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.
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.