In the 2017 General Election, at best there is the possibility of damage limitation. The utter travesty of a campaign that Theresa May and her Tory monobrows have been pursuing is contemptible and will, when the inevitable disaster strikes, not be forgotten. At the outset of the campaign her cynical assumptions that this would be a cakewalk for the inadequate, petty and ignorant programme that her middle-English and offshore funders promote rendered the campaign a potential farrago of depressing lies and a single-sided parade of third-rate cast-offs from the fascist right. Her courting of UKIP and its degenerate agenda was meant to be the defining characteristic - a more visually-gifted person than me should be able to draw May being ingested by a combination of Farage and Nuttall.
The depressing authoritarianism of the Tory campaign has been spotlit by the last week of its sclerotic progress. Following two terrorist outrages during the campaign, where it is clear that the perpetrators were known to the security services and in some cases concerns had been raised by third parties, May's response has been to call for the elimination of human rights. Maybe she is an ISIS plant, wanting to introduce dictatorship and a form of Sharia law where Paul Dacre gets to determine the acceptable boundaries of activity. Maybe she is just another inadequate Home Secretary, whose cuts hollowed out both the police and the intelligence service. The despicable smearing of opposition parties by Johnson and others should have been met with the riposte that if anyone has blood on their hands it is a Prime Minister, former Home Secretary, who willingly colluded with the delusion that you can cut out the legwork if you censor your citizens and spy on their activity.
The Tories have relied on vilifying and ridiculing Jeremy Corbyn. This deflects neatly from their constant vacillation and policy reversals during the campaign. The ultimate piece of idiocy was an intervention by the disgraced Liam Fox to the effect that any opposition to the UK's possession of weapons of mass destruction would prejudice discussions with the EU. There is a term for this, which is fuckwittery. The possession of nuclear weapons is not a particularly effective deterrent against terrorists. Perhaps the Tory strategy is to make the country such a wasteland that potential murderers will think we have suffered enough.
Labour has at least engaged on the economic and social ravages that the Tories, unfettered by the need for a coalition and compromise, have been able to get away with for the last two years. The irony of Medusa May attacking a "magic money tree" when opposition parties have shifted the debate away from the myth of excessively low taxes funding acceptable public services is lost in a world where the principal media outlets are spewing out a mediated agenda. Whatever happens, the opposition parties have at least laid down a marker that decent services require progressive taxation, and that corporations, who benefit from the social and economic infrastructure funded by the wider community, need to bear their weight.
Where Labour has fallen short is on the two key issues that would swing my vote. A creative response to the referendum would have been to leave options open - not denying its result but offering up the possibility that the deal available after a period of negotiations might be so damaging as to be politically as well as economically catastrophic. This might have mopped up votes from not just those of us who are still incandescent with rage about the UKIP coup that has mesmerised May but from those who voted last year on the basis of the "promises" about economic access and freedom of movement that they were served up by the braggarts and criminals in the various Leave campaigns.
Labour still does not get the idea that the institutional reform of the British state is also important. Its manifesto is strong on limited action, but does not reflect either the failure of the electoral system to create the context for mature democracy, nor the skew of power to unelected groups and the dominance of London and the South East's interests. Any party promising to address the failed state apparatus and to devise a contemporary polity that reflects and encourages pluralism and protects against extreme idiocy is welcome - which is why the Liberal Democrats, Greens and the civic national parties are so much more advanced and intelligent.
In a bipolar situation, this leaves mitigation as the only option for the majority of voters. It is simply a matter of what outcome would produce the least bad prognosis for the country. Part of me thinks that May winning by a narrow margin would be the perfect outcome - her nose will have been rubbed in excrement (a joyous prospect) before a culinary experience therewith - and she and the Tories will be forced to implement their policies that will probably not merely accelerate the break-up of the Union they claim to be so fond of but will cause rioting and rebellion on a scale hitherto unseen. This nihilism is seductive, but unconstructive.
Instead, where there is no chance of a rational candidate winning, voting Labour seems a much more appealing choice if they can remove Tories. A hung parliament may not appeal to the simpletons in the major parties who believe that suppressing debate and conducting the affairs of the nation as a private fiefdom is their divine right, but it would create a potential for debate and discussion that is both open and subject to challenge. It is not a plea for coalition, but a recognition that the crisis that these countries face is not one where there is a single point of wisdom. The paradox of this election is that, if turnout rises and tactical voting works, both major parties could increase their vote share but that the result could be significantly more representative than the 2015 outcome.
For me, my choices in voting are clear. In my constituency I have four candidates, two of whom tick my boxes with respect to Europe and democracy - and I had, in the end, little hesitation in endorsing someone with a probability of victory and with a record since their election of both good casework and high principles. For those without the prospect of a victorious SNP, Plaid, Green or Liberal Democrat candidate, the choices are harder - but the chance to punish Theresa May and bring down her arrogant and vainglorious semi-fascism should probably override all other considerations.