What fun! We’re all off to the polling station again in a week or so’s time for this year’s election. I suppose the thinking could be to get them in while we can, because who knows what the future may bring? Every time, it seems, we’re told ‘this is the most important election for a generation/decade/lifetime’, and yet in the end things generally trudge along in much the same way. This time, though, I think that statement is valid; we do genuinely stand at a fork in the road.
On the surface, this election is about brexit. In reality, I suggest, that’s wrong. That ship has sailed, and whether I like it or you like it, brexit will happen. It may take months or it may take years to formalise the details of the split, but to pretend that in any way the UK could return to the EU fold and that everything would be as it was before is naïve in the extreme. Even with another referendum which reversed the first one, there is no way to return to the status quo ante; too much has been said, too many arguments have been had and too much water has gone under the bridge for the UK to be acceptable as a reliable member by the others. The UK’s credibility in this is completely shot to pieces. That is where the last three years have left us, and, while it may be realistic to suppose that maybe in ten or so years time, a new application to rejoin - on the terms then available - could be tabled, the idea that we can just slip back to where things were before June 2016 is simply pie in the sky. That’s where Farage and his years of griping have landed us.
Below the surface, though, in the deep, dark, dirty political water, what is then the real issue to be decided on 12th December? Well, there are two possible outcomes to this election. Just to discount one theoretical one first, we can be sure that under our system, the labour party cannot win an outright majority. Without their former support and majority of seats in Scotland, the numbers simply do not add up for them in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That’s not wishful thinking on my part, it’s a pretty obvious conclusion. So the two possible outcomes are either a conservative majority government, or a minority labour one, propped up by libdems and scottish and welsh nationalists (we can ignore Caroline “oh how important I am” Lucas, with her one seat - in a constituency sadly not that far from where I live, incidentally - as being a total irrelevance).
Oh, you may say, that doesn’t sound so different from how it has been has been for my entire lifetime. Well, yes, it does sound quite familiar (with the Scottish position being the main change); but it’s not.
Generally, in modern times, our choice has been pretty straightforward - slightly centre right, or slightly centre left; arguably, I suppose, the biggest change came between the more than slightly centre left 1970s and the more than slightly centre right 1980s, but in reality both were nevertheless creatures of a strong democratic, moderate system. This time, though, that’s not the case. This time, the two options are one, indeed, slightly centre right, but the other, extreme, hard, far left.
Hold that thought for a moment, while we have a brief look at some of the policies. For the conservatives, frankly, brief is all it can be, because there isn’t much there, apart from banging on about getting brexit done. Well, I suppose not much means not much to create controversy, which I guess is their intention; put brexit at the centre, and then talk rather vaguely about how much better it will be once that’s done. You can see their point - one big concept (even though, as I said above, I’m not sure that it shouldn’t already be priced in), and then a lot of generalities about what will flow from it. I don’t hugely like it, but at least I can understand why they do it.
The labour party, in contrast, have a mass of stuff they are going to start doing, mostly centring around the concept of taking things away from private owners and putting them in the hands of the state. Rather than go into detail of the frankly absurd levels of government borrowing that would be necessary to fund this mass nationalisation programme, I am going to make the assumption that most readers of this column are sufficiently economically literate to be able to work it out for themselves; for those - if there are any, which I doubt - who can’t, pretty much every respectable economic think-tank has pointed it out (notably the IFS - generally slightly left-leaning, I would suggest - who described the programme as “simply not credible”). One point I would make, though, is that I find it extremely disturbing that Mr Corbyn (aiming to be Prime Minister of this country) does not appear to understand that the issuance of government securities is - precisely - borrowing money. Just replay to yourself the section of the Corbyn/Andrew Neil interview where Neil questions him about exactly this issue; the look of incomprehension and the failure to make any adequate reply should send shivers down the spine of any investors in UK Gilts - or, indeed, anybody who lives here.
Which brings us neatly to the people involved in this. When Mr Corbyn became leader of the labour party, he told us that he was in favour of a “kinder, gentler politics.” I thought we could just have a look at some of his and his acolytes’ greatest hits…….
“My friends from Hamas, my friends from Hezbollah” (Jeremy Corbyn)
“Close down NATO.” (Jeremy Corbyn)
“It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.” (John McDonnell)
“I want to be in a situation where no Tory MP, no Tory MP, no coalition minister, can travel anywhere in the country, or show their face anywhere in public, without being challenged, without direct action.” (John McDonnell)
“On balance, Mao did more good than harm.” (Diane Abbott - let’s not worry about the 50-odd million, then…..)
“I could never be friends with a Tory.” (Laura Pidcock)
"Those abused girls in Rotherham and elsewhere just need to shut their mouths. For the good of diversity.” (Re-tweeted by Naz Shah)
And a few from their role models:
“Power comes from the barrel of a gun.” (Mao)
“Death to the Kulaks.” (Lenin)
“A lie repeated often becomes truth.” (Lenin)
“One death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.” (Stalin)
“Tories are lower than vermin.” (Aneurin Bevan)
So, apart from the fact that you can probably guess whom I am not going to vote for, what is this about? Well, you have to link the two parts of the article. We are not going to be able to go back to how things were before the 2016 referendum; however much we may regret it, the die is cast, and just arguing on and on will serve nobody. For those - many of my friends amongst them - who, in their hankering to avoid brexit, are tempted to vote ‘tactically’, be very, very careful what you wish for. The serious risk is that you propel a marxist into our government, and it will not end well. It never does. There is the economic marxism, which will destroy the economy of the nation, through illiterate economic policies. Then, even more pernicious, is the cultural marxism, which will destroy the society. And we have been warned. McDonnell has already talked of sending civil servants for “re-education in socialist economics” so they can follow their leaders commands. Private education is high on the target list - and if the state ever has absolute control of education, then, my friends, it has control of how your children think. And if the state controls broadband access and networks, then it controls what you can see………
Marxism has never worked; where it has been tried, it has poisoned the lives of generations. In the long run, the only beneficiaries are the lucky ones who get to shop in the GUM stores and glide along the ZiL lanes.
So listen to Santayana; if it has never worked yet, then the rational application of our knowledge of history would suggest that it won’t work this time either. You can’t get back to the halcyon days before June 2016 by putting your vote - directly or indirectly - behind believers in a failed philosophy.
Be very careful, this time. It may come back to bite you. And free stuff is never free - somebody pays for it. Probably you.