IF THE KIDS ARE UNITED… A GUEST POST FROM ANDREW TUCKER

Much has been made of the apparent apathy of first time voters. In an election where they have been effectively written out of the manifestos, Andrew Tucker gives us some insight in this remarkably perceptive piece:

andrew tuckjer

Hello! My name’s Andrew Tucker, Beeston/Nottingham/Broxtowe born and bred, I’m a first year undergrad in English at KCL, singer in an unsigned band (IVORYSERFS) and in the grand scheme of British society I am nobody yet. In fact, few

IVORY SERFS in action.

IVORY SERFS in action.

people my age are seemingly important. Yet. If you keep reading you’ll begin to spot a theme here and I hope I don’t bludgeon you around the head with it too heavily. Maybe a sharp written poke to the navel will suffice. Regardless, Suzanne Moore in The Guardian has bemoaned the lack of truly ‘youthful’ voices in the election and I felt I had to write something, as I have both a: some opinions and b: the means to write them down, which seem to be the two prerequisites of having a voice, and, if you pay attention only to traditional media, more than anyone under around twenty-five has done. I’ll try to rein myself in but I feel strongly about this. I hope you’ll forgive any deranged lapses into incoherency if they’re tempered by strong feelings. I’ll try to keep it together:

I am twenty years old. This generation – my generation – is getting a short shrift. We have been grandly misperceived, grossly underestimated and grotesquely patronised for far too long. They say a week is a long time in politics. If we subscribe to this idiom, it stands that five years is an aeon. This May’s election will deliver five years’ worth of new voters to the ballot boxes, not that you’ll have heard about it.

What kind of voters are these, you ask? We certainly don’t hear much about them, not enough to build a mental profile beyond the typical face-glued-to-phone image, at any rate. Are these new voters just the precocious few who manage to clamber out of the pool of ignorance that common parlance would have all youngsters flailing in?

Perhaps it’s all true. Perhaps while the real grown-ups bicker over The Deficit, we’re the demographic mired in our attention-deficits; perhaps while the Natural Leaders of the country decide who does and does not get to eat in food bank Britain, we take needlessly beatified pictures of meals and share them on Instagram to inspire jealousy. Yes, after all, perhaps we’re all just self-obsessed. I’ve certainly spoken to a few people of my age who, faced with a political status quo that chooses to present itself opaquely – to cover itself with a custodial veil – choose unhelpfully to withdraw into themselves, saying (I paraphrase for brevity’s sake): ‘why would we engage with politics when it doesn’t engage with us?’.

Politicians know older people vote. That’s why so many policies in this year’s manifestos pander to them, often at the expense of younger people, as our voting levels dwindle.This is, fairly or not, why politics doesn’t engage with us. As I know, as many like me know, however, it’s our generation that has to make the first move in this societal eco-system. Not everyone my age understands that, but it doesn’t make them apathetic – at least, not in the way they’re painted. You see, apathy has two causes: the first is lack of concern, care, interest – this is how we, the youth vote, are frequently tarnished. The second form of apathy, however, is the inner supposition that one has no faculty to influence the outcome of external events. Well I posit this: the prevailing meme held about us by those in their advancing years is in essence a category error. Those of us that refrain to vote do so not because they don’t care but because they care and feel they are without power to act on this care.

Can you blame them? In 2010, when I was fourteen, many who are now about to vote for the first time cleggleswitnessed something that even we knew was unprecedented. It seems difficult to even conceptualise ‘Cleggmania’ now, as we see that deflated avatar of ‘change’ make gesticulations of emptiness to a base of nobody. Mania hints at what it was though – after the inaugural British TV debate, the Lib Dems’ polling shot up astronomically. He was literally (literally in the original sense) an overnight sensation. A Guardian headline soon after read: ‘Nick Clegg – the British Obama?’

Imagine the baby-faced first-time voters then. In the shadow of a Great Recession and given a supposedly binary choice between the withered, wrinkled, idealistically hollow Labour Party and, er… the Tories. Suddenly the Lib Dems’ incredibly progressive manifesto and Clegg’s apparently fresh buoyancy were intoxicating to a great many young people; inspiring, worth investing hope in. My past equivalents –the electoral virgins of five years ago – were jubilant and voted for the Lib Dems in their droves.

Everyone saw what happened next. We knew we’d be at university with a new tuition fee of nine grand a year, leaving many of us with over £50,000 of debt post-university. It affected my generation more than anyone perhaps yet knows. Most were too young to protest, but we looked on: first time voters bought into idealism and left short-changed. All it did was confirm in many young people’s heads two things: our leaders are dishonest, British democracy is not for you.

Five years on now and another party has captured the hearts of young people more than any other. The Greens have made waves and are in many ways the embodiment of the sensitive, concerned millennial with their attitudes regarding social equality, environmental prioritisation and confronting vested interests. I personally won’t be voting for them for reasons I won’t detail, but they do have my unashamed support (and hey, older folk, you’re not excluded. Remember when the energy companies used to be a national asset?).

The ‘Green Surge’, as it’s quickly come to be known (polls put them on 11% this January) has happened greensurgeonly with the aid of new forms of media, social sites like Facebook being an imperative pillar. Yet there is a perception that information disseminated via social media is by definition inherently of a diminished standard and politically ineffective – just juvenilia for adolescent minds so they can convince themselves they’re playing a part in democracy, while actually knowing nothing about the world.

Well, we certainly have a different perspective on the world around us, at least. When we’re middle-aged in, say, 2045, we will have to live with the imploding or imploded ecological and economic systems our preceding generations have gifted us, (along with the admittedly numerous positive institutions), as our inheritance. Yet when I talk to older people they often categorise support for the Greens as naïve idealism for the political illiterates. They say: ‘Yes, but when you’re older…’

I want to ask them this in return: how easy is it distinguish between the achievement of maturity – i.e. realising that a vast positive societal overhaul is silly and unreachable, settling down and proselytising instead about self-interest, voting in subtly different shades rather than boldly different hues – and, simply, losing the fire in one’s belly?

Even if the older crowd has given up on progress – and I’m far from sure that they all have – well, we have plenty of fire left. What has been mistaken for a mountain of political apathy is in actuality a dormant dragon, a colossal curled hydra possessing the sheer kinetic energy required to sweep away thirty-six years of neoliberal wastage. If you’ll pardon the melodramatic metaphor.

So: we might seem mute to you now, but that’s in part because our ideas are quickly shot down as naiveté Russell Brandand in part because we have no purchase in traditional media. We might seem disengaged and uncaring, and some of us are, but for logical reasons. That can and will change in the years to come. We might even watch Russell Brand’s Youtube channel, but we’re not star-struck morons who take him as an information-age Che Guevara. We’re capable of parsing what’s useful and what isn’t. We take his prompts about TTIP but, if comments below his series are anything to go by, we’ll sure as hell be ignoring his calls not to vote.

So: watch out. We may be vulnerable to impulses of instant gratification; we’re also the first generation that grew up with all the information in the world at our instant beck-and-call. We may seem detached, aloof and disconnected from the world; remember that we’re the first generation raised with the ability to communicate, convey ideas and spread our points of view in the blink of an eye. We’re prematurely cynical but we’re full of hope. And we’re about to be enfranchised.

The dormant dragon looks asleep; maybe it is asleep. But perhaps its eyes are merely closed in meditation, perhaps it’s been quietly taking everything in, mulling it over, realising its incredible potency, testing its ideas. And when it gets up, well then…Andrew Tucker

ONE DAY TO GO: FALSE CLAIMS AGO-GO! / DECONSTRUCTING SOUBZ

One day left!

Tempus Fugit. The pitch has risen to shrieking now, as the campaigns reach their climax. The national press, which is ran by a bunch of non-doms, bigots and tax-shirkers, is in full force. Anything goes. So desperate are they to keep Miliband miliout, even that old scare-mongering classic, the Evil Jews, has been employed by The Sun, who keep blasting away on the ‘North London Intellectual, eh? Eh? Eating bacon? Eh? EH?’ dog whistle till they are Tory-blue in the face.

Even The Independent, once the bastion of centrist journalism, has come out in a tortuously written editorial for the coalition (not explicitly the Tories, I best add). Why? Is there any connection with the fact it’s proprietors, the father and son duo Alexander and Ebgeny Lebedev, Russian Oligarchs who are desperate to cosy up to Boris Johnson: even flying him out to their palace in Italy’s Umbrian hills. The newsroom at the Indy are unsurprisingly livid at being forced to take this line. Traditional media’s takes another lurch towards the void of outright propaganda.

The polls hold strong though. Whether this is the result of the way social media has become as important as print since the last election, or just that people can see through these attacks and smears for what they are, I don’t know. The misjudgment the Tories have made is that the public aren’t like them, they aren’t bullies, they aren’t nasty, Christ, they don’t even find chasing foxes around on horses and ripping cubs from vixens wombs appealing, the weirdos! The Tories have a huge problem in that they can’t win elections anymore: their last majority was 1992. Their core membership is dying off, and not being repopulated from the young. These nasty attacks further alienate themselves from the electorate.

Here in Broxtowe, desperation takes other guises. A flood of claims gush on a torrent of leaflets, and it looks like some people haven’t let truth stand in the way of a claim.

Politicians lie: that’s a given. Yet it’s a little known fact that during election time, it’s illegal to do so. Not against regulations: illegal, a criminal matter. I’ve been hearing of several cases where the police have been called in. Over in Stapleford, a group of Lib Dems pretending to not be Lib Dems have formed a party called ‘Stapleford Alliance’, and after not correctly including imprints on their posters, seem to have committed offence. My sources in Stapleford inform me that the police are already involved.

Closer to home, a prominent Lib Dem is falsely claiming in his leaflets that his wife is a sitting councillor. This is demonstrably untrue, and he too looks like having his collar felt soon. The Lib Dems themselves have been hit by a Tory smear, David Watts reporting in his newsletter today that he has seen

a leaflet this week from the Tories containing a very strong and nasty attack against me personally. Let me assure you that it is a lie. (It’s also a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act but I won’t get bogged down with that at the moment.) What they are purporting to quote was a comment on an internal council email (so they are riding a coach and horses through the councillors code of conduct by doing that as well)

It looks like the police are going to be having a busy week once the dust has settled.

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Soubry HATES tactical voting, and makes great huffs about voting for the party you believe in. Except when it suits her, ofukip course. Unfortunately, UKIP can’t stand the Soubz, after she bollocked Farage on Question Time, and claimed on tv that Farage was a man who enjoyed having a finger up his arse.

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Anna Soubry decided that rather than chat policy on Twitter, she’d talk about my family. I’m not quite sure to what end, but it’s very odd and quite unsavoury. Seems to have sunk like a stone with the electorate as well, with people responding in disgust at her. Frothing Tory activist (and partner of Broxtowe Tory leader, Richard Jackson) waded in, claiming somethign about ‘threatening to sue me’. Could this be the last time I hear that before I retire from politics? Or would any other Tories like to wade in to take the accolade? Maybe make it look official, a solicitors letter or something? Possibly sue me for ‘liable’ (thanks for that, Steve Carr)? You have just a couple of days left, or I retire after seven years of writing without a single threat being carried out, or a single word retracted. Perhaps best to stick to endorsing the bullying of ‘frail ladies’, Sally. Softer targets.

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Anna stuck out her final communique today, and included a  rather interesting list of why you should vote for Anna. I’ve made a few notes:

1. I give a straight answer to a straight question, have worked hard as your MP and have got things done. You certainly do. You told the Royal Mail to ‘fuck off’ when they asked you not to sell them off to Osborne and Cables mates. You called a constituent a ‘liar’ in public. There are numerous times when serious issues put to you have been either

(Soubry later admitted that she had failed to reply, but refused to retract the insult)

(Soubry later admitted that she had failed to reply, but refused to retract the insult)

outright ignored, or responded to with a terse email refusing to help / stock response. You have got little done here. A couple of PR heavy cases, but loads ignored, or done with such a half-heart you might not have bothered. You have, however, ‘got things done’ in the Conservative Party: sacrificing proper constituency representation for a nice ministerial job and the perks that come with that.

2. I have and will continue to campaign to defend our Green Belt land.

broxbefore

Broxtowe Coat of Arms before Anna took power…

Demonstrably untrue: although creating a lot of bluster about this, you were pro selling off the nation’s forests, and a recent independent legal case found that your challenge to Broxtowe Borough Council was utterly groundless, and that the plans they had made did the least amount of harm. The government that foisted these plans on Broxtowe? Err, the one you’re part of Anna. Your meetings with Eric Pickles, how come you left empty handed? Any connection to the promotion you got soon after? Or the rumours of your elevation to the House of Lords? Your defence of Toton’s greenbelt is amazingly duplicitous: rather than save the greenbelt, you want it to be saved so a huge industrial

...and five years on. Bears! Beware!

…and five years on. Bears! Beware!

estate serving HS2 can be built instead. Maybe they’ll paint the chimneys green. Your voting record on green issues, such as voting for the failed badger cull; and voting against joining with Europe in banning bee-killing neonictonids is also telling. Green you ain’t.

3. I have stood up for residents, commuters and businesses badly affected by the tram works and I have won compensation for traders. Demonstrable bollocks. The County Council Tories, endorsed by Anna, rejected a compensation scheme for those affected by the tram in a 2008 motion. When the Council changed to Labour, she demanded that they pay up: despite the fact that, errr, they already were setting up a scheme. Anna probably has got the issue on the table a couple of times, after all that’s what she’s paid to do, but her actual usefulness compared to her claims is striking.

4. I am a passionate supporter of our great town centres and want to continue the job of rejuvenating them. Again, bollocks, at least in Beeston. She has refused to attend any of the Beeston Continuum / Civic Society public meetings on the future of the town, where she could have been of genuine help. Instead, she moaned about them from the sidelines, claiming she ‘wasn’t invited’ to meetings. Public meetings. Clue in the name Anna. Open to the public. I know it demeans you to think of yourself as one of us, but technically, you are. Instead, she has chosen to use the Ranting Rooms to talk osborneabout Beeston: the same rooms that don’t take dissent, and rip apart anyone who steps out of line, banning them then wallowing in a group hate once they can’t answer back. A group that has done more to try and divide this town than a tram line could ever do. Unsurprisingly, she recruited a bunch of her paper candidates from here, including that lovely chap who was reported to the police for threatening to bring a rifle to a council meeting. Anna hates Broxtowe. That’s why she only moved here when she absolutely had to…despite promising us it was the first thing she’d do when elected.

5. I have supported the Coalition Government that has laid down the foundations of a sound economy, creating hundreds of jobs locally and a record number of apprenticeships. Another five years will enable us to continue the recovery – so we have the great public services, like the NHS. Again, bollocks. We have an economy that is hugely vulnerable: George Osborne has borrowed more in five years than Labour did in 13, and the National debt is now well past a trillion – up from that they inherited. Growth has been stagnant, compared to strong green shoots in 2010, and the promise to ‘pay down the deficit’ wasn’t honored: only a third of it has been paid back, an appalling record.  As for public services, prepare to see them all but disappear. Broxtowe received the worst local government settlement in the country, and will see horrific cuts on local services. We have people in this country queuing for foodbanks, despite being in work: the standard of living has fell for everyone but the most wealthy. To spare her banker friends responsible for the 2008 financial crash, Soubry has been complicit in the demonisation and rabidly nasty pauperisation of the most vulnerable. We have a society with the greatest among of inequality since before the war.

As for the NHS, it is in intensive care itself right now. The Tories are doing a classic trick to soften it being sold off,

copyright Steve Bell, The Guardian.

copyright Steve Bell, The Guardian.

piecemeal: running it down by starving funding  (not always directly: by cutting local authority funding for social services, the NHS has no choice but to become a glorified care home); then selling off chunks claiming only private money can save it. As a former health minister, Anna will no doubt be soon sitting on the board of one of the profit-driven firms looking to steal what is ours.

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Keep the tips, gossip and pics coming in (mattgoold23@hotmail.com) as we head deep into the endgame….

SOUBRY DOLE