Thursday, 14 May 2015

Stop! Fraud! Nobody likes the Tories – apart from the rest of the country

What a night. Did you stay up? Did you watch last Thursday? What a great night. Not for half the country, of course. Not for the low-waged. Not for the NHS, not for the Unions. Nor for Britain, probably. But it was good for the bookers of Strictly Come Dancing – watch Douglas Alexander and Harriet Harman partner up for a sexy tango – and as a raft of reality TV producers hoover up all those unelected MPs we can presumably look forward to a parade of deeply depressed career casualties faking smiles as they’re forced to regurgitate live ants into a bucket of shit on a tropical beach. Or whatever they do on reality TV now. Who said the left had no future. 

Being alive these days involves an odd form of cognitive dissonance. My friends are all left-wing. My family are all left-wing. I hang out in cities, comedy nights and parks that are all left-wing. Moving in the circles I do, in fact, it’s easy to get the impression that everyone in Britain is Labour, except the government.

But then cracks start appearing in the belief-bubble. You see Farage trending on Twitter. You’re forced to share a meal with your uncle. You move to Nuneaton. Or – and this one has me in cold sweats – you wake up and realise the country’s just voted overwhelmingly for David Cameron. I’m still hoping that never happens.

Except - Christ - it just did; and not only did they vote for Cameron, but they’ve wiped out the left of centre. And the centre. And some little bits of left in the corner. Within hours a smug and freshly Photoshopped Prime Minister was back off out to meet the Queen, who forced down her radical socialist inclinations to anoint him the ruler of the country.

Now it’s wound-licking time for the losers. Or rather it’s time to reach around on the floor for their decapitated heads. To which part of the entertainment industry will Miliband now turn his unstoppable charisma? Can the “Edstone” be successfully dismantled and reassembled into some kind of cabinet to house all his untouched bottles of champagne socialism? And what of the Party? Amidst the talk of reconstruction I see pieces from people like Owen Jones talking about the need for a “politics of hope and optimism”, presumably because he feels the reason Labour lost was because they were just too realistic about their chances. This is where I part with the rest of the left. Are people really the selfless altruists we would like them to be? I’ve hung around in a fair few places in Britain and I didn’t see much desire for the politics of hope and optimism. I saw a lot more desire for the politics of tax-lowering and immigration control. The left still wants to believe nobody actually likes the Tories; who does, apart from most of the rest of the country?

Then there’s the Lib Dems. Or rather there isn’t. The entire membership of elected Liberal Democrats could now be seated around a small table in Nando’s – the one at the back beside the door to the toilet. More people come to my poetry nights than actually won a Lib Dem majority. No doubt they want to choose a new leader, but under the rules, candidates to replace Clegg need the support of 10% of all the Lib Dem MPs elected to make it on to the ballot paper. Since there’s only 8 Lib Dem MPs now, that means 0.8 of a Liberal Democrat. In their current state, you get the feeling they could probably even lose that one.

And then David Cameron. Promising to radically break with the leadership of the previous corrupt, incompetent administration, Cameron is now crowing about Conservative “achievements” – like taking personal credit for a global upturn that would have happened anyway, taking personal credit for a growth spurt that would have happened anyway, and taking personal credit for lowering unemployment by creating millions of shitty, low-paid jobs on zero-hours contracts. Which would have happened anyway.  

We all know what five more years of Tory rule will mean, and it’ll be one of McJobs and punishing austerity; of corporate enrichment and a London owned by oligarchs; one of sanctions and cuts and war-on-the-poor and “the stick and the stick”. Given this kind of mandate Cameron is already edging so far right along the political spectrum he’s in danger of falling off. Now half my family and friends are talking about moving to Scotland – except apparently they’re not so keen on us up there any more. Small wonder. Now will someone please pass the live ants and the bucket of shit?