Several years ago, I seriously considered standing as an independent in the local elections. I had become so incensed by useless councillors, ridiculous bureaucracy and pretty blatant corruption - councillors getting their own streets resurfaced ahead of far more deserving roads (which didn't have councillors or friends of councillors living on them, like council estates, etc.) and bizarre little quirks and by-laws being introduced purely to pander to a few people and to piss off the many. Local politics might be different from central government politics, but the same small, petty minded, bigoted, career politicians inhabit the spaces.
However, one night, as I was sitting at this very desk, planning a winning strategy having just returned from a fruitful meeting with old pal and former MP Tony Clarke, I came to the conclusion that I was barking mad. Well, no, I actually came to the conclusion that I wasn't the person to be doing this...
I got this mate and for the sake of his identity we'll skirt around key issues, but he was a colleague of mine who was probably the best person at his job and the reason for this was because he was the only person on that specific team who had been in the same ship which we were now helping certain people to steady. Our clients could relate to him because he had literally been there, done it and bought and worn out the T-shirt. He was quite brilliant at his job and many of us were envious of him. He is also a very political person - a union man and a life-long Labour supporter, but if he ever considered standing for council he would be crucified by his opponents and all because he has a criminal record.
The most qualified person standing for the recent Police Commissioner posts also had a criminal conviction when he was a teenager. I personally thought this made him closer to the hub than the weird looking alien guy who got the job.
Now, I haven't got a criminal record. In fact, I no longer even have any penalty points on my licence (touches wood) and I am an, allegedly, upstanding citizen - even if I am dole-scrounging scum at this moment in time. But, I have some skeletons in my closet that would, if I ever considered standing for office, bite me on the arse and take big chunks. I mean, yes, Bill Clinton got elected President even though he tried pot when he was in Oxford - he didn't inhale. I did. A lot. I even, gulp, sold a bit of it during the darkest days of Thatcher's rule because I needed something to brighten up a future as bright as a very long unlit tunnel. That admission alone could probably get me a visit from the Old Bill and couple that with all the blogs I've written over the years that contain language that would make a Merchant Seaman blush. Then of course there's the embezzlement, frauds, adultery, murders and genocide I've either performed or played a part in, these would all make great newspaper headlines (if they were true...) Let's face it, simply admitting I took drugs for a few years is going to alienate me from a huge percentage of the voting public.
I actually think, going back to this Police Commissioner thing that I was the best qualified of all the candidates and I didn't stand for it. My age is good. I spent many years working as a 'journalist', I then went into social care and spent 6 years as a valuable and innovative employee of the Youth Offending Service - I actually had more general experience than any of the candidates (apart from the one who dropped out), but you know, the baldy guy who won would have found out I used to puff away on spliffs in my early 20s and the Chronicle & Echo would have had mock ups of me with dreads and a big reefer hanging from my slack jaw...
And that's why, I decided, that politics and me should co-exist rather than become symbiotic. I know I can't do much from the sidelines, but at least I still have my voice.
Yet, I wonder if I have some kind of unique view of the world that is somehow being overlooked by others. This morning, the news featured a story that essentially charted the rise and rise of Food Banks and the fact that there has been a ½ million increase in people needing to use them, in the last year. Does that make you feel good? Because it makes me think that covertly, we're royally butt-fucking the poor and disadvantaged and the only people that care have no power at all to change it or even get 2 minutes of serious media time to highlight the plight. Admittedly the BBC treated it like a news story, but I cannot believe the social implications of this hasn't sparked more reaction. I am a great believer in the UK sending aid to other countries - what a lot of people don't realise is that the more aid we send to third world countries, the better deal we get with our debt repayments. So, instead of paying say 5% interest, we pay proportionately less because of the help we give to other countries - so all of you people who can't understand why we do it, there's the simple economics of it. However, when we have people in this country who are literally begging (or the 21st century equivalent of it) for food, you have to ask whether something, somewhere has gone wrong.
How can we as human beings, with some semblance of conscience, allow this to happen in 2013? The government claims that there are benefit provisions to cater for these people (if you'll excuse the pun), but if its there, how come no one is using it? How come no one knows about it? Why are people getting referred to food banks by Job Centres if there is a provision in benefits to prevent this from happening that job centre employees could tell them about rather than refer them to a food bank? Some faceless government twat said the problem was being overstated - I take it ½million increase in people needing free food is an overstatement then? Just how out of touch with reality is the current government? But you could argue that if people are starving they won't have the energy to rebel against it.
I hear Cameron banging on about the Big Society and his government working on behalf of the 'public interest' and I wonder if anyone actually believes him? I mean the rich obviously know he's blowing hot air. The middle classes don't care and the poor, who, if they even bother to listen to his message, just feel like he's taking the piss. The Big Society has become synonymous with the better off helping the poor because the government aren't going to do it. It's like they're absolving themselves of all responsibility while making sure that whoever is running the country next can't afford to fix the things they're wilfully dismantling. Real Tories (not people like some of my misguided friends) must be really evil people. Yes, by all means, hate and despise those who take the piss and take the country for a ride, but don't feel the same way about people who are just unfortunate or aren't as healthy as you (or them) and more importantly, don't put them all in the same boat. A man in his 50s who gets made redundant because of government cuts isn't where he is through his own volition.
I have been a Labour supporter all my life and then at the last General Election I made the mistake of thinking that a LibDem vote might be worth it. In Northampton all the LibDem candidate did was prevent the Labour candidate from getting back in. The Tory vote stayed roughly the same and 30% of the Labour vote went Liberal and they both allowed Michael Ellis to get elected. He must have been rubbing his hands together in glee because he got elected on less votes than his losing predecessor achieved.
The most galling thing about the last 3 years has been the complete ineffectiveness of the coalition; the Libdems, so petrified, barely do anything to curtail the Tories and I have this slightly soiled feeling that I actually voted Tory at the last election without knowing it. Even now, the Libs are more concerned with sustaining the massive erection they got when they suddenly became power brokers than tempering a bunch of fascists who are, to all intents and purposes, being allowed to screw up the country so much the next government will struggle to even keep things as they are now. How good is to look forward to?
I'm betting a lot of you weren't aware that John Major and his Tories felt they had little or no chance of remaining in power in 1992. The rumours suggested that they did things to stymie Kinnock's incoming government; set things in place, economically, that would blow up in Labour's face a couple of years into their reign. Then, of course, the unthinkable happened and the Tories got back in - mainly on the strength that Kinnock was Michael Foot Jr. Major's government were buggered by incredibly high interest rates, another recession, a surge in unemployment and, of course, Black Wednesday - all things they arguably sowed the seeds for because they didn't think they'd win the election.
That should be illegal. We should have some law that states if ministers can be proven to have deliberately fucked something up then they should be held responsible for it. That includes Labour - the twat in the Treasury who left the coalition the note about having good luck dealing with their overspending - he should be prosecuted for indirect fraud - he's screwing around with our money to the detriment of the next governors, he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it and the same with the current mob, especially as they haven't actually got a mandate.
The problem is all of them - all the parties - are really frightened: Cameron knows he hasn't got the ability to get a majority; Clegg knows that deep down his career is finished once the next election comes along (he'll be lucky to be re-elected in his own constituency) and FFS... Ed Millipede has about as much gravitas as Katie Price. There's no one in the wings who wants to step forward because they all know that this hell could last for the rest of our lives!
They're all frightened that they'll either get elected and won't know what to do, or they won't get elected and that's them finished. It's no longer about the country's interests, it's like British politics has become this huge unpopular version of Big Brother. And that's kind of why I thought standing as a councillor might be a good idea. I don't think I'm easily corrupted, I stick by my principals and I'll fight for what's right. The problem is it hasn't really done Tony Clarke a lot of good because nowadays the term 'an honest, hard working politician' is both an anachronism and an oxymoron and even if you are this, most voters won't believe you, especially if you no longer represent one of the big parties.
I have a mate who is standing as a UKIP candidate at the next local elections and I so want to ask him why and how someone from his background (working with disenfranchised kids) could throw his lot behind a posh boys version of the BNP. UKIP are successful because they put across that same xenophobic message the BNP and EDF put across, but they have people like Nigel Farage, who looks more Tory than Gideon O. The BNP struggle because Nick Griffin essentially looks like a thug, acts like one and doesn't come across as particularly well-educated, even if he is. Farage looks and sounds like a politician, he could be advocating female circumcision and there'd be people not listening to his words, just the way he says things and his appearance. Many people in this country no longer listen, that's just the platform someone like Farage needs to become popular. Don't say anything, just make what I say sound like its what the public wants.
Equally, the very old friend of mine, mentioned earlier, is standing for the Green Party - a worthy political party that should, if there's any justice in the world, benefit from all the uncertainty being shovelled at us by the three main parties and the wannabes. But, do you know something? They won't. That's because the Green party are a bunch of hippies and hippies are what Labour during the 1970s were and they fucked the country so that Margaret could rise from the dead and save us all (or at least that's how the Tories would have us believe it in 1000 years time when the cult of Maggie spawns a religion). And what if he does get elected? He'll be the lone voice amongst a bunch of corrupt self-serving wankers yet again. We'll not see any improvement in local services; more people will lose their jobs, more bins will go un-emptied and scratch the surface and you'll see the diseased organs of England; with politicians like bacteria scurrying about, running councils, the country and most specifically their bank accounts.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. We're all going to die. Except this time it will be poor, broken, with no dignity and with the knowledge that there will be a lot of people laughing hysterically at us, because adding a touch of humiliation balances everything out quite nicely. Some of us will vote next week and yet we'll start to agree even more with that joke 'voting for politicians only encourages them'. The problem is there is no alternative. Even the alternatives are no alternative. We need new people, new politics, new beliefs and new priorities and that's altruism to the nth degree. I should just start taking drugs again; seriously, what's the point of not?