This morning, all talk is about hung parliaments and coalitions, and I wanted to think a bit about the last coalition, the torys, and about media.
A thing I feel like a lot of people forget from the hung parliament result of 2010 was that the Lib Dems could have kept Labour in power if they had wanted to, they even negotiated with them before siding with biggest single party; the tories. The party line was about respecting the country’s decision (a line that comes back into politics like a zombie when we get to Brexit, hooray.), but it cost the Lib Dems their integrity. They got a lot of hate then for moves like going back on university fees, and they still do. Their party now is back to a tiny fraction of the game, yet again. But it didn’t have to be that way, so people who say that they held back the tories (which they did, to some extent), are forgetting it was them who also handed them the reins.
What’s funny is, that most people are not Tory billionaires. For most people, the benefit of voting tory is about image and ideals more than their actual real lives, in fact at the expense of their lifestyles, with cuts to public services that enable people to live in communities like parks, libraries, public swimming pools, etcetera. It’s about reducing the deficit, being taken seriously on a global stage, having military policy and also again about reducing the deficit; the deficit that no one in the general public has personal experience of, the deficit that’s a series of numbers in the treasury.
That’s not to say it’s not important to undestand the basic laws of efficiency and balance, but more to say that people don’t entirely vote for what directly affects them the most , and that’s counter-intuitive.
It’s most likely to do with the hugely rich media barons who run headlines about deficits and national image and shameful politicians; people who do not have the general publics best interests at heart but rather our wallets. Attention-grabbing disaster headlines are better than stuff like “wow, schools are much nicer places to be when there’s more funding in them”, and Tory-voting plebs keep those tax loopholes nice and loose for them. But try telling the general public that; the temporarily embarrased millionaire would rather cut the society they live in to ribbons than admit that perhaps it is not them who will benefit from the UK being in a strong trading position; we would rather pretend to be linked up to the bigwigs than admit that they are nothing to do with us.
At work, all of the mentally ill and in-recovery people I spoke to were not planning on voting. It doesn’t affect their lives, they mainly said, and all the politicians were bloody the same. It’s these people who are most affected by cuts to public services, and who also have the least belief in their power to make a difference, so have essentially accepted their learned helplessness. (That’s not to mention a guy I spoke to who seemed keen on voting, but said he hadn’t voted now for years, and also hadn’t recieved a ballot. Another young man also hadn’t got his ballot paper, and although our seat turned in favour of Labour, I’m also concerned this is something that shouldn’t be overlooked by care homes and mental health services in general.) It’s probably not a surprise that the mainly working class mentally ill who live in a recovery bed where I work mainly read the cheap newspapers like Daily Star, which are the most sensationalist, and make politics seem like mere theatrics and not a human effort for democracy.
The LibDems in 2010 were the king-makers, and in doing so, undermined what they stood for by trying to stand up for what the British public wanted. Labour 2017 have said they will not make a deal to create a coalition, because they don’t want to make these same mistakes, they want to continue standing for their values and let these carry them through. That’s “not how democracy works”, but if democracy isn’t letting elected officials vote on policy, as opposed to party, then what is it? We should trust our elected politicians to do better than the general public, kept uninformed and biased by a press with motivations that are suspect at best. We should be able to trust elected politicians to be able to see the difference in reality, and image, and not only image as the newspapers want us to believe is the most important part of politics.
There is no point in having power if you have to sell out to do it; and there is no point in democracy if it is allowed to simply end at the polls. We should have the guts as a nation to move beyond that idea, we have another 5 years now to figure this out.
Day off Blog Post 8