The 2019 election (sigh)

It may be otherwise with you (and we can still be friends if it is) but the three days following close of polling on 12th December were a depressing time in the Blogger’s household. It appeared that the country had looked at the various alternative governments on offer – and chosen the one likely to be most dishonest, the most callous and the most irresponsible. Opinions on these things will of course differ.

A series of fairly random conclusions…

  • The morning after, I remembered one of the most joyous periods in my life: the few days following the Labour victory in 1997. I thought, “This is how the Tories felt then.” But  I reflected that the Tories had at least had 18 years first. The devastation of so many people’s idealistic hope and hard work was hard to see.
  • Although the country didn’t in fact “choose” collectively (because every voter is an individual, and all voted independently, often for contradictory things), voting is a choice, and the result shouldn’t be represented, as I sometimes feel it is, like a recipe or an exam: if the parties act in this way or that way, they will automatically achieve such and such a result. On the other hand this should not be used as an excuse for the losers to fail to note what they did and said that was stupid or unwise.
  • Perhaps the most depressing factor, however, is that turnout was 67.3%. Despite everything said, and the wide, even grotesquely wide, differences between the parties, more than 3/10 of eligible electors didn’t bother to vote. And yes, this suggests that politicians of all persuasions need to consider how to reconnect with people… but I am going to stick my neck out judgmentally, and say that these non-voters were wrong and ought to be ashamed of themselves – unless of course they take the view that democracy – imperfect democracy – isn’t their preferred form of government.
  • Partly because I am the opposite of a floating voter, I am actually very ignorant about the day to day news cycle, even during elections. I don’t need to carefully weigh up the merits of Conservative/Labour/LibDem/Nationalist or Green on this or that thing, because I have a starting position, and it’s unlikely I will vote any other way than I have done for decades. I find it annoying when earnest Christian assessments of the political field ignore people like me, who are already committed and/or active, and seem to assume that we will or even should come to an election campaign with a Bible and an open mind. No one has an open mind anyway. Yes, I did dislike or worry about certain aspects of my party’s position or leadership, but it was never very likely that I would vote other than the way I did.
  • We are leaving the European Union. I may and do think this is a bad decision, but it’s been made.  There are some good aspects: a small measure of certainty for businesses desperate to get on with life; and a chance for the Leave campaigners to achieve, and take responsibility for achieving, the bright new future they promised us. Which may actually happen.
  • It’s now clear that the anger felt by many Leave voters at the attempts to rethink the “will of the people in 2016” was much deeper than many of us Remainers appreciated. I see one of the Labour leadership contenders is now suggesting a referendum on the future of the Royal family. Please no. 2016 unleashed a rival legitimacy to parliament as the basic unit of democracy. I’m not saying it’s not sometimes appropriate, but the language of antagonism between “parliament is sovereign” and “the result of the referendum is sovereign” became terrifying toxic.
  • I knew beforehand that I live in an echo chamber, where I primarily hear voices that agree with me, and that social media exacerbates this. But I really hadn’t realised how strong the effect was. For example, for various reasons I was extremely aware of the concerns over anti-semitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership; but until the aftermath I hadn’t appreciated – though I should have – the concern in some quarters about his past connections to Irish nationalism. It didn’t come up in the posts I look at.
  • I should grit my teeth and pray graciously for our new MP. And one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get involved. Don’t just deliver a few leaflets: go to meetings, learn about issues, and really know who I’m voting for in the leadership election.


  • Finally… many bad things can be said, and have been, about Jeremy Corbyn. (I remember long ago comparing him to Ned Stark.) Looking back it seems plain that he is/was a flawed individual with blind spots, including about himself, who was promoted beyond his capacity. However, I think it’s hard to deny that he is also a basically honest man who has spent his whole life working on behalf of the underprivileged. Now he has to face the fact that he has contributed very largely to a disaster for his cause, the impact of which will last for years, and will lead to his being mocked and vilified to his obituary and beyond. The result of December 2019 will forever be what he is remembered for. He has no religious faith to give him heart, and he cannot run away and hide his head under a pillow, because he is still the Leader of the Opposition, with a difficult and public job to do.

Whatever his mistakes or faults, surely this man should be pitied.

Some of the same could also be said of John McDonnell, Jo Swinson and even Theresa May.

Love from the PPI Blogger

  • Matthew Perry

    11th January 2020 at 9:03 pm Reply

    Thank you for these comments. Your insights about the election/voting fatigue are interesting, as a highly politicised, if unaligned, person who is not resident in the country I did not pick this up. The fundamental problem with remain post June 2016 was that it was anti democratic – the only issue being the serious irregularities in the campaign by the leave groups.
    Jeremy Corbyn, is like us all, as you say a deeply flawed individual, however so is Boris Johnson. What he was never was was a credible Prime Minister. It is one of those great mysteries to my why the Labour Party membership ever saw him as one.

  • Stephen Sheridan

    2nd February 2020 at 3:36 am Reply

    Your are right Penelope about how divided the echo chambers of social media have made people.

    The Sunday before the election I was at the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism rally in Parliament Square. The rally had very supportive speakers from the Muslim and Hindu communities, but shamefully there was no significant representation from the Christian denominations. The closest was the agnostic historian Tom Holland who commented on how the Blood Libel originated in medieval England, was eventually repudiated by the English King and the Pope, but survived into the era of the Nazis and has now crossed over to extreme Islamists, one of whom repeatedly shared a platform with Corbyn and whom Corbyn refused to repudiate.

    I am not Jewish, but I feel a huge sense of duty about the Holocaust, having lost my Polish grandfather to a Nazi concentration camp and a cousin of my father’s (after whom my daughter is named) was sterilised in Ravensbruck (part of the SS experiments to eventually eliminate the Slavs by sterilisation after using them as slave labour), not to mention many Polish family members oppressed, imprisoned or worse by both the Nazis and the Soviets.

    It was heart-rending to hear the stories and the fear of the Jewish people I spoke to at the rally. The abuse they have suffered in recent years in horrendous and I was in tears of shame that this behaviour has become normalised in our country. Their distress was more so because the Jewish community have generally been hugely supportive of the Labour Party, because of its defence of them against Moseley’s Blackshirts. I spoke to a former Labour Party member there who had been spat at and verbally abused in the most vile manner at constituency party meetings with anti-semitism overlaid with misogyny. As if to reinforce her view, a Momentum-stickered activist walked past the edge of the crowd where I was standing, yelling anti-semitic abuse and the Police did nothing. He moved away when the security on the edge of the crowd approached him.

    Corbyn’s motivation may genuinely be for the poor and oppressed, but in my view he has not been truthful about his efforts against anti-semitism and he was certainly not truthful when he claimed he did not take money from the Iranian regime channel Press TV after the 2009 democracy protest suppression. It was on his Parliamentary expenses declaration that he took his £20k after those protests. His lack of concern at why and how badly he lost the election shows he is actually sustained by a faith – a faith that the much of British history and the West represents the greatest evil in the world and it is therefore best to side with its opponents regardless of their objectives. That seems to be the only reason why he seemed content to parrot the ludicrous Putin obfuscation on the Skripal case, drawing the ire of many Labour MPs. I mean Putin represents the worst form of plutocratic oligarch – hardly a supporter of socialism! Let us pray that the next Labour leader recovers its former position as a friend of the Jewish community and become a viable opposition to hold the Government to account, rather than an ideologically pure protest group run by privileged wealthy middle class people like Seumas Milne.

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