As I write this paragraph the General Election is still almost four weeks away, and yet it seems already to have stolen the show. There is nothing else to read in the newspapers of any significance. My problem is that the General Election itself is of singularly little significance. No one in his senses imagines that the result will make the slightest difference. We have lived in the shadow of two great problems for the last ten years and more. One is unemployment; the other is inflation. To my mind, inflation is the more catastrophic of the two because it saps the very foundations of civilisation. Maybe I think this because I am too old and too lucky to be affected by unemployment. At any rate, there are the two great problems and neither of our two parties has the slightest idea what to do about them. Does anyone suppose that if the Conservatives win the election they will do any better than they have done for the last few years? Does anyone suppose that if Labour wins the election they will improve on their previous record when in office? They tell me that there is some sort of jumped-up third party, but I don't think we need bother about that. Third parties rarely succeed. I can only think of the Labour Party between the wars and it has run out of steam now.
LRB 16 June 1983 | PDF Download