From Bob's archive: On election day, May 2010
I went to my local Starburger cafe in Crofton Park for my lunch (liver and bacon if you're interested). I was pleasantly suprised to see a Socialist Party poster in the window. Until I saw they had ecumenically put up Lib Dem, Green, Labour and Tory posters too. Then I was cheered further when I went across the road to get my hair cut at George the barber's. He's voting Labour and told me 8 out of 10 of his customers are. A rather unrepresentative sample however: a cheap working class men's barber in a sea of gentrification and apathy...
Apart from the Independent, which is now all out for Clegg, because apparently this is our chance to change the voting system - which seems trivial to me, considering the Liberal Democrats will harshly cut public services resulting in massive public sector redundancy and increased poverty for the most vulnerable. But, hey, the poor will have the chance under Proportional Representation to vote for the BNP to express their rage. (The Guardian, "moral swamp" according to Norman Geras, scuttled over to Clegg too, but they seem to have backed off a bit.)
And apart from the honourable Mirror, which is making a big deal of the useless toffs who will sweep into parliament if the polls are correct, people like old Etonian Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, who seeks to inherit the seat his pater held, along with the Elizabethan mansion he lives in. As for Norm, for me and the Mirror social justice trumps PR, trumps everything else. Or, as Nick Cohen puts it, "The cant and bourgeois hypocrisy of Nick Clegg and his party won't be of any use to those who are dirt poor."
It seems to me that Tony Blair genuinely forsook the socialist ideology of the political party he joined, to become a post-ideological figure. David Cameron is mini-Blair: the same bland, chappy, fresh-faced post-ideological image of Blair ca.1997. But the difference is that Blair actually meant it. Cameron is actually, inside the bland exterior, an ideological Thatcherite. We know this because he has promised to restore fox-hunting, despite the opposition of 75% of the electorate, because it is his class and ideological instinct. We know this because he wants to cut inheritance tax at a time of deficit, even though it benefits a tiny number of rich people, because it is his class and ideological instinct. We know this because he took his party out of an alliance with Merkel and Sarkozy in favour of people who make Nick Griffin appear mainstream.
Nick Clegg, however, is mini-Cameron. I can't work out whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage over Cameron that he is genuine rather than cynical in his lack of conviction behind his lack of ideology, that beneath his bland meaningless exterior is a bland meaningless interior. Never have I seen on television a political performer so contrived, so staged, so airbrushed and coached, so vacuous. In the age of Nick Clegg, Tony Blair appears like a statesman.