Friday, May 18, 2001

The day it all went weird

There's a moment like it every campaign. One where the normal rules of society appeared to have been abandoned altogether, where suddely a weird, twisted momentum takes an electoral campaign, where it moves out of the hands of campaign managers and press spokespeople, and suddenly the whole thing takes on a life of its own. Election campaigns, my friends, have lives of their own; they are gigantic, slathering beasts, with the blood of the fallen (and someone always falls) dripping from their yellow fangs.

It's bound to happen, as a band of tired-looking old white men troll around the country asking us to put marks on paper near their names, that things suddenly get beyond their control, no matter how much their 'people' can do to prevent it. Instead of sticking to the nicer points of policy, at some point everything, and I mean everything, goes surreal. All we see for days on end are ashen faces, reacting to the latest outbreak of insanity around the country, trying desperately to get the things they want to talk about back on television rather than the avalanche of preposterous freakish accidents that dominate coverage of an election.

You can see it in their eyes. Each and every one of them knows this is true. Just a little nudge and it could all be out of their control. That, dear friends is why none of them is serious in calling for John Prescott's resignation. None of them really want him to go. Every empty head is filled with the softly repeated words: "Next time it could be time it could be you..."