So, there I was shopping for bread and roll ups in my local convenience store on the Brixton Road. I was still shuddering with revulsion at the Conservative Party election broadcast that I had just seen. I walked into the shop entrance and a lively political debate was underway. The shop is run by a pair of young, 2nd generation Indian brothers, ably supported by various uncles and cousins on security detail. One of the brothers was chatting with the bread delivery man, a grizzled sixty year old Jamaican.
Jamaican: ' ... they've always been the same I tell you. The taxes have gone up. I can't park anywhere. The schools are terrible. The hospitals are filthy. I tell you. I've been here forty years and they've always been the same'
Shopkeeper: 'Yeah man, but all politicians are the same aren't they'
Jamaican: 'When I first arrived in this country forty year ago I was living in this Rackman place. It was a hole. He was terrible man. Who looked after him? The Labour Party'
Me: 'Excuse me, but what are you saying. Are you saying we should vote for the Tories? Can you imagine that? (looking at the Jamaican) Who are you going to vote for? (looking at the shopkeeper) Who are you going to vote for?
Shopkeeper (giggling): 'The National Front'
Jamaican: 'I'm telling you. If they (Labour) get in again the next four years are going to be bad. Really, really bad. Have you seen how many Turks there are around now?'
Me: 'I've seen all sorts of new faces round lately. What are you saying?'
Jamaican (looking at shopkeeper): 'You say your business is doing bad. It's those Turkish and all their friends. They'll put you out of a living'
Shopkeeper: 'But that's business man. That's nothing to do with the government ...'
At this point, a clutch of customers started coming into the shop. A couple of them didn't seem to like what was being said. I said good night and edged out.
Why have I gone to the effort of recording this little snippet? Am I trying to show how cool and racially integrated my lifestyle is? No. Am I raising the point that some Black people have concerns over race and migration just the same as some White people? No. The point is that a lot of people are very confused about who to vote for in the coming election. Very confused indeed.
Since I first became eligible to vote, the sitting MP where I grew up was Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat. He is a decent man. Deciding who to vote for was never much of an issue. I was more than happy to support him. I still would. However, I moved out of his constituency a few years ago and am now faced with a sitting Labour MP. She too appears to be a decent person and has taken principled stands against her own government, Tony Blair's government.
But under no circumstances would I vote for her or anyone else in her party.
I'm not going to recount the sins of Tony Blair and his government over the last eight years. Lots of other people have done that. The scary thing is just how long a list it is and just how much deceit and corruption has been forgotten. However, deceit and corruption is to be expected form all politicians. It's the nature of the beast. Admittedly, the current government has plumbed new depths that would even make a hardcore Conservative blush but that's not important right now. It's the war, stupid.
Actually, it's not just the war, it's the fascism as well. Civil liberties, both major and minor, are being eroded in this country at a rate that leaves me stunned whenever I think about it, which is often. I've not seen the like of it in my lifetime. I've only read about this sort of thing in history books. Mostly history books dealing with Europe in the 1930s.
Not voting for the current government is a no brainer. Without civil liberties, without the right of protest and free expression, any other social advances are illusory. On top of that, a government capable of taking its country to war on the basis of blatant lies is capable of anything. Those hundreds of Labour MPs who, against their conscience and natural instincts, have supported this wickedness are beneath contempt. They must be chucked out now, as a lesson to themselves and also to the others. As with George Bush, a re-elected Tony Blair will gleefully exclaim that the British public have endorsed the things he has done. Other politicians will learn that lies and fear and fascism certainly do pay off.
I mentioned Johann Hari's site a few days ago. I was originally put onto that site by someone referencing me to an article about the debate over whether to re-elect Blair or not. Some of the readers comments at the end of the article were interesting. It was worth the visit. The actual piece itself was of more dubious merit. The gist of it was that even if you have a problem over the war and civil liberties issues you should still vote Labour. Otherwise you'd be punishing the socially disadvantaged more than Tony Blair. Tax credits for low income families were mentioned as an example of the kind of good work Blair's government is doing. Those would be the tax credits that subsidise organisations that don't pay their employees a living wage. Way to go Johann ...
Using that kind of razor sharp logic it would have been perfectly OK to vote for Adolph Hitler, on the basis that he brought full employment and restored national pride to Germany.
On a similar track, a commentator on another blog said we should vote for Blair's government because they had lifted over a million children out of poverty. Good God, is there really one person left in this country who still believes Labour Government statistics? Nah, can't be, she must have been working for them.
OK the Labour Party is currently a tool of Evil and needs purged of that Evil before its MPs can look at any of us in the face again. Now we get to the problem that troubles so many people of conscience. Who should they all vote for?