Green in judgement
I shall be voting Green, in Streatham, which is not where I live. The Royal Mail helpfully forwarded my polling card from my old address in Brixton, the addition of their sticky label ensuring that the polling card was of no use at all. But I moved too late to register in Dulwich and West Norwood, where I would also vote Green to avoid voting for Tessa Jowell. Not that I have read her manifesto or any of her literature. But if she can condemn Brass Eye without bothering to see it first, then I can do the same for her. East Dulwich is full of signs from the local Stop The War group encouraging the reader not to vote for Tessa. I do not need a whole lot of encouragement.
But I can neither vote for her, nor vote against her – all I can do is cast my vote in Streatham against Keith Hill. And so I shall. It will make no difference. My vote never does.
I cannot recall my vote ever counting for anything. Last time round, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne East and Wallsend, I voted for Socialist Labour, who gained four hundred and twenty votes. They did not come last. Nor did they come first. Nick Brown won the seat by fourteen thousand votes. In 1997 I was actually on the winning side in Oxford East, but Andrew Smith could have done without my vote (and, indeed, the votes of most of his sixteen thousand majority). I drank champagne and stayed up for Portillo anyway.
In 1992, although I was living in East Oxford, I fell in Oxford West and Abingdon, where Labour fell also, coming third and losing a lot of tactical votes to the Liberal Democrats (who didn't win). At least I was able to vote for Bruce Kent, the only time I've ever voted for anybody I've really admired. In 1987 the candidate was a mediocre local councillor called John Power. I voted for him nevertheless. He came third too. And in 1983 I was six days too young to vote.
My politics, or what politics still remain to me - it may be decades, many decades, until history disturbs socialism from its present state of sleep - are still rather more red than green. So although I like the candidate, who I remember from Stop The War meetings two years ago, it is still no more than a protest vote - against Keith Hill, who, as I recall, was a leading member of the Start The War campaign. I would like something to vote for. For that matter I would probably like a Labour Party I could vote for. But for the moment, there is nothing. Only protest votes and pessimism and the passing of futile time.
But I will stay up and watch it nonetheless, as a citizen should, because it matters. It matters even if it doesn't matter a hundredth as much as an election ought to. I shall stay up, hoping that everybody loses. That is a lousy democracy, but we get the democracy that we deserve and lousy is the democracy we therefore have.
I shall stay up and hope to be cheered by the occasional defeat of someone who deserves it. God knows there are enough of them. And if those who beat them are likely no better, well, I have got used to that. At the end of this month I shall probably find myself supporting Milan in the hope that they will stop Liverpool winning the Champions' League. Milan are Silvino Berlusconi's team. These are sad days.