A kinder politics was proposed by Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. He also said, “cut out the personal abuse, cut out the cyber-bullying and especially the misogynistic abuse online and let’s get on with bringing real values back into politics.”
General Election 2019
Fast forward to 2019 and Corbyn’s Labour Party have taken a historic battering in the General Election 2019 at the hands of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. A kinder politics went missing somewhere along the way. Before and during the election Corbyn was hammered by accusations of, at the very least, turning a blind eye to antisemitism. I met some of his Momentum supporters at our local tube station and they weren’t the warm and cuddly types, in fact quite menacing when I mentioned Labour wasn’t for me.
In the blue corner, it’s not as if Boris and company have been angels. The new Prime Minister has been accused of serially lying while campaigning. Shades of Britain Trump as The Donald calls him. Accusations of Islamaphobia have been levelled at Johnson. Plus some murky past behaviours were resurfaced by attack campaigners during recent weeks.
Social Media Venom
I’m not writing this to discuss the merits of the political parties or their leaders though. I’m commenting on the vitriol that the general public is throwing at each other. I’ve realised that despite the outcome of the election, I must follow a largely left-leaning bunch on Twitter. The shock at the result I get. The hatred aimed at anyone not voting for Labour is the real shock. A kinder politics has not been evident.
My vote went to the Conservatives. I find myself in the position of being quiet about it. Not much of a democracy really, if one has to keep quiet about it. I’m assuming many millions more voted alongside me. In the real world. But in the world of social media, it’s a different case. I know one mild-mannered man who wished a slow and painful death on anyone who voted for the Conservative Party. A screen and a keyboard does odd things to people.
A Political Moderate
Even though I voted Conservative in General Election 2019, I’m very much towards the centre of the political spectrum. That doesn’t seem to count in our increasingly polarised political landscape. Far right and far left dominate the share of voice. My wife is an artist and is more to the left of the political spectrum than I am. But not a long way to the left. She mixes in artistic circles in London given her various pursuits and many of her peers are more left leaning. She isn’t that comfortable about telling her friends and colleagues that I vote for the Conservative Party. Which is sad. And again raises the issue of how we treat each other these days when the talk turns to political alignment.
I’m from the North of England originally. The area I grew up in was hardcore Labour country and still is. Yet across the North and North East and Wales, the traditional heartlands of the Labour Party, the Conservatives made huge inroads. The working classes that formed the backbone of Labour Party membership have turned their backs on Corbyn. His leadership was seen as poor. Somewhere along the way, London Labour leadership lost touch with the working classes outside of the capital. The metropolitan and Northern arms of the Labour Party have lost touch, the numbers don’t lie.
The Long Road Back
There’s a lot of talk about Brexit being the cause of the demolition of Labour. Yet polling and commentary from Labour MPs implies leadership being the issue. The Labour Party has a long road back to relevance, my feeling is it will be in the wilderness for ten years or more. I have a sneaking feeling that the hard left contingent may see control of the party as more important than relevant to the wider electorate.
I don’t know if Johnson will do a good job or not. The only positive I can see right now is that he has a big enough majority to be able to ignore the far right ERG mob in the party. Before you think I’m a Boris fan, be clear I didn’t vote for him in the leadership election. I voted for the other very unconvincing guy. I had no regard for him at all, it was simply that I couldn’t stomach the thought of the mendacious Johnson in power.
Denial & Anger All Round
A kinder politics? Not at all. The last couple of days following General Election 2019 have brought out the worst in some people, even some people I know to be quite mild in matters other than politics. I hope we can see our way back to a sensible discussion at some stage. At present we are somewhere between denial and anger on the spectrum of coming to terms with change. Poor old Jeremy is stuck firmly in denial, having blamed everything and everyone from Brexit to the media. I’m expecting he will blame the electorate next.
The country is going through a seismic change and it’s a process that will last many years. As a proud European I’m crushed that Brexit is going ahead. Truly crushed. But even though crushed, I value democracy above all. The Brexit referendum stuck in my throat in a major way, but the majority prevails in a democracy. That’s the whole point. I don’t buy the election was all about Brexit. But then again I’m not a working-class man from Workington who is scared for his job and his future and who thinks immigration is a negative and thinks that these politicians from London don’t understand him. I respect his vote and go with the outcome because it’s a democracy.
A Kinder Politics Please
So can we please try and get on with this kinder politics, please? I’m not ‘scum’. I’m a working-class man originally from the North who now lives in London and who has done reasonably alright. Who pays all his taxes. Sits in the centre of the political spectrum. Who does believe that we should look after the vulnerable in society. Who does believe strongly in the NHS. Not scum. Not someone who should die a slow death. And I don’t feel any ill towards people who voted for another party. I’m not a Corbyn fan. But a kinder politics was one of his most sensible themes.
Also published on Medium.