The UK General Election’s Red Wedding

The clouds were darker this morning, the sun was less piercing, the shadows of people I passed, and indeed even their faces, were longer. The birds were not singing as sweetly, the air was not as crisp and clear, and the wind seemed particularly cold as it blew against me on my way to work.

The election night of May 2015 will go down as one of the most frustrating, and depressing nights of my life. Somehow, some way, David Cameron not only managed to hold on to his place in Number 10, but he actually managed to strengthen it. After 5 years of austerity measures the UK gave the Conservative party an increased representation in the Commons. As one commentator online stated; “can a country have Stockholm Syndrome?”

I, like many people, was profoundly shocked by the BBC Exit Poll forecast, but in hindsight that would have been a much more preferable result. As it turned out, even the BBC Exit Poll had it wrong. It was far too optimistic a projection.

There are positives to be taken from the election, but they are minor victories. The discovery that your kitchen has survived the bombing despite the rest of your housing having been blown apart. They are the thinnest silver linings on the very darkest of clouds.

Nigel Farage – for the time being at least – has abandoned his pretence as a politician, resigning from the leadership of UKIP after failing to get elected to Parliament. Nick Clegg has also resigned from his post as leader of the Liberal Democrats. In a frank and honest admission – perhaps the first time we have ever seen honesty from Nick – he stated that the results of the election were a “catastrophe” for the party. From the lofty heights of having 57 MPs in Parliament, the Lib Dems now have only eight. It is a massacre worthy of an episode of Game of Thrones.

Speaking of massacres, Labour have also been left licking their substantial wounds. North of the border, in Scotland, the SNP political earthquake has left few survivors. Just three of the 59 available seats have survived the onslaught, one each belonging to Labour, the Lib Dems, and the Tories. It is a stunning achievement for the SNP and the Left in Scotland, and they have every right to celebrate. Alex Salmond, now an MP himself, said that the “lion has roared.”

As the lion roared in Scotland, England had nothing but a whimper. Progress from the Greens in the constituencies where they stood was perhaps the only positive note to take from the elections. Labour’s shambolic failings have left the country awash of blue and the outlook for the next five years is bleak.

Cuts estimated to be in the region of £12 billion pounds are to occur, fox hunting is likely to be legalised, the Human Rights Act is to be scrapped, TTIP is to proceed, fracking will continue, and there is set to be an in-out referendum on the EU. Worryingly, this is just the tip of a very large, and now unrestrained, Tory iceberg that we are heading towards with reckless abandon. If this is the path the country has chosen to take, I fear for its people and its future.

Such is my dejection and disappointment with the election result and the choices of the UK voters, that there is a very real consideration revolving in my head regarding leaving these shores. A Masters has always appealed to me, and perhaps now I have an excuse to return to academia and escape what is sure to be a hellish five years.

How can this have happened? I am not entirely sure. The polls were wrong, the media was wrong, and the people of the UK have left me with the overwhelming sense that they are wrong also. I simply cannot comprehend how after five years of brutal public sector cuts, the Tories have managed to tighten their grip on power. We are turkeys and every week is set to be thanksgiving.

Labour’s failure can be viewed from many standpoints, but I believe that it shows just how out of touch with their voters they have become. It is no surprise to me that the unashamedly anti-austerity parties all fared well at these elections. Plaid Cymru received their third highest vote share ever, holding their three seats in Wales; the Green Party received over one million votes with their MP Caroline Lucas increasing her majority in Brighton Pavilion; and the SNP now effectively rule Scotland.

Labour, with their controlled immigration stance and their Tory-lite austerity policy, failed to offer anything. If after five years of opposition you actually lose seats as a party then it is time for a very serious re-evaluation. Labour are out of touch, and they have been for years. Former Lib Dems now see the Tories as a better option, disaffected members of the working class feel abandoned and turn to UKIP for support, socialists and left-wing advocates are heading to the Greens and the SNP.

In the coming weeks and months we are set to see the full force of the right-wing Tory agenda. I expect it is to be a dark time for millions of people across the country, but despite my desire to abandon this country to its fate, now is not the time to run. We must organise, and we must fight, because what we have experienced in the last five years is nothing in comparison to what is to come.

We are the resistance. We are the opposition.

Brighton & Hove

 

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This article was originally published on Cultured Vultures on 11/05/15

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