Election. – has the dirty war begun?

For some, it is food competitions and Strictly. Others cannot get enough of Monty Don and Co. And me? Pause for breath and confession time. I am ashamed to say that the answer is Election programmes. Once every five years or so, the blood rises and I find myself swept along with the tide of manufactured enthusiasm, as politicians of every ikk ply their trade. Honestly. I find them fascinating.

Now, dear reader, that is sad, but I have been contaminated for far too long to be able to shake off the infection. Wandering as I have for years somewhere near the centre, I have voted in my time for all the three so-called major parties, without being a member of any of them for over thirty years. If you wanted to pin me down, I suppose you could say that I have a lot of time for Ken Clarke, as do many others across the political spectrum. But that falls well short of buying into all Conservative thinking, not least on penal and legal aid issues. Nor am I disposed to join the present incessant personal attacks on Ed Miliband.

And that brings me to the real point of this blog.

It is dirty already, this pre-election phony war. How much worse should we, the floating electorate, expect it to get? And more directly, why the hell should we put up with it?

You see, those of us without rigid fixed political convictions suddenly are important. All sides want us to sway their way. When they are doing so with vigourous debate, good political jokes or compelling logic, I am only too pleased with my affliction. I listen and maybe learn and certainly dont feel upset by more politics on the box. Although UKIP are off my radar, I do want to understand exactly what the main parties are planning and yes, certainly I will be glued to the Leaders’ debates. If they ever happen.

As I said, sad perhaps, but that’s my problem.

BUT one feature will ruin it for me, all over again. I cannot stand personal attacks. It is fatal at the Bar and should be fatal in all civilized political discourse. It follows that I also loathe and detest class war politics with a vengeance. Bring inequality home in the strongest terms by every legitimate ploy of debate. But do not go for the man or woman as individuals.

Already it is not just the spectre of renewed class warfare that fills me with dread. I happen to think that the crude smearing of Ed Miliband’s father by the Daily Mail was the worst political mistake of recent years. I thought and still think that the Editor should have been sacked. It is much to the credit of David Cameron and Nick Clegg that both dissociated themselves from it. And if we really are going to fight this election in the gutter again, then may I suggest that those of us in the middle, whose support apparently is goldust, should speak up about it. Pronto.

So what about a campaign against dirty politics right across the board?

One way would be a website specifically set up to record every single personal attack from all the parties during the election campaign. Call it – Cut It Out. I hope one of my younger readers is sufficiently enthusiastic to run with the idea. Highlighting each and every personal attack as gutter politics.

And just for the record, that certainly does not apply to knockabout political humour. Bill Someone was not a bad joke.

Nigel Pascoe QC

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