Where do we go from here?
If you are left leaning, supported Labour and Jeremy Corbyn then you will likely feel like me today – devastated, furious, sad, deflated, bereft, grief stricken.
I had a tiny bit of hope that the #youthquake could pull through and Labour could win – after all, their manifesto was magnificent. However, based on the polls I knew that was unlikely so really I was just hoping that this whole debacle would have weakened the Tories. That putting the country through this (and frankly spoiling Christmas 2019) would have caused them damage. And it should have – Boris Johnson is the worst. He’s on record saying racists, sexist, homophobic and classist views. He bottled out of any interviews that would have put him under proper scrutiny. He hid in a fridge!
But they’ve won, in the biggest Tory majority since Thatcher. They’ve turned some of my beloved North East blue. Including Sedgefield, where I lived for my first 20 plus years. I never thought I would see the day. It’s truly heartbreaking.
Lots of people saw this election as being about Brexit and I think that was the biggest contributory factor to the Tory win but for me this was about hope and giving the working classes and poor a chance. A chance to end the austerity politics that have killed and harmed so many. A chance to properly invest in our NHS that has been deliberately underfunded in order to achieve US style privatisation.
Since time immemorial we have all said politicians are all the same but we finally had a politician who had integrity and would fight for the average Brit. Who had voted on the right side of history and fought the 1% for longer than I’ve been alive. And we allowed him to be attacked and smeared more than I’ve ever witnessed. And he held his head high throughout and never stooped to their level, unfortunately though, when you don’t play dirty against the bad guys you lose. Integrity it seems gets you the square root of nowhere.
I think the hardest thing about the loss for me is it makes me lose faith in humanity. To me this was a vote between good and evil, right and wrong, racism and equality and white supremacy has won. I feel strongly that structural racism underpins all of this.
Too many people not only didn’t vote against Johnson because of the racist things he has said, but further to that, way too many people voted for him because of the racist things he’s said. He’s said the things that they want to say but can’t because of what they deem to be ‘political correctness’ gone too far.
To the hard Brexiteers, Johnson is the rebel who says what he wants, what they want regardless of consequence. They don’t see that he’s the 1% intent on keeping them exactly where they are. They want Britain to ‘be great again’. Like when we were stealing, raping, killing colonisers who gained wealth from shady things like our complicit involvement in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We were the bad guys then, and the Tories have won this election, in part, because we are still the bad guys now. I’m most disappointed in this election result because it’s made me realise that it’s not just that the baddies have won but because way too many people that I had faith in, people close to me, aren’t who I thought they were. And honestly, I’m not sure how I’ll come to terms with that. I’m not sure how we are going to heal this division in society, communities and families.
So those are briefly some of the reasons I feel so heartbroken today. I’m sure many of you feel the same. Where do we go from here? How do we heal? I feel extremely low.
And let me be clear, I’m relatively privileged – I’m white and technically middle class (though I grew up working class and will always identify as such). I have no disabilities and nor do my children. I don’t use food banks or claim benefits, I would have been better off financially under Labour but we should cope under another Tory Government.
Many of my followers have already been in touch to tell me how petrified they are that they aren’t going to survive under further years of cruel Tory rule. I’ve already seen minorities saying on social media that they have experienced racists feeling emboldened and legitimised and tell them to ‘go home’ today. I’m waiting for the spike in hate crime. I’m so sorry. You have a right to be here, you are wanted here and people like me will continue to fight for you.
Below I’m going to write some things that I’m going to do to help me process my emotions and come to terms with the election results. I appreciate that these may sound facetious or frivolous to those of you who this impacts in a practically devastating way. I know you feel like you are fucked. And you might be. I’m not sure if there is anything that I can suggest that could possibly help you when you are fearing for the lives of your children. But know that those of us campaigning for hope and equality aren’t going to give up. We will mourn and we will learn and we will come back stronger. This isn’t over.
Try see if there is any bright side
Having an election in the first place means that the Tories have had to promise some measures that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Whether they follow through when 88% of their ads were proven to be lies is another kettle of fish but maybe we will see 30k more nurses (that they are still saying is 50k)? They have promised to increase public spending, to pass the Domestic Abuse Bill and pilot domestic abuse courts. They have promised that ‘when negotiating trade deals, the NHS will not be on the table. The price the NHS pays for drugs will not be on the table. The services the NHS provides will not be on the table.’ Let’s see whether they stand by that.
With their new majority Johnson might not have to lean on more extremist (hard Brexit) factions for support which could mean a better/softer Brexit deal.
Also I think it’s clear from the results, if Labour had won and held a referendum, leave would have won again. I don’t believe there is a way to navigate Brexit without damaging the country and I take solace that Johnson at least has to clean up his own mess. I worried that if Labour had won, they would be blamed for the ensuing damage that Brexit does to the economy. How would they have been able to differentiate between damage done to the economy via Brexit versus the impact of some of the socialist measures that Corbyn would have introduced? At least this is all going to be on the Tories. Labour needs to figure out a way to build itself back up for the next election because when the Tories no longer have Brexit, they will be very vulnerable.
And Labour isn’t dead. It has some soul searching to do but it’s not game over. Whilst Labour’s vote is down 8% on the 2017 election, they won a higher vote share than both Miliband and Brown. Corbyn lost fewer seats than Brown and has more seats than the Tories did in 2005. The Tories are up by just over 1% on the 2017 general election, with the smaller parties having a better night.
I’m also taking comfort from the fact that young people voted overwhelmingly for Labour so change will come eventually.
Write it out
I’m writing this blog post. Writing my thoughts always helps me process my emotions and I would encourage anyone to take their thoughts out of their head and put them onto paper.
Listen to your most punky political music
I’ve been listening to Jarvis Cocker’s Running the World all day (below) if you know the lyrics then you know why. If you’ve never heard it then go have a listen!
I’m also playing lots of Idles, all of whose songs are imbued with angry social justice. If my soul had a sound it would probably be Idles. Specifically Mother (the best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich), I’m Scum, Great, Rottweiler, Danny Nedelko, Mercedes Marxists, I dream Guillotine and White Privilege feel cathartic to me today. If you have any suggestions for great songs to listen to then let me know in the comments.
We have a lot of flight/fight adrenaline flooding our system right now. We need to get that out. I put the boxing gloves on today and punched and kicked the crap out of the punch bag at the gym. I felt a lot better for it. Feel like punching someone? Punch something. Run it out to your favourite punk music. Do some calming yoga to center yourself. Just get outside in the fresh air for a walk. Whatever is going to work for you.
Meditation can really help at times like this when you feel lost. Even if you just do 5-10 minutes, it’s worth a try. I use Centr which has loads of meditations I can use but I’ve also heard that Headspace is good.
Social media break
There are lots of people gloating and celebrating on social media right now and that can be hard to stomach in your mourning. If you find yourself constantly being triggered with fight or flight adrenaline, step back from social media. Delete the apps for a few days if necessary. Use the block button liberally (I’ve blocked about 30 people on Twitter so far today), leave Facebook groups, do whatever you need to keep your mental health safe. I’m contemplating taking the entire weekend off social media which I’ve never done before.
Actually, get away from all media as its likely going to be talking about it relentlessly. Just get yourself in the real world with real people. Ideally ones not talking about politics while you recover from the blow. Unless you need to talk and then meet up with some like minded people to thrash it out.
Get out a notepad and pen and write down all the things in your life that you are grateful for, the things you appreciate, your privilege, the things in your life that give you happiness. Remind yourself that even on the darkest of the days you can find light.
Time in with your kids (if you have them)
Spending time with children always helps put the world to rights and cut out the bullshit. Kids believe in the goodness of people intrinsically. And I need to be reminded of that today. I’ve been hugging my kids extra hard today. When I told my son Boris Johnson had got back into power he immediately said ‘why don’t people care about other people?’. If a 7 year old can get it I don’t know why so many adults couldn’t but what do I know.
Self-care ain’t selfish
Do some things that you know fill you up – a bath, reading a light-hearted book, watch a cheesy film or your favourite TV show. Whatever your form of escapism is, do it.
Help someone in real life
So the politics of selfishness won, doesn’t mean we have to give into that. We can still help Corbyn’s ideals live on. If you see someone homeless stop and chat to them, give them some money and make sure the Council knows about them so they can give them support. Donate to your local food-bank (donations are massively up today after the result so clearly this is on a lot of people’s minds). Donate to charities. Volunteer where you can. Carry out random acts of kindness to strangers. Just do what you can so they can’t win. We can make a difference, they might have won this time but we are many and nothing is permanent. If the top has forgotten about us then fuck them, let’s change society from the ground up.
Grieve, take a political break and re-group in January
Allow yourself time to grieve and mourn this loss. This isn’t trivial. It’s people’s lives. People will die over this. That’s not small stuff, its big and its heavy. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the time you need. Christmas is coming imminently, try to enjoy it, take some time away from politics and come back to it in the New Year….
But when you do come back in the New Year, be ready to fight…
My biggest concern for 2020 politically are the trade deals with the US (and ensuring our NHS isn’t on the table) and our food/product regulations aren’t watered down (like flooding the market with chlorinated chicken or US rubbish chemical regulations in products). We need to holding the Tories to account on this.
My other big concern is page 48 of the Conservative manifesto which says:
‘We will get rid of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – it has led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action.’ And ‘After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.’
Changes like these could allow a government to become a dictatorship. We must be wary of this and ready to fight against it.
Children are the future
I’ll leave you with this quote by L R Knost;
‘It’s not our job to toughen up our children to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless’.
If we raise our kids to know kindness is queen, this will not be the future for them. We owe it to our children to heal ourselves and push through with positivity and kindness.
There are no more a*holes in the world today than there were yesterday. We’ve just had a reality check and wake up call. But it’s easier to fight when you have a clearer view of your opponent and now we truly know who we are dealing with.
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