I thought I knew politics. Today, I’ve just got questions.

Image of the exit poll results
John Ranson

When I got home from the count, my Labour placard had blown down and was lying in the flowerbed. In rural Norfolk, my constituency was always likely to return a Tory MP. But I supported the Labour candidate anyway because the Labour manifesto made the most sense. Now, everything I thought I knew seems as secure as a placard in a high wind.

Common sense solutions

It makes absolute sense to me that after being ravaged by austerity for a decade, the UK is in desperate need of investment. Our run-down public services need rebalancing. And that’s what the Labour manifesto promised. It wasn’t the moon on a stick. It wasn’t some kind of crazy free-stuff-for-all Christmas list. It was a rebalancing. A recognition that dedicating a sensible proportion of the nation’s resources to things like the NHS, social care, public transport, and genuine social security is the best way to create a country that works.

At the moment, the country doesn’t work very well. We’ve created a National Lottery culture in which it can very easily seem that the only way to be financially secure is to be a millionaire. Simply working an honest job is often not enough. Our expectations have shifted so drastically that people are supposed to feel pathetically grateful if they get awarded a benefit or if they can make it through old age without losing their house. That’s ridiculous in such a wealthy country. And Labour had plans which would have reversed this headlong regression to the Victorian era.

Hopes and fears

At least that’s how it seemed to me. But what do I know? If everyone had felt the same, the results would have been very different. Across rural Norfolk (and in other parts of England), Conservative candidates took over 50% of the vote. Spirited Labour campaigns yielded distant second places. Huge numbers of people went to their polling stations and put their cross in the Conservative box.

Some people will have considered voting Tory a ‘common sense’ decision, just as it was for me to vote Labour. Whether through habit, learned behaviour or personal research, those folks will have a vision of Britain which is cast in dark blue. The sanctity of the polling booth may never reveal how many voted on a negative rather than a positive basis. Without question there was a major campaign to create fear around the idea of a Corbyn premiership. As laughable as it is to any of us who’ve seen him at close quarters, very many people are afraid of the peaceable old grandfather. They genuinely worried in some sense for the safety of the UK if Corbyn became PM.

One nation

The United Kingdom is unlikely to endure. Scotland is clearly on a different track to England. Westminster’s hold over Scotland, which always seemed slightly absurd, now seems obscene. The concept of part of Ireland being in the UK will struggle to overcome the complexities of Brexit. The relationship between Wales and England will continue to defy easy description.

England, strangely, looks more unified than it has done for a while. But the bluer than blue map hides a multitude of local dramas. Big-name MPs of all colours have been toppled. The idea, once put about by Chuka Umunna, that voters choose the person not the party has been comprehensively destroyed. The new house of commons is going to be full of people who are there for no other reason than their dark blue rosette. Labour and the Liberal Democrats especially, but also to some extent the Tories, will face a period of rearrangement and repositioning.

Questions

I have more questions than answers. The questions began with “Surely not?!?” at about 10.01pm last night. So far, the only answer is “Yes, really”. But I won’t be racing to tie down the answers. One thing that I think is pretty clear is that I hadn’t previously asked enough questions. In fact, I don’t think I even knew what the right questions to ask were. I still don’t. But that’s my challenge. At the moment, I really don’t understand what’s happened. More than hurt, my overwhelming sense is of confusion.

There will be many things to discuss over the forthcoming days and weeks. But I’m wary of it becoming a political discussion. This election felt like a rejection of politics and political solutions. To me, the Labour manifesto made perfect sense politically. The country voted against it. So my priority will be to speak to folks I know who aren’t political, who don’t dissect manifestos for fun; people for whom elections are neither a parlour game nor a matter of life and death but something they just do if asked. And I may get answers or I may not. But I suspect I might be a little closer to asking the right questions.

Featured image via YouTube – Sky News

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  • Show Comments
    1. I supported Labour but I do criticise it for putting forward too much too fast. There were too many policies, too much detail. People couldn’t take it all in. Most of all, people trained, soaked in austerity did not know that these policies, these billions, were no more than basic to other European societies. They thought Labour was being unrealistic. Not so, it was good sense. But people used to starving cannot eat a large meal right away. A short list of core policies would have been better.

      But that negative pales into insignificance against the lies, the dirty tricks. 80% of what the Tories said was lies or empty waffle. It worked on fear. Brexit will not “get done” just like that. It will take 30 years of draining our budgets and our hope. All the parties hold some anti-semitism, anti-muslim, racism, sexism – not just one of them.

      It wouldn’t have made any difference if Labour had a different leader. Foot? Miliband? they were attacked too, but Corbyn got it far more because of the movement with him. We scared them so they got even more nasty. The lies, the lies. People need to see the lies exposed. Sadly they need to lose their jobs, watch loved ones die for lack of medicines, and there will be violence as they realise how they have been conned.

      I’m sad the peaceful grandfather is stepping down, but he has endured enough. He did what he first aimed to do. He reformed Labour into party that worked for the many not the few. His kindness and decency will work on and his steely determination is not going away. Sisters, brothers, grieve, sleep, and keep going.

    2. A rejection of politics. Quite. That’s exactly what Blair stood for. After his victory in 1997 Blunkett remarked: “Tony is teaching us people aren’t interested in politics.” Thurday’s result is what you get when you depoliticise.
      The vox pops are dismal. Last night on the tv a young woman struggling to get by who voted for Johnson because: “he walks the walk and talks the talk”. An old man in his car in the North-East who voted Tory but isn’t a Tory; he didn’t like Corbyn. Who would given that he’s a terrorist, an anti-Semite, an unreconstructed Marxist? The disorientation of much of the electorate is stunning. The one section of the voters in England which isn’t confused is the rich. They know what they’re doing and they’re doing it with unremitting cynicism.
      What we have lived through is the spread of stupefaction. Hence Trump. Hence Johnson. Tonight millions will tune in to Strictly, and vote. They have assimilated voting in elections to voting in these sorts of tv shows. It’s a matter of personal preference rather than democratic responsibility. We need radical re-politicisation. The young are leading the way. Many of them are astutely politicised. Don’t be wary of political discussion, it is exactly what is required. Intense political discussion. People need to be made aware of how highly politicised our culture is while it pretends to be simply natural. Corbyn has been traduced because he dared to be political in a way the culture despises. As MIchael Foot remarked in 1983: the one thing which is not allowed is democratic socialism. How can that be democratic? That is the point, our democracy is founded on this restriction. That is why we must defend democracy by extending it through consistently arguing for a thoroughgoing transformation of our economic and social arrangements.

    3. if you wish to understand what you could have done for a better outcome, read this lengthy prose:

      Lesson for Cameron, Major, Corbyn, Clegg, Guardian, Remainers – fighting Islamophobia was your TOP priority if you wanted a Labour win and/or a successful remain appeal referendum. You cannot do ANYTHING until you have fixed the racism rampant across middle England, not anti-semitism, but Islamophobia – it is Islamophobia which has driven brexit – we saw the true nature of racism among Labour voters – the many voters who switched to vote for an Islamophobic Prime Minister – there’s your racism Lipman, Hodges, and all other Islamophobes. I warned that this would happen, you can find the post on my site. Tony Greenstein’s response at the time was the childish word, on its own, ‘whatever’. When I was 15, Tony, and trying to pull Californian muslim girls, on my hols in the American sun, I bought a t-shirt with the word ‘whatever’ on it. Very teenage, Tony. Maybe if you’d been more grown up when I warned you about this loss you have had you’d have had a victory instead.

      Chomsky says you must not have revolutions unless reform is impossible. No way to reform our political system, blatantly. The ‘media’ is its nazi enforcement department. As you can see from how Corbyn was treated, there is no way to reform the British state, only a revolution, Mr Chomsky, can work now. No doubt this will prove true in the USA soon enough.

      People say Britons become ‘more conservative as they get older?’ – white kids are often not racist when young, as they grow older any anti-racism is beaten out of them by peer pressure and ‘received wisdom’ and ‘pragmatism’ (eg if a white man is still anti-racist by corbyn’s age, just look what happens to them) – they become more racist with age. That is the reality. Not conservative, racist. Bullied. Willing to do what’s wrong since that’s ‘pragmatic’.

      If you look honestly, white Britain does not take any interest in what anyone defines as racist other than what white Britain defines as racist. If white British people tell themselves they are not racist and meanwhile the entire rest of the world looks on shocked and says they ARE racist, white Britain simply writes them off as people with a ‘racist world view’ whilst ignoring all non white Britons who share that view, labelling those non-white Britons the same.

      Remember, even the man organising the ballot for my area was 100% unaware of the following news item, yet VERY aware of ‘anti-semitism’ in the Labour party:

      —–

      The deputy chair of a local Conservative branch has quit the party over what he claimed was Islamophobia among members.

      Kyle Pedley resigned as a local party officer and Tory council candidate in Stourbridge after saying he had witnessed a Muslim member face a grilling over his religious practices.

      He said he had been present during an interview in which the man, who was seeking to be selected as a Tory council candidate, had been asked how many times a day he prayed and how often he went to the mosque.

      Local Tory officers then discussed between themselves whether “we need an Asian”, he said.

      Mr Pedley said he had complained twice to the Conservative Party about the incident but had received no response.

      He resigned from the party after deciding that there were a “series of issues, problems and things I’ve encountered which I can’t align with my own personal convictions and my own personal beliefs”.

      Johnson said Islam left Muslim world ‘literally centuries behind’.

      The news came a day after the Tories were forced to suspend more than 20 current and former councillors over allegations of Islamophobia and racism.

      —–

      Now let’s re-write that as Labour and Jews instead of Tories and Muslims and imagine how many people would NOT know about it in this case:

      —–

      The deputy chair of a local Labour branch has quit the party over what he claimed was Anti-semitism among members.

      Kyle Pedley resigned as a local party officer and Labour council candidate in Stourbridge after saying he had witnessed a Jewish member face a grilling over his religious practices.

      He said he had been present during an interview in which the man, who was seeking to be selected as a Labour council candidate, had been asked how many times a year he prayed and how often he went to the synagogue.

      Local Labour officers then discussed between themselves whether “we need a Jew”, he said.

      Mr Pedley said he had complained twice to the Labour Party about the incident but had received no response.

      He resigned from the party after deciding that there were a “series of issues, problems and things I’ve encountered which I can’t align with my own personal convictions and my own personal beliefs”.

      Corbyn said Judaism left Jewish world ‘literally centuries behind’.

      The news came a day after the Labour party were forced to suspend more than 20 current and former councillors over allegations of Anti-semitism and racism.

      —–

      This is the warning I mentioned, to which Mr Greenstein simply replied ‘whatever’ – the warning which even Corbyn did not prioritise – there really was no higher priority for Britain than combatting Islamophobia. The energy put into fighting non-existent anti-semitism should really be put in to fighting real Islamophobia and nonwhite-phobia, including, as we can see all too clearly, among many of Britain’s most promiment white jews: The Blair-led Islamophobes use the pretence of ‘anti-semitism’, smearing all British muslims (the majority of whom are obviously incensed by Israeli genocide and apartheid), by association, with “anti-semitism” (other than uncle Tommohammeds whom they use as tokens to help them pretend they and their supporters are “not racist”) and pandering to the Islamophobes Boris and the Tories and Farage have all pandered to, to win votes from white racist voters. Is Labour ready to pay the same price those guys are paying? This is the most strong and stable time in Labour’s history, it seems. Does Corbyn want to risk letting Hodge, who voted to bomb Iraq under Blair, and those like her and Blair take away all that the Labour party has achieved?

      The detail I was lacking in my warning but see now is that it is the VOTERS who are all important. MILLIONS of white Labour voters supported Blair’s rampant islamophobia. And when forced to choose between Labour muslim allies and an Islamophobic Tory, they chose the Tory. I warned you Tony – and you were a child about it. Tony added me on Facebook because my online campaigning was of such a calibre that it drew many fans like him in. Hence I figured he was actually willing to listen to what I say, I wasn’t playing dial-a-celebrity or anything.

      I know, Tony. You’re right. I’m an idiot. Let’s forget ALL of the above, let’s NOT talk about muslims and Islamophobia. Let’s talk about jews. Why not? What harm can that do?

      http://www.tvhobo.com/share.php?a=1&sheet=132

    4. The right wing Blairite faction within Labour prefers to be a neo-liberal opposition party than be a socialist government. And why not, their pay’s the same. They chose the future-earning interests of a few hundred politicians over the welfare of millions they supposedly represent.

      They know when the economy collapses not only will the rich call first and loudest for socialism, they’ll get it. That’s what the bank bail-outs were in 2008. Government intervention. Socialism. For the rich.

    5. Excellent article, followed by excellent responses, so good in fact that I have only this to add, I literally can’t find fault with any of the above, but have certainly found more knowledge than I started with.

      Thank you to all of you who spend the time to explain things in your posts, and who take the time to think about what you are writing, it makes for great learning opportunities, as well as being interesting, and informative.

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