’ll trade with us. British values? Please.

But don’t worry, the economy is in good shape. Record numbers of people can’t feed their kids, but hey ho, that’s just the market for you.

All the while, we’ve been merrily letting the richest off their taxes, and letting the most powerful corporations pay barely any tax at all. Given that tax is where the money for those doctors, teachers and other non-essentials comes from, this seems like an oversight at best.

And let’s not even get started on Brexit. What started as an attempt to quell an entirely Tory argument has led the country into a hilarious shitstorm the likes of which may of us have never known. No Tories, no Brexit. Simples.

So it’s wrong to think that votes don’t matter. It’s wrong to think that nothing changes whoever you vote for. Things change, massively – they just don’t change overnight. Now I’m not suggesting that a vote the other way would lead to a glorious Utopia whre we all hold hands and sing songs – but there is a lot in the above that simply would not have happened with a Lib/Lab government. Sure, there would have been other problems, undoubtedly – but I can’t see how we would be in quite such a mess with any other party.

The Labour/Lib Dem options are hardly appealing. But they’re better than what we’ve got at the moment, they could hardly be more damaging. So much as I would like to sit this election out, eating tiramisu with a long spoon, I’m going to vote for one of them. I don’t even mind which – just whoever is stronger in my own constituency. And it will be a wholly joyless experience.

Yay, democracy!