Gentle citizens, do not worry, it is nearly over. Just seven more days of promises, insults, denials, Milliband-bashing, Farage-bashing, Sturgeon-bashing, Clegg-bashing. I’m surprised any of them can still blink, let alone muster a smile.
It reminds the older of us how at the end of another more famous coalition exactly 70 years ago, Prime Minister Winston Churchill hurled the Gestapo insult at his Deputy Prime Minister Clem Attlee (May, 1945) – and lost that election by a landslide. Which book-ended their partnership quite neatly since it had been Attlee and the Labour Party who’d agreed and underwritten Churchill as coalition war-leader in May 1940, when, lest we forget, half the Tory cabinet were of a mind to throw in the towel and make terms with Herr Hitler.
This present election could be as significant as 1945. Then, at a time of even greater national debt, battered and ruined by two World Wars and economic depression, Attlee’s government (in the face of hysterical American opposition) gave the nation a welfare state for the old, the handicapped and the unemployed and a health service for everyone, irrespective of their class, their creed or the colour of their money.
Now, today, in the name or with the excuse of austerity, that remarkable achievement of social justice is under extreme threat. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has identified a £30 billion shortfall in Tory spending plans that, given their promises on taxation, can only be covered by cuts in the welfare budget. So, after the bedroom tax, what’s next?
Us poor old pensioners won’t be considered immune forever. Or will it be our grandchildren and Child Benefit that suffer? Certainly the disabled and infirm with their carers, who have already suffered many indignities, will be an easy target.
And perhaps, beyond welfare, the depleted armed services might lose yet more caps and badges and credibility? If Cameron and Osborne have any idea what they intend, they’re certainly not telling us.
We shall make our decision at the ballot-box based on the kind of country we believe ourselves to be: generous, compassionate and humane; or mean, self-seeking and cruel. It is up to all of us individually to identify which party fits which description.
Weary, concerned, scornful, enraged, apoplectic citizens of Rye, however you intend your vote, remember to mark your cross on May 7. Anyone who does not use their vote forfeits the right to complain about government, politicians or policy. It is our duty to exercise democracy. In those two World Wars, one million six hundred thousand of our soldiers and civilians gave their lives to preserve that freedom for us.