My call for civility, and why we had the best possible result

civility

Cartoon by Dave Granlund

On the night of the election, I took to Facebook to express my desire for civility. At that time, I thought the Tories were destined for an increased majority, and worried that we would yet again see the British left acting like a cornered animal, and proclaim that the voters have ruined the country by re-electing the Tories. Believing my Facebook feed would be flooded with anti-Tory diatribes from people who militantly can’t accept the outcome of the election, I wrote a long post wherein I called for people to accept the outcome the election, and to not alienate their friends because of their political differences.

Predictably, I didn’t alienate anyone, because I didn’t reveal my voting intentions. However, I wound up drawing the ire of an acquaintance who turned out to be some kind of far-left, pessimistic Labour supporter who believes that we should be angry at people who vote the “wrong” way, but honestly believes that the Tories will take democracy away. Oh, but a Marxist Labour leader won’t? She doesn’t even cite any evidence for this to be the case, which quickly descended into the false equivalency between Trump and Hitler, which has been debunked countless times already. The whole case basically amounted to someone who has such little faith in humanity that her solution to the proposed problem is to take away that right to choose to vote left or right.

The fact that her position was untenable was not the problem. The problem is that she un-added me from Facebook immediately after posting, not even waiting for me to counter that argument, and there you have the crux of what I was talking about in that post – people dismissing others for not having the same political opinions as you. I wasn’t even endorsing anyone, and even though I ended up voting UKIP, I didn’t suggest that people should have voted for them. It seems to me that we live in such polarised times that even posting something neutral gets you some flack.

Even though I aimed my post at Labour voters (who I thought would be the ones crying all over Facebook), I calling for people of all sides to accept the outcome of the election no matter what, and be completely civil about their disagreements. Evidently that virtue is long dead in today’s world, where people can choose to sequester themselves into ideological ghettos. It’s this sort of problem that makes it hard for people to have any sort of political discussion. Nobody really had a problem with my statement. In fact, the only people who might have had a problem with the sentiment I expressed were the far-left. They can’t handle civility, because they can’t really push their agenda in a society where everyone gets along. They depend on people being fragmented into political tribes so they can put their agenda forward, and it saddens me to see how many people (particularly the young) eat it up every single time.

Moving on from that, people aren’t so much hostile about the Tories winning the election so much as the idea that the Tories will form a pact with the DUP. They’re convinced that the DUP are a bunch of far-right Christian fundamentalists who want to turn back the clock on gay rights and abortion, but when I ask what they plan to do in government that’s anti-gay, nobody can answer me, at least not by heart. In Northern Ireland they block gay marriage using something called “the petition of concern”, but I have no reason to believe they’ll attempt this in mainland Britain. The DUP are no threat to civil liberties. For one, they only have ten seats in Parliament, all of them in Northern Ireland. Second, they’ve made crystal clear that they’ll only bolster the Tories on key issues, such as the economy and security.

Third, this is the only workable option the Tories have. What coalition would you prefer? A Tory-SNP coalition? The only thing it’ll do is weaken the government’s stance on Brexit. Would you prefer another Con-Dem coalition? Well you can forget about that because Tim Farron himself ruled out. Or maybe you prefer a rainbow coalition with Labour and any willing left-wing parties. Mathematically that would be impossible. For it to work requires either Labour having won 20 more seats, or the SNP keeping at least 50. Neither outcome happened, and if they tried it now, they wouldn’t be able to make up a majority. It would still be a minority government, and an illegitimate one considering that Labour were the losers in the election. So when Theresa May says that her pact with DUP is the only workable option, she’s correct. I don’t like it, but I have to take it. It’s called having a stiff upper lip. I thought we Brits were good at that.

Besides, in retrospect this is the best result we could hope for. Having the lost the majority, Theresa May has lost the ability to carry out the worst policies in her manifesto, which, to me at least, means that her plans to censor the internet, which were already unworkable to begin with, may yet be blocked in Parliament, all because the young people voted for Labour in droves because the Tories were coming after their porn. As for Labour, we may now have a strong left-wing opposition to the Tories, and that means the dreaded age of austerity may finally come to an end as Labour will undoubtedly oppose any new austerity measures the Tories try to put through. It also means that fox hunting is as good as dead, and the old people won’t have to suffer Theresa’s unbelievably vampiric social care plans.

Beyond that, the result proves that, even though we’ve come back to two-party politics, people are getting tired of the old establishment politics. The Tories will have to do much better than they have in order to defeat Jeremy Corbyn the next time (even though I think at this point a Labour government in 2022 might be inevitable). It also proves that Brexit isn’t the only thing on people’s mind, that the electorate aren’t a bunch of single-issue voters who the left and the right can simply appease with worthless platitudinal slogans. In a way, it also proves that democracy is alive and well, with the Tories now in a position where they actually have to face opposition.

This will be the last election-related post I make, being as I’m getting exhausted from election politics, and I’d like to write about some topics that I’ve not been able to for a while.

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