HINDSIGHT IS 2020 – We’re Back, Baby

I was stood four feet away from the Liberal Democrats’ campaign director as the exit poll was announced.

The language used wasn’t what you’d normally associate with the soft, fuzzy, sandal-wearing Lib Dems.

Yes, dear reader, this general election was to politics what the Cats film has been to culture.

And I am truly sorry that I wasn’t here to write about it. I loved my time with the Lib Dems, despite the godawful result, but I missed writing for Between the Lines more than I can say.

And here we are – a thumping Tory majority, five years of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (at least), the opposition in disarray and Brexit done and dusted.

All of the above is pretty bleak.

But. But buttety butt butt butt.

There is cause for optimism. 2020 might not be a stellar year for politics, but the following ones might be. Here are three reasons to go into the new decade (oh my god I was 18 in 2009) with some cause for cheer.


1: It Could Still Go Tits-Up (Short-Term)

Since the General Election, Prime Minister Bonky Jong has decided that any extension to the negotiating period is a major no-no.

So much so that he is going to enshrine, in law, that we leave the EU by December 2020. A negotiation that would take a small country years is going to take us 11 months, supposedly.

Despite the ghosts of EU diplomats past, present and future all telling him he’s a fool for thinking this can be done, the Johnson train chuffs on. We have the ability to extend these negotiations for two years if we want – all we have to do is say we want to before July.

But no. We are Britain, you see. The EU needs us more than we need them, we’re in a far stronger negotiating position, we won two World Wars for them etc, etc, etc.

And what happens if we fail to negotiate a full, workable trade deal with the world’s largest trading bloc in less than a year?

A no-deal Brexit.

I would like to think that most politicians would encourage this not to happen on account of their not being lobotomised. But, unfortunately, the general consensus is that the new Tory MPs who “broke down the Red Wall” tend to lean towards “BREXIT AT ALL COSTS” rather than “pragmatic and forward-thinking fiscal responsibility.”

So a no-deal Brexit is now extremely likely again, with no ability to stop it in Parliament. But this brings me on to point two.


2: It Could Still Go Tits-Up (Long-Term)… and the Tories Have Nowhere to Hide

I hate Brexit. I hate everything it stands for. But the thing I hate about it most is that the people who voted for it are the ones who are most likely going to get shafted by it.

I take no revelry, whatsoever, in the idea that I might be “proved right” over the next few years. I swear on my father’s grave that I hope, with every fibre of my being, that I have been wrong all along.

I wish Brexit is a great success, it gives optimism and money back to local communities, and that the vulnerable are looked after. Our country needs a lift, and if Brexit does that then I will happily concede that I done goofed.

I don’t think it will though. And, when the real effects of Brexit are revealed, who will be blamed, now that Johnson has his majority?

Us Remoaner commentators? We were defeated, indisputably.

The “anti-democratic Parliamentary bloc”? Largely gone.

The “anti-Brexit” Speaker? Gone, confined to the annnuls of history as a funny little man who shouted a lot (but I think will be remembered fondly, eventually).

This is the first Tory majority government since David Cameron’s second term. In that majority government he called, and lost, the referendum.

Now, in this majority government, they have to own it.

The sunlit uplands. The Great Britain, free from the dastardly EU’s regulations on bent bananas. The proud, brilliant Britain (minus Scotland, probably), setting out its stall as an aspirational world power.

It all belongs to Boris Johnson.

No-one else. No-one else to hide behind, no-one else to sack, no-one else to blame. The proverbial buck stops, firmly, with him.

And if Brexit doesn’t fix the economy or provide jobs in the North…

Well, the artist-formally-known-as-the-Red Wall won’t be fooled no more. Nor will the rest of the country.

Brexit, under Johnson, might just destroy the Tories once and for all. You can win an election on lies, but you can only rule so far on them.

Especially when…


3: People Are Starting to Realise That Social Media (and Some Print Media) Is Horse Shit

The Tory social media campaign was an absolute masterclass.

It tapped into what social media is, at its core, when referring to politics: forget ‘information’, win ’emotion’.

I have written before about the fact that I think that Dominic Cummings thinks he is far cleverer than he is. I still believe that, largely because his plans have the longevity of a candle thrown into a volcano.

But my God. You have to doff your cap to his sheer callousness, and his adherence to realpolitik.

Tell them what they want to hear and they’ll believe you.” That concept, and Jeremy Corbyn, won the election.

That CCHQ changed their Twitter handle to “Fact-Check UK” during the televised debate was one of the most abhorrent abuses of political responsibility I have ever seen.

But it bloody worked.

But it was an exception, I think. Can it work again? Can this level of misinformation and deception really continue?

Only if we stop it.

We must ensure that the Tories’ election promises, and Brexit promises, are held to account. Day in, day out.


So What Do I Do?

You challenge every last damn thing you read on Facebook.

You challenge every last damn thing you read in the papers, too.

You look at the policies that this Conservative government enacts, and you judge them on those criteria alone (and I’ll be right here to walk you through them, good and bad).

You accept this majority, you understand that Brexit will happen, and you hope to the sweet Baby Jesus and the Orphans that it is the roaring success we’re told it will be.

I truly hope that it is: I only want what’s best for our country.

But if it isn’t; if everything in the Tory manifesto was a lie; if Brexit is a failure; if more people end up homeless on our streets; if more and more funds are siphoned out of the NHS, our towns, and our culture; if our media refuse to acknowledge the damage done to our northern towns and cities; and Brexit is an unmitigated disaster, then… well…

2024 could be an interesting election.

But until then, I’ll be here to run you through the carnage that Bozzle Konks leaves in his wake.

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, and I’ll be back with Parliament.

SUFFER FOR YOUR SUFFRAGE : Why Voting Is Vital, Despite The Misery


Hello everyone. For one night only, I’m back.

Well, that’s not strictly true. As of next Tuesday, I’ll be on hand to analyse, scrutinise and satirise all that comes after this waking nightmare of an election.

But here’s the kicker – we really don’t know what comes next.

Large swathes of the media would have you believe that the Tories have it in the bag. Other corners are saying they don’t.

The most advanced opinion polling ever says the Tories will get a majority. But that majority is shrinking by the day, and opinion polls are famously about as reliable as a bus driver who’s also a dog.

Also, many seats are so tight that they can’t be predicted with a huge degree of accuracy, meaning the forecasts could be totally wrong.

So yes. It’s tight. Tighter than that single, unremovable nut that’s on every piece of IKEA furniture you want to dismantle.

This is why, in this election more than any other, your vote counts.


TAKE ME, O DEATH

I know. This campaign has been absolutely devoid of optimism. The two potential candidates for Prime Minister are appallingly unfit for office.

The first is a misogynistic, albino Furby with daddy issues. Boris Johnson is blowing the dog-whistle of populism so hard he’s deafened the local Battersea dogs home.

The other is a postman who’s got a bit uppity since his union dissolved in 1973. Those closest to Jeremy Corbyn believe that a cabal of Jewish overlords control all of the world’s money. He hasn’t exactly rushed to correct them.

And that’s our choice. It shouldn’t have to be, but it is. The other parties have been swept aside by the media – it’s so much more profitable to have a two-horse race, you see.

Even Farage has largely been shut up. I suppose that’s one positive from this whole sordid mess.

So, faced with all of the above, what are we to do? The temptation is to just throw your hands in the air, swear loudly, and walk off a cliff.

But if that is your plan, then for god’s sake, VOTE FIRST.


What’s the point?

Stopping the Tories. That’s the point.

Look, I’ve tried to be balanced on this blog but I am a centrist to my core. If the Conservative and Unionist party was being led by David Gauke or Rory Stewart, there’s a chance I’d vote for them, as I would for Labour under a Starmer or a Phillips.

But this Tory government, under this shyster? Not a chance. This isn’t a conservative party, it’s a radicalised mad-house.

Make no mistake – if Johnson wins, it will lead to chaos.

Brexit will not be resolved on January 31st. Because he has refused to extend the transition period, we will have around 10 months to carry out the single biggest trade negotiation in our history.

For clarity, small trade negotiations usually take years.

So what does this mean? It means that, at the end of 2020, we will be staring straight down the barrel at a no-deal Brexit again. And with a Tory majority, we would need MPs to rebel against Johnson in their droves to stop him, which is unlikely.

All of those who might have done have already been turfed out.

What else?

  • The Tory manifesto hasn’t been properly costed, so all of Johnson’s campaign promises are likely to be as truthful as this one
  • We face the biggest threat to the already-crippled NHS yet
    • Any future trade deal with the US runs the risk of sections of it being privatised or opened up to “Big Pharma,” which would be catastrophic
  • Increasing child poverty, according to the Resolution Foundation
  • And kicking the climate change can into next week.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Out of Europe, out of ideas, out of our sodding minds.


So How Do We Stop Him?

By voting. For anyone but him.

Tactical voting is something I’m fundamentally uneasy about. I believe democracy to be about voting for the representative that best reflects your opinions and beliefs. Even if your candidate loses, you’ve exercised your right to have your opinion heard.

Asking someone to vote for someone they don’t believe in just so they can stop someone who they believe in less is a sorry state of affairs. But here we are, folks – welcome to democracy 2.0.

So how does it work?

Look at the results of the 2017 election in your constituency. You can do this here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2017/results

Look at who won, and by how much. If it’s the Tories, look at who’s in second place.

In Wakefield, Mary Creagh is a Labour MP who can beat the Tories. If Lib Dem voters vote L-D, she might lose. If they lend their vote to Labour, Creagh will win.

By contrast, in Richmond Park, Lib Dem candidate Sarah Olney can beat Zac Goldsmith if Labour voters support her.

Tactical voting is pretty miserable, but that’s what needs to happen to stop Johnson. Maybe one day we will have a voting system that actually represents people, but here we are for now.

Research your vote, pick the candidate to stop the Tories, and make it count.


But I Don’t Want Corbyn as PM

Me bloody neither. I’d rather eat gravel.

But there’s absolutely no way he can win a majority. His support has shrivelled away faster than a man-hose in a plunge pool.

A vote for Labour is a vote for a hung Parliament. A hung Parliament means alliances with other parties. Other parties will never allow Corbyn’s far-left policies to gain any traction. No far-left policies likely means no Corbyn.

And a hung Parliament will almost certainly result in a second referendum. Will this stop Brexit?

This is taken from 76 polls across the UK.

I’d take that bet.


GO FORTH

Please.

Vote.

Vote clever.

I know it seems hopeless. I know it seems like this has lasted forever. I know that all anyone wants is for it to end.

But if we stop Bonkey Jong from getting a majority, the end is in sight. A referendum, a win, and an end to Brexit (although it must be said, not an end to the Brexit debate – the fallout from either outcome is going to be atrocious).

If Johnson gets in, make no mistake – Brexit will rumble on until the end of 2020, and we’ll be right back where we were, but worse.

And I’m not sure my poor little brain can deal with that.


See you next week. God speed, everyone.