If Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream’ was a feeling, then it’d sum up perfectly how I felt last night.
This afternoon wasn’t any better either, having stayed up until 5.30am, gone to bed and waking up with feeling numbness and dejection that is beyond the descriptive power of words.
Quite how last night happened is both incomprehensible and easy to understand. Whilst describing the election result in these terms may seem contradictory, given that the whole election was itself contradictory, why should an explanation be any different?
Incomprehensible because vast swathes of the north of England were brutally decimated by a successive Conservative governments that through most of the 1980’s aggressively pursued a right-wing ideological agenda that destroyed the industries and communities that depended on them. I was lucky. I lived on the south, far, far away from the social vandalism visited upon the north. But I remember the miner’s strike, and the anger and resentment that caused. So it was inexplicable that so many voters in those same communities would have so short a memory of their own past to put their trust in a Conservative government ever again.
But then it’s incredibly easy to understand. A lot of voters in those communities may have born after the 1980’s, and will have heard about it from their parents or grandparents, not actually experienced it themselves. And if those voters feel betrayed by a political system that asks them a simple question and then did everything it could to thwart it, is it that much of a surprise that a politician who tells them what they want to hear gets their vote? If their parents and grand-parents think that on balance their lives can’t get any worse, that how they remember the Labour party of old isn’t the Labour party of now, they’ll vote Conservative. Indeed since the Blair years it has become progressively more focused on appealing to metropolitan voters and less about being the engine for social change it always purported to be.
I get that there’ll be a lot more written about the causes of last nights result, written by an intelligentsia who mean well, to be sure, but are inured from what a majority Conservative government will mean for the millions of people claim benefits, depend on food banks or have an existence rather than a privileged life. It will be discussed interminably by the same people, who by refusing to accept the referendum result, helped create the feeling of disconnect from the political process that caused last night. I do hope Gina Miller’s feeling thoroughly ashamed of herself for all those legal challenges she brought.