Apathy could be election winner

I will be honest; I love a nice surprise.

Sunday, 30th April 2017, 2:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 8:18 pm
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Whether it’s a scantily clad lady jumping out of a cake on my birthday, or the ‘shock revelation’ that Barry Manilow is living with a man, for me surprises keep life interesting.

It would be so dull if everything was on an even keel, calm and beige, like an advert for the Lighthouse Family’s greatest hits.

But not all surprises are welcome ones. Theresa May’s call for a snap general election was a bombshell for just about everyone, including the media, who were particularly miffed that they didn’t get the chance to stand outside 10 Downing Street, speculating for a couple of days, ahead of the official announcement.

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Election fever was the last thing many of us needed as we struggle to cope with a range of ongoing medical issues caused by politics.

Brexit fatigue, has affected half of the nation and its symptoms I am told, may persist for at least another two years and Mayor malaise, which can render anyone catatonic at any time, is also rampaging across the land ahead of May 4th. Fortunately, election fever will only last for about seven weeks, but in that time, expect it to spread like wildfire across an apathetic nation, with the worst cases easily identifiable, by a colourful rosette attached to the lapel.

If you are affected you may find yourself unexpectedly spouting statistics and offering others in the pub niche knowledge of previously obscure parts of the country.

A sudden need to speculate wildly is also a common indicator of infection.

Not everyone is susceptible, in fact some experts claim that over 40 per cent of us will be immune this time around, due to seemingly never-ending election exposure to swing-o-meters and David Dimbleby’s enticing demeanour. It seems just five minutes since “Lazarus’ rose to defeat his enemies, but Stewart Jackson will once again be forced to defend his record in Peterborough and that of his government.

But it might be Labour that need the miracle this time around, if they are to seriously challenge Stewart’s majority in the city.

The national opinion polls have them on the brink of irrelevance and previous in-fighting between different factions in the city, will make their task even harder.

The Lib Dems’ pro Europe message, in such a pro Brexit city, may hamper their renaissance and UKIP’s struggle to find a post-Brexit identity has left many voters disenfranchised.

So, it’s easy to see why Theresa May has decided to go to the polls now, with every indicator predicting that she will increase her majority and strengthen her hand in those divisive Brexit negotiations.

But opinion polls have been wrong before, just ask Ed and Hilary (Miliband and Clinton) and one woman’s opportunism is another man’s risk.

Labour will not be wiped out in their northern heartlands; the SNP will probably consolidate in Scotland and the Lib Dem’s anti-Brexit stance may well see a resurgence in their support.

In the end though, a coalition of apathy and lethargy may be the only true victor on June the 8th - and democracy will be all the poorer for it.