A short intermission, to comment on the events of yesterday. We will get back to introversion tomorrow. But in the meantime…
As most of you will know, yesterday we had a parliamentary election in the UK, and the right wing Conservative Party will continue in government for another five years. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I am a left-wing gal, and this morning I was feeling a bit like that WB Yeats poem, The Second Coming. But now I am feeling better, and I will tell you why.
I had a session with my therapist this morning and, as you do, we discussed the election. During the discussion, it suddenly came to me why the Labour party didn’t do better, and it was so obvious that I nearly slapped my head and went “Doh!” It was the lack of vision, stupid. For “Vote for me because I’m better than them” is not a compelling vision for change.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Neither of the parties put forward a compelling vision. The Tories couldn’t because their vision is “Returning Britain to Victorian Times but Without the Empire”, which even they realise the British electorate wouldn’t buy, so they put forward the “Vote for us because the other lot is worse” argument. The trouble is, so did Labour and in a situation where all that is on offer is two versions of a future that is scarey and bad, people tend to stick with the status quo. People on the whole don’t like change and they won’t go for it unless you build a compelling vision of why the change is going to be good, which Labour, at this election, signally failed to do.
The daft thing is that there is a compelling and vibrant and persuasive vision for change out there, which has been waving and saying “Hello? Excuse me? Hello?” for quite a while, and it’s one around which the whole of the left can unite (and by ‘the whole of the left’ I mean all those who don’t believe in neo-liberalism and who perceive capitalism as incapable of providing us with a workable model for a sustainable future). It can be easily and quickly summed up as “A fair, supportive and sustainable society for us, our children, and our children’s children”. (There are doubtless better and snappier ways of expressing this.)
The good thing is that this vision is there, being lived and articulated all over the place. The sad thing is that so far it’s failed to make the leap to the macro stage of national politics. No-one is clearly and compellingly articulating it at national level; not Labour, who have a hole at their heart where the vision should be, not the Greens (I’m sorry, guys, you have a great message but you’re crap at selling it), not the dozens of single-issue and local movements doing their best to bring about a better future, but doing so outside the macro political system.
If things are going to change we all, all of us, need to find a way to stand together to create and articulate a huge, visionary plan for a better Britain. We need to get over ourselves, stop bleating on about politics being broken and find our cojones. Politics isn’t broken, not for the likes of George Osborne, David Cameron, Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay Brothers and their ilk. We need to engage with them on their own turf and we need to stop being so worried about giving offence. That comes from the timidity of believing deep down that the delivery is more important than the message, and that comes from not having a message that you truly believe with all your heart is the best possible thing for all concerned to hear. Did Nye Beavan worry about giving offence? Did Clem Atlee spend his single government worrying about whether he would win a second term? No, they went out and spent five years busting their guts to build their land fit for heroes, and everyone who has lived in this country since then is in their debt.
I’ve not been on Facebook or Twitter or any news-sites since this morning, such is the tyranny of work, so I don’t know if the voices of the left are still crying out in pain, but if they are, they need to stop. Yes, it’s terrible what has happened to this country in the last five years and it’s terrible what will happen over the next five, but enough breast-beating. We need to act.
I have no idea what a new coalition of the Left would look like, whether it would be an actual coalition or a rejuvenated Labour party under a new visionary leader, whether it will march under the banner of proportional representation or of regional devolution, but we need to work it out and soon. We’ve got five years to create and articulate a proper vision for 21st century Britain, one which will sweep the Conservatives away as forcefully as in 1997, but, with, I devoutly hope, a better outcome. Seventy years ago Atlee and Beavan had five years and they changed the face of this country vastly for the better. I am not prepared to let the heirs of Thatcher take that away. A land fit for everyone. I think I could get behind that slogan. How about you?