This is the anti-election. Who are you not voting for?
Today the UK public get to decide who runs the country for the next five years. Or rather, the UK public get to decide what cards are dealt to the negotiating teams who will thrash out a deal for power in the coming weeks.
The result — a hung parliament — has long been anticipated. The outcome, however — who forms the Government — is not.
UKIP are famously anti-immigration and anti-EU but it’s leader Nigel Farage’s self-caricaturing tactic of constantly claiming to be “not like the others” that sums up their anti-election strategy.
As The Spectator put it:
“Today, the politicians who prosper are the ones who go out of their way not to be like politicians. One political fixer calls this the Boris Johnson effect.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s strongest selling point is that they are the only party capable of kicking the current government out, and the rise of the Labour/Green voters site VoteSwap is predicated on ‘stopping your political enemy from winning’.
The Greens look quaint in comparison with their old-fashioned focus on fighting climate change.
It is perhaps not surprising that it has turned out this way given the way that pledges made during the last election were abandoned by the parties once in charge: most notoriously the Liberal Democrats’ pledge not to raise tuition fees (which led to the autotuned apology video below); and the Conservatives’ pledges not to reorganise the health service or raise VAT, or means-test child benefit.
In that context the only credible campaign promise that any party could make was “Vote for us and you won’t get them”.
To use a footballing analogy, this election has been like Chelsea and Manchester United reaching the cup final: most neutrals hate both teams, and distrust both managers, so who you cheer comes down to who you want to lose most.
So I’m off to the polling station. I may not know who I’m voting for — but that’s OK because hey, I do know who I’m voting against…