It’s been two weeks now since the UK voted overwhelmingly* for five years of a majority Conservative government. We’ve chosen to spend our next five years with our balls in a crocodile’s mouth, because it promised it totally, definitely won’t bite this time like it did all those other times. Still, the crocodile looks majestic eating a bacon sandwich, and that is clearly what really matters.
Terrifyingly, some 13% of electorate in the UK voted UKIP, and 14% in England. This means that more than one in eight voters plumped for a party whose entire manifesto consisted of the phrase “bLAmE FoRRinnERs” written over and over in crayon, Winnie-The-Pooh-style handwriting, with several of the letters written backwards.
Labour’s defeat has prompted the traditional soul-searching. Various Blairites have clambered atop their piles of money with loudhailers to announce that the party lost because it was insufficiently “aspirational” or “pro-business”. Presumably they felt that the demographic of very wealthy ex-Cabinet Ministers and political advisers was not sufficiently represented in politics.
Ultimately, the result seems to have come down to the perception of Ed Miliband as someone unfit to be Prime Minister. This may well have been an accurate perception, although unfitness to govern for reasons of incompetence, megalomania or a total indifference to human life hasn’t stopped any other Prime Minister in my lifetime. But it’s hard to escape the role the media played in the campaign. They just stopped short of mocking up a picture of Ed Miliband dancing on the grave of Princess Diana with Madeleine McCann under his arm, but you suspect only after much heated debate on the pictures desks.
The hatchet jobs on any credible party even a fraction to the left of centre (or insufficiently right of centre) will be something Labour has to work out how to counter if they are ever to regain power, as massive right-wing bias seems to be the price we have to pay for enjoying a free media. Privately-owned media outlets almost inevitably accumulate into the hands of a very small number of very wealthy people. As such, newspapers will tend to support whichever party seems best to represent the interests of paranoid elderly billionaires, and decry anything less than total subservience as the bastard spawn of Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro and Vlad the Impaler.
Meanwhile, as we await the apocalypse, the new Tory Cabinet has been announced. John Whittingdale, who hates the BBC, has been named Culture and Media Secretary; Michael Gove, who doesn’t believe in human rights, has been named Minister for Justice, and Jeremy Hunt, who believes in homeopathy and co-authored a book claiming the NHS is “no longer relevant” remains as Health Minister. Presumably the Science Minister believes dinosaur fossils are a test from God, the transport minister believes in flying carpets and the Foreign Secretary flatly denies the existence of Norway.
Still, the people* have spoken, and that’s what we’ve got for five years. I just hope that when they realise what they’ve done, anyone who voted Tory has a severe word with themselves. Preferably a very short, very rude word.
* just under 11,500,000 people voted Tory, from a UK population of around 64,000,000, or a little under 18% of the populace. Included in this figure are children who can’t vote, because it makes the proportion look smaller and therefore makes me feel better. And anyway, it’s their generation who’ll have no schools or hospitals left, so let the toddlers speak! But let me interpret.