Nigel Farage: someone else who will still be here after the Rapture. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Someone else who will still be here after the Rapture is the Brexit party’s Nigel Farage. I thought one of the advantages of the Brexit vote was that he might disappear; having him back in public life is a bit like watching a suicide bomber doing a comeback tour. Of course, it would have been nice to see him actually running in the election, particularly from a pack of wild dogs. As for the Lib Dems – well, I thought we’d really miss Tim Farron, bumping around the country on a deserted coach and performing Blue Peter tasks in front of people terrified that he might start talking about gay sex. Jo Swinson has grown on me, and seems to exist as a satisfying, subtle and damning satire of humanity. Swinson’s election started out relatively positively, possibly because people hadn’t heard her speak yet. It quickly became clear that she had the gravitas of a re-education camp supply teacher, and was launching a kind of charm retreat that seemed to involve loans for renting flats and permanent austerity. Some might see misogyny in this reaction to her, but I’m fairly sure I just hate her for being from Milngavie.
Labour’s idea to run an election campaign on policy in the middle of all this is a little bit like reciting your poetry at an orgy. Jeremy Corbyn, perhaps weighing up whether he could have more influence by simply dying and haunting his successor, has benefitted from becoming slightly calmer over the course of the campaign. Aggression isn’t a good look for him, shifting Corbyn from Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh towards the territory where you’d expect his face to be captioned with “police suspect the real figure may be much higher”. Labour’s campaign initially struggled to find the right note of warmth or optimism. Normally in a general election, there’s so little mention of Scotland it’s like watching coverage of a major football tournament, but Labour seemed pointlessly determined to get across the message that they would deny a second independence referendum. The Corbyn project started out as a piece of moralising – a token candidate standing in a Labour leadership election to remind the party of its principles – and his Labour is at its weakest when these roots show: it can come across as patronising and entitled. I think Labour presents itself better during elections because it is forced to be more practical. The whole Corbyn thing, at its best, is a sort of Ealing comedy about some old bloke who gets called off his allotment to try to form a government, but it needs to promise a third act where something actually happens. Labour’s campaign also demonstrates the limits of social media compared with establishment media power. If polls at the time of writing are to be believed, owning several TV stations and newspapers still seems to be more important than the democratisation of the ability to troll celebrity Jews.
Before the campaign, there seemed to be a belief among Labour party members that it fared better in elections because of rules about electoral media balance, perhaps because they misconstrued the establishment complacency at the last election. Of course, Labour has been monstered in the media throughout the campaign, and largely been judged by different standards than the Conservatives. Even the gold standard of scrutiny that Johnson dodged was just being interviewed by his former boss at the Spectator.
Media plurality is an issue we need to address in this country: the alternative is living in a timeline where, because Corbyn has wonky glasses, in a couple of years you’ll be living in a tent city outside an Amazon warehouse trying to GoFund a tonsillectomy. The Tories calling Corbyn a communist and a threat to national security after handing nuclear power plants to the Chinese is a bit like getting a bollocking off Charles Manson for putting down slug pellets. Perhaps in a few years our troops will reflect on what a harmless enemy Corbyn actually was, as they stare up at an AI minotaur, pinning them to the floor with a stainless steel hoof and holding their extracted vascular system aloft like a Ford Focus wiring-loom.
You won’t be surprised to learn that I won’t be voting Tory on Thursday, for much the same reasons that I won’t be spending the day kicking children and pensioners into traffic. It’s depressing to think how many polling stations are in schools, and how many people will vote Conservative after walking past a motivational rainbow. As we saw in Stanley Johnson’s Pinocchio gaffe, there is a problem with our elites programming their traumatised children with the idea that they are born to rule. It becomes almost impossible, as a class, to hide your contempt. It’s difficult to keep lying convincingly about things you’ve convinced yourself your audience are too stupid to notice. This current iteration of Conservatism, a kind of mutant nationalism that insists all our infrastructure has to be owned by other countries, has nowhere to go but into an asset-stripped, deregulated wasteland. I don’t know how anyone votes for that, or what happens after they do. British people don’t get on well enough to form militia.
I don’t want to end on a note of pessimism. Instead, I’d like to share with you my two favourite quotes. The first, is a really famous one. Kurt Vonnegut asked his adult son what he thought the meaning of life was, and his son replied: “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.” The second is what David Chase, the creator of The Sopranos, said about the ending of the final episode:
“Well, what Tony should have been thinking, I guess, and what we all should be thinking – although we can’t live that way – is that life is really short. And there are good times in it and there are bad times in it. And that we don’t know why we’re here, but we do know that 20 miles up it’s freezing cold, it’s a freezing cold universe, but here we have this thing called love, which is our only defence, really, against all that cold, and that it’s a very brief interval and that, when it’s over, I think you’re probably always blindsided by it.”
Twenty miles up, it’s a freezing cold universe, we only have the human connections we make here, nothing is permanent, and love is our only defence. I suggest we all vote accordingly, and try to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.
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