I have had a sinking feeling on Election nights before. In fact, if you are in possession of a social conscience and a radical, reforming heart in this country, the swingometer is no more than a Sword of Damocles poised to deliver the expected telling blow to our dreams.
I have had it so many times, the list is a litany of broken social democratic hearts: 1979, Thatcher elected; 1983, campaign for Michael Foot (yes I did); 1992, John Major comes from nowhere. Even 1997 was a bitter pill, as the "New" Labour Blairite broom was swept in to Number 10. Guess what? I never voted for it.
I have just realise that, in 9 General Elections that I have voted in, I have never voted for the winning party. I should therefore be used to feeling like this then shouldn't I?
Not quite. This feels like a crushing low, but as so often happens, music is a great bolt-hole when you are feeling down, as I have been since Friday morning. In particular,seeking solace in Country music; no,not the cliché-filled "my dawg has died and my wife has gone and left.." type (although I did write a tongue -in-cheek song with precisely those lyrics once), but the angst of flawed geniuses like Steve Earle and, as I was running yesterday morning, Johnny Cash,
In the midst of a head-clearing few kilometres, there was Mr Cash telling me
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.
Those of us who believe in fairness and social justice have been, metaphorically at least, clad in black since Friday's election result, and I have started several blog posts covering the spectrum of rage and despair since then. Fortunately, none of them saw the light of the "publish" button as they were too negative, too inward-looking, and just not containing any positive message for the next five years.
Now, Man in Black is hardly a jolly ditty, but it is inspirational, or so it seemed. I started thinking about the 64% of voters who did not vote for this government, but then, (probably on an uphill stretch) I remembered that 3.8 million voted UKIP- not exactly anyone's example of a bastion of social inclusion. Still, there is a majority in the UK who do share a belief, whatever their party politics, in a fair society.
We therefore all owe it to the poor, the beaten down, the increasing users of food banks, as well as those who will face injustice as a result of the attempts by the new government to repeal the Human Rights Act, to do our utmost to bring attention to the increasing unfairness in our society. Before you say it, I am not a "bleeding heart" socialist, I am someone who believes in the power of the individual to make the best for themselves- but not at the expense of others.
Of course, Johnny Cash was lamenting the lack of social fairness in the US. It is a country I love- particularly for its music, music largely born out of a constant struggle for justice and peace of mind, and a country that I struggle with in its treatment of the underprivileged.
This new government wants, increasingly, to take us down the US route of charity handouts, lack of universal health care and summary justice for those who it deems to represent any sort of threat to its well-being. In addition, the inexorable rise of the large corporate hegemon will be at the forefont of the plan, as TTIP provides the Hobsons Choice for many to be, either a low-paid corporate drone or, if you have any remaining spirit, to try to eke out a living in self-employment, but without the luxury of tax structures and discounts from punitive business rates that the huge companies, that increasingly rule us, enjoy.
Listen to the lyrics of Man in Black, they seem to be an allegory for our time.
Although you might argue that the election result provides bloggers like me with another 5 years of writing material, I would have personally been much happier if I could have focused on all the daily minutiae that often clogs my mind to write about. I am sure the poor, disadvantaged, elderly and sick would too.
I have, however, come through my initial feeling of depression. Although I do not have an allegiance to any political party, I will continue to do whatever I can to raise awareness, in any small way I can, where I see intolerance, lack of fairness- and downright stupidity from this government.
Thanks to Johnny Cash, I have realised that the Tories are not as haute couture as they think, or, at first glance, as it seems in the gloom of post-election despair. For the majority of us, and it fills me full of optimism that it is a majority, we need to make them a passing fancy-and definitely not the new black.