What the hell happened?
I woke up Friday morning hoping the exit polls were just speculation. In fact I was up at 5-30 remembering that was the time they announce the results for Wirral. That turned out to be the only real light (along with Farage) in this black night descending. The first voice I hear is the capitulating tones of Ed Miliband as Labour's rescue boat crashed onto the rocks with a great many casualties.
We are now looking at a Tory majority in the house of about 330 give or take. I suppose that isn't huge, but they have around 90 seats over Labour. As far as I can tell any vote where we need the opposition to win (in other words all of them) we are likely to lose - that is after all the point of having a majority.
This is shit. I have never been so scared in my life. I have spent the last two days in a daze, bereft. It's been a funeral for the soul where the only comfort is that I'm not alone. Yet now we are all more alone than ever before given what is likely at stake that I cannot even bring myself to mention. It's too much to consider what we stand to lose - and with very little political opposition as Labour are now looking to move even further into the Tory shadow. This will be confirmed if their choice for the next leader is someone like pro-capitalist Chuka Umuna.
It is clear that a combination of five years of toxic propaganda, lies and media manipulation has brought us to this point. The average Tory will not admit they voted for a party that supports the persecution of the poorest and the weakest - despite that being exactly what happened from 2010 (and I'm sure will again as Duncan Smith is hardly likely to shift post). They instead will point to how Cameron has led a recovery out of Labour-created doldrums and economic depravity. However there is and has never been any evidence that Labour were profligate, or that they spent all the money - despite Cameron desperately waving that note around. In fact that image says it all: a child waving around a lollipop stick with a funny joke, because that's all that note was. And anyone could have written it, but isntead the faithful saw the image of a piece of paper with some scrawl on it and a Parliamentary header and thought "yes, that's clear proof of Labour's financial incompetence", despite all evidence to the contrary. (hint: Paul Krugman wins nobel prizes for his knowledge of economics, David Cameron, to date, hasn't).
Unfortunately Labour comprehensively failed to get that fact across. Like startled rabbits, caught in the headlights, they found themselves suddenly unsure of where to go and what to say. For five years they floundered under a man who, to all intents and purposes may well have been a reasonable sort, but couldn't and wouldn't defend himself. A man without the charisma and presence and message necessary to counter the Tory onslaught which was backed up by enormous amounts of money (profligate, you might say) and enormous amounts of media.
Labour, since 1997, had positioned itself further to the right pandering to big business and, through Blair, gaining the approval of the arch-demon, Murdoch, himself. Then that all changed; the banking system fell apart under its own avarice and lack of self control. Everyone turned on Labour who, since then, have been left wondering what the hell happened? Prior to that Osborne had called for lighter touch financial regulation than Brown, and promised even more public spending.Labour has since offered a concessionary version of the Tory austerity, with slightly less pain, yet pain nonetheless. It is bitterly ironic that that was the best alternative in our broken electoral system. A democracy that isn't representative enough and has reinforced the two horse race it always was
The point here isn't to defend the dismal modern iteration of Labour but to recognise that, on their own standards, the Tories fail. Unfortunately they won by spooking the electorate about the SNP - as if the Scottish were somehow terribly alien and dangerous in their values. A week before the election and Labour sought dreadfully to distance themselves from the SNP, and all the media snark, by saying they'd rather a Tory government than ally with the SNP. Well, you got your wish Ed.
In 2010 many people, myself included, were swayed by this newcomer, Nick Clegg, and that he, and amiable Uncle Vince, who seemed economically pure of heart like an avuncular fiscal Merlin, offered a genuine alternative. Sadly that proved to be an illusion as they failed to gain anywhere near the result 'Cleggstasy' conjured as a promise, and they got into bed to prop up a coalition that has wrought havoc on society. This coalition, in reality a Tory government with quisling Libdem legs, has kept the economy in the toilet, stagnated the labour market, rewarded the rich for their failures, turned the NHS from a reasonable prospect (despite the likes of Patricia Hewitt) into a nightmare of waiting times, privatisation, more debt, closures, and an A&E crisis of the like as yet unseen - not to mention the nightmare of catastrophic welfare reforms. Universal Credit ready by 10/13 anyone? Instead we have a regime of willing stormtroopers under Fuhrer Smith's command while he refuses to examine the corpses.
Now the Libdem vote has collapsed. Onlay 7 remain. Perhaps the most telling aspect of all this is that they didn't lose their seats to Labour, but to the Tories! That's the nature of right wing politics: you thought you were all doing the right thing, that you were acting in the national interest? Congratulations, a knife in the dark is your reward.
So what happened? It seems the Tory vote didn't increase - as you might expect from the surge the results imply. Instead the libdem vote collapsed, as predicted, but with Labour's failing inertia and lack of a leftward message, people remained disillusioned. Consequently the Tories filled this vacuum - but not with an increased share. Instead their numbers, while no different than before, were enough to beat the collapsing opposition result; the bar had lowered.
I won't be sorry to see the back of the likes of Steve Webb, the most Tory of them all who supported the Bedroom Tax as much as his coalition conservative colleagues. But it is a bitter victory indeed when his replacement is another Tory! At least the Witch-in-charge McVey is gone. That's more than schadenfreude, but it's not enough to compensate what I dread is coming.
Now we're on our own. Like the Tories, who now have no excuses and no one to hide behind when their policies continue to fail, it's up to us. True democracy and politics lies within our communities, wherever they may be on or offline. The streets are where things will have to be decided. This country looks set to be more divided than ever; the Tories exist in the rural/small town areas (like here, unfortunately), while Labour is strong in the metropolitan areas that the Tories will simply not care about. This is why many Tory voters do not see the misery their favourites have caused; how many Bedroom Tax cases or benefit sanction victims or WCA veterans reside openly if at all in the wolds and shires? Out of sight out of mind is the mantra as a compliant media simply refuses to report on these stories, furthering the notion that only the loony left believe in these things.
Some have claimed this government's majority is narrow, weak. I'm not so sure; I don't see how, though I'd love to be wrong. 90 odd seats over Labour seems pretty strong to push through all they would want. The coalition managed to use all sorts of Parliamentary necromancy and sorcery to get its way; didn't IDS use such tricks to animate his now-discredited ideas?
Perhaps these 'soft tories', some of whom maybe in Parliament now, will come to see the truth of what they have caused when the effects of what is certain tyo be a vicious government, affect them. A housing and rent bubble (favouring landlords) cannot sustain. Jobs may fall apart as people are forced out due to the iniquities of Universal Credit, foodbanks may finally be overwhelmed, the NHS...and so forth. In fact not two days before the election the Mail ran a front page about the scandal of waiting times for GP appointments. Yet come Friday it was hailing the rejection of 'Red Ed' (a sock puppet image of Miliband created by the press) as the right result. Can this government really survive when it is built on an illusory foundation?
As for Red Ed, I don't know which is worse: that people believe he's a socialist, or that politics has lurched so far to the right that anything to the left is a discredited remnant of an equally disingenuous image of the seventies.
All I can say for now is that I'm fearful; I'm not even angry, it's more anxiety when I see people around me and I think "are you who I thought you were or seemed to be?". These are people who must be among those, to some degree, that voted Tory. Politically programmed Pod People. This isn't melodrama to say that I feel I've woken up in a different world. It looks, smells, feels, sounds, and even tastes the same, but something has shifted. Beware of Vulcans with goatees, and Tories making promises.