One of the biggest challenges to existing in a political sphere and putting your opinions/analysis out there, is that if/when you get it wrong, many will jump all over you – rubbing as much salt in the wound as they can physically muster.
My response to that eventuality has always been to put my hands in the air, and simply apologise. To me, the ability to admit you’ve made a mistake, to own it, and to then try to alter reasoning and move forward – it’s a character trait and sense of accountability I’ve wanted to see in politicians (and people in general) my whole life. And I try to practice what I preach. Not to mention, a search for truth and challenging a narrative will inevitably incur mistakes – we can’t harangue people for that, or intimidate them from the risk of making them.
I didn’t vote for Jeremy Corbyn. I’ve championed the man and committed God knows how many hours to writing articles and blogs attempting to counteract smear against him, for pretty much two years straight. He renewed my waning faith that politics didn’t have to be ‘business as usual’. And in the past year, since hatred and bigotry were unleashed on Britain like a ‘New Tory’ flesh-eating virus, his decency and goodness have stood out like a beacon of hope.
And yet I didn’t vote for him
I was angry with him for his stance on Brexit. There, I said it. I believed, and still do, that our withdrawal from Europe is a tragedy of epic proportion. But more than that, I truly fell for the line of tactical voting. In fact, it’s fair to say within my own social circles, I was its high priest. I became obsessed with trying to keep the Tories out at all costs. (I can’t really apologise for that bit though.)
In my affluent constituency of East Surrey, the Tories have been in power for more than a century. Labour have no presence at all; I actually attempted to contact the Labour branch here once, but was ushered over to Crawley in Sussex – where there was a ‘feasible’ support base. The Liberal Democrats (who in truth I’ve voted for all my life) held far more sway in this quaint corner of Southeastern England.
The Lib Dems had never beaten the Tories – no one has, something which didn’t change last night. But with 23% of the vote even in the recent council elections, opposed to Labour’s 9%, the Lib Dems seemed the much worthier vote:
So yesterday 8th June, I put my X in the box next to the name of David Lee, standing for the Liberal Democrats. But I didn’t feel good about it. I even penned a letter to him to say so, and why. (Which I covered in a piece, in part to assuage my guilt.)
Like many across the nation, I braved the entire night in front of the television. Even engaged in a kind-of all-night commentary. There was some great alternative coverage going on, and the emotional roller-coaster was unlike anything I’ve experienced before, certainly when referring to the once dross sphere of politics! What Jeremy Corbyn achieved over the course of the evening was simply OUT OF THIS WORLD. Absolutely incredible, what a turn around.
I’d like to believe some of the organisations I’ve written for, and others, have played a small role in that:
When I finally retired this morning, I almost felt quite triumphant:
Indeed, I slept rather well.
Storm clouds still looming
I get up at the crack of noon to discover Theresa May has managed to slither her way back into Downing Street, by siding with an obscure far-right party in Northern Ireland, notorious for violence and authoritarianism – that most people in England and Wales haven’t even heard of. After weeks of haranguing Corbyn for supposed ‘terrorist’ links in Ireland. And having said if she lost six seats she’d have lost… now she’s lost way more than that and weakened her position, she’s going to cling to power regardless and try to barrel through with her quasi-fascist agenda any way. I literally cannot believe her nerve. I’m positively distraught.
But that’s not what this article is about. (That particular furore is reserved for future pieces. Yes… they’re coming.)
What rocked my world as much as anything, was my discovery today that despite all my intended ‘noble’ politicking that the priority had to be weakening the Tories, not risking a heart-led vote… LABOUR CAME SECOND IN EAST SURREY. I was speechless. Out of nowhere. With no base of support really. The Labour candidate Hitesh Tailor swept to second place with 19.2% of the vote, compared to the Lib Dems’ 10.5%. In the posh borough I believed would never ever ever support a Labour leader:
Nearly a fifth of the borough wanted Jeremy as leader.
I can barely explain the shame I now feel for not having supported the man whose values I stood by. I feel like a fraud, a charlatan. A veritable Judas-sodding-Iscariot. OK, my vote wouldn’t have made any difference, Sam Gyimah – the archduke of filibustering, a man I abhor – still took 59.6% of the vote. But in my mind, my personal betrayal and abandonment of principle was nonetheless quite effectual.
I will NEVER make that mistake again
I promise I shan’t. And rather than feeling sorry for myself or guilty, I’m going to put my best foot forward. Like an epiphany.
I hereby end my lifelong support of the Liberal Democrats. I am going to officially join the Labour Party. I am going to contact Mr Hitesh Tailor on Monday morning, and throw myself on his mercy – and ask whether I can assist him in absolutely any way. From now on, I am going to do everything I physically can to further the cause of Corbyn’s Labour within my privileged Hot Fuzz like borough.
Hell, I’d even consider standing as a Labour candidate, if there was any need or appetite for fresh blood in the future. A wonderful young lady and champion of civil rights I was fortunate enough to go to university with, Sara Hyde, recently stood as Labour candidate in her constituency of Bromley and Chislehurst. Sadly Sara didn’t quite emerge victorious last night, but in her very first campaign as a parliamentary politician, she took 33.4% of the vote, in a swing of 11.2%.
Sara is an absolute inspiration to me, and I would positively love to follow her lead. In fairness, my angry flowery online rants deserve positively zero acknowledgement next to the kind of work Sara’s been doing. All I’m good for really is shouting rather loudly. She’s been out there actually helping people, while I’ve mostly larked about behind a microphone.
But if my shouting and ranting can be of some service somehow, I’m beginning to think it’s a service I’d like to offer up – officially. We’re up the first stage of the hill, now it’s time to continue that assault. It’s not over.
That is, if I can be forgiven for my error of judgement yesterday, and make amends.
I hope I can.
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