Monday, 12 April 2010

It's a Marathon, not a Sprint

Hello and welcome to my second attempt at a blog. My first faltered just before Christmas before perishing of neglect early in the new year. With the click of a delete button a few weeks ago it is has now been consigned to the the dustbin of cyberspace, to be replaced with this slicker, more efficient, as badly titled version. My hope is that this will exist rather longer than its short-lived predecessor, and I have a hunch that it may well do for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, I have finals coming up in a months time meaning that the word of the moment is 'procrastination'. Be it sorting notes out into piles, making sure my room is tidy enough to work in or just that last jaunt round the usual websites (webmail, hotmail, facebook, bbc sport, bbc news in that order) during exam periods time wasting becomes a finely-honed skill.

Secondly there's a small matter of a General Election in under a month meaning the news will be crammed with policy matters and publicity stunts- as Paxman put it 'let the baby-kissing commence'- for me to spout my opinions on. Let us commence.

Gordon Brown rather inconveniently, though as expected, called the election last Tuesday whilst I was in Cyprus. I say inconveniently because the resort store had a pitiful selection of British newspapers meaning that my first taste of election media coverage was through the slightly right of right-wing Daily Express. The paper made it seem that if Cameron were not to win, Britain would face some kind of armageddon with groups of 'hoodies' slashing and mugging everything in sight, the country being swamped with funny looking and funny sounding people wanting to either steal our jobs or blow us up, and the nation having to go into administration and getting a nine point deduction, or whatever the international punishment for such measures entails. The world must be a very scary place to live in for Express readers.

I arrived back with the family late on Friday night and any worries that campaign coverage would all be of the Express's timbre was quickly quashed by the Beeb's much more tempered reporting. Radio 2's midnight bulletin was dominated by reports on the three main parties tax plans, the most eye-catching (or I guess ear-catching in this case) of which was the Tories plan to reward people for getting married- it's something to do with the 'death of the family', 'Broken Britain' and some other ominous sounding slogans that feeds the fear frenzy the right-wing papers thrive on. The proposal would save couples about £150 a year so with a traditional wedding in the UK costing about £11,000 cold-hearted economics would suggest you only need to be married 73 years to make your money back. Those Tories can be so generous.

Anyway, the Conservatives seem to believe they've got the better of the first week, or at least that's what my uncle, who's standing for them in Carlisle, thinks. Family ties took predominance over political allegiances- at least for me- yesterday as a group of us went leafleting for him in a fairly nondescript area. I managed to avoid any encounters with hostile dogs or voters, but I'm sure there must be parts of the city where a Conservative leaflet in your hand may as well be a ticket to the nearest A&E. As a constituency its a high-employment but low-wage area with 99% of the population being white and has been held by Labour since the 1960s. The notional majority sits at just over 4,000 but this year Labour face seven challengers including candidates from the BNP, Ukip and the Socialists. It's going to be a tough fight but Carlisle will be one seat I won't mind seeing swing to the Tories.

In the next few days I intend to decide where I'll use my vote, be it York Outer or South-East Cambridgeshire. I'm pretty sure it'll be York where, not only is it rated very marginal by the very useful voterpower website, but there is also a BNP candidate running. The more people that vote here the lower their share will be and maybe, just maybe, we will be able to roll back some of the confidence they gained from their successful showing in last years disastrous European elections.

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