Friday, 8 May 2015

Conversations Overheard In Pubs #96: Shut Up About The Election

Jon:                        So, we’ve just been to see a political leader...
Steve:                   What the fuuuuu…?!
J:                             I know, I know, but hear me out, I had my reasons. 
S:                            I’m listening….
J:                             Well, look…I don’t think I’ll find any party to support, probably ever, I don’t even like the idea of party politics, but I’ll engage with anyone and consider any method that might just make a difference for the better –
S:                            Oh, right, and you think –
J:                             – You said you were listening.
S:                            OK.
J:                             So, there’s nothing wrong with speaking to people you disagree with about how to move forward.  I’m not one of these revolutionaries who hope things get even worse so everyone kicks off and it’s riot and revolution time.  I happen to think things are quite bad enough and it’s up to all of us to make things better however and whyever we can.
S:                            And what about you, Fran, what’s your excuse for going to this town hall meeting of Middle Class Mums Concerned About Reycling?
Fran:                      Excuse?  Piss off.
S:                            Come on, I’m mucking about.  It’s a bit late in the day for electioneering, isn’t it?
F:                            Well, obviously.  But it’s a target seat, isn’t it?  So, yeah, like we’ve just been saying on the way here, The Greens would probably slaughter a giant blue whale for the kind of publicity Farage and his merry band of Home Counties twats have got –
J:                             – For reasons known only to those that have given it.
F:                            Right.  So, we just thought we’d hear them out, to balance all the shite we hear from the others.
S:                            Well, it’s because it sells – people like booze ‘n’ fags ‘n’ birds ‘n’ jingoism, and the papers like selling it to them…
J:                             You’ll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator.
S:                            For sure.
J:                             But, you know, if you ignore the mainstream media, as more and more people are doing…maybe they’ll have to respond to some other views, like the view that perhaps it’s a bad idea to spend a billion quid on a nuclear submarine and then shrug and say that there’s just no money for all those costly public services…
S:                            So, anyway, how was it?
F:                            Well….the whole thing was like listening to a very nice, earnest person list what they would do if they won the lottery.  Some really nice ideas.
S:                            But….they’re never gonna win the fucking lottery, are they?
F:                            Exactly.
S:                            Because the odds are very carefully stacked against them by those who run the lottery.
J:                             Quite.
F:                            Also, it’s really appropriate that the event was in the university, ‘cos the whole thing is like student politics, promises being made in the expectation that they can never ever be fulfilled, and we are presumably expected to suspend our disbelief and think that these ideas and policies can actually be implemented by these people who espouse them – as if they have any power to actually implement them!  Just like the students running for titular positions in the Union promising all sorts of things they just couldn’t possibly deliver…
J:                             It’s all gonna be secret deals behind closed doors based on who gets how many seats anyway, isn’t it?
S:                            Or maybe Parliament will burn down on the first day and they’ll all be killed – I know, I know, I’m an optimist.
J:                             It was quite funny, though, the lad stood next to us said: “If he comes out to ‘Fuck Tha Police’ by NWA, I’ll vote for him.  Twice.”
S:                            Ha ha ha, nice.
J:                             I noticed as well, they kept talking about “doing politics” and “being in politics”, like it was “being in insurance”, or “doing University administration”.  As if that’s all politics is, just a management thing that these people over here do and the rest of us endure while we get on with –
S:                            But that’s exactly what it is!
J:                             Well, I suppose, but “doing politics” makes it sound like he’s a Politics student.  And they said something about politics “being done to you””
S:                            Like they’re performing “Politics”
F:                            Because they are…
J:                             Then they said “We’re currently using the resources of three planets”,  and a couple of students started chanting:  “MORE PLANETS, MORE PLANETS!”
F:                            Oh yeah, ha ha – and then when they said: “Drug policy should be about health, not criminal justice”, they were going:  “MORE DRUGS, MORE DRUGS!”
S:                            I do hate the way they’re being seen as the, kind of, cool party, as if that would make it in any way worthwhile…
J:                             Or would even be possible.
F:                            I think that’s just because there’s not many of them – but their membership is up, while all the main parties are down massively on their membership.
S:                            It’s impossible to get excited about that.
F:                            Well then, you just get excited about whatever you can.
J:                             To be fair, no one thinks they’re cool, as such – they’re not trying to be cool, which is the coolest thing about them.  They’re trying to be mainstream –
F:                            – Which is the least cool thing about them
J:                             Yeah, well, they’re sort of soft-left liberals, so….
F:                            Thing is as well, no one is gonna win a majority, so the small parties are now on a more equal footing with the big bastards, ‘cos none of them can deliver what they promise, so it’s all gonna be compromise and trade-offs, isn’t it?
S:                            So, yeah, it’s just a slightly more even game between people who are absolutely committed to fiddling while Rome burns and the rest of us are pre-occupied running around with branded water buckets instead of Taking Shit Over like we should.  If anything, all this is more reason than ever to ignore the whole thing.
J:                             Yeah OK, I get it, I’m under no illusions that it will change anything significantly for the better, but saying it makes no difference just isn’t true.  One winner will actually be even worse than another.
F:                            “It is impossible to be neutral in war…one winner is invariably worse than the other…We cannot stand aloof, cannot be morally perfect in a divided, sick world….”
S:                            Well, yeah.  We’ve all read Homage To Catalonia.
J:                             I haven’t…
F:                            We also all know that doing absolutely nothing at all will probably make things worse for all of us, so vote for whoever you want or don’t vote, but either way, we’ve got a lot of work to do to defend ourselves and imagine any sort of alternative to all the money-austerity-perpetual-growth-permanent-neo-liberal consensus.
J:                             The “big parties” seem to be provoking the liberal, left-leaning middle-class to hate them, which seems strange, ‘cos you’d think they’d need them to keep the hordes at bay…
S:                            Well, that’s governments – whoever is in power is gonna do stuff the bourgeoisie don’t like because power will always do what it wants.  The bourgeoisie likes it when they can dance around and act like it’s Terry and Fuckin June while the rest of us get fucked over, so they like Labour.  We all saw them, in ’97…acting like it was some sort of soft revolution and everything was gonna be great because “we” got rid of the Tories.
J:                             When actually it was more like a personal mission by Blair to get Murdoch on side, which told us all where real power lies.
F:                            Rather an implacable, honest enemy than a deluded and dishonest friend…
S:                            Well said.  At this stage, I’d rather be ruled by Holyrood than Westminster.
F:                            Well, you may be in luck…
J:                             I’d rather be ruled by Hollywood than Westminster.
F:                            I’d rather be ruled by Dollywood than Westminster ha ha ha.
S:                            I’d rather be ruled by fucking aliens than Westminster.
F:                            Well, that’s it, isn’t it, whatever horse trading is going on, and it will be in full swing by now, we need a real presence in the streets to – at very least – restrain the forces that have dominated us for so long.
J:                             Yeah, and the idea of voting for a pre-packaged doctrine of any kind is pure shite, isn’t it?  It’s certainly not democracy…
S:                            And what is democracy?  Yet more flag-waving tribal bullshit, where you choose –
F:                            OK, but tribalism is a method of survival, as well as a way of communal living!  People don’t join a tribe because they’re lost or stupid, it’s because it works!  And, no, we haven’t evolved beyond the need to live together, we need that more than ever.  It’s just too easy for that tribe to become exclusive and to be suspicious of difference.  So we need to be talking to those working-class UKIP or Tory voters about what the real issue is for them, because we’re mistaken if we just dismiss them all as bigots and class traitors, it just won’t work anymore.
J:                             Well, like anything, tribes, theology, political doctrine; it has the value we put on it; the world is as we make it, right?
S:                            Right.  I’m just saying the election is a contest between the big swinging dicks of management teams competing to serve the needs of market systems and those who run them; that’s not democracy, it’s capitalism; perfectly illustrated.
J:                             That’s what I was saying, but all the anarchists saying, whoever you vote for the government gets in – it’s just a bit glib, and all too often an excuse to do nothing.
F:                            Or smash a few cars and call it resistance…
J:                             Yeah, right – saying it doesn’t matter if the Tories get in is like saying “poor people don’t matter”, because WE KNOW things will be a lot fucking worse for poor people if they do get in.
F:                            I know what they mean, though.  Personally, I’ve always hated taking sides with this bullshit, even if I think it might be necessary.  Yes, I know it’s petty, childish and belligerent, but it’s something to cling to, isn’t it? 
J:                             Like smoking.
S:                            Good call, I’m stepping out for a fag.

[Steve leaves the room as Elaine enters]

Elaine:                   Hey hey, hello Fran, Jonny!  How is iiiiit?
J:                             Heeey, alright Elaine?
F:                            What’s going on, you OK?
E:                            All good, you know, you know.  What are youse sayin?
F:                            Well, we were just saying, we will inevitably degrade ourselves to fight, and fighting is a must…
J:                             But what will we fight for?
E:                            [Singing] One, two, three, what are we fightin’ for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn – next stop is Viet-naaaam
F:                            Ha ha ha niiiice…
E:                            And it’s five, six, seven, open up the pearly gates – weeeeeelllll, ain’t no time to wonder why, WHOOPPEE! We’re all gonna die.
F:                            Ha ha
E:                            Country Joe and The Fish.
F:                            Umm….
J:                             And another thing, Fran, what about Scotland?  Labour and the Tories can’t accept that people in Scotland will vote for the party they want to represent them, and they continue to portray democracy in action as an actual threat to democracy.
F:                            Yeah,  we’ve all read that article in The Guardian, too.
E:                            Ha ha!  You all read The Guardian ha ha ha HAAAAaaaaa!

[Steve re-enters]

F:                            Elaine, This is our friend Steve…
S:                            Hello, how’s it going?
E:                            Alright Stevie?
S:                            Yeah. 
E:                            They’re talking about fighting, Stevie.
S:                            Yeah, well, the whole election is just one big –
E:                            Ugh!  Would you PLEASE SHUT UP about the FUCKING ELECTION?!  It’s finally done with now, Thank Christ.
S:                            Hmmm….
F:                            It’s your round.
J:                             Fine.  What we having, same again?

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