Friday, 8 May 2015


They say you demonstrate your morality by what you do when no-one's watching.

Before the election, I signed up to a website, a tactical wheeze: the polls said the election would be close, and shifting votes from the Greens to Labour in key marginals could, they said, prevent the Tories getting in. So I signed up to swap my vote. If I voted Green in my safe Labour seat, to boost their share of the vote, a woman named Leanne in Bristol North West would vote Labour to lock the Tories out of power. Win-win, right?
After all, the polls were close. Labour and the Tories neck and neck, they said.

In the run-up to election, and on Polling Day itself, I fretted about what to do with my vote. If Labour and the Tories really were neck and neck, maybe it would be better to renege on the agreement, and vote Labour to boost their share. And how could I know Leanne would keep her side?

Game Theory said that I didn't, and as I didn't the only sensible option was to betray Leanne, on the assumption that she'd betray me. John Nash called it the fuck-you-buddy game.  And I could do that: in a secret ballot, no-one would ever know. Except me.

Morality is what we do in the dark. What we do when no-one's watching. I had no way of knowing if I could trust Leanne or not, but I knew what I wanted my morality to be. I knew we had had five years of broken promises. And I knew that I would not let one of those broken promises be mine.

A man who doesn't keep his promises. 

I voted Green. And prayed Leanne would vote Labour. Because the polls were still neck and neck, right down to the wire...

Until they weren't. Until the exit polls came in, and the results dribbled through,  and we discovered that it wasn't neck and neck at all. Because a lot of those polled had said they'd vote Labour, or Lib Dem, or Green, or anything but Tory, then got into the voting booth and decided that actually, you know, getting rid of food banks and ending austerity were all very well but there were Araminta's school fees to consider, and what about the income tax, and the buy-to-lets, and grandmother's inheritance, and Patience really was such a help with the children but suppose it got harder to let her go if belts needed tightening, and what they thought, in the politest, most middle class way, was fuck you, buddy...

Like, fuck you, yah?

Morality, they say, is what you do when no-one's watching. On that basis, England is a very immoral country indeed.

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