Election results are rarely what they seem
Throughout Europe over the last few days, we have seen four big chances for the electorate to make its position clear to the Bourbons – who are busy trying to make cake sound yummy. Do any of our Masters seem to get it?
Funniest article of the new week by far was the Prime Minister’s effort in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. It should be preserved and held somewhere safe from the ravages of time – in a Cloud, with his head, perhaps – as an example of shifty, point-missing, but in the end hilarious, self-exculpation.
‘I get it,’ wrote Dave, and we can only hope that – if nothing else – that admission stops the social worker across the despatch box from saying that Cameroid doesn’t. Because the tedious thing about Ed’s mantra is most of us have known for eighteen months that the PM doesn’t get it…and even when he loses it, Ed’s chances of getting it are slimmer than an anorexic stick-insect.
‘The message people are sending is this: focus on what matters, deliver what you promise,’ Mr Cameron continued, altering the message in order to try and make sense of the rest of his article. But that’s alright, because I can easily correct him for the purposes of Sloggers everywhere: ‘The message people are sending is this: you are sloppy, devious and incapable of focus, hence the complete lack of promise-delivery.’
And then this belter: ‘I am on the side of people who work hard, want to get on, and play by the rules.’ This was up there with Murdoch’s, “I have never used the Times titles to sell other Newscorp products”. If Dave is on the side of people who play by the rules, then we all need to worry about the resemblance (if any) between his rules and ours. Rule One: If faced with a contrary view of events, smear the opponent as ‘a fantasist’. Hmm. That sounds pretty much like one of Lord Mangelsum’s rules to me.
The local British elections have predictably been claimed by Labour as a massive vote for them, but they can’t get away from the biggest result of all: two voters in three not bothering to, as it were, vote. What the Council elections showed us last week was that the wonks and activists are heavily pro-pc Labour fluffy drivel, and the rest see nothing else to get behind – all of which we knew before they started – oh, and Nigel Farage is dyslexic. Or lazy, or something.
The Conservatives, however, leveraged the Boris Factor like Tim Geithner on amphetamines. “He’s the real Toryism,” yelled every Right wing blogger in these islands, ignoring in desperation the fact that BoJo is about as democratic as Ken, and a man keen on beating up those who give his jailbird friends a hard time, chucking plantpots through historic stained-glass windows, and swearing at opponents in lifts. If Boris is The Real Conservatism, then God help us all: he is a thug who just happened to get educated at….Eton. Yes folks, this is One School Conservatism as you’ve never seen it before.
The Boris phenomenon is important, of course: that’s why The Slog designated him, along with Harriet Harman, Britain’s most dangerous politician four years ago. But I and many others no longer care if he is a fundamentalist, true blue or entirely bonkers Conservative: in the end, our two main Parties will suffer the same fate as PASOK and New Democracy in Greece.
Segue neatly into the Hellenic Republic. It took Antonis Samaras just seven hours yesterday to decide he couldn’t form a Coalition government. With nine parties in the new Greek Assembly, that works out at just under fifty minutes per Party Leader expended on looking for a national solution for the country. “We did everything we could,” Samaras said. “It was impossible (to form a government). I handed back the mandate.” If at first you don’t succeed, give up. Samaras’s ‘mandate’ was actually 20% of the electorate giving him the chance to stick it to the EU, a mandate upon which Antonis the Slippery is already urinating.
But leftist Syriza now gets its chance. If that comes to nothing, I think we can start assuming that other things are already in the pipeline. These could range from another election in July via a wobbly bloc made up of Nazi-Soviet arrangements through to another technocrat government. The Greek election remains very important for one thing: it sets down in irrefutable history the fact that two-thirds of voters cast their democratic right against the Athenian-cum-Brussels Establishment, and probably marks the point at which very few people can still genuinely believe in the survival of the euro. Whether anything will change in Greece is another matter.
So, two-thirds not bothering, and two-thirds voting against those in charge. North-west now to Germany, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right coalition lost power in the state of Schleswig-Holstein at the weekend…with, again, 40% abstaining. This was mainly the trailer for a much more significant election in North Rhine-Westphalia next weekend, but it too had significance. First off, the number of voters ‘sending a message’ to Merkel is on the increase, but it’s a multi-layered message of the kind that would have most pigeons struggling to stay airborne.
Some interviews in the German media suggested last week that thinking Germans remain worried about the potential debt Little Geli is taking on, but mass-market voters respond negatively to her tough-guy approach on Greece – that is, they don’t think it’s tough enough. Equally, there are the ever-present Greens – ‘fluffische Deutschland’ – whose daft views on nuclear power forced the Chancellor into an even dafter (and incredibly cynical) pledge to dump nuclear for electricity generation last year. But the fastest-growing new protest group is the Pirates Party – a great name in my view, although I think coined originally by the Swedes – which wants transparent government and internet freedom. I suppose the best pigeon hole for it would be ‘Young Libertarian’, although actually it’s about more than that.
On the German soft Left-to-centre, both Helmut Schmidt the conservative social democrat, and Helmut Kohl, the social democratic Conservative, who governed Germany for a quarter of a century, spoke out publicly against Germany’s current European policy.
Like the Greek electorate at the moment, its German equivalent is best described as confused. Real discussion of the dangers of a German-dominated eurozone are either ignored by the German majority, or positively approved of….but rarely discussed openly. Once more ClubMeds start kicking up, the average Fritz will either wise up or harden in his attitudes to towards ‘lazy Latins’. In the meantime, adding to the mayhem is a new jelly on the horizon, Francois Holland.
And so to what most people saw as the Main Event: the French Presidential Election. For me, the most encouraging thing was not that France voted for an old-fashioned wishy-washy bourgeois Leftist fluffy (apart from a neo-Nazi, he was the only thing on offer) but rather that they voted for him grudgingly as an attempt to say “We see through you Sarko – you diminished the office of the Presidency, and achieved nothing…so va t’en fou.”
This suggests to me that the French still have enough discernment to tell plastic from leather, but one has to remember that the socialist ideal in France never faced a Thatcher (Sarkozy thought he was that, but he was really more like one of her greasy City boys) and so The Left as an entity doesn’t face quite the same crisis of purpose as Labour in the UK. As to whether the election of this cast-iron member of the French elite (in reality, he is far more Establishment than his predecessor could ever have been) is of real significance, I doubt it.
There is the unalloyed joy of seeing the Fuhrerin with egg all over her face, plus the added bonus of watching Brussels try to make sense of it all as Bedlam breaks out everywhere at once. But for me, the election of Hollande is the logical overture to France’s latest production, L’eurozone est mort, Vive la France. The new President will come to some kind of accommodation with Berlin in the short term, but for the eurozone, only the short term remains. The French civil service has very detailed ideas about the next stage of survival, and they will come to light sooner rather than later.
Yes, I think I can truly say that at last I am getting elections. They seem to be largely about majority negativity, splintered minority protest, and chucking the odd rotten egg from the safety of the crowd. At the moment, the Bourbons in Brussels and Berlin are studiously ignoring the eggs, and occasionally firing over the heads of the crowd. Soon enough, they will start to grasp the perilously tentative grasp they have on the only thing they care about – power. But we are a long way from sea change – or even seasonal change, Spring or otherwise. In the end, there’s no point in being a Pirate: all you do is wind up hanging from Spithead. What we Europeans need is a rejection of the past, and an even bigger rejection of the present. The future is about ideas, change and challenge; but as we don’t have the ideas-people anywhere near the levers of power at the minute, we’re probably in for chaos rather than creativity in the medium term.