Post election post mortem.

It’s Sunday already. I’ve started writing a blog post about the election so many times since Thursday evening, and Friday morning, but they were stilted, words slowly forced onto a page as my shocked and scrambled head for once didn’t know what to say. 

It started with a heavy, sinking feeling as the exit poll data was announced. Based on 22,000 people of the some 41million who voted, and putting the Conservatives in the lead, I prayed it was wrong. For a start, it was the data from 0.0005% of the total number of people who voted. The margin for error was enormous, I told myself, not in denial – as I have been a politics nerd for long enough now to know that nothing should come as a surprise and nothing should be taken for granted – but in hope. Hope that a couple of the digits were slightly here or there, hope for a slight shift of margins, hope for something other than the desolate prediction rolling across the bottom of my television screen.
“It’s another bad result for Labour”, Andrew Neil said of one early announcement of a Labour-won seat. I furrowed my brow. Dimbleby was proclaiming from the off that the polls were right, as the Lab-Con scorecard read 7-2. Bit premature, I thought. The 12th result was deemed ‘the last Labour stronghold’. Strewth, I thought to myself, there’s 638 more results to come. Sports commentators don’t predict the outcome of a football match from the first 8 seconds of the game, that would be silly. And I held that hope.
As the night rolled into morning, the Conservatives edged ahead. And stayed there, the gap between the numbers growing larger and larger. And the majority was secured. A triumphant Cameron returned to Number 10, unfettered by the “great yellow albatross hanging around the necks of the Conservative Party”, as Boris Johnson said in his keynote speech at the party conference in 2013. “We want to tear off that albatross, and drown in it the river!” People stood and cheered. I hovered at the back of the room, shifting uncomfortably at their obvious delight in the violent imagery presented with a veneer of buffoonery. I was there to give a speech on the rise of food banks in Britain, and regular readers will remember that I was banned a few days before (I suppose they finally clocked on that they might not like what I was going to say). A brief but extremely public skirmish later, it was reinstated without an apology. When I turned up, my event was curiously completely unpublicised. Not a mention in the literature, nothing. Odd for such an organised operation, I thought. And then walked into a conference room that was standing room only, packed so tightly that people were standing in the corridor outside. I raged about food bank use in Britain, about its causes, I reminded the people in that room that donating a tin of beans or potatoes was the very least they could do considering they voted for the people who implemented the devastating policies impoverishing ordinary people up and down the country. I raged, I cried, I spoke, I begged, I got a standing ovation at the end of it.
Over the next few years, as benefits are ‘capped’ and the welfare budget slashed, as the NHS is crippled and the cost of living rises, those food banks will grow in number, as will the number of people needing their help. I don’t imagine for one moment I will ever be asked back to the Conservative Party Conference to talk about it again. 
I found some glimmers of light in a long night – in a consecutive 52 hours awake and exhausted. Rupa Huq, the Labour candidate grossly and violently manhandled by Conservative Party lackeys on the campaign trail won her seat. Esther McVey, the Conservative Employment Minister who revelled at Iain Duncan Smith’s side as they cut benefits, sanctioned claimants, united against ‘the evils of idleness’, and denied there were any links between cutting support for vulnerable people, and the subsequent deaths of vulnerable people with no support.
I remember reading the article in the New Statesman, where she was handed a photograph of David Clapson, a diabetic man who died alone in his flat after his benefits were suspended. David’s fridge had been turned off, meaning his insulin was no longer effective. When confronted with evidence that the DWP had to carry out 49 peer reviews following the death of a benefit claimant after sanctions and cuts, she acidly responded that “we followed our processes correctly.” In an interview with the Daily Mail, she breezed that “disabled people get better” and insisted that they were the biggest benefit abusers in Britain.
When the result for Wirrall West came in at 5am I made a sort of strangled noise from my sofa, hardly daring to believe it was true. Eight minutes later, still shaking, I tweeted “No result affected me as deeply as McVey losing her seat. For all affected by welfare cuts, DWP shit, ATOS, she’s gone.” And sent her a link to the Government form to apply for benefits. Petty, but satisfying.
Mark Reckless, UKIP, lost his seat in Rochester to the Conservatives. Douglas Carswell, UKIP, held onto his in Clacton. The loudest cheer of the 13 hours parked in front of my television (which is more than I would do in an average month or two!) came at 10:36 in the morning, as a grinning Farage failed to win Thanet South, and resigned as leader of the UK Independence Party. He said in a garbled and slightly manic speech that he had never been happier. I am sure millions of people up and down the country shared the sentiment. 
The Greens held on to Brighton Pavilion with the wonderful Caroline Lucas getting 42% of the vote. They received 1.2million votes across the UK, and a single seat to show for it. In contrast, the SNP received 1.4million votes, and got 56 seats to show for it. Thus the fight for Proportional Representation begins again – but with PR must come the realisation that if we had had it for this election, UKIP would have walked away with around 80 seats – 23 more than the Lib Dems had after 2010, and Farage could well have been our Deputy Prime Minister. However with Proportional Representation might come greater voter engagement, as all votes would count equally and people might finally vote for what they believe in, rather than tactically ticking the box of the least worst option most likely to be elected.
Finally, following the resignation of three party leaders on Friday morning (Farage from UKIP, Miliband from Labour and Clegg from the Liberal Democrats), for the first time almost all of the political parties in Britain have a woman as their figurehead. Except the Tories. Harriet Harman is currently holding the reins of the Labour Party. Nicola Sturgeon is still leading the SNP. Natalie Bennett for the Greens. Suzanne Evans for UKIP. Leanne Wood for Plaid Cymru. Sal Brinton for the Lib Dems.
Apart from Suzanne Evans, who is a terrifying cookie-cutter of her predecessor, this is extremely good news for women in politics. 
And now, what next? Well, I’ve been crunching the numbers extensively for the last few nights, doing extensive vote analysis constituency by constituency, and am halfway through. I started because I was tired of hearing some old Labour friends claiming that those who ‘vote Green got Blue’, blaming the surge in membership and votes for the Green Party for their failure to secure a majority, or even enough votes to form a coalition. I lost count of the amount of people who sneered at me that I was to blame for voting Green, as though my one vote affected the 84 constituencies that Labour would have needed to form a majority Government. I tried to point that out, to deaf ears. I sort of understand. People are hurt, they’re tribal, they’re angry, they’ve worked hard so need to blame other people as in their eyes their hard work should have been successful. I get it. So I stepped away from the one-by-one discussions and am instead doing a comprehensive statistical analysis, which I will post on my blog in due course. It’s cathartic, it’s extremely interesting, and when everyone has calmed down we can have a conversation based on what actually happened, rather than bruised egos and flared tempers. And I look forward to that, because I like a discussion and a debate, and I’d love to chew this over with some people and get their thoughts – my head has felt full of wasps the last few days, and I think it would be healthy to get some sort of proper, reasonable conversations going.
For now though, I bid you all goodnight. I have averaged two hours sleep a night since Monday, and am looking forward to regaining some sanity.
Remember what I said on Wednesday? If we wake up on Friday morning with a Government we would rather not see in power, if all your dreams didn’t come true at the ballot box, it is not the end. It is just the beginning. You do not have to accept the cuts and austerities and policies that will directly negatively impact on your life.
We can rally. We can protest. We can organise. We can campaign. We can petition. We can scrutinise, pressurise, but we must not give in.
To quote my late friend Hetty Bower, who I campaigned with in 2013, one of the women who – and who died at the age of 108 still fighting against austerity and for the National Health Service: “We must fight. If we fight they might win. But if we don’t fight then of course they’ll win.”

Jack Monroe. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MsJackMonroe

Advertisements

Categories: Blog

57 Comments »

  1. Sadly I understand Farage is considering standing in the UKIP leadership election. We may not have seen the last of him 😭

  2. What power: to turn the disappointment, near despair into action!

    The number of voters is perhaps the biggest worry. Apathy lets so much happen.

  3. Hey, Jack, feel your sentiments exactly. Theres was a lot at play here, and for the last 5 years. I am totally Green, and voted labour at a long shot to get tories out, and felt sick after, coz I didn’t even like the labour guy…..The first and last time I will vote tactically. PR for sure. Definitely, keep fighting, protesting, and keep standing up for our rights. Thank you for your sane voice.

  4. Fight & petition we must, there are approx 11 million disabled people that’s a strong voice if it could be brought together, low wage families how many millions there?
    I have two trains of thought, It’s now every one for themselves and people just don’t care about people affected by the cuts or the news and information about what’s happening to people is managed, buried by the media all main channels who carry news programs and newspapers. Perhaps a bit of both, although given the vile ferocious trolling of people like Jack, JK Rowling et al I think people are becoming bitter and uncaring overall.

  5. Yes, the struggle continues! Thanks for your inspiring words Jack – we all need to hear them now, more than ever.

  6. Not unexpected Jack. Rubbish Labour campaign, completely missing the point/ concerns of ordinary folk. Plus the bloody right wing club (press) Big business the usual really.. It will have to get a lot worse for people, before they may become politically interested, and start to become activists.

    38 degrees are starting the fight back. Also there’s an anti-austerity march in London 20th June meet at St Paul’s lunchtime.

    Try and get the press involved/TV/radio, maybe you have connections, as they rarely cover such events, unless there’s trouble of course.

    Regards Helen Haines OXFORD (Mother and retired NHS nurse)

    On Sun, May 10, 2015 at 10:23 PM, JACK MONROE: COOK, CAMPAIGNER, GUARDIAN COLUMNIST, MOTHER, AUTHOR, ETC. wrote:

    > Jack Monroe (MsJackMonroe) posted: “It’s Sunday already. I’ve started > writing a blog post about the election so many times since Thursday > evening, and Friday morning, but they were stilted, words slowly forced > onto a page as my shocked and scrambled head for once didn’t know what to > say.&nb”

  7. “[McVey] acidly responded that “we followed our processes correctly.”” Depressingly, this is almost certainly true. They did follow their processes correctly. The processes are designed so that people with health problems and disabilities die, thereby reducing the demand for state resources. It’s chilling that they admit it so freely and people still vote for them.

    I don’t want a UKIP goverment – I think I want that even less than I want a Tory one, although I can’t help feeling that if UKIP actually ended up in power they’d either fall to pieces in panic or just do exactly the same as the Tories are doing anyway – but I’d rather have a government which lets its most vulnerable people die because that’s what the majority of people voted for, than one where the most vulnerable people are left to die even though the majority of people didn’t vote for that government. At least it is more honest. And I don’t really believe that, under a system of genuine proportional representation and direct political accountability, we would end up with such a government.

    Anyway. I’m eager to see the results of your number crunching, and to gear up for the next fight. I’m also increasing my budget for food bank and charity donations, I have a feeling it’s going to be needed.

  8. I cried a lot on Friday morning, but now I just feel determined to fight cruelty with kindness (as you do so well Jack) and make sure we do everything in our power to lessen the impact of what will surely come.

    Rallying, protesting, organising, campaigning, petitioning, scrutinising, pressurising, volunteering, donating and not giving in.

  9. It’s not fair to rail at the SNP for winning 56 seats. The SNP stood candidates in 59 seats and won 56 of them. The Greens stood in hundreds of seats so you cannot compare the two. The SNP won a whisker over 50% of the TOTAL vote in the seats they stood in which by anyone’s standard is a stunning achievement. The Greens’ 1.2m votes were spread over hundreds of seats. We in the SNP don’t want bad feeling or conflict with our natural allies. We want, as Nicola said repeatedly during the campaign, to reach out to them/you. The SNP bloc at Westminster will do its best for everyone in the UK who is in need.

  10. you are an incredible woman. I absolutely love reading your blog. Your message is so important and you tell it so well. I live in Scotland and I hope we get independence but I do not call myself a Nationalist, I feel this is a fight we are all in together and I hope we here at Scotland can support you in the fight for a fairer system for the people.We can all be so strong together and I hope this election has ignited a passion in people that will encourage change. We can make a difference.

    p.s i also love your recipes and your sausage and beer stew is a favourite of mine!

  11. I think everyone needs to remember we live in a democracy and the people went out and voted the conservatives in. It wasn’t a mistake, it might be what the minority aren’t happy with, but the majority voted them in.

      • Yes, In a multi-party election, 37% of those who voted did so for the Conservative party – a vote that secured them a majority of seats under our electoral system. It is also more of a mandate than Tony Blair got in 2005, but I don’t remember Labour complaining back then.

        Were there PR in this country, we’d still have a Conservative PM – only with UKIP as coalition partners. All this tells you that the sentiment in England and Wales – while it may not be exclusively tory – is absolutely not with the left.

        Trotting out the 34% of people who don’t vote as though they were electorally important is absurd. These people are not politically engaged and never will be. They don’t support one side or the other, they just don’t care. Attempting to co-opt them into some specious anti-conservative alliance is therefore dishonest.

        Stop kidding yourself. There is no popular groundswell of left-wing feeling in this country. None at all. Quite the reverse, if anything.

  12. Another with head full of wasps! I think you have to consider that Labour voters feel betrayed that if ‘we’ as socialists had pulled together and voted Labour the Tories would not have had a majority. You mustn’t take that sense of betrayal to be as venomous as feelings toward Tory voters. I myself see a lot of sense in what the Greens and SNP have to say but it’s easy to make promises with no track record or burden of proof. I hear in my heart that voters want change but the truth is the main thing that a lot of people wanted was just to get the Tories out and we played into the Tories hands by fragmenting instead of voting for the main party that could eradicate them. It’s even a sad fact that most UKIP voters were voting to ‘punish’ the Tories and probably aren’t even right wing, just protesting. I welcome a future where there are lots more parties to choose from who offer truth and choice, but while we do not have proportional representation surely the main goal was to get the Tories out to support our poor and sick then work on the future. I can’t understand how anyone couldn’t see how honorable Milliband is.

  13. Excellent, well thought out post Jack. I too was deeply depressed until this afternoon when oddly enough I had a couple of hours debate on Facebook that gradually turned to humour and a fun chat with one of my granddaughters who works in the NHS. I’m now ready again to get back to the fight the same as you now sound. I’ll look forward to your constituency analysis.

  14. It hurts, doesn’t it? And it’s going to hurt a hell of a lot more over the next five years.
    For now though it hurts because voting is unfair. To feel completely enfranchised we need PR. I’ve not yet had a chance to vote where I’ve felt my minority vote was going to actually count. Which hasn’t stopped me from voting, but it’s little wonder that turnouts are low. So many people feel as though the options don’t represent them or their single vote means nothing. How do you get the winners of an unfair system to make the change to a different one in which they may not win though?
    And then the reasons people have voted Tory hurt too. Despite all of the debates, the door-knocking, the pamphleting, the manifestos, reasons I heard come Friday morning’s conversation and Facebook feed included ‘Miliband’s eyes were too close together, so I voted conservative,’ and ‘I quite fancy David Cameron – he’s the best looking.’ Sigh. The people who said ‘The Tories look after my personal interests best,’ might be selfish bastards, but at least they’d thought it through, even if they hadn’t looked past their own noses. The ones who said ‘But the Tories always sort out the country,’ I wanted to shake. Sort out the people and you sort out the country. Investment, not austerity. During the last Labour government, my husband worked in regional development. For every £1 spent on their services with public money, £5 was generated in the regions they were working. But the Tories closed it down to save money.
    It’s going to be a long five years. I think about the NHS, schools being forced into academy status, cuts in benefits and services to the most vulnerable in society, public resources, university fees, transport services, public sector pay freezes and the ramifications that has on the people those jobs attract, pension reform, private sector minimum-wage jobs becoming voluntary posts, the increasing need for food banks, etc etc and I could cry. We’ve seen the tip of the iceberg and we’re about to go under!

  15. And as we go forward…be nice to others not mean. The meanness for the poor, the physically challenged and recent arrivals will come from above, there will be no shortage, so let’s not build on it. Thanks Russell Brand.

  16. That’s a cracking summary of what a lot of us have been through this past few days. The icing on the cake, though, is that ray of sunshine you gave us at the end — followed by that wonderful quote from Hetty Bower, so appropriate, and inspiring. Maybe that should be carved in stone for the next Labour leader to think on, not the piece of crass tripe Miliband had. Thanks for that, Jack!

  17. My best election moment was also watching Nige lose his job and not gain a seat. Small glimmer of light in a dark day.

  18. from a post on facebook…………………………….
    HOW THE SCAM WORKED: Voters in Bournemouth were casting votes on the wrong ballot papers – or being told to ‘come back later’. All nine polling stations in Kinson North and Kinson South were affected by a printing error on books of ballot papers. Meanwhile, in Hastings, 200,000 ballot papers were stolen – divided up, these would have been enough to swing at least 30 marginal seats. Hundreds of postal ballot papers were sent out without the names of the Green and Labour Party candidates in the Hull East constituency. The provision of pencils in polling booths is a requirement of section 206 of the Electoral Act. There is, however nothing to prevent an elector from marking his or her ballot paper with a pen – but voters were never told this – so everyone used the pencils – and that made it easier to ‘adjust’ the vote. Then two ballot boxes were misplaced by election staff from an Eastwood Hilltop ballot station, as candidates noticed the total number of votes in Labour Leader Milan Radulovic’s battleground was over ‘2,000 crosses too low’. And then Darlington Borough Council faced calls for a re-count after UKIP’s David Hodgson’s name was left off ballot papers. Funny how all these ‘blunders’ never disadvantaged the queen’s cousin, Mr David Cameron.

  19. Your not on your own lass. I feel so depressed. i cannot believe folk are so greedy they would vote him back in !! i feel the voting system is wrong SURLY people haven’t fallen for the lies AGAIN!! I haven’t spoke to one person who’s admited they’ve voted conservative, and if i have (online) they’ve been in the minority!!

  20. Reblogged this on sweetaswords and commented:
    I cannot begin to express my own heartbreak at the results of the British General Election, but perhaps, with time, I shall attempt it. In the meantime, Ms. Jack Monroe manages to sum up most of my feelings about it.

  21. Cameron conned the public by scaring them into believing they would end up with a Labour/SNP coalition or they wouldn’t get a referendum on the EU if they didn’t elect him back into office. Now he’s going to remove the HRA and tax disability benefits, along with other things he hasn’t yet mentioned.

  22. A friend of mine posted on facebook that she was devastated by the result. I said we need to be outraged. Outraged enough to do something- join a party, listen to politicians, scrutinise our own MPs actions… and hold on to that outrage until we have the next chance to get rid of these people.

  23. You are brilliant! I always enjoy reading your posts, but this one especially struck a chord with me. It’s given me a real optimism and motivation, so thank you.

  24. jack,

    I watched from the relative safety of Colorado Springs as the results came in( BBC live stream) was just slammed at it all. obviously this election, no matter what anyone says, affects the whole world. I am sorry for your loss but Hetty is right. Organize, campaign, be present. I told you once I would support you. I have not wavered.

    be well

    laurence

  25. jack,

    I watched from the relative safety of Colorado Springs as the results came in( BBC live stream) was just slammed at it all. obviously this election no matter what anyone says effects the whole world. I am sorry for your loss but Hetty is right. Organize, campaign, be present. I told you once I would support you. I have not wavered.

    be well

    laurence

  26. Hi Jack, I tried your bacon and brie risotto recently and it was amazing! Thank you for the recipe. I’ve written a blog post about it if you have spare time to check it out 🙂 best wishes.

  27. Great post as ever, thanks Jack, I love your writing. I was sorry to see you say on Twitter that you’ve lost your Guardian column. I hope there are lots of other great opportunities around the corner for you. X

  28. Another silver lining in this great big debacle is that Chester went from a Tory to a Labour MP. We also had local council elections and went from a Tory majority to a Labour majority. I’m clinging on to these small gains!

  29. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32683869 summarises the Conservative pre-election pledges if anyone has forgotten some of them….among the appalling lists I came to Immigration:

    ‘Extend the “deport first, appeal later” principle to cover all immigration appeals and judicial reviews, apart from asylum cases.’

    As mother-in-law of my son’s wife from Bangkok, I have spent the last eight years filling in her visa applications, racking my brain to understand their convoluted English and ambiguous questions, knowing that the slightest slip/misunderstanding will give the Officers an excuse to refuse the visa, with the constant dread of having to take it to appeal. In spite of a couple of outright refusals, we have been granted a series of temporary “discretionary” 3 year or shorter visas” (thank you, European Court of Human Rights).

    In 2018 we have to make yet another application, and by then “deport first, appeal later” may be in place……so it is not the possibility of having to make an appeal I will dread, but outright deportation.

    This is a harmless couple, working hard at low paid jobs and living frugally with no public money apart from my son’s tax credits at the disabled rate, they own their own house (after a surprise legacy and with help from me) and are easily able to prove that theirs is a genuine and stable marriage. What more do they need?

    “Deport first, appeal later” will lead to countless family and personal tragedies.

  30. Well said Jack. Lets all use our anger to fight for those that need protecting against this blue wave and truly turn negative into a positive.

  31. I’m confused – if everyone is now bemoaning the lack of PR, why did so few take part in the 2011 referendum/vote for PR?

  32. The political process in improving the lot of people is a journey not a destination. I too was very depressed after Thursday night – but in the clearer light of day I can see a very bumpy road ahead for Mr Cameroon.

    Meanwhile, I really did despair at the Labour Party, which after having the Blair Brown dynamic, ended up with a Milliband / Milliband dynamic instead There is so much talent in that party but it went to waste in the hands of the usual apparatchiks. Well, now they got what was coming to them. Perhaps they will write that lesson on a stone slab and erect it in the garden.

  33. Someone’s got to say it:” I voted Conservative”. I’ve said it before:”Why do so few people have the nerve to express their support for Conservatives or UKIP or The Raving Loony Party or whatever,on this forum? Reading the latest round of post – election comments, I can see why. Such strong hostility is expressed by most writers that I feel most people prefer to keep their head below the parapet rather than be abused/vilified for their political choices. Jack says she likes a good argument. So do I.But I could be up all night discussing numerous comments here which I feel immoderate,unjustified,spiteful,too sweeping,stereotypical etc. I am sure another lengthy missive by me would bore,enrage,burst another blood vessel for some people or whatever, which would not be my aim,so I will desist.
    I found the election night BBC fascinating. I too stayed up all night and watched the next day analyses for hours.Frankly, I was relieved that the Tories were returned with a reasonable majority: because I think political stability is important;because I think there is a better chance that the economy will be sensibly managed;because I want a referendum on the European question. That is not to say that some aspects of their policy do not give me cause for concern.But as I have mentioned before, no one party can please any one voter totally,yet alone please millions of voters.
    Though my instincts are basically Tory,this did not prevent me from being disappointed by some of the outcomes for other parties. I do think it very unfair that Scotland with roughly 4 million population and about 50% of the votes cast (I may be a bit inaccurate with these figures) lands up with 56 MPs,whilst the Greens and UKIP land up with only 1 MP each in spite of about 1 million and about 4 million votes respectively. However,apparently we were all given a chance to vote for proportional representation in 2011 and turned it down. To be honest,I can’t even remember this so I think I must have been going through one of my phases of political apathy which sometimes strike.
    I also felt very sorry that so many Labour MPs were wiped out indiscriminately in Scotland,especially,regardless of good work they had done in their constituencies for years,especially Jim Murphy who worked so hard both in the cause of the Union and for the Labour Party. He seems a thoroughly decent chap,passionate in his beliefs and well deserving of our admiration,so I hope he will still find a way to be politically involved.I also regretted very much that Clegg and Danny Alexander were voted out.and the Lib Dems as a whole,suffered so badly. I do think we need someone to stand up strongly for liberal principles which sometimes get swamped and I do think by working with the Tories ,in the interest of stability,they did have to sacrifice some of their traditional stances,so losing the confidence of their traditional supporters.
    I also regretted Farage’s failure to obtain a seat. His party gained does about 15% of the voters and I think his unique voice in Parliament would have served to remind politicians there of the views of a reasonable slice of the electorate. You see,at the end of it ,I am a democrat.Prepared to respect the views of others ( unless they are mad or intrinsically bad and generally you don’t get large numbers of people who all fall into those categories,thank goodness). What a lot of writers here seem to be saying is”It’s not fair. We haven’t got the result we wanted,so we are going to make trouble.” Well,perhaps I’ve got it wrong,but there does seem to be a lot of emphasis on”fighting” and other intemperate language.
    The Government has been given a mandate and those who have given the mandate in a fair and square election have the right to see the government being given a fair chance to implement it. “What about the will of the people”? Aren’t those voting differently to you also “people”? The recent riotous behaviour of dissenters in London and the threats to burn property,assault others(they already have with a number of police injured),create disruption for others going about their business etc. is, quite frankly, a cheek,more than that a disgrace,so soon after a democratic election.Has anyone thought what would happen if crowds of so -called right-wingers or LibDems or Ukippers or whatever decided to counter-demonstrate?Do we actually want mini civil wars erupting on our streets? It’s not likely to happen ,of course, and you might like to dwell on the reasons for that.

    Jack mentioned that the election turn-out was low,so we cannot be sure of the real level of support for ANY of the parties,not just that of the Tories. Personally,I think it was difficult for people to make up their minds. Many people writing in these blogs seem to focus on the NHS and the plight of the poor,as evidenced by food banks.But a lot of people, and I include myself, have been much more influenced by the bigger questions,relating to the issue of Scotland and the cohesion of the Union and of our place in Europe. Nicola Sturgeon’s clear statements that the SNP would use their support for Labour to secure more concessions for Scotland (when they already receive more per head than English,Welsh or Northern Ireland citizens,due to the Barnett Formula),must have caused many to withdraw support from Labour.Alex Salmond also must have had the same effect by threatening to revive the demand for Scottish Independence so quickly after the failed referendum. As for Europe,for many the issue of our continued relationship or not is tied up with the policies on immigration,hence the rise of UKIP.Others may have been attracted to the Green Agenda but conscious that their vote would achieve very little,so saw little point in voting. As for the issue of the economy,the Labour Party’s post-mortem is now stressing that they were wrong not to admit they got it wrong prior to 2010 and that they should have placed more emphasis on making the electorate think they had learned their lessons and would now be safe hands with the economy,which is clearly still fragile.They are now accepting they have made a mess of things in choosing ED Miliband as Leader and for following too left-wing an agenda. They are already advocating a return to the centrist socialist position of the Blairites. In effect,they will be positioning themselves much closer to the conservative left-wing (which does exist,by the way). Where the extreme left in the Labour Party will go will be interesting to see.

    Finally a word about the issue of poverty and the welfare of the NHS. Most people see a clear connection between national prosperity and the ability to reduce poverty and to continue to spend generously on the NHS.There are many genuine cases of need of all kinds. But equally there is a significant level of abuse of the social support systems. I have mentioned that my partner is disabled,from birth,so I do have the interests of the disabled at heart. He has told me a lot about fellow sufferers in an even worse situation than him physically. He does not complain about the level of his benefits, which,together with housing benefit, is enough to live on if managed sensibly.He is allowed a new mobility car every three years if he wishes(he keeps his for 5),with all service ,insurance and taxation paid for,and mostly has free parking He has free medicine,spectacles,dental treatment.He has lots of health problems and has received excellent care from his GP,from A&E departments,has had numerous scans or X-rays,several operations etc. at no charge,of course.He can go to National Trust Houses, the cinema or some theatres or the opera houses(not that he does!)for half-price with a carer. Entrance to many venues, such as zoos etc. are reduced in price,as are hair-cuts. Many ordinary able-bodied people are extraordinarily kind to him in all kinds of ways:picking him up off the floor when he falls or carrying luggage or opening doors etc. I have never ,in the 14 years of our relationship, heard him complain that society does not treat him well,financially or otherwise.He is ,in fact,very grateful for everything he gets and the kindness that is show him. He knows that from time to time he is being discreetly monitored by the Benefits Department.He believes that is only right since he is receiving money provided by the rest of us and we need to be assured our money is being spent wisely.I know at least two people who are abusing the system,claiming they cannot do what they can do.I am sure there are many more doing so,taking money which should be spent on those in genuine need.

    As for the plight of the NHS,which is clearly creaking in some respects – I am sure we could all give instances, – it is not right simply to blame the “wicked Tories” for the problems. with the NHS.The Government has increased expenditure on the NHS over the last 5 years and there are more nurses,doctors and fewer administrators.Whatever is poured in does not seem to be enough,but why? There are many reasons:people are living longer ,not always healthily and needed much treatment. A friend of mine at 82 has received a heart operation,using key-hole surgery, to enable surgeons to then safely operate to remove a throat tumour. He was weeks in hospital,them received daily visits from a pair of nurses to sort out and monitor his feeding. He had loads of scans,radiotherapy,was judged too frail for chemotherapy. . Probably only 10 years ago they would have given up on him. Immigration is also affecting everything ,from the GP service,to midwifery services ,to what is called tourist medicine.As medicine advances,new expensive techniques and drugs are developed and naturally everyone expects and wants them,without thinking where the money to pay for them is coming from. Personally ,I think we cannot afford to continue with a totally free – at – the – point – of – need system much longer,if we want the best up – to – date service . I think we should have a system where some extra contribution is made by those who could afford it,perhaps paying for meals when in hospital,for example, or paying a charge for GP appointments.Most of us who are not on the bread-line do find money for our chosen luxuries : smoking or drinking , nights out,dare I say taking drugs.,clothes we don’t need etc. etc. What is more important, luxuries or our health.? I am putting my money where my mouth is. When my doctor said that my spinal problems,which are seriously affecting my mobility could not be treated except with paracetamol ( I can’t take stronger pain-killers because of the warfarin I am on) or physiotherapy, I opted to pay for the physio myself,rather than ask her to sanction it because I know the NHS is under pressure.I actually said to her :”If I can afford to take myself off for a night out with a good meal,I can spend that money on my health”. I have been paying weekly for over a year. Final note,in both Wales and Scotland,under the devolved powers given them to run particular budgets,the ruling Labour Party in both of them has chosen to spend less than the Government does for the rest of the UK. What makes you think the NHS is only safe with non – Tories? The Labour Party has made such a song and dance about the NHS only being safe with them that people has been brainwashed.In my opinion,the honest situation is that our NHS has become a “sacred cow” ,a rather sickly one,and politicians of all parties are too scared to touch it because of the howls of rage which will come from many quarters of the electorate.We know our NHS is not performing as well as it could. On many measures our statistics do not compare well with those of some poorer countries ( eg various cancer survival rates,or number of deaths in childbirth,to cite just a couple.)Unfortunately,however,for many people our NHS has become a “sacred cow” and must not be touched,in spite of its deficiencies. (For the record,my husband worked for 6 years as a nurse,so I have some insight from the inside.) For some the sole solution seems to be the provision of an endless stream of money. Common sense must tell us surely that that is not sustainable ,especially when we are still living annually beyond our means,with an annual deficit,plus a huge national debt attracting billions of pounds of interest payments.Personally I would like to see the NHS taken out of the political agenda and re-examined from top to bottom by a commission of all kinds of professionals,all political groups,client groups etc. with the aim of modernising it and making it more fit for purpose That way,hopefully,theyb would have the courage to take whatever tough decisions have to vbe made.
    Final words – are you saying”Thank goodness”? The Labour Party has been controlling both the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies for a few years now and has been in control of budgets which include allowances for the NHS and other services. They have both chosen to spend less on the NHS than the Tory Government has been doing in England. Hence the great dissatisfaction with the NHS in Wales (I am not sure what opinion is in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

    Is there no one out there who agrees with any of my views? I’m beginning to think I’m the only surviving right-winger in the country.

    Sorry I’ve got so carried away. I started off by saying I couldn’t reply to all comments and intended to be brief. There you go,there’s a bit of passion for you.

    Don’t all jump on me at once!

  34. If only McVey had told my terminally-ill mother that her disability would “get better” (her bones had crumbled due to secondary cancer)…Oh, to live in her ivory tower…

  35. I have been in utter despair.
    Jack would you ever consider standing as as Green or perhaps an independent candidate (like the brilliant Claire Wright that we had in East Devon who was sadly unelected but did magnificently)? You would be amazing.

  36. You echo so much of how I have been feeling since Friday morning. What a thought – 5 more years of the Tories, and without the ‘great yellow albatross’ – I guess we will see how ineffectual or not the LDs really were. As a Scottish voter though, I feel I have to put my head above the parapet a little re:the SNP. I don’t think you can compare a party standing in 59 constituencies with a party standing in 624 – SNP achieved 50% of their vote whereas ukip only 12.5% (if the stats I’ve read are correct – give or take). We are also the only country within the UK (I think!) to actually have PR already, and whilst it is safe to say that FPTP definitely worked in the SNP’s favour this time around, they are in for PR as a party. I’m a Green Party member – I believe in PR and wish my party had at least the same representation in Westminster as they do in the Scottish Parliament – ok, it’s only 2 but 2 of 129 as opposed to 1 of 650! I’m just a bit fed up of reading the same comparative stats re: ukip etc and SNP, when they are such different situations – more of Scotland being told its voice doesn’t matter because it isn’t part of England. I hope that the SNP can help challenge the Tories over the next 5 years – it cannot be a bad thing to have 56 socialist voices in there to join Caroline Lucas etc!

  37. Unfortunately, it’s called democracy, nationally the majority of those who actually voted, chose the status quo, possibly in fear of the alternatives. The die was cast when Ed Milliband was bluntly told by members of the audience at the BBC Question Time programme broadcast the week before that he & his party were not trusted by the electorate or the population in general. Personally, the best part of the night was when labour beat George Galloway in Bradford!

Any thoughts? Comment below!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s