Election '97: How I will vote: Alienated by Labour's dumbing down

In the first of a series during the campaign, people in the public eye explain how they intend to vote and why. Today Will Self answers the questions
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The Independent Online

I have never voted in a general election. I just missed being old enough in 1979, when I was more politically active than I am now, and I would definitely have voted Labour. Since then, I've been increasingly alienated by the political process. I don't think the current political spectrum, in terms of parties and politicians, actually represents the real issues.

What issues are important to you?

There is definitely going to be constitutional change over the next few years. The current electoral system is blatantly unfair.

The election campaign is now targeted to the 60,000 swing voters in the key marginal seats. Both parties are targeting them with advertising directed at the tiny fiscal mentality of these 60,000 people. They are trying to persuade them that a penny off income tax here and a windfall there should mean they should elect them. Europe is also important. I'm a pro- European, and I've got no problem with a federal European state. With the risk of sounding terribly Marxist, there is a certain historical inevitability about this.

Will you have made your mind up by polling day?

One of my slogans is "A vote for Blair is not a vote for Blair". There's a certain argument for trying to return as big a Labour majority as possible in order to neutralise the Blairites of the party. Some of my Labour friends have persuaded me of this: if he gets a slim majority he will be able to have more control, because his whip will be tighter.

A week or so ago I made a decision that I would vote, and it would be for Labour, but as I've been following the election campaign, I've seen them talk such a load of cack, and this winds me up. If you pay any attention to the actual campaigning it makes you feel very alienated again.

What do you think of new Labour?

There are two problems here: firstly the Labour Party would not have been electable if it was still clinging to Clause IV, and to some of the corporatist attitudes that have been in the party traditionally.

I can understand why the Labour Party took to reform these areas of policy. What I can't quite cope with is the dumbing down of Labour politics. I don't like the way in which Blair wants to roll back to the days of the individualism that emerged in the cultural revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s.

I despise his religious stance: it really angers me. I think he does have a point when he says that in a society in which family bonds are slackening a lot, there is a lot of potential for alienation. However, I think that the way in which he makes a virtue of his happy family home and pushes all of that is really quite nauseating.

When did you first become politically aware?

My father was a professor at the London School of Economics, and an adviser to Callaghan, so I grew up around politics.

Interview by Sam Coates