Which death do you prefer?

The Eastleigh by-election has been much analysed by parties and pundits, all keen to predict the future and opine upon what needs to be done by each party to ensure success in the next general election.

Labour, of course, took comfort from the fact that they stood no chance in Eastleigh and, so, stick their collective head in the ground as to how just far the loathing for their years of Blair-Brown misrule reaches. The only reason that they are in the running to win is the fact that the Tories and Lib Dems have been busy indulging in their own period of misrule that will be all the fresher in voters’ memories come the time to cast their ballots. With the two Eds continuing largely on the same path as their predecessors, a return to power is far from guaranteed.

With a win under their belts, the Liberal Democrats have been just as delusional in victory as Labour has been in defeat, ignoring just how many of their own defected to UKIP and the fact that without the UKIP/Conservative split, they would have been trounced (and probably failing to see the irony of how their failure in introducing the Alternative Vote preserved their seat). Unmasked as corrupt and misogynistic, and not at all liberal, they seem to be well on the way to losing their remaining shreds of credibility.

David Cameron has been most bemused at his party’s poor showing in Eastleigh. Unfortunately, no matter how much Tories witter on about how similar their policies are to UKIP and blame the Lib Dems for restricting their actions in Coalition, it seems neither he nor they have recognised that it is Cameron’s loathing of core Conservative values and failure to produce a credible alternative that isn’t just Labour or Lib Dem Light or far nastier than the classic ‘nasty party’ image that is to blame for the party’s collapse in support. Even if he goes, there seems to be no real alternative left within the party – the remainder are either as bad as he is or have sold their souls for a Ministry. Essentially, we have seen the Tories ape Labour under Blair, abandoning their core values, losing them their natural supporters, whilst ditching anything good in favour of powermongering and an obsession with pleasing everyone whilst pleasing nobody.

With the other smaller parties nowhere in contention and largely reduced to the status of jokes and the suppliers of policies to the theft-prone majors, only UKIP comes out of the bye-election with any glory having come close to victory. In fact, rather than a vote for UKIP being a vote ‘stolen’ from the Tories, it looks as if a vote for the Tories is one ‘stolen’ from UKIP. Where the Tories have become Labour or Lib Dem Light, UKIP has become I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Conservative Party and, without a real Conservative Party to challenge them, seem all the more credible for it, whilst, for all the attempts to smear them, coming across as much nicer as any of the other major parties. If they could show that they really are a credible alternative that is amenable to traditional Labour and Liberal voters as well, they might actually become a contender.

With the odds of UKIP achieving contender-status before the 2015 General Election being about equal to any of the main three parties returning to their roots in the same timeframe, we can rule them out as potential winners and, unless Cameron is ousted, they are unlikely to form a UKIP/Tory Coalition, leaving us to consider the other parties. Given the abysmal state of all three and the fact that UKIP will doubtless be stripping votes from all three, it seems unlikely that any will win a majority, leaving us with the likeliehood of another Coalition (and, whilst the Lib Dems would seem the natural contenders, it is not entirely inconceivable that we might see the bad joke of a Tory/Labour Coalition of the Unwilling or even a political threesome). With the outcome so difficult to predict and outlandish possibilities suddenly seeming almost plausible, you would be forgiven for thinking that the election is one with everything to play for. Sadly, given the mess all three main parties are in and the fact that not one believes in anything other than big salaries and inflated expenses claims, there is pretty much nothing between them to actually decide upon.

Essentially, whoever you vote for, the UK will be left in a mess. The mess may vary a little by who is to blame for it and the speed of disaster’s approach may be a little slower with one than the others, but the end result is no different. We are not even being asked to vote for the lesser of two evils. We are being asked to choose the means of our execution, knowing that the ultimate end result will be the same, regardless. Which death do you prefer? Guillotine or the Death of a Thousand Cuts? The one may be quick and clean, the other slow and painful, but, when all is said and done, you’re still dead at the end of it. Unless something amazing happens in British politics – and, indeed, world politics – all we are being asked to decide is the means by which we want the coming disaster to unfold. If you would rather vote not to have a disaster, you’re going to be sadly disappointed…

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