The British general election
is set for May 6, and already there's a strong theme emerging from the
across-the-pond commentariat: disillusionment. It's remarkable just how
many negative op-eds a few papers managed to generate in the days
following the election's announcement. The Guardian has been host to
particularly gloomy columns, but the other publications aren't exactly beaming rays of sunshine either. Don't take our word for it. See for yourself.
- 'I Have Largely Stopped Listening,' announces Rebecca Jenkins
in the Guardian. "I am fed up with the way the speed of modern life has
combined with our 24-hour media to dumbed-down political discourse. I
am weary of turning on the news to watch politicians stressing how much
more untrustworthy their opponents are compared with themselves. It
seems to me that our present democratic machinery is no longer fit for
purpose and needs reform."
- 'Like a Gothic Cathedral in
Reverse' The simile's a bit complex, but the Guardian editorial is
essentially irritated at politicians "discussing hard truths only in
the vaguest language." If they don't shape up, the editors
argue, "an election which should be an exercise in democratic renewal
will instead prove to be another episode of democratic disillusion."
- Brace Yourselves "It takes a particularly sunny disposition," writes Benedict Brogan
in the Telegraph, "to be an optimist about British politics. It takes
even greater reserves of confidence to see the joy in this general
election, not least after a first 48 hours that have produced
depressing levels of skulduggery and dishonesty." But he urges readers,
if they don't see anything they like in rivals David Cameron and Gordon
Brown, to think outside the box:"look beyond for the authentic,
independent voices, many sporting party colours, some not, who have
been listening to your anger."
- 'Orgy of Electoral Dishonesty' The Guardian's Geoffrey Wheatcroft,
pleading an "engagement to lecture at the University of Texas," departs
for the States: "I really shan't mind watching this unseemly contest
from afar." He suggests his countrymen share his "ennui."
Thought Debates Would Help This is the first time Britain will hold
televised debates as part of the election, and the Times' Daniel Finkelstein
had thought "they would improve the accountability of leaders during
the campaign." But now he realizes they'll "come at the expense of big
TV interviews," and "may be rather dull in the end. And they may
provide the public with less information than a proper grilling."
- Both Parties Disappointing "So far," says Rowenna Davis,
addressing an odd campaign around political posters, "Labour's posters
have only succeeded in painting a picture of the past and the
Conservatives' have been laden with contradictions ... If you present
your audience with fluff, don't be surprised when they make a mockery
out of it."
- Excess of Commentary on Nothing in Particular The Guardian's Julian Glover
is tired of the incessant election chatter: "Comment (of which this is
a part) is replacing news." On the other hand, "our excuse--a good
one--is that there is nothing real to report."
- Time for Change The Independent and The Times have had slightly less depressing coverage. Steve Richards,
at the former, talks about the "palpable sense of energy, hope and
liberation" following the call for an election, and says just the
dissolution of the "current discredited Parliament" will be "a
cathartic moment in itself." Meanwhile, the editorial board of the Times acknowledges the gloomy mood but sets its sights on the horizon, demanding better:
some time now--perhaps for more than a year--this Parliament has been
finished, without having stopped ... This country is less
self-confident, less cohesive and less free than we would want to see
it. It is less prosperous, too. Yet we are an optimistic newspaper and,
so, we look to Britain's future with confidence. We want to see this
election fought on competing visions of Britain in 2015, visions that
express this optimism in concrete form.
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