It’s election day in the UK, and while we may well be heading for a hung parliament with the outside possibility of a Lib/Lab pact, I’m girding myself for the horrible possibility of a Tory victory. Is it the end of the world? Almost certainly!
But it might not be. I’m clinging to a few scant scraps of comfort in the event of a Cameron government. Such as…
1. What It Feels Like For A Girl
Most forecast models agree that a Tory majority looks unlikely. The rich white Eton boys have never been part of a minority before - this could be an exciting experience for them! The important point about this is that a minority government doesn’t have much of a mandate. Even if the Tories win, they may not be able to pursue an aggressive agenda. Then again, they may, if the opposition is wet enough. Ask a Canadian.
2. Brown Out
Frankly, I suspect it’s all over for Gordon whatever the outcome, because a Lib/Lab coalition might depend on his ouster, even if that does mean a second successive unelected prime minister. (Actually, a 76th successive unelected prime minister, because we don’t directly elect prime ministers, but you get the point.) If Dave wins, I take consolation that we will never speak of Gordon Brown again. He was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad prime minister. (But I’d still rather ten more years of him than a single week of David Cameron.)
My biggest worry about a Tory government is that we may lose our best shot in years at electoral reform and the introduction of proportional representation in the UK. First-past-the-post politics has for too long condemned the country to rule by minority interests, and reform is necessary. The Lib Dems got a lot of attention in this election thanks to Nick Clegg’s strong performance in the leaders’ debates, and the party may score their best performance since their formation. Clegg’s star could rise higher as a Tory opponent than it might in a Lib/Lab coalition. The Liberals are on the landscape now, and they’ll have more to kick against in a Tory nation.
4. Winner Takes It All
Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, reportedly suggested that the winner of this election will be rendered unelectable for a generation because of the severity of the deficit cuts that they would need to introduce. So, good luck with that, David.
5. A Timely Reminder
The Tories are awful, awful people. Some people seem to have forgotten that, which is why they’re on course to get the biggest share of the vote. The Tories don’t like you. They don’t care about you. They will try to ruin your life. They will shut down women’s shelters and homeless shelters and youth clubs. They will hinder minority rights and keep brilliant foreigners out of the country because they talk funny. They will take a hacksaw to the NHS, and they will turn the BBC into a pirate radio station. They will remove safeguards on everything from banks to trains just to turn an extra buck. They will guarantee that struggling families have to struggle more, and that people on the fringes of society are pushed further to the fringe, because they are only interested in the preservation of wealth among the wealthy and the conservation of stifling and fantastical Victorian values. They are monstrously awful. Putting them back in power will remind us of that pretty quickly.
6. Thatcher Versus Twitter
Social media like Twitter are making it easier for people to disseminate information while circumventing the Murdoch-controlled mainstream press. We’ve seen what effect that can have already in the way that The Sun has failed to dominate the message in this election. It’s much harder now for conservatives to get away with selfish abuses that they claim are in the public interest when the public has a voice and a means to mobilise. Thatcher never had to deal with Twitter. The Tories have never had to worry about the Internet. The game has changed. You won’t get away with it this time, right wing politics!
7. Britons Will Learn A New Word
That word is ‘prorogation’. It hasn’t happened in the UK for a while, but it’s probably going to happen again soon. Ask a Canadian.
All of which is to try to put a good light on a terrible turn of events. A Tory government will be a disaster for women and all minorities, for the unemployed and the disadvantaged, for children, schools, and young people, for the homeless, for the BBC, for the NHS, for the world, and for you. Be afraid. Be fucking terrified.