Thank you to the Chingford and Woodford Green Labour Party for the GIF above and apologies for once again getting political on your collective asses. But the nightwalker Iain Duncan Smith is stalking the streets of Highams Park and I’m getting that uncomfortable feeling that we’re headed for another bitter and divisive election. So I’m setting out my stall and suggesting that you think about setting yours out too. Unlike other elections, we don’t have a huge amount of time to make decisions and not voting, for me, isn’t an option. It would just be like stamping all over Emily Wilding Davison’s grave to waste my vote on the 104th anniversary of her death. So, here is where I’m at.
I feel pessimistic on a national scale. After three electoral shockers in a row – 2015 GE, EU Referendum and the US Presidential Election – my spirit is drained and my outlook bleak. I don’t feel entirely confident in Corbyn. He’s a good man, of that I’m sure, and principled but he’s not yet a leader that can tackle the might of May. That’s not all his fault. He’s been undercut at every turn by infighting within the party and has never been able to unify and consolidate his MPs. It’s not a good time to fight an election campaign but hey, this is where we’re at as a country and the campaign needs to be fought with the resources available. I’m expecting the worst and when I say the worst, I mean an increased Tory majority. I’m not going to pretend I’m neutral on this – I dislike and always have disliked the Tories and their austerity cruelty while facilitating the tax breaks of the rich has done nothing to make me warm to them. And you don’t need to even ask on my thoughts on UKIP (but you can read them here). But I’m realistic and I accept that June 9th will probably see little in the way of national change.
So I’m not focusing on the big picture. I’m trying to get my mind into a place that’s more manageable and doesn’t make me feel like I’m falling down a rabbit hole. IDS is vulnerable. The voters that enjoyed having a cabinet minister as their MP may well have gone off now he’s lost his prestige. We may not be able to topple him but we might be able to take a chunk out of his majority. It’s not trying to change the world but we may be able to change Chingford and Woodford Green. Highams Park is already a lefty stronghold and we’re brimming with clever people who like to make a noise about social injustice. We can do *something*.
And that’s all I’m asking you – my politically inclined but weary reader – to do too. Something. Something local, something manageable. Vote tactically. Support tactically. I generally align myself with Labour but I’m not a die hard supporter and I would always take a pragmatic view of things that if another party – say the Lib Dems or the Greens or the SNP or Plaid Cymru – were better placed to oust the Conservatives, then they would get my vote. So try not to think just about the way you’ve always voted or the reasons for not voting for these parties. You may not trust Corbyn. You may not want an independent Scotland. You may not want to give up your car and cycle everywhere. But do you really want another five years of cuts to education, healthcare and social care? Do you want to lose every ally except Trump? Don’t just say that “All these politicians are just the same as each other”. They’re not. Labour and the Conservatives are more dissimilar now than they have been in 20 years. Listen to what each party is actually saying. Don’t dismiss easily.
And vote. Please vote. Please vote well. And do all you can in your area to make even the smallest change.