In the spring of 1997 I was at a conference just outside of Berlin, deep in a forest, miles from anywhere. And on the night of the UK general election a few of us sat down with a cheap radio, some equally cheap whisky and various packets of German cigarettes. We sat there until the early hours of the morning listening to the election coverage on the BBC World Service and marvelled as Labour swept to victory. And at the time, after years of bleak Conservative rule, it finally seemed as though things might change, that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel and that the country might return to something approaching a socialist agenda. And we smiled as we drank our cheap whisky, smoked our cigarettes and listened to the remaining results come in.
And I guess, at the time, that it seemed as though we had some choice: that we could vote for political parties with radically different agendas and that our votes determined our futures - at least in part.
Eight years later it's almost election time again. But this time, and maybe it was really like this in 1997 too but just seemed different, it doesn't seem as though any of it makes much difference. Labour or Conservative. Global capitalism or Global capitalism. Yet more consumerism or yet more consumerism. Hmmmm.
Anyway, the upshot for me is that for the first time since I was eighteen I won't be voting in this general election as it seems to me that politics, in the UK at least, isn't about changing things, or making them any better for those in need, it's just about more of the same in different shades of grey.
On which note: I saw this scene today and decided that for me at least it captures something of the emptiness of contemporary British politics.
All of which isn't a request for a political debate, it was just on my mind ;-)
3.05pm on 11/4/05|
EF 17-40 f/4L USM
21mm (34mm equiv.)