Almost nothing, but not quite nothing. Limiting parliamentary terms to four years and introducing open primaries for candidate selection: good ideas. Not new ideas, and not Tory ideas, as many Labour and Lib Dem bloggers have been quick to point out – but then, real opportunities for constitutional reform are like bloody buses. You wait for them for god knows how long until eventually the whole notion of a bus seems like a stupid idea anyway and you start wondering if it might have been quicker to walk. The stop is getting crowded. People are muttering that the whole notion of buses is idealistic and unworkable. You consider ordering a taxi for just you and your mates and putting it on expenses. But then the bus arrives, and it comes without warning, and all that matters is that you're at the front of the queue with your ticket ready.
Shiny Dave has his ticket ready.
He's not considering real, widespread reform, however. He won't touch the Lords; he won't introduce proportional representation; most worrying of all, I distinctly heard him mention reducing the number of MPs, which redistributes power to glossy nobody and which gives whichever party happens to be in government, ahem, the power to totally redraw the poitical map of Britain according to their tastes.
I have listened to Shiny Dave, and I don't trust him to run a hotdog stand, let alone my country. In fact, screw it, I don't trust him with that puppy. He's a middle manager in sales, is what he is. Just look at his hair. He should be running a regional branch of a stationary company in the Midlands. He's a hand-shaker. A lightweight. A smiler, and not even a clever smiler. But today I have accepted that this man is probably going to be Prime Minister, and there's nothing I can do about it.
The last time I got this feeling, during the 2008 mayoral elections, a strange thing happened. I'm a recovered anorexic, and I haven't skipped a meal since 2006. Think of it like a teetotaler sipping lemonade in the pub and you're in the right ballpark. But when I walked out of my lecture that day and saw that Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson was going to be running my city, I got the most terrific urge to run to the nearest loo and throw up my lunch. The world was spinning beyond my control; I was powerless; I wanted to exert my self-determination in the first and best way I learned how.
I didn't, of course. I took myself home and made tea, a sandwich and a cigarette and made myself eat, drink, smoke and chill the hell out in that order. I allowed myself one evening in which to be pissed off, scream at the television and get munted with my hippy friends whilst planning radical comic strips.
And then I got up the next day and decided to get on with things. Since then I've attended assembly meetings and protests, helped plan occupations of public buildings, been involved in organising women's networks and had the London Underground symbol of the tube station nearest my birthplace - Angel - tattoed into the nape of my neck. I love this city and I will not see it turned over to the right, or for that matter to apathetic media squallbabies with the BNP breathing down their necks.
There's hope. I look at the game unfolding in Westminster and I see the left being outmaneuvred at every turn. Liberal energies are mounting, have been mounting before and since the Convention on Modern Liberty – but we are disparate, bickering among ourselves, in retreat. I firmly believe that the last thing the British left needs at this point is a Labour victory.
I've spent all day interviewing very sick people who've been screwed out of the measly amount of benefits they were living on by Wee Jimmy Purnell, he of the twice-as-much-as-annual-incapacity-benefit-spent-on-TAXIS-ALONE-in 2008. I won't say that I can't imagine things being any worse under a Tory government, because I don't trust them and because I've got a great imagination, I used to win prizes in school and everything. But I just don't think the current Labour party is fit for purpose any more - it's serving neither the principles of its members nor the people of this country. We have been screwed in both directions, and it's time to slink off and lick our wounds.
I want to see a decent egalitarian socialist like John Cruddas in charge of the Labour party in opposition, I want to see them reconnecting with their roots whilst the Tories make the pig's ear of bringing us out of the recession that they're going to. And they're going to: Shiny Dave can be as right-on has he likes about 'the man and woman in the street' (whilst doing dodgy deals on abortion rights behind closed doors), but the fact is that those people are in the street because they've lost their homes, and winter's coming on. Whilst we're ladling up the soup ,I want people of the left and every Blairite in Whitehall to remember what the point of a Labour party used to be: to empower ordinary women and men to live decent, free and honourable lives.
The Labour party in government is not the British left; it never was, and this is not the end for liberal values and egalitarian ideals in this country. We'll take a little while to work off some justified disappointment, we'll have some catfights and drink some (much cheaper) booze, and then we'll pick up again and carry on as we have been since it all went down the porcelain man in 2003: challenging, holding them to account, organising underneath their shiny brogues and dreaming up big ideas for the just society we want to live in. With one difference. Now we won't have to waste our time apologising for the behaviour of ministers who do not represent our interests. Now we can get back not to first principles - those are by definition yesterday's politics - but to new principles. I believe that a Labour defeat can signal a new beginning for the British left, and one thing's for sure: we definitely won't run out of work to do anytime soon.