Smoking up

It’s 4/20 again, and it’s good to see that the tide of marijuana legalisation seems unstoppable, in the US at least.

Sadly there’s no sign that any of the big parties contesting the election over here are going to make freeing the weed a major part of their platforms. This might be a missed opportunity; in a close race the stoner vote could just swing it. Assuming they get it together enough to turn out…

Long range forecast

Well, I’ve been reading the papers, keeping up with the polls, and watching the debates on TV, but I’m not feeling any more confident about calling the outcome of the election. I have managed to come to one conclusion however; my confusion isn’t down to any inherent unpredictability in the process, but rather stems from my inability to imagine why the electorate might choose to vote one way rather than another.

This in turn is at least partly due to the homogeneity of the political scene here; while there are some differences between the parties they are all singing from essentially the same pro-capital hymn sheet. The left is even more marginalised than it was five years ago, and class-based politics is all but dead, so an old Bolshevik like myself has no sense of which way the population might be leaning, since from my perspective the available options are all equally bad.

But a more personal, and probably more important, factor is my gradual withdrawal from active politics over the last decade or so; I’m almost totally reliant on second-hand reports of what is agitating the public mind, most of them gathered through the unreliable channel of social media. Add in the decline of my youthful certainty, and some age-related general bewilderment, and it’s little surprise that I have no idea who is going to come out on top at the start of May.

Perhaps it’s all just too close to home; anxiety about how the outcome might affect my personal circumstances may be clouding my judgement. I certainly find it much easier to pronounce authoritatively on what will happen across the Atlantic; Hillary will win. You read it here first.

Predictably unpredictable

After months of anticipation the UK General Election is finally upon us. All the pundits are saying it’s the most unpredictable contest since, well, the last one, but I feel I should hazard some sort of forecast.

So, based on an entirely unscientific reading of a few highly selected news feeds, I’m going to say… no, it is too hard to call at the moment. The broad outline of the debate seems clear – it’s going to be won and lost on the economy – but there are enough confounding factors to leave the likely outcome frustratingly obscure. How much will the Liberal vote collapse, and where will it go? Will UKIP supporters return to the Tory fold? Will Labour do as badly in Scotland as the polls seem to suggest?

I guess things may become clearer over the next few weeks, and I will get round to making a prediction before polling day. In the meantime I’ll try to keep up some sort of commentary on developments, which might help focus my own thoughts on the matter, if nothing else.