Note: I’ve dallied in publishing this, but the piece was written the day after the 2019 UK general election. It’s a bit impassioned, a near-immediate response, and I present it here, unedited since then.
I would not normally care for Joseph de Maistre, that arch-reactionary and forefather of fascism, but he was on to something when he noted that “every nation gets the government it deserves.” More broadly, and more damningly, I think that Britain in 2019 has the politicians it deserves. It does not reflect well on anyone that our major politicians are a bunch of racists, hypocrites, and fools.
Let me put it this way. I am not one of those who hate the system so much that I disbelieve in voting. But in this case, I spoiled my ballot. Why? Because no matter what the result of the election was, it would have been utterly disgusting to me. As it stands Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have a huge majority, while Labour has been eviscerated. I won’t go into why a Tory majority is unpalatable to me; others have shown the Conservatives and their leader to be as nasty as they ever were, and perhaps more so. Suffice it to say I am a traditional Labour man, a social democrat, and an opponent of all the Tories stand for.
But what of Labour? What if Jeremy Corbyn was in Downing Street now, having gained a majority, or at least enough seats to build a coalition? I reserve my deepest anger for what passes as the left these days, for I feel its failures as a personal betrayal. Corbyn has brought disaster to a once-great party and would have been as unfit as Johnson is for high office. Crow all you like about media bias and tabloid lies but the facts show that Corbyn is the single main reason Labour lost so badly. He represents the worst of today’s left; a fellow traveller of a tyrannical regime which murders gays and, at the very least, an abetter of vile anti-Jewish racism, to name but two unsavoury aspects of his long and inglorious career. A Labour victory would therefore have meant a sanctioning of racism, hypocrisy, and cruelty.
What of a coalition? I don’t share the SNP’s desire for Scottish independence, Jo Swinson’s long list of hypocrisy and malice was enough to make one vomit at the prospect of the slimy Liberal Democrats back in government, and the Greens are superfluous nobodies (not to mention dogmatic and stupidly against nuclear power, one of our very best hopes of avoiding climate catastrophe). So, a Labour coalition with all or some of these parties would have churned my stomach. As for the Brexit Party? Incompetent and packed with the vile and the stupid. Other parties were equally as unviable as the Greens.
In the end, there was never going to be a glorious new dawn. The major parties are awful, and the rest barely register as political forces at all. The future looks grim. I for one would like to see a more left-wing version of the Brownite Labour Party resurgent (with Blairite foreign policy, perhaps), but that isn’t likely to happen or be popular. Perhaps Labour will sort itself out and provide a viable opposition in the next few years, but the Corbynite virus is adaptable and likely to outlast the man who injected it.
And the Union? I still support Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom, for reasons I’ve articulated before, but it is hard to argue against the case for a second independence referendum given the SNP’s dominance and a Westminster once again run by the Tories. I think the Union’s days are numbered unless serious constitutional reform is undertaken immediately.
Perhaps this outpouring of pessimism and bitterness will pass in time. Perhaps such a shock is what the political system needs for change to happen. Alas, I can’t yet bring myself to muster such optimism. We get the politicians we deserve and the last few years, whose climax has been reached in this dreary election, have shown just how impoverished our politics truly is.