OPINION: Bonkers Boris and the state of the nation

Ed King @edking2210Words by Ed King / First published in Birmingham 13 – May 2008

I have an ongoing argument with my mother about my right to vote, or rather my right not to vote as the case may be. I call it an argument but in reality it’s more like a long drawn out war of attrition. Two sides slowly and relentlessly grinding down each other’s defences with the only possible outcome being an arbitrary slim majority and a prize that’s long since been tainted beyond use anyway. If I’m truthful, it’s a futile and self obsessed debate. One with no productive end and no opportunity for one side to agree with the other. It’s a contest that simply doesn’t want to be won and more than just a little like the politics that causes this family feud in the first place.

I don’t vote. I did once at college due to peer pressure but I swear I didn’t inhale. This particular admission, along with the heresy of thinking Harry Potter books are not actually all that good, seems to upset my peers in a way that they apparently find quite uncomfortable, and has done more to demark my reputation in the eyes of others than its seems Rioja, Sambuca or Staropraman will ever do so.

When I tell politically minded people of my chronic polling allergy the response I get is not just one of disapproval, after all we all have our priorities in life, but I can actually see them physically erasing me from the world of importance. I get the bewildered look of someone who can’t quite understand what they are hearing, followed by the obligatory and well meant, but unfortunately usually condescending, lesson on why it is not only my right to vote but in fact my duty.

Once I have stood silently and piously hearing them out, and have not rushed out to close down a primary school and stand behind a curtain crossing boxes, I can see them start to slowly edge away from me in a mix of pity and disgust and begin to look for someone else that can share the remainder of their drink with. It seems nowadays that non voters in public are worse than smokers, and we don’t even get to seek safety in numbers in beer gardens or in the dull light outside the pub’s front door.

It’s a funny thing but people seem to assume that if you don’t vote you are not politically astute, and your misguided concerns are only of a TV and media circus, based on the shallow world of celebrity and devoid of any substance or real meaning. My own personal viewpoint is that modern politics festers somewhere between George Orwell, Noam Chomsky and Dancing On Ice, and if you are sucked into the whole charade then your misguided concerns are only of a TV and media circus, based on the shallow world of celebrity and devoid of any substance or real meaning.

It could well be argued, and often is between me and my long suffering matriarch, that today’s hustings are simply a puppet show fuelling nothing but the greed, selfishness and global economic hegemony of a select and secret few, all wrapped up in a pretty bow and sequins to distract us from what little choice we really have. An opinion that is not often very well received by the staunch armchair politician.

I am writing this on the day that Boris Johnson became mayor of London and boys and girls in blue up and down the country are no doubt nursing very expensive hangovers. An interesting time indeed and very public display of the ludicrousness and unsubstantiated rhetoric that makes up most of Westminster and beyond. I have no doubt that Mr J is indeed a very smart man (after all he went to Eaton and you have to be clever to get in there right?) but it does make you wonder why a man whose alliterated nickname is Bonkers can so dramatically overturn someone who has for all intends and purposes been a very successful public official.

The voter turns on a dime it seems and the ‘bewildered herd’ that Walter Lippmann so intuitively named have once again bought into the headlines and are stampeding us down another road of political madness. The only solace I have, sitting there in my smug little world of non involvement (and believe me I appreciate my own hypocrisy), is that I never played a part in the poorly scripted matinee performance that is the modern campaign trail.

Or maybe by sitting silent I played the biggest part of all, as my own opposition would argue? But then again that’s just the not-so-clever manipulation of one point to argue another really. Armchair opinions and politics with a small p.