Tuesday, 3 March 2009

None of the above

I seem to have been absent for a while, busy spring cleaning, white-washing the old mole hole (that sounds so wrong) and preparing for the possibility of committing new music to tape - and this has left little time for important things like writing this blog, or typing emails of outrage to The Guardian, my MP, Thames Water, British Gas, or anyone else who will ignore me.

Just this morning though, the usual combination of lack of sleep and too much coffee ( I wonder if they're connected) led me to send the following missive to the lovely Jenni Russell who has received several of my letters over the years. I feel it's important to retain a dialogue with the outside world, especially when one never leaves the house except to buy the paper and see which cars got burnt out this week on my street.

Now that I'm nearly 40 I think it's allowable to use the word 'one' rather than 'I' when referring to myself, my status - whilst not totally regal - is at least approaching that of elder statesman. When I say elder statesman, I mean something like Mugabe.

I'll be back with something close to regular blogging as the music schedule allows, but what with that, irate letter writing, obscure phonograph building and figuring out how to keep snails off my clematis (again, that sounds so wrong) there is precious little time left in the day before my afternoon nap.

Until I have something insightful to say I shall leave you with the aforementioned letter... maybe if we all burnt our ballots there'd be revolution - or at least something to toast marshmallows with.

You can read Jenni's piece here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/03/conservatives-david-cameron-politics

Dear Jenni, another interesting piece today, but I wonder if in your heart of hearts even someone as seemingly hopeful as yourself doesn't secretly despair that once again the merry-go-round of democracy will result in the same pathetic choice between the puppet on the left or the puppet on the right.

I agree it is inevitable the Conservatives will win, but it could equally be any party offering what amount to identikit campaign policies, which immediately mutate from aspirational gold to pragmatic lead once power is achieved.

The argument that this form of democracy is the 'least worst' of all systems, with its right to vote for which our grandparents fought and died, is looking tired and downright dangerous in a world that needs big ideas, implemented quickly before we destroy the planet, our economies and each other. Our current form of democracy amounts to a tinkering with window dressing, as the next administration will doubtless prove, with a public purse so empty that any big ideas may be beyond our ability to fund them.

So rather than conferring a spurious legitimacy on any of the candidates by marking my ballot, I shall instead be burning it, as there is currently no move to recognise the spoiling of ballots as part of the electoral process. You may call me the naive one, knowing as we all do that decisions are made by those who show up, but I've been turning up all my adult life. To elections, to rallies, to meetings, and not once has my voice - or the voices of millions of others - been listened to. I voted in New Labour only to be taken into an illegal war, to have my civil liberties eroded, and to be made an accomplice to torture, by a party whose idea of social justice is to line the pockets of millionaire bankers.

While our generation looks back with gratitude to our forebears knowing the battles they fought figuratively and literally for our freedom to vote, I wonder how today or tomorrow's generation will regard us. At a time when the planet is dying, when capitalism has failed to bring equality, when we have lost the ability to feed ourselves, and the desire to feed others, will they be proud and grateful that we stood in line outside a primary school to cast our ballot for Cameron or Clegg, or any other stuffed shirt - or would they rather we genuinely took a stand and said "none of the above"?

As I watch my ballot burn I will at least know that I wasn't fooled again.


Tom McRae

P.S I have no idea what clematis is, or how to keep snails off it. I just listen to Radio 4 too much. I maybe old, but I'm not that old.


  1. Damn, you had me going with the clematis thing as well!
    I agree with you on the "none of the above" thing though, a party should be able to receive the majority of the votes of the registered voters in order to govern. Maybe that way we might actually get some change from the career politicians who currently switch between inhabiting westminster and their own fantasies.
    Funny blog, thank you.

  2. I can tell you that, in our house at least, a clematis is a climbing flower that sprouts pretty purple star-shaped flowers in August. In September it invariably dies and I'm made to buy another one. Snails aren't a problem as it's entirely capable of killing itself before they can get to it.

    Hope the new music's coming along well.

  3. Clemati (?) are beautiful, and clever people spend years patiently training them up and over their front doors. I am old enough to know this but not old and established enough to have one.

    Anyway, Tom - how can you keep us in limbo like this?? How's your finger?

  4. Simply to say that there is great pleasure in Gardeners Question Time, even if one doesn't garden.

    I know all sorts of things courtesy of the team, even though the extent of my horticulture is vaguely agreeing whatever TheLovelyElaine (she helps me with my garden) suggests and then paying for it.

    Sometimes I even pick the shrubs myself.

    Ah. This blog just has a way of helping me blurt out my deep dark secrets. You should charge £40 an hour for this and call it 'therapy'. (My mum does).

  5. Good piece Tom, I'm buckling up and preparing for the downslide of life thanks to many, many years of botched politics and parties. I loathe Cameron, I loathe Tories and maybe I'm stupid but I still believe in Brown for trying to undo his and every other sodden PMs' mistakes and I don't think this is a time to risk another idiot in the driving seat.
    I'm the most useless gardener on the planet, my gardening is limited to pouring weedkiller on everything though I do love looking at pretty gardens.
    Stay healhy, happy and safe Tom and we'll see you from time to time on your blogs:-)x

  6. Now I have The Who stuck in my head and unfortunately Horatio!

  7. Check your GR-inbox.

  8. Wasn't that a treat tonite: Oli playing the cello at the Rachel Yamagata gig in Paradiso-Amsterdam! When can we applaude you there again Tom?

  9. Thanks..but could you please check it again? Promise you it'll be the last time.

  10. Afternoon naps have a negative effect on the quality of night sleep - maybe that´s why you need so much coffee???
    Greetings from Cologne´s no 1 Sleep Lab....

  11. Nei jeg har ikke noe mønster på veska, den er blitt til ettersom jeg sitter og syr :-)

  12. I haven't a clue about the clematis, but that's a rather handsome snail you have there.

  13. Tom - please ignore this!
    Anybody else:
    make sure you have checked this post:

  14. Amazing, isn't it, that you can post a relatively inspired rant about politics and get a dozen answers about clematis? Proof that no-one can bear to think about politics and politicians I suppose. An idea - let's use the clematis (it is a climbing thing) to tie all of the politicians together (if it's really covered in snails that's a bonus) and then tie them somewhere where they can't do any harm. We could offer to untie them if they - any of them - had One original thought. That should keep them out of the way for a few decades! Meanwhile though, who'd going to fill the resulting power vaccuum? Can't be any worse... Have to agree with you - in student elections there was always a box marked 'RON' (for re-open nominations) - WHERE is it on a real ballot paper? We need it! I've never felt more like voting RON!
    On another note I just rediscovered how wonderful your music is after some tragically music free time. Totally incredible. Awesome man :)


Leave your comment, observations,screams of outrage here, and clothing and grooming tips.