Rod Liddle

Why I spoilt my ballot paper

Why I spoilt my ballot paper
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The headline ‘Government to allow people to hug’ one might have expected to hear on early evening news bulletins in January 1661, shortly after Oliver Cromwell was posthumously executed and puritanism began its slow and welcome withdrawal from England. It sounds a little odd in 2021. Below the headline came the inevitable caveats from the medical clerisy. While hugging you should turn your face aside so as to minimise the risk of infecting the person you are embracing. I think people are also enjoined to keep their hands well above the waist — during amorous encounters with people in your ‘bubble’ you are allowed only to ‘get your tops’, as we schoolboys used to put it. No kissing, and certainly not with tongues. I assume the popular gay practice of ‘frombling’, the details of which I cannot go into here, is still completely banned and we will need another announcement from Professor Whittle on this activity in the months ahead. Somewhere on the bloody roadmap there will be a possible date for the resumption of such stuff.

The headline about hugging prompted everyone asked about it on our airwaves to lie through their teeth. They could not wait to start hugging people again, they all said. Really? How needy and cloying have we all become? I simply don’t believe this. Nor do I believe that they have refrained from hugging anyone for the best part of a year, as they all dutifully insisted they had. I’ve been in the north-east for the past month or so and it already had a very post-Covid feel to it, very different from London. There was plenty of hugging going on and, shops excepted, a general lack of concern about social distancing. I have the suspicion that the ‘Yes, you can now hug — fill your boots’ announcement was something of a fait accompli. Me — I don’t wish to hug anyone and felt wholly comfortable with the ban. Perhaps I should have lived at a time when Cromwell was in his pomp.

One of my duties while in the north-east was to vote — for the mayor of the Tees Valley and also our local police and crime commissioner. I have a problem on the latter issue as I think it is an expensive and damaging waste of time and money. I would like to see our police depoliticised, not beholden to the reflexive jiggery-wokery of failed politicians and their deranged obsessions. The fact that the police today seem to spend 90 per cent of their time investigating imaginary hate crimes is surely the consequence of them being instructed to do so by Labour and liberal politicians who believe that these largely chimeric instances are more important than property theft or stabbing or drug-dealing.

I have a personal gripe with these commissioners, too. A few years back a Welsh politician suggested that I should be investigated for hate crimes because I joked that the Welsh language seemed somewhat short of vowels, and he referred the matter to his local police force. I contacted the Welsh fuzz to suggest that the politician be prosecuted for wasting police time, only to be told that the imbecilic Noggin the Nog in question was actually the local police and crime commissioner. Get rid of them all, now (the only major party which proposes such a thing is the Social Democratic party, incidentally).

The correct response then was to spoil my ballot paper — which is what, in the end, I did. But first I checked through the policy statements from the four candidates. Most were concerned with reforming the force — Cleveland has the worst police force in the country, officially. They also talked about antisocial behaviour, drugs, safety on the streets and so on — all big concerns up here. Except for the Labour guy. Except for him. What was one of the bearded, jowly idiot’s priorities? To create a BAME advisory panel on cohesion. They cannot help themselves, can they? We have very few BAMEs up here. Around about 3 per cent of the Cleveland population. We are almost BAMEless. Anyway, the Conservative candidate won by a landslide while the Labour bloke was down on one knee, looking the other way.

The interesting question for Labour is not whether it can win back the so-called ‘red wall’ seats — it can’t, ever, because in order to do so it would have to adopt policies which would estrange it from the areas where it can do well: affluent university cities such as Oxford and Cambridge, affluent pretend-countryside places, such as Chipping Norton, and various noisome nests of weirdos and perverts, such as Brighton. The question is: can it corral enough votes from the young, the gullible, the deluded, the earnestly obsessive and the merely affluent to provide a challenge to the Tories? More to the point, can it convince a sufficient number of liberal Tories that the Labour party is a more natural habitat within which to express their civilised and stupid views?

This will be a long process, but it is already happening. It is not too difficult to envisage Justine Greening and Amber Rudd, for example, as Labour MPs. There are plenty of liberal Tories, largely but not exclusively in the south-east, who buy into pretty much all of the irrational woke rubbish which is espoused by the Labour party, the Greens and the Lib Dems. They do so, I suppose, because it makes them feel better about themselves.

The next question, then, is to what extent does Boris Johnson’s Conservative party attempt to shore up its own historic supporter base among the well-orf — under threat from the left for the best part of a decade now? Or does it continue ‘levelling up’ while waving the flag and espousing ‘traditional’ values? Sooner or later, something has to give. It is a fascinating time to be observing politics, and all the more enjoyable now that we can hug one another again.

Bill and Melinda Gates