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