So, it's come to this. No-one really knows what's going to happen. No-one knows how, when these things which we don't know, happen, what impact they will make. The pollsters have been tripped up right the way through this election campaign, and we don't know if we can trust them or not. There lies before us a bewildering world of colour-coded maps; we've been spun a few yarns from the bar charts in our election leaflets; and the tactical voting or not tactical voting instructions are there, if we want to read them.
I feel nervous. I've had a kind of sick feeling about me all day, and I don't know why. I think I know why it is, but I'm not sure. I think it's picturing in my head David Cameron striding confidently towards No 10 as Tony Blair did in 1997, with that slightly quirky smile of his, then turning to give a speech to the roaring crowds about how he's going to fix Broken Britain and how there are tough times ahead, but how Big Society is going to make it all work out perfectly.
I imagine the champagne corks popping in newsrooms right across London as their candidate, the man they chose to give their backing to - in return for who knows what, or maybe nothing, maybe just for the prestige of being placed close to the winner, hoping a bit of the glitter will rub off - has been returned.
I imagine the delight as they realise that all the scare stories paid off - people were discouraged from how they wanted to vote because of the fear of the unexpected, the demonisation of a hung parliament... and all the fears of everything else, all the dog-whistles about immigration; all the fear that could be spilled out. I imagine them thinking it's vindication of their stories.
I imagine the front pages ushering in this new era of Compassionate Conservatism. I imagine the free rein that the new leader will get in his free reign - like the honeymoon Blair had, when we breezily brushed aside those niggling worries about donations from Bernie Ecclestone and so on, but magnified even more. All the little things that will get slipped through; all the changes that won't be questioned, or opened to scrutiny. The vindication. The sense of entitlement. The sense that the good fight has been fought, and won. The sense that it really was the Sun wot won it, or whoever it might be who'd like to claim that bauble this time around.
I imagine all of that and it makes me a bit queasy. But then maybe me writing that is just the kind of fearmongering I'm claiming that I don't really like, only it's my fears rather than the fears being shouted out from the news-stands, and while they're an army of massive influence and power, I'm just some rather saggy cloth cat sitting at a keyboard pointlessly shuffling out patterns of letters to make thoughts that no-one will read, or take any notice of, or care about at all.
We've probably all been preaching to the converted. We're all in the echo chamber, just some of our echoes are louder than others. We'd be fools to think we could have any influence at all. That's what I hope. I hope no-one has any influence, and that any attempt I could make to express my intentions would be as pointless as the front page of a big-circulation newspaper, and that somehow we're all just pissing in the wind. But I don't think that's quite right, somehow. I saw a huge poster in the newsagent earlier for the Telegraph which announced it was the 'trusted' paper and that's why I should buy its election coverage. I'm not sure I trust it, but then I'm never likely to trust it.
But... I'm still nervous. I'm still nervous because I'm completely powerless. Completely and utterly. My only hint of engaging with the democratic process is putting an X in a box, which I've done already, and then writing about stuff, which eases my mind, if nothing else. And so now I have to wait. Have I backed the right person? Have I been tactical enough? Did I vote out of fear, or hope? Should I have voted out of fear, if I voted out of hope? I wonder all of these things, and I suppose I'm not alone.
What surprises me is how much I actually care. I really do care. I care not out of fear for what might go wrong, or how awful my chosen bogeyman might be, but because these things really do matter; perhaps there is a real chance for some change to be made at this election, though I hope it's not the change that the 'Vote for Change' banners that litter the countryside have been telling me to desire. I hope there's a change to drag this country kicking and screaming into the modern era and reform the voting system, to make it fairer, to make more votes matter in future, to make more people feel that their Xs count for something more than just ushering in the inevitable. I hope that happens, but I know these things can easily fall apart when they're so close.
I care also because if this is the end of 13 years of Labour Government, that will mark a big change, and open up time for reflection. I remember the hope with which I greeted that result at the time, back on that silly night in 1997, and how that I felt that hope was taken away from me, over time. Do I want the Tories in? No, but I find it hard to forgive Labour for some of the things they've done. I'm sure a lot of people find themselves in that position and are still agonising over their Xs. I can understand that.
We don't know. In a way that's good. If this were just a cheery coronation of David Cameron, as at one stage it appeared it might be, then I would be even more nervous than I already am. It might still be that, which is what I fear most. But it might not. There is still, at this late stage, time for a little hope, I think. A little hope. How long it stays for... well, we'll see.
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