I can’t take any more political discourse that uses the worst “both sides” lamentations. So many people will insist on telling me that all politicians are scum, liars, wrong, bad- and the irony is that I don’t disagree. I’m aware that politicians are unprincipled. But the temperature of UK political discourse just keeps getting hotter on one side.
Let me make this clear before I move forward: I don’t like Keir Starmer. I don’t even particularly like Labour under him.
He’s made snafu after snafu, he’s slow to react, labour seems to be a seething pit of argument and discussion that amounts to the same endless friction that has persisted, albeit quieter, since 2019.
There are myriad issues that labour need to deal with. On Starmer, the latest sin he’s admitted to is that he will break promises if it means winning an election.
So many of the political savants I follow online or speak to in person happily decry Starmer, led by the latest op-ed from Owen Jones- and it’s not that I don’t understand why people dislike Starmer or Labour under his governance. I’ve sat quietly, swallowing back criticism after criticism as Starmer seems to drag labour further towards the center. I’ve defended him even when what he’s done has annoyed me because I’ve assumed automatically that there is some grand plan I’m unaware of or that he/ the labour leadership must know better. But the rabidity with which every single thing Starmer does is shocking to me, even as someone that frankly thinks he’s a strange mix of a bit wet and also ruthless towards those who he should be courting.
Where, though, is the perspective? So often I’m told “not tories is not a good enough reason to vote for someone” and in normal times I’d agree. Under a shoddy but functional government, that argument would of course hold weight but right now it folds like damp paper.
The tories are responsible for a disasterous mismanagement of the pandemic. Hancock killed scores of older people by discharging them from hospitals into nursing homes, was more concerned with meeting daily testing figures than actual practicable safety regulations, he had an affair with someone he hired using public money and is embroiled in sundry PPE scandals as are many, many MANY tory ministers. Patel forced refugees into unsafe, unsanitary accommodation which equates to prisons, and is set to do more to worsen their situations including opening “camps” in other countries to keep them- and has worked relentlessly to ensure that any meaningful protest in the UK is curtailed- purely as a reaction to unrest under her own government’s shoddy handling of the new civil rights movement BLM. Gove’s revealing tapes about wanting the north to suffer and calling us toothless, Raab- a man who accused the UK workforce of being amongst the laziest despite us working longer hours and on average working later, and when sick- abandoning his vital duty as Afghanistan fell, to stay at a hotel that it would take someone on minimum wage over a month of full time work to afford ONE NIGHT at. All the tories refused to vote for free school meals then when the UK public pressured them they mis sold the contracts and inflated the prices for sub standard goods- and MP Ben Bradley in particular said that his constituents would use the vouchers in “brothels” and “crack dens”. Rob Roberts was disgraced by sexual misconduct claims and yet continues in his role unabated. Lets also not forget about the horrendously inept minister for Education, Gavin Williamson and his myriad mistakes, most prominent of which was declaring proudly that the Co2 Monitoring systems for schools would protect children from covid- despite none of the monitors being installed when children went back. All of this of course helmed by the racist, sexist, xenophobic, bumbling and useless prime minister we’ve had foisted upon us – Alexander Boris Johnson. Racist articles and books, homophobia, islamophobia all of which he refuses to apologise for, corruption claims stemming back to his journalism days including a confirmed claim that he doxxed a journalist for a friend to allow them to suffer physical violence, calling huge salaries “chicken feed”, laughing and joking about the swaths of dead from covid, talking about bodies piling high in the streets, telling us lie after lie after lie about brexit from the alacrity of trade deals with the US to telling UK companies to “fix the issues with their supply chain”, to simply failing to understand the vital difference between animals slaughtered for profit going to farmers VS culling of animals at huge loss to their owners. He’s raised national insurance, caused inflation in bills, made food shortages nationwide… Johnson’s failings, both personal and professional are long and storied, and yet beloved he remains by many Britons who see this rich, daffy and doe eyed fool as one of them. Johnson wouldn’t stop to put a person on fire out, used to burn £50 notes in front of homeless people and wreck their businesses for fun, has had affairs behind the back of his cancer stricken spouse. He is a moral failure of a human, and a professional failure of a politician and those who love him fail to see that they have enjoyed supporting a confection, a fraud and a fake.
The tories may not always have been the party of scum, but scum they are now. Giving credence to the continued efforts to support the tories in their vast and storied failures, the british press- how anyone can continue in good conscience to allow the tories to run roughshod over the country they claim to love is beyond me.
Sometimes I feel almost paranoiac about it- it can’t possibly be as bad across the board as I see it? And yet the evidence is there, plain to see.
I don’t blame the tories for everything negative in my life, but for those things they are attributable, the links are plain and I cannot but judge those who- I can only assume- wilfully miss this ignorance.
Given all of the above let us be frank: British politics is a hellscape.
But this then is where my frustration mounts. Again, I think Labour has myriad serious issues at present and understand how poorly they are performing. And being told by it’s leader that he will lie or break promises to win the vote is hardly endearing. And yet I cannot feasibly see them as worse than the tories, bearing in mind the litany of things I’ve mentioned barely scratches the surface just of the last 5 years.
I understand, truly, why people would have huge distaste for Labour at present. But how can one truly thing that the better alternative are the tories.
People are so often calling labour centrist that they forget just how far right the tories have gone, and as someone who considers myself far left I often look longingly for a party that actually represents how I feel on myriad issues but the other parties in the UK I unfortunately know- specifically based on how our political system works – are a waste of time.
Any vote that isn’t for the opposition is a waste, and people can decry labour as centrist or corrupt or no better than tories- but tories we have. We are under the thumb of the most corrupt government in living memory. And I can’t help but look to America as an example of a country who held it’s nose and voted in what so many refer to as a centrist melt. Biden is a disappointment in grand terms as is Harris, but we always knew they would be. But Trump’s presidency was marred with corruption scandals, tacit declarations of violence and an increasingly emboldened far right- much like this endless elitist rule by the tories has brought here.
At the end of the day I will hold my nose and vote for labour because any change, any move left however slight, is better than continuing down the dangerous path towards authoritarianism we are already too many steps down here. Until we find a political figure who reaches and unites more of the left in a way similar to Corbyn but without the long shadow he cast (don’t come for me, I liked him a lot), we have to make do with what we have or as always, votes will be split between a handful of indy parties, greens, lib dems and a big share for labour as the tories again coast to victory with less than half of voters wanting them to take power.
The temptation to push for huge change is there, and if it were possible to make a movement so vast happen it would be revolutionary- but until this movement takes place we’ll be doomed to repeat this fractured pattern of splitting and being overseen by those we do not want in power.
So it’s up to the electorate- a gentle step to the left or another goose step further right.