Alex Massie

Stirring Up Exasperation

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It's a strange business this campaigning lark, isn't it? William Hague was in these parts this morning. I learnt this from his Twitter* feed. He can't have spent much time in Hawick**, mind you, since he was soon in Edinburgh as part of a day-long tour of nine Scottish constituencies. Tour, of course, vastly overstates matters. Hague is dropping in on constituencies for a few handshakes, a pep talk to local party workers and, if the candidate is lucky, a few photographs for the local papers.

A lot of frenetic activity, then, but it's hard to see how any of it can reasonably be expected to influence voters. William Hague's presence on Hawick High Street can't possibly, one must imagine, change anyone's mind or recruit any more punters to the Tory colours. It is then a purely cosmetic exercise: doing stuff so you can be seen to be doing stuff. A vast, expensive, exhausting enterprise that achieves almost nothing as far as the ordinary voter is concerned. (Party members are a different interest group altogether.)

Then again, if the first two days of official campaigning have demonstrated anything it may be that the way to survive this election with your sanity intact is to avoid watching television entirely. Follow it online and on the radio, but avoid the TV. Newsnight, for instance, has been especially aggravating with Jeremy Paxman giving the impression that he's so unimpressed with the politicians (and the voters for that matter) that he'd like to be asked to be Dictator just so he could have the pleasure of saying No, get stuffed, you're on your own you poor benighted fools...

As for all the campaigning, one almost pines for the days when Willie Whitelaw ambled around stirring up apathy. This time the pols scurry around stirring up exasperation...

And if you agree with this then the good news is that you're not alone! According to a Politics Home survey 66% of voters think the last few months have amounted to little more than "a tiresome and long-winded process that has provided little or no new information that could help make a decision on how to vote".

*Mine is here.

**Aye aye, would you? Of course you wouldn't.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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