The election last week. Well, that was unexpected, huh? Against all odds, the Conservative landslide transpired to be a hung parliament. Recriminations in Tory and media circles will last long into the night. And beyond. But the truth is, we are all guided by polls. Which in the UK are notoriously off the mark. But still, the Tory lead was such that even if the polls were off by a record amount, they would still be returned with an increased majority. So what went so wrong? Put in the simplest terms, all things on all fronts. That, I think, I can safely state as fact. I can also say without stirring too much controversy, that the Conservative campaign was absolutely terrible. Perhaps the worst in modern times. I’m pretty sure that the architects of the campaign looked at that lead and hatched a plan accordingly. Stuff it full every nasty bit of right wing policy that would never normally pass the voter sniff test – no one will notice because, you know…Brexit. What about those accidental political faux pas that always slip out? Say nothing! No debates. Send Boris as far away from London as possible. Minimal interviews. The unofficial slogan of Theresa May – “I am not Jeremy Corbyn!”
It didn’t work, obviously. Why not? The Corbynistas claim the nation, especially the youngsters, was inspired by Jezza. I’m sure there’s some truth in that. But I suspect that there’s far more to it. Remainer Tories voted against hard Brexit. Years of austerity have created a diminishing middle class and thus larger anti-Tory audience. It is, I believe, reasonably common for the electorate to vote against the status quo, especially when the going is not so good. And Labour were helped by a polarisation of the political scene, with every other party bar the top two seeing a decline in their total tally of votes – this despite a high turnout. The poster child for the vote was undoubtedly Kensington in north London. There cannot be many other places in the UK with such clear inequality in wealth and opportunity. The richest and poorest of the country’s capital crammed into one small borough. It was the last to declare, with the vote evenly split. It took three recounts before Labour were declared the winner by a margin in the low double figures. This was meant to be a Brexit Election. In many regards it was. But that’s only half the story. It was also a Have v Have Not election, and the Tories were burned on both counts.
Less that a week after the vote, Grenfell Tower in Kensington burst into flames. The image of that tower engulfed in fire will live long in the national psyche. It has quickly become a symbol of 21st century Britain. The burned hulk of the tower is the poster child of austerity – minimal investment and support from local councils looking to save money wherever possible. It’s the poster child of modern capitalism – the lowest bidder triumphant and be damned with quality and consequence.
It is the poster child of growing wealth inequality – the claim that the rich abhor wealth redistribution is a lie. They simply abhor wealth redistribution that does not flow in their favour. It is the poster child of a Conservative party whose attachment and attention to the working class has quickly gone from questionable to laughable. If it weren’t so unfunny. One wonders how the election may have gone if the tower had burned a week before the election and not a week after. The Tory party’s hopes of forming any sort of government, minority or majority, may well have gone up in flames alongside the tower.
The mainstream media is under attack again. This time for ‘downplaying’ the death toll from the Grenfell Tower fire. The conspiracy theorists have plenty of ‘persons on the street’ to spread the ‘word’ to the listening press. And there is the obligatory celebrity to support their cause in the shape of Lily Allen, promoting a figure of ‘about 200’. The reality is that the media have been reporting deaths as announced by the police, who are announcing deaths as they find the bodies. There has also been the caveat from the beginning that the final tally is expected to be much higher. Yet what is the alternative to the mainstream media? It seems to me to consist of hysterical conspiracy theorists on Facebook, well funded online sources such as Breitbart and amateur bloggers – such as me. Most of whom write from agendas on or near the extremes – but not me. I think. The Alternative Media gang walk hand in hand with the Alt Facts crew. Just in different dimensions.
image courtesy and copyright of kcw1939
Kensington is the poster child of Britain today. Who would have thought this a fortnight ago? It may also, along with the election result, be the birthplace of a new more consensual, centre based political system. The alternative, if the Tories try to force through their agenda in the face of public opposition, may be that Kensington turns out to be the graveyard of the Conservative party as it exists today. It would be recreated, of course. Unless Joe Public decide that birthplaces and graveyards are yesterday’s slogans and revolution* is the future. In which case, we may see a hung parliament in an altogether more literal sense. These are interesting times.
* Unlikely, I know. We Brits just don’t do revolutions. It’s just so…French.