Twenty four hours since Theresa May told us she wanted an election, and what have we seen? The Tories, and the right in general have all happily taken their place behind her, told us what a good idea this election is and happily picked up her authoritarian autocratic rhetoric and gleefully run with it. The S*n, forgetting Jo Cox entirely promises us a ‘Blue Murder’ of opposition MPs, while the Daily Mail adds a dash of Leninism to its blackshirt tendencies, telling us that it’s time to ‘crush the saboteurs’. (This is day one, remember, so who knows what depths they’ll have reached by the start of June)
Meanwhile, the disparate forces of the centre and left, surprised by the sudden call for an election, have realised it’s best to set aside their differences and focus on the common enemy, and I also have a bridge for sale that I’m sure you’d love to buy.
In a series of moves that will surprise absolutely no one with any experience of British politics, the centre and left have instead formed a series of circular firing squads because why should anyone worry about taking on the Conservative pitch for a bulletproof hard Brexit majority when there are more important fights to be won. And there are plenty of fights to be had, so everyone can pick their favourite hill to die on and wade in. Whether you want to have a go at the Lib Dems over the coalition and tuition fees, Jeremy Corbyn over his leadership abilities, Blairites for being the source of all evil in the world or the Greens, just apparently for the fact that they’re the Greens, all forms of partisan bickering are available for you to participate in. Yet again, we’re all having wonderfully enjoyable battles against each other, while the Conservatives survey the field from a distance, not even having to commit their troops in order to win the war.
There’s an election taking place in 50 days time, and maybe, just maybe, that might finally be enough to concentrate people’s minds on the bigger picture. We’ve seen time and time again how utterly terrible our electoral system is as parties with around 40% of the vote power to massive landslide majorities because the opposition is split. If we had a better electoral system we could be like other countries and have these ongoing battles and still combine our strength to win the war, but we don’t, and we’re never going to get one while the Tories remain in power and continue to rig the system to their own benefit. We have to find ways to work together, or we’re going to wake up on June 9th and have to deal with the aftermath of a catastrophic defeat for all of us. (Yes, fellow Lib Dems, even us, no matter how many seats we might win back)
But maybe there’s hope and perhaps we can take advantage of the weeks we have before candidates have to be named to try talking to each other and see where we might find we have enough in common, even if it’s just a common enemy, to work together. But please, let’s try talking to each other just this once, as shouting and arguing with each other clearly isn’t working.
Originally published at www.nickbarlow.com on April 19, 2017.