There is no doubt that 2015 is going to be an interesting year if only for the fact that it’s an election year. However, if anyone has already heard enough political rhetoric spouting forth from the mouths of our party leaders then it might be a good idea to retire to some uninhabited island somewhere for the next four months because it’s only going to get worse. Those of us who do feel strong enough to cope with all the usual diatribe might want to reflect on how things were back when there were real personalities within the ranks of our political parties. Obviously, not all of us have lived through a time when the three main parties were not dominated by Oxbridge graduates and media consultants but I suspect that the majority of younger voters would support anyone with whom they could identify. Someone, perhaps, who comes across as being a little bit individual, slightly opinionated, not afraid to speak their mind and who doesn’t dress like an estate agent. In other words, someone with a personality. [Celebs excluded]
The success of Nigel Farage is clear, indisputable evidence of this need being met by, at least, one politician. However, before you make the mistake of crediting Farage or UKIP with delivering something fresh to the political landscape, think again. There are parties all across Europe which bear a close resemblance to UKIP and if you only go back to Germany in the mid 1930s there was, of course, the Nationalist party led by Adolph Hitler. Now, I’m not trying to be provocative, I support our democratic political system and believe that people should be free to vote for what they believe in, I only ask that people think hard before they put a cross on that ballot paper. I wonder how the Scots would feel now [with oil prices plunging] had they voted YES? Had I been eligible, I would have voted for Scottish Independence too. However, as it is, I’m a supporter of the Labour Party but I couldn’t say how I’m going to vote in May only that I will choose the party that best reflects my own views on everything from education to welfare benefits. The worst thing would be for people not to vote at all however, I can understand why that might be. I had to wait until I was twenty one years of age before I could vote but in those five years since leaving school and entering the world of work, I gained an insight into politics that had me desperate to vote for someone. I’m thinking about those personalities again, men like Harold Wilson who grew up not far from me or Jeremy Thorpe who dressed like Arthur Daly and was always in the News of the World.
My children have not got the same options today as I had back in the sixties and seventies. Back then, I had clear choices between individuals who not only stood for different things but sounded different too, unlike today’s lot who all sound the same and pretty much say the same things. Nigel Farage, on the other hand, has proved to be popular with a large section of the British public simply because he appears to be an ordinary guy who enjoys a pint whilst the other main party leaders struggle woefully to engage with the common man or woman. There is nothing new in this however, remember Gordon Brown’s mauling at the hands of “Rochdale Woman” or was it “Bury Woman”? Whoever she was, she put the fear of God up the Presbyterian Scot’s kilt by demanding answers to some fairly innocuous questions. “Where the @#8! did she come from?” or words to that effect, said Gordon, to which the answer was, “People like her are everywhere which is why we tend to stay in London” or something like that. Then we had David Cameron’s public relations debacle when he tried to hug a hoodie before setting his two-legged rottweilers on the ungrateful, jobless layabout who refused to participate in the Tory publicity stunt. A stunt almost as embarrassing albeit much less frightening than when Kenny Everett turned up at a Tory Conference wearing a huge pair of fake hands and declared that we should “Bomb Russia!” How hilarious was that?
I recently found myself in a room with Ed Milliband and to be fair, how he eats a bacon sandwich is neither here nor there although, I am surprised that he actually eats pork products. My experience however, was that whilst Ed looks fine he lacks any charisma and for the ten or fifteen minutes that I was within spitting distance [not that I approve of spitting] of the man he never once attempted to make eye contact with any of the other thirty or so ordinary people [all potential voters] in the room.
So where are the political personalities apart from Mr Farage? Some might suggest Boris Johnson but he’s not in the same league as past names such as Harold Wilson who as Prime Minister ensured that Britain stayed out of the Vietnam War despite huge pressure from our American “friends”. Or Wilson’s womanising, booze loving Foreign Secretary , George Brown who once asked the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima to dance with him whilst the Peruvian National Anthem was being played. Not only had Brown mistaken the crimson red, cloaked figure for a woman in a ball gown but he had also confused their anthem with an excuse me waltz. Then we had the crusading Mrs T [Boo-Hiss!] followed by that nice Mr Major and the former lead singer with wannabe rock gods “Ugly Rumours”, Tony Blair – each one of them oozing with personality and love them or loath them, they each made a significant impression on UK Politics. At the moment, David Cameron appears to be ahead of the pack in the May 2015 election race and is likely to win The Tories [AKA The Nasty Party] another term in office but it would only take a little show of individuality or personality, call it what you will, from the other competitors and things could easily change. Whether that change would be for the better or for the worse is impossible to say but one thing is for certain, whoever you end up voting for, the Government is bound to get back in. Now, I’ll drink to that!