Comment: The most hideously awful General Election campaign in living memory
It has been the most hideously awful General Election campaign in living memory; probably ever.
The party leaders are widely loathed and almost universally mistrusted.
Their claims, exaggerations and false promises seem to have been made up on the spot as each tries to out-do the others in testing our credulity.
Nobody seriously believes Labour will pluck £1.2 trillion from the fictional magic money tree to pay for all their promises. Nobody really thinks a four-day working week will transform Britain and save the National Health Service.
Likewise, do we really think a Tory majority will automatically end the Brexit nightmare without months, if not years, of more debate and discussion? Boris Johnson’s deal may allow him to sign off on the first part of the process by the end of January but only by introducing a border in the Irish Sea and casting Northern Ireland adrift from the rest of the United Kingdom.
The Liberal Democrats’ Jo Swinson is illiberal and certainly no democrat since she has pledged to ignore the votes of 17.4 million people and keep Britain in the EU without even the fig-leaf of a rigged second referendum.
All in all, this has been a pitiful and frustrating election campaign where the stars of TV have set themselves up as judge and jury and our leaders have lied, dodged the question, obfuscated or hidden in fridges to avoid scrutiny.
Social media, meanwhile, has taken one lie after another and sent them scurrying round the world before the truth has had a chance to put its boots on.
Yet we have to vote. We have to vote because ‘a plague on all your houses’ isn’t an adequate response. We must select the least-worst option and hope for the best.
And that has to be Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, whatever the doubts may be about him and his party.
That’s because the only plausible alternative really is the coalition of chaos he has warned about.
A Government led by Jeremy Corbyn but run from Edinburgh by the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – not even a member of the British Parliament – would plunge this country into chaos and collapse.
A Labour Government would soon discover it was impossible to honour its improbable promises. The economy would plunge into recession, money would flee abroad and interest rates would soar.
Women who were born in the 1950s and have been promised thousands of pounds in back-dated pensions might think they are doing very nicely thank you. But the cost of that little exercise will be met with higher taxes all round and explode any remaining credibility Labour’s economic plans might have.
Businesses, shareholders, pensioners, those on average incomes, the low-paid, public service workers - recession has no friends and everyone will suffer if the most extreme, Socialist Labour Party this country has ever seen is let loose to do its worst to the economy.
With Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, we would have elected a friend-to-terrorists dedicated to turning Britain into a North Atlantic version of Venezuela, an oil-rich country with 80,000 per cent hyper-inflation and 90 per cent of the population living in poverty.
And, of course, the price of power for Mr Corbyn would be doing a deal with the Scottish Nationalists. They would hold a second independence referendum and this time they’d win because the Scots are canny enough to realise escaping from the clutches of a mad Labour Government is by far the best policy (the rest of us may well agree and start migrating north of the border, if they’ll let us in).
Before that, though, we will be subjected to a sham second Brexit referendum. This time it will be rigged in favour of remaining in the EU by giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds and, more significantly, allowing EU citizens living in this country to have a say as well.
If we elect a coalition of chaos, we will never get any kind of Brexit but we will suffer the long, tedious arguments and grins of triumph of all those obnoxious Remainers who have spent the last three and a half years trying to subvert the biggest democratic vote in this country’s history.
Boris may be a bit of a dodgy character. He does seem sly and lazy but he will bring Brexit towards a conclusion and his party can be trusted more than the others to secure a reasonable economic future for the country.
That matters more, even, than Brexit for unless the economy prospers there won’t be any money for the NHS or any of the other things people care about.
I have always believed in the collective wisdom of the British people, as expressed through the ballot box. Sometimes they have delivered election results I did not want. Even so, there was some sense in their decision.
This time, though, as the polls show a hung parliament is a real danger, I find myself truly horrified at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. We deserve better than that. We may deserve better than Boris Johnson as well but he is the only other option.
The least-worst alternative is hardly a ringing endorsement but in this terrible election that’s what the Conservatives are. And for our own sakes, we have to support them.