I've spent the past twenty-four hours, because I am a glamorous and DANGEROUS young activist sort, drinking tea very quietly and having anxiety jags and talking to the television in the manner in which, in my babysitting days, I used to address the terrifying children of strangers. No, don't do that. No, please, don't. Nick, pick that up right now.
Before Wednesday, I was genuinely enthused by politics in this country for the first time in several years. The Sun/Times hegemony was being challenged; the two-party system was being undermined; there was hope. Now, thanks to some planted Murdochian journalists, a shiny-faced man in a tight blue necktie learning how to talk to a camera and a bigot in a cardigan, it's suddenly okay to blame all the country's problems on immigrants, and the ugly shadow of a Tory majority is ghosting across any liberal vision for the next five years.
And I've listened to smiling, scared-looking people repeat the word 'change' to the point at which the word has lost practically all meaning.
The problem with promising 'change' is that it's the one thing that absolutely every politician can absolutely, 100% guarantee. The only thing that you and I know about the next five years, or indeed the next five minutes, is that some sort of change will occur. The economy will improve, or not. Social unrest will escalate, or not. You might decide you don't like safeway instant shepherd's pie after all. Something will change.
Promising change is easy, especially when you're talking to a country that's so unholy pissed off that any sort of change to the status quo will do, at least temporarily. And when you promise change you don't have to talk in specific terms about economic fairness or social justice. When you say the word 'change', everybody imagines the kind of change they'd most like to see, whether it's mass socialist uprising or the neighboorhood being as safe as it used to be before non-white people were invented, when all the locks were made of paper and God saved the queen.
Everyone can get behind a change! As long as it's not bad change, the kind of change we don't approve of. Change like people with unfamiliar faces and accents moving into our streets, change like women divorcing their husbands and demanding jobs and support, change like it not being fucking okay to be discriminate against gay people, non-white people, people with disabilities, change like it not being fucking noble and brave to ask a prime minister on national television what he's going to do about people from Eastern Europe taking all the jobs. Promising change (it's even better if you say REALCHANGE) is easy. Making a better country is bloody hard in the middle of a recession.
I'm not interested in change. I'm interested in specific transformation: transformation of the parliamentary system through direct challenge to the two-party orthodoxy in this election, transformation of our creaking, illiberal democracy; transformation of the state's attitude to women's issues; nuclear disarmament.
It is for these reason that I am going to be voting, in my constituency of Leyton and Wanstead, for the Liberal Democrat Party. Not because of Nick Clegg's golden tie, and not even because The Guardian says so. Because I want a new, more representative parliamentary system in which citizens can feel like their voices actually matter. I like the Lib Dems; I don't think they were sent to save us. I'd prefer to vote for a third party that had stronger links with workers' organisations. But the Lib Dems represent the best chance this country has for transformation on a structural level. And, of course, I'm sick of the sight of Cameron's soft, evil face.
I'm with the Guardian and with Sunny: if we want anything other than five years of Torygeddon, burning jobcentres and bankers' red-cheeked sons deciding policy in private lunches with their friends from university and the nice men from Fox, then we have to vote first for the party most likely to beat the Conservatives in our particular areas. After that, or if there's no clear and present danger of blue peril, grab a shiny off-yellow biro and vote Lib Dem.