It's about the time where impassioned grassroots campaigners are getting their coats and gloves on for evenings of door knocking, in the hope that they can swing the political pendulum in favour of their party. The bright-eyed optimism of frontline activists is somewhat admirable, but also increasingly rare as election time approaches. The hope that these individuals share is outnumbered by abject resignation among people from all social factions. For them, May 2015 does not signal a new beginning, but a gloomy continuation of the same falsehoods and empty promises, irrespective of what party comes to power.
Let's face it - politics is not exciting anymore. In fact it's rather depressing. Look across the political spectrum and you'll find a mass of faceless politicians whose inspiration is derived from focus groups and lobbyists. They stand for winning elections and little else; perhaps why it's hard to discern what ideological substance each party consists of. As a consequence the average voter is feeling ever more alienated from politics as the Westminster club seem out of touch from the struggle of modern day Britain - a time where real wages have been squeezed to Victorian era lows while the Sunday Times Rich Lists boasts to being 'richer than ever before.'
Many, out of desperation, have embarked upon the path to the Farage-ian Empire where Count Nigel plots away menacingly, while others turn their backs on democracy altogether. It's damning while also indicative of our political era that someone like Nigel Farage stands out as a modern day Spartacus, willing to challenge the tyranny of the Westminster political class. I'm sure a privately educated man who made his money as a stockbroker in the Thatcherite Big Bang knows all about life on a council estate in a post-industrial mining town.
However UKIP's surging popularity cannot be explained by the attractiveness of its political philosophy, but rather the simple fact that they seem different. Just because they're removed from the stigma of being a traditional party, they've been able to monopolise the protest vote. Farage has managed to successfully ride the wave of anger aimed at our politicians by appearing as a straight talking bloke you'd love to share a pint with.
Furthermore, the strong rejection of the EU and intolerance towards immigration account for strong ideological positions, which no matter how unpopular and possibly irrational they may be, have perhaps endeared parts of the electorate. They appear to be standing for something, despite that something being hugely based in xenophobia. Nevertheless, it's the principle that is crucial for both Labour and Conservative to adopt in order for them to do well in May. Both parties have lost icons in the forms of Tony Benn and Margaret Thatcher over the last year or so, both of whom were characterised by their unrepentant support for their respective beliefs. Their clashes represented the 1980s in its essence - hostility soaked in political doctrine. While the country suffered as a result due to turmoil, democracy thrived, as two parties with clear opposing views battled over the country's future. Unfortunately, the striking banners of red and blue have merged together to form political beige: a representation of how our politics have no meaning, and elections are merely a transfer of power from one ideologically bereft party to another.
But is overlap among the political elite a bad thing? The 1980s marked unprecedented social, economic and political upheaval and many would attribute this to the stubbornness of party leaders in both camps. Maybe consensus on certain issues is beneficial to national progress. Maybe pure ideological politics just don't exist anymore, as successful parties model themselves on elements of the free market along with social security. Perhaps then we should be grateful for the lack of excitement in politics today, as at least it perpetuates stability.
Ultimately however, politics and democracy especially is not supposed to be about stability but about progress. We've reached a dead end with the existing political paradigm and need a radical change. The likelihood by which we'll see one by next May remains low, but the possibility of a colourful populist movement in the coming years remains enticing, even if we have to endure years of beige before it.Suggest a correction