As a denizen of the frozen north, I don't spend much time fretting over London's mayoral elections. Frankly, listening to the leading candidates - the mop-haired, dithering Tory fist-magnet Boris Johnson and the supremely punchable Ken Livingstone - is about as pleasurable as nailing my testes to a radiator. The entire contest is precisely the kind of the Vote To Keep The Loonies Out! travesty that has made modern British democracy the envy of none.
Still, I'm noticing an interesting trend emerging amongst those politically invested in the race. London's Evening Standard have provided acres of space for Ken-bashing chimpanzees to practice their crapslinging skills, while online chancers across the political spectrum have locked lips and are now engaged in a hot, steamy, no-holes-barred orgy of Ken-hate.*
Without doubt my favourite is this offering at the high-speed wingnut car-crash that is Pajamas Media from Scottish blogger Mr. Eugenides. Mr. E clambers seal-like onto the podium, shows off his ball-balancing skills in the intro then starts honking little horns marked socialist, anti-semite, Chavez and Ahmadinejad... Much to the great delight of the hideously deformed ghouls in the audience, who instantly begin butting each other and bellowing about Londonistan in comments.
It's pretty obvious whose interests are being served here - the Tories hope to win the election, while the braying gaggle of lolloping freaks and boggle-eyed trolls that hang from the party's arse like particularly nasty piles get to claim the credit.
Meanwhile, the Left's most pious and precious get to indulge in their favourite habit, i.e. noisily and ecstatically performing Dyson-strength suck-jobs upon each other for their immense moral rectitude... And God knows, there's nothing they love more than chasing off some vaguely socialist ogre, lest his brutish thoughtcrimes corrupt the nation.
The actual charges against Livingstone range from potentially serious to flat-out silly bullshit, and I'm only slightly surprised to find the same accusations across the board. Roughly...
Suspicious but inconclusive financial irregularities of a type somewhat less alarming than the Tory and Labour funding scandals of recent years;
Being nasty to a journalist who then took offence on account of his ethnicity, precisely the type of thing that would have this lot puking their ringpieces through the tops of their heads if the wounded party wasn't white;
Pissing off the Labour Party, for which he garnered huge public respect;
Paying his mates from the public purse, something which the jackasses this lot support would never do, and
Meeting Hugo Chavez and some dodgy Islamic cleric, which would be of more concern if our leaders didn't have a habit of glad-handing all manner of unsavoury characters.
Lots of these seem like good reasons to despise Ken, is if more were needed. Thing is, even if none of these allegations were true, others would be found.
Watchers of American politics will be familiar with the tactic - throw enough mud at a rival candidate and hope he sinks, leaving your boy to coast home. It's precisely this tactic that's made American elections ludicrous exercises in hysterical stupidity, as idiotic scandals cause the national press to leap onto chairs, clutching their blouses to their breasts like the old lady in Tom & Jerry bellowing at the brazen mouse in the swiss cheese.
The problem is that this kind of onanistic guff is effective. I reckon turnout in American elections is so low because of the witless bullshit that passes for debate over the pond. There's no engagement with the populace because the candidates are required to castrate themselves on TV whenever some damnfool preacher shouts his mouth off or it transpires the President spent a war hiding in a barracks.
No-personality politicians = Bullshit politics = low turnouts = laughable democracy - I can't put it any more simply.
So you see our problem. The more that flawed establishment media loses ground to partisan hacks with websites, the more this kind of gotcha-politics rules the roost, and the more damage it does... But there is a solution, one that runs against every principle I have, and it's going to lose me the few friends I've made online.
Win or lose this election, Ken should wait until it's over, then have a pack of rabid lawyers go through all these articles, online and off, with a fine-tooth comb. If there's anything libellous in there, he should immediately lodge the nastiest, most vicious law suits imaginable, and if grovelling apologies aren't immediately forthcoming he should sue the very shirts off their backs.
Nuke their bank accounts from orbit until there's nothing left but groggy cockroaches crawling through the irradiated rubble of their finances, because nothing says Nasty smear-merchants will not be tolerated like a red bill and bugger-all in the bank.
Now, you may protest that there's a right to free speech, and indeed there is - it's Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Read it - you'll find there's nothing in there protecting weasels who cheerfully pen screeds calling public figures Terrorist sympathisers.
Our democracy was formed in an age long before modern communications were invented, and we've found some excellent ways to bring people into the political process. What we still haven't figured out is how to deal with wreckers, frauds, conmen and cheats - if you've got any better suggestions, comments are below.
Cheers to Pigdogfucker, who'll be horrified by this conclusion, for the heads-up on the Pajamas Media story.
*I can provide links to even more deranged screeds, but you wouldn't thank me.