Heard on a podcast: Nadia Whittome, MP, talking about Labour and what they want. Turns out it’s decent homes for all, well-funded public services, fairness, security and the chance for everybody to prosper. She then rather betrayed her shallowness of thought by adding that, in contrast, the Tories [boo, hiss] wanted to sow hatred and division and send poor, desperate asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Brava Nadia, the next election is in the bag, for sure. But perhaps, for balance, she might want to listen to the wishes of natural Conservatives (not the current, soft-palmed LimpDem version, obviously). I bet they are security, trust in the police and the courts to be fair and even-handed, prosperity for all, and efficiently run state-funded services. After all, why throw away a well-established manifesto? The Tory voice may then have gone on to say that Labour has a naïve view of the world founded on Marxist dogma and a certain amount of suspension of disbelief.
The point is, of course, that both sides want substantially the same aims but just have different views on how those aims may be achieved. But when it comes to knowing their enemy, both sides could do with a good read of Sun Tzu and a generous slap on the head. Slagging off the Tories is how Labour think they appeal to their base and pitying Labour’s need for victimhood is how the Tories appeal to theirs. But what about appealing across the board?
Nigel Farage’s success – for it was a monumental achievement in the face of all that was levelled at him – was, by any measure, remarkable. 12.6% of the votes went to a party that many were afraid to even mention for fear of being reviled by the parties they had abandoned; abandoned because they no longer felt represented; a supposition which we later found to be absolutely true.
There is no debate any more in the UK. Parliament has no more a plan to listen to the voters than it has to cycle to the moon… or listen to the other side. Discussions in the house are reduced to name-calling and one-upmanship which, while these are long established techniques to wind up the other side, without substance are meaningless and petty and turn ever greater swathes of the electorate away from politics.
It has long been my contention that the majority of the population broadly agree on what outcomes are needed, but that almost none of us have the first practical idea how to bring it about. We repeat slogans and soundbites, we cleave to positions we have never really thought about. If you are poor and feel deprived and somebody tells you this is because the Tories took all the money and bathed in it, why wouldn’t you hate the Tories? And if you are in a decent job, receive no state benefits and are all the time besieged by rhetoric that demands you surrender ever more of your hard-earned to feed the feckless, why wouldn’t you look down on those who vote Labour?
The two sides of this divide appear to have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion of division when in reality the gap between left and right is quite small. But we only ever seem to hear the extreme positions – usually promulgated by the extremists on the opposite side. Much as with the trans-malarkey, which statistically affects virtually nobody, all the oxygen in the room is used up by activists and the moderate voices are not heard.
I long since gave up hope of seeing proper, in-depth discussions of the very real concerns of the population, conducted with empathy for the opposing view and with the intention of arriving at a solution. Instead, we get these adversarial shouting matches which end in acrimony, the only beneficiaries of which are the commentariat who now get to write searing indictments of each side’s argument. And what of the poor and homeless, the immigrant invasion, the cost of energy, the parlous state of education…?
We have not made progress in any direction other than that vision of the New Labour government, which was to transform the UK into a broiling, bustling melting pot of competing cultures. Presumably, there was no plan of how to manage the utter turmoil into which it has thrown us; we would adapt and integrate and be grateful, I imagine. Well, we haven’t. It is getting worse, and the political class seems to have become ever more detached from the reality on the ground.
It doesn’t much matter who takes the helm as the next Prime Minister, the job they have ahead is monumental and will take more than the evidence suggests they are capable of. But something has to be done. The Tories don’t have the answers, but neither does the Labour Party. And neither do the rag-taggle gang of chancers in all the little parties, but if they don’t really listen to each other, when a party which speaks with a single coherent voice comes along, no matter how abhorrent what they say, they will sweep the board. Listen up Westminster, when your palace becomes a mosque your chattering voices will be silenced forever.