Home Page Well, we know it was historic, but just what is it all going to mean? 11/05/15

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Hart of the Matter

Every now 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.

Normally we 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.

I remember 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 and emphatic.

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.

Film sequels 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.

On Thursday, 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 euphoric proportions.

The opposite 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.

This time 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 work together?

Well, the 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.

Oh well, 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.

The sad 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.

The national 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.

David Hart
David Hart revives his personal take on the week in Haverhill, covering everything from major town developments to what we do with our rubbish.
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