Hart of the Matter
and again a day comes along which you just know is going to go down in history,
and if you are young and then manage to live another 70 years, which people
will be interviewing you about as one of those who remember.
VE Day was
one such, celebrated on Friday with curious irony because just such another
defining day was actually going on around us at the time.
know, on such days when the world appears to have changed, what the shift means,
at least to a limited degree. But what Fridayís earthquakes will turn out to
mean is still obscure.
John Majorís surprise win in 1992, which turned out to be just about the worst
thing that could have happened to him and the Tories, although it seemed such a
personal triumph at the time, and he had a bigger majority than David Cameron.
In fact, at
almost every other election which has happened in my lifetime, this Tory
victory would have been described as infinitesimal, knife-edge and the most
fragile for a generation, instead of, as was the case over the weekend, thumping
But that is
because of the context of what happened five years ago. As with everything
which is at all theatrical Ė and politics is definitely that if nothing else Ė
it is expectation which colours events.
A tragedy is
the more affecting if it has been preceded by comedy, or by an expectation of a
happy outcome. A joke has to be set up by a straight line.
almost never live up to the expectation of the first in the series, because
then no one had any particular expectations, but now, as the first was
successful enough to breed a sequel, expectations are high and even achieving
the same again is seen as a failure and a disappointment Ė just look at The
Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
In 2010 the
expectation was of a victory, so the Tories not getting one, even though they
formed a coalition in which they were dominant and set the agenda for the next
five years, was seen as a failure.
the expectation was for another fortnight of deal-making among the parties, so
for one to emerge with the slimmest of majorities is a massive triumph of
has happened on Haverhill Town Council. Last time it was a draw, although
Labour managed to engineer control via some dubious co-opting. So there was a
majority, albeit the slimmest possible.
around there is a truly hung council. You may think it is inconceivable that
UKIP and Labour would ever join forces to oppose the Tories, but that would
just mean that you have seen little of local politics. Local issues can often
cross party boundaries in ways which the public, in general terms, says are
what it wants to see.
Why do we
have to have all this political wrangling? they cry. Why canít everyone just
drop this party dogma and put the good of Haverhill first? Why canít they all
answer to that could not have been more blindingly obviously illustrated than
on Friday morning when Nick Clegg made his resignation speech. Dropping party
dogma in the national interest and working with people they didnít agree with
is exactly what the Lib-Dems did, and look how the country rewarded them.
It was illogical
to me why so many people who had voted Lib-Dem in 2010 were so annoyed with
them for joining forces with the Tories that they all voted Tory this time to
punish them. When you ask them why, they talk about broken promises and raise
the spectre of tuition fees, about which they are still incandescent.
So, I said,
who actually put up tuition fees? Thereís a pause and they say: ĎWell, the
Tories.Ē And so you voted for them this time instead?
I have a
theory that peopleís brains go to mush when faced with a stubby pencil and a
ballot paper. They mustnít trust the weirdo in the pocket of the Scots. They
wonít vote for anyone who broke a promise (in which case why are you there at
all?), and UKIP are all racists. This is the sum total of the information they can
remember from the media at that crucial moment.
they think, better go on as we are. Actually, I think I must be a bit better
off than I was. Okay, thatíll do. At least I voted.
Of course, there
are always those at the extremes, who really do have a picture in their head. Iím
fed up with my money being taken off me and given to people who have ten
children and just doss about on the sofa all day. Why should I have to pay my
heard-earned cash over to fund education when I havenít got any children?
Or, on the
other side: Why should my money be given to help people to start up businesses
most of which go bankrupt so they can have more money to start again? And if
they succeed a bit they exploit foreign workers. And if they get bigger they
get an accountant to help them evade some tax. And if they get bigger still they
go abroad to evade all of it.
thing is that all this comes about because none of the politicians seem to
stand for anything anymore. They all just stand for what they think will get
our votes. Or is it our fault? After all, if you do just stand for what you
really believe in, come what may, you end up like Arthur Scargill with about
300 votes, or George Galloway wearing a silly hat.
We get the
politicians we deserve, a wise person once said, and through the long hours of
Thursday and Friday I couldnít help reflecting that that was the biggest lesson
of this election.
picture will be fascinating from now on, especially with the Scottish
dimension. The Haverhill picture, though lacking as yet in a Haverhill
Nationalist Party, will, I am sure, be equally unpredictable.