Well, who could have predicted that result? The pollsters, I guess, although for some as yet undetermined reason they didn’t.
We’ll do OK. We no longer face a rise to our income tax rate and, since we qualify for no benefits, none will be cut. My children are privately-educated and the ideological threat to their type of school seems to have receded. If university tuition fees rise, the Boywonder’s decision to go off to Canada to study might even be economically sound. We are fit and well, for the moment. We own our own home (despite recently having taken on a truly frightening remortgage) and have some savings and a pension.
And yet tonight I am filled with sadness. I have real fears for vulnerable people whether they are poor or disabled or young or whatever.
I have listened for the last five years to people accusing the Liberal Democrats of treachery for propping up a Conservative-led coalition. My feeling is that they were doing what they had to a) to gain power (as if that’s somehow despicable when your opponent wants to do it) and b) hold on to power. To me, they were doing only what other parties in other coalitions over the world do: find something that they could work with. The spectacular U-turn over university tuition fees did not help their case, of course, but witness the howls of Higher Education protest and the potential loss of their funding from the Labour party’s intention to reduce fees.
Yesterday lots of people seemed to punish the LibDems for entering into coalition government, and squeezed them almost into oblivion. And look what happened: they increased the majority of the Tories to the extent that they can now pursue unfettered any ideological agenda that they wish. Now, we might be lucky and find people with some compassion (I don’t for one moment believe all that puerile silliness that all Conservatives are evil cold-hearted demons,) but, given the austerity agenda, I’m not hopeful that this will be the case. And now there is no-one left to rein in any of the more repressive policies that they might choose.
What I am seeing is a Thatcherite ideology that chills me to the bone. It’s all very well if, like us, you are rewarded for your hard work (and luck) but somehow if you aren’t that’s your own bad Karma and you deserve to live with it forever.
What about Labour? Well, I’ve thought ever since he was elected party leader that Ed Miliband was a turn off. And so did many Labour people and ex-Labourites like me. Magically, however, since the new year, support for him has crystallised around his ideas. My Twitter timeline reflected this self-insulating, self-congratulatory bubble and the shock that others felt differently.
To me it’s such a pity because, instead of countering the threat from largely uneducated and fearful UKIP traditionalists, they retreated into their own ideology and turned their back on pragmatism. As I’ve said before, I voted Labour all of my life until 2010 but I really don’t see why I should vote for anyone who reviles people like me. I’m afraid, Mr. Miliband, you need us and the contribution we make to society and income tax revenues.
Intentional or not, Ed Miliband and his supporters came across as punitive, spiteful and against ambition, whilst at the same time espousing the anti-immigrant agenda. You might not want to acknowledge it, Ed, but we are also working families. Some people say that Labour became too right wing: I’d say they lurched too far to the left for me to take them seriously. I’m really sad about this. I know a lot of people detest Tony Blair for a number of reasons but he actually delivered three election victories for Labour.
The campaign became a battle of the ideologies when what we needed was for someone to hammer out an agenda around which other parties could unite and agree. We are not yet ready for cooperative politics, more’s the pity. In my view the politicians seem to relish and pander to aggressive, polarised tribalism that results in a completely divided society where people have little overlap, little mutual understanding and little common purpose.
Who loses out in this battle? Ordinary people: users of the NHS or mental health services or care support or children at school who have become such political footballs, such ideological guinea pigs that no-one seems to know what they’ll be learning from one year to the next.
In my own ultra safe Conservative seat, the LibDem vote dropped by nearly 14%, and UKIP managed to achieve a rise in support of over 9%. I have no idea how to figure this out. Why on earth would LibDem voters move over to UKIP? The OH’s explanation for this phenomenon nationally is that the more left wing LibDems (remember them?) voted Labour in the hope that they would win, and the more right wing voters went off to UKIP.
The spectacularly bad performance by the LibDems and Labour (not to mention UKIP) is a chance to think, regroup, choose new, fresh leaders and plan for the future. Let us look forward to a most interesting 2020 election. It’s time to stop all this nonsense.
I attach an article from the New Statesman which reflects a lot of what I’ve seen on social media today. Do read it. It’s interesting.