It’s no surprise that it was a comedian, Russell Brand, who, rather magnificently, kicked off a discussion about voting. Some of the best-informed, most passionate thinkers are comedians. The thing that surprises me is not that Westminster politics are found to be boring, but rather that so many journalists find them so interesting. But that doesn’t mean parliament is irrelevant. It’s there to be used, like the courts, the media, the internet and the streets.
I doubt that any of the excitement about the more radical musings of Ed Miliband is justified. But I would still like to see him in Downing Street, if only to see the back of the current occupant. I will probably vote Green, or for Left Unity if they stand. I’m in a safe Labour seat, so there’s no risk of my putting a Tory or Lib Dem in. It’s a luxury, I know.
I think the election of a Labour government would give encouragement to genuine radicals, or at least not inhibit them. It won’t be 1997. Labour can only scrape in, with no euphoria and no blind faith in magical electability. Voting for a party doesn’t mean you have to cheer them on while they do things you were condemning a few months earlier, as New Labour’s craven supporters did until they were forced to concede that the chaos and slaughter their leader brought to Iraq was perhaps a step too far.
But if you don’t want to vote, fine; do something else. We need nonviolent direct action. We also need riots. We need lawyers, loud-mouths and dull academics. We need writers, artists, goths and vandals. We need boycotts, strikes and political theatre, however bad. We need reformists and revolutionaries. We need socialists, greens, anarchists, comedians, atheists, theists, poets and statisticians. And if you want a spiritual awakening, have one.
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