Well, the general election is well and truly underway and, as you would expect, the accusations, incrimination and general mud slinging is almost at it’s hight. Now, I enjoy a good election campaign as much as the next sad loser, but this one is really beginning to get my hackles up. I think that the problem is that the two main party leaders – May and Corbyn – are are such extreme ends of the political spectrum that there is very little common ground, if any.
On the right hand you have Theresa May, a stuck-in-the-mud Tory who not only has no idea what “ordinary” people are having to put up with and the importance of state services to our very existence, she is someone who would be very happy to see us return to the social and economic divide of the Victorian era. From a privileged background, and married into the kind of wealth that makes earning a living almost irrelevant, she no real concept of the effects her party’s policies are having on people at the bottom of the social pecking order. Theresa May’s leadership style is rather reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher – domineering and condescending.
On the left hand we have Jeremy Corbyn, an old fashioned socialist who is as passionate about social justice and supporting the less well off in society. He is very much a man of principles and one who was reluctantly thrust into the role of leader. I don’t think he really wanted the role, but now he has it he determined to fight for change. However, he has learned that even as party leader, he can’t have it all his own way and he has had to compromise some of his personal policies for the good of the party. Not a bad lesson to learn if you are going to lead successfully.
Of course, other parties are wading into the campaign with their own unique views and policies, but in this country it has always been about the two main parties. Since the 1940s that has been Conservative and Labour. Our electoral system can’t cope with any more.
Like previous elections it has been reduced to a personality contest. To focus on the individual leaders would be OK if it were a presidential election, but it isn’t. As we have seen many times before, the party leaders can change, so campaigning on the merits of individuals is actually rather foolish. In reality, the electorate has no say in who the Prime Minister is. We each have a vote for our own MP; in most cases that is also a two hose race, but often with one or another of the two main parties not actually in the running. In my own constituency for instance, the fight is between LibDem and Conservative. Any Labour voter going to the poll to support Jeremy Corby may very well actually be putting more power in the hands of Theresa May due to our inadequate and out dated voting.
But, getting back to where this all started, we have seen an increase in personal attacks, most noticeably on Jeremy Corby as Labour begins to close the gap with the Conservatives in the polls. At the end of the week we saw Tories lining up to take shots at Mr Corbyn for daring to link Terrorism with Foreign Policy. Several leading Conservatives attacked him for supposedly making excuses for terrorist attacks like Monday’s Manchester bombing. But that has been counter productive as they face criticism from the media for their double standards. Not only has their beloved Boris Johnson made the same link, briefings from security services also warned the same. Previous governments were warned of the possibility of an increase in such activity where we to become involved in conflicts such as Iraq and Libya.
Also Corbyn did was to bring the question out into the open. And you really would have to be blinkered to not see that there has to be a link. By invading these countries we set in motion a series of events that will inevitably result in increased terrorist activity. That is how these people work. They cannot hope to face our military, so they hide behind their own civilians whilst sending brain-washed extremists out to commit the most vile and cowardly acts against our own civilian population.
To admit this is not to make excuses; it is an opportunity to put actions and reactions into perspective. This is not to say we shouldn’t have taken the actions we did. That is a different debate. But to ignore the consequences of our actions not only puts lives at risk, it also means we fail to learn. The increased terrorist threat may have been anticipated, but a blinkered government has left the police, the military and security services underfunded, under staffed and under resourced to act on it.
And while we are on the subject, the increased calls for clamping down on immigration are just more ammunition for the extremists. The more intolerant the right becomes, the more isolated and vulnerable these “immigrants” are made to feel. And it is this isolation that helps groups like Isis recruit from our own young people. Monday’s bomber wasn’t an immigrant. He was of Libyan descent, but he was born here, like so many others. And to criticise the Security Services for letting him do what he did when he was known to them assumes that they have the resources to track everyone on their lists of potentially dangerous individuals. They don’t and some will inevitably fall through the net. That is also the price we pay for a free society. We could always submit to tighter controls over our every day lives such as monitoring of all emails, internet and phone activity and much greater use of CCTV. But I don’t believe that anyone really wants that. Nobody wants the government to have access to everything. That is where totalitarianism starts, and we all know where that one ends! And that is the subject I will have to come back to another time.
Well as Sunday afternoon rants go, this has been a long one! It often surprises me how discussing one issue can open doors to other things. There are so many things wrong with the world that there is never a shortage of things to talk about. The problem is often how to maintain focus without wandering off, like I have done today. So, before I get sidetracked again, the end!