And lo, it didst come to pass that someone in Labour HQ took the words ‘my pledges are carved in stone’ far too literally. I’ve been involved in enough election campaigns to know that at this point – five weeks in! – everyone’s starting to get quite frayed at the edges, and ideas that seemed poor a few weeks ago will suddenly look like utter genius because they’re new, fresh and different. You’ve been looking at the same leaflets in the same design for weeks, and so naturally the idea of carving your pledges into a massive block of stone will initially seem like the greatest idea in the history of political ideas. It’s just that at some point between the meeting that comes up with that and someone placing the order to the stonemason for it, there needs to be someone in the loop who says ‘hold on, has it not occurred to you that this is a really stupid idea?’
Indeed, there’s an idea for future Governments to implement. Just as ancient Rome tempered the ambition of the triumphant general with a slave telling them to remember they are mortal, so the Government could do with an Office of It’s A Bit Of A Shit Idea, Isn’t It? or an independent Institute of Mockery And Pointing Out The Obvious Flaws. During Parliaments, they could examine all proposed policy and then take on a wider role during elections, of informing parties just how silly their new idea would make them seem. I’ll happily take on the job of setting up one or both of them, especially as there’ll be no one yet in place to tell them how bad an idea that is.
Anyway, let’s pause for an election advert.
We’re into the all hands to the pump stage of campaigning now, where the priority is knocking on as many doors and delivering as many leaflets as you can before polling day and hoping no one makes a major error that messes everything up. It’s a chance to try and tactically squeeze as many voters as possible, and deliver enough messages to your supporters just in case they’ve forgotten it’s election day on Thursday. People who live in marginals and have gone away for the bank holiday weekend will likely come home to small mountains of leaflets delivered while they were gone.
So with just a few days to go, competition for the final places in my minor party of the day slot has reached fever pitch. Or no pitch at all, leaving it entirely up to me to choose the Young People’s Party and its two candidates as today’s party. The first thing I’m going to say is the obvious one: looking at the pictures of senior party figures, they don’t look that young. Young by the standards of most people involved in politics perhaps, but not young by the standards of society. Their manifesto is interesting and goes some way to explaining the name as they’re an explicitly Georgist party, strongly in favour of Land Value Tax because it supports the ambitions of the young more than the current system in their view. Indeed, the manifesto is interesting because it starts strongly with calls for LVT and Citizen’s Income, but slowly descends into oddness and down the pub ‘I reckon’ policies that moan about political correctness and sub-Clarksonian moaning about climate change science. It’s a party I can’t quite see the point of – though it’s always good to see Georgism being promoted – and one I doubt will be causing any great shocks on Thursday.
Today on election leaflets, we find that Dennis Skinner doesn’t even stick to the party line for leaflet design. The only concession to modernity appears to be that the photo is now in colour, but his style of campaigning has kept him in Parliament for 45 years, so why change it? Elsewhere, I know I’ve said I want leaflets to look different and use varied design principles, but this independent candidate in Bath appears to have gone a bit too far down the ‘leaflets that look like they’re from an estate agent’ path. Or for crazy leaflets, Mike Nattrass is still pushing his ‘An Independence From Europe’ party, complete with scary photo, and going back a few weeks to one of the earliest nutty leaflets I featured, Mike Walters has now discovered he can’t call himself an SDP candidate so is now an ‘independent troublemaker’, though I suspect the Poppy Appeal may be complaining about the picture on the back.
As I was writing this we went past the point where there were 100 hours left until the polling stations close on Thursday. The election’s getting very close, very fast…