I thought I might regret deciding not to keep writing daily about this general election. I thought I might regret the opportunity to really engage with it and go deep into the ideas and themes shaping it.
I really, really, don’t.
This does feel like the worst election of my lifetime, and we haven’t even got to the results yet. This could of course just be a factor of everything looking worse when you get older and nothing being as good as those glorious elections of your youth, but it does feel like a crystallisation of this particular nadir in our politics.
When I try and think about what’s been good about this election, or who might have come out of it with their reputation enhanced, I draw a complete blank. Every party’s campaign has been dire, and there hasn’t been much in the way of individuals standing out from the crowd either. Add to that a media that’s obsessed with presenting the whole thing as a game rather than a contest of ideas, and social media full of performative outrage, wilful misunderstandings and an attitude of “fake news is fine if it’s my side doing” and it’s really beginning to feel like a big mistake that humans never developed the ability to hibernate so we could just sleep through the whole thing.
The Lib Dem campaign makes me want to say one thing, and that’s “told you so”
It’s time to talk about power: the future of the Liberal Democrats
Some thoughts on the future direction of the party and how we need to put power at the heart of our policies.
We need to talk about how to fight a Brexit election
A Brexit election is coming, and we need to fight it on vision and values, not just process.
We have to recognise that the Brexit vote happened and that it revealed that there are major problems with the country that need to be addressed before we can move on. The only way to do that is to make clear in any election that stopping Brexit is just step one in the process of making Britain a better place, not the end of it.
I wrote that a few months ago and sadly no one in the Lib Dem hierarchy seems to have paid any notice to me or anyone of the many other people saying something similar. The party’s messaging has foundered on any message beyond “stop Brexit” because they’ve seen Brexit as a cause of Britain’s problems, not as a symptom of a deeper malaise.
I shouldn’t really be surprised at Liberal Democrats managing to miss an open goal in campaigns, because the party’s been doing it at every election since Charles Kennedy was removed as leader, but this was yet another missed opportunity for a radical liberal message. The party has spent decades pointing out that large portions of the British political system are broken beyond repair, but decided instead instead to campaign on the message that we should stop Brexit to make the country safe for centrist managerialism and then wonder why no one got excited. Add to that the decision to spend more time attacking Corbyn rather than Johnson, oblivious to their relative position in the polls, and it’s no wonder that all the summer’s dreams of a great liberal revival haven’t come to pass.
What about Labour? Well at the start of the election, a friend of mine said that they were planning to vote Labour for the first time at this election, but Labour supporters were trying their hardest to make that not happen. There’s a vicious tribalism to many Labour supporters at the moment (see James Graham’s comments here — and for what it’s worth I agree with his opinions on the Lib Dems too) which refuses to accept that anyone not voting for Labour might have a valid reason to do so beyond being an embodiment of all that is evil in the world. Every policy announcement is the greatest thing since sliced bread (“which Jeremy helped invent, you know, but the media never tell you about that”) and even the mildest criticism or questioning is treated like an inadvertent confession of heresy.
And yes, there are some good ideas in the Labour manifesto, there are also some things that might not work or need some heavy questioning and examination, but then there’s also there’s the continuing stink of antisemitism hanging around the party and the ongoing presence throughout the party of various segments of the authoritarian ultra-left. Right now, Labour are a plate of sandwiches, some filled with jam, some with Marmite and quite a few filled with shit and any attempts to pick out a nice one lead to a leftish commentariat cacophony of “eat the whole plate!”
But even if Labour are a shit sandwich at the moment, the Conservatives are a piss-soaked manure baguette. No, they’re like walking into a Subway only to discover all the baguettes have been soaked in piss, the fillings are now just piles of manure and the salad’s been left to rot under a warm lamp for six months. Meanwhile, the staff have locked the door behind you, insist you now have to eat here for the next five years, but that’s all right because the table full of fetid bread, animal waste, and slime in various shades of emetic green is really a lunch buffet at The Ivy and no, they will not be taking questions on nutritional content at this time.
Like Trump before them, Johnson and the Tories have taken full advantage of the good faith flaw in democracy that assumes people in positions of power won’t be shameless psychopaths who feel no guilt at all about lying, lying about lying, and then lying again to accuse everyone who says they’re lying of lying. They’ve spent the past month continually subjecting the public to a barrage of utter bullshit then declaring that anyone calling them out for spraying bullshit is guilty of the most vile crimes against them for which they will wreak bloody revenge when they return to power.
Johnson and his band of braying arseholes are on the verge of getting into power with a majority on the vaguest of manifestos and carrying boxes full of long held grudges. If you take anything away from this post, it’s this — you should vote next Thursday to stop them, whatever it might take.