A Thing like the Thing that happened recently makes you take stock. It makes you think about what you’re doing and why: it makes you wonder if there’s any point in bothering to change things when most people (if the results mean what they purport to mean) don’t want change: it makes you wonder if there’s any mileage in debating issues like the NHS and the results of benefit cuts. It makes you question yourself and wonder why the hell you bother. To me and many people I know the Labour Party has been pointless because it has promoted ‘Tory-lite’ policies; since the election there are cries to move even further to the right and concentrate on ‘the neglected middle-classes’. What? If there’s any class that Labour has neglected, it’s the working class – more than that, they’ve neglected the underclass. They have failed to speak up for the poor and disadvantaged; they have sat back and watched in opposition while the Coalition battered those on benefits, sold off whole chunks of the NHS and social care – and now people have voted for the Tories again! I simply cannot understand it.
Why? That is the question that reverberates in my mind. I cannot understand why people would want this. Is it simply a case of ‘I’m all right Jack?’ I’m baffled.
Perhaps they (the voters) think that it’s a simple matter of balancing the books, and then we can get back to spending more on public projects. But who pays? Who caused this mess in the first place? Who is hit the hardest? And where does it all end?
As a Quaker and a person of conscience I know I have to fight this. What I don’t know is how. Along with others I have worked for Left Unity for the past two years; I have been out campaigning for the Greens (there’s no conflict of interest here as we didn’t have LU candidates locally) I have talked to people and tried to raise the profile of those on the left agitating for change – and seemingly to no avail. What disappoints me most bitterly is that I heard a lot of voices raised in favour of ‘doing politics differently’. I was very impressed by the TV debate that was mostly women: it was respectful and devoid of all the things people most hate about political discussions. And I really, truly thought – given the state of the polls – that this would turn into more votes for the smaller parties, meaning that whichever of the two larger parties got into power, they would have to rely on smaller parties to govern.
What the hell happened?
Like most people on the Left, I’m still reeling; still asking that question. What the hell happened?
One theory is that there was electoral fraud. I don’t buy that at all – the procedures are too strict – but clearly what people were telling the pollsters and what they actually did, were two different things. So why did they lie?
Or did they lie? Maybe they intended to vote for the smaller parties but got scared at the last minute. That still doesn’t explain why they voted Tory rather than Labour, but it might explain why the smaller parties did worse than anticipated.
I still don’t get it. Theories are pouring in: there’s an almost 100% turnout in the ‘post-mortem theory’ debate, but I still don’t know.
So: once the dust has settled and we’ve done being sick, what do we do? Because doing nothing is not an option. We have to keep going.
Kirk out of office
PS The latest edition of ‘Dead Ringers’ really cheered me up. They did a version of ‘Every Time You Say Goodbye’ as sung by Ed Milliband, with the line: ‘how strange the change/from leader to resigner’.
Not bad to come up with that in less than 12 hours!