On The Buses: Brenda from Bristol

Are you like Brenda from Bristol? Loudly wailing “Not another one!” when confronted with the fact that there is to be an election in June?

Personally, I think it makes sense to have an election. So much has changed in the political landscape since the 2015 election that although it is merely two years ago, it’s almost as if we inhabit a different world. Added to that, I like elections.

I do, however, think I’m missing out on some of the excitement of an election because I’ve always lived in staunch Labour seats where there’s been more chance of Gerry Adams wearing a bowler and sash and marching to the beat of a pipe band than that of the Conservatives winning. I dream about how fantastic it must be to live in a marginal, constantly being canvassed by the various parties, with all the opportunities for hurling abuse that that offers.

Imagine living in a keenly contested constituency where the nation’s media descend and you’re constantly harassed as you try and go about your business, stopped in the street as you’re just about to go into William Hill to put a fiver each-way on the top weight in the first at Ludlow, or waylaid by a tabloid hack while you’re on an emergency mission to purchase toilet roll from Spar.
But this won’t happen because we live in a seat where the result is as predictable as the election result in North Korea. There are bigger odds on ISIS winning the Eurovision Song Contest with a cover version of Morrissey’s You’re the One For Me, Fatty than there are on Hilary Benn losing his parliamentary seat.

And so we’re left with the challenge of making the vote interesting, which means looking outside of our own constituency to the country as a whole. During every campaign there are people who rise in the nation’s consciousness, like Brenda the “not anther one” woman, Gillian Duffy – Gordon Brown’s “bigoted woman”, and any of the various people who have punched John Prescott during campaigns over the years. As such, and very much on the off-chance, I always have a few zany quips ready and an unusual hat to hand in case I am ever interviewed so that I can become “The Nation’s Eccentric” for a day or two. This is the limit of my ambition. Other people plot out a whole lifetime of achievement and steadily building growth; I just want to be famous for a couple of days for wearing a weird hat and saying something loopy.

If any of this feels like I’m taking a flippant attitude to the exercise of democracy then I assure you I enjoy the serious aspect of the plebiscite as well. Last year we had a referendum but in the normal course of things the only time we get to wield our implicit power and effect change is on General Election day. Every other day the politicians pay lip service to working for us but it’s as if they are out of our reach and able to act as they like. On election day we can reach them and push them off their pedestals.

It feels as though this is an important election. More important than usual. In some ways it feels as though it’s the end of some things and perhaps the start of some others. By the time the next one comes around, if the parliament runs the full term of five years, we will almost certainly no longer be a part of the EU and there is the possibility that we will no longer be a United Kingdom if, as seems inevitable (although by no means certain that it will happen in the short term) Scotland signals its desire to be an independent nation. We live in exciting times where people are embracing change brought about via the ballot box. Revolutions needn’t be bloody in order to be earth-shaking.

Over the coming weeks I intend to talk some sense and some silliness about the election. I already know which way I’m going to vote but it’s more fun if I pretend to be a floating voter and examine the appeal of the various parties.

I know that some of you will be enjoying the whole rigmarole as much as I will be whereas others among you will be wishing that you could wake up tomorrow and it all be over.

I don’t adhere to the school of thought that everyone MUST vote simply because people died so that you could. People have died for all manner of questionable causes so no one should feel guilt-tripped into casting their vote. For a variety of reasons this is one election where many will feel politically homeless and as such I don’t doubt that a lot of polling cards will remain on the top of fridges, or behind clocks, unused and forgotten.

I hope that you can find it within yourself to enjoy the election campaign. The politicians actually care what you think of them for the next few weeks. It won’t last so make the most of it.