While it is hard to find a single narrative thread in the recent elections, one theme stands out for me.
The week before the polls, I listened to a Conservative councillor explaining how they needed to win control in order to bring resources to his area. In Hartlepool we hear that services have been hollowed out in recent years, when they had a Labour MP (ignoring the Tory government that has been in place for over a decade). Time for a change. Wait, what?!
Am I hopelessly naïve to believe that in a democracy resources should be channelled according to need, not according to whether the local political representatives happen to be the same party as the government?
Thank goodness there are still voices like Andy Burnham’s on the scene – “this is no way to run a government” was his memorable quote from last autumn. And no, this is still no way to run a government. Reading Anna Soubry’s piece on Saturday, I wholeheartedly agree – how could Labour miss such an open goal? (Have they been taking pointers from Sergio Aguero?)
Most importantly there are so many of us on the centre-left who feel politically homeless – socially liberal, internationalist, believing that Global Britain means leading from a position of moral authority, not gunboat posturing. Change UK was a noble effort that failed, More United attempted to build bridges among like-minded politicians, but came to nothing.
What is needed are party machines in place that can get the vote out and leadership capable of explaining to followers stuck in traditional silos that nothing can be achieved if they are not in power.
I join Nick Eastwell (Letters) in his call to action – for all our sakes Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens, come together and give us a party we can vote for capable of beating these chancers.
A year and a half ago, Jo Swinson and Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated that they were in cloud cuckoo land at their party conferences. Jo Swinson announced her party could win at a general election and Jeremy Corbyn put forward a Momentum inspired manifesto that made Labour unelectable. They then succumbed to hubris by agreeing a general election they could not win while splitting the vote of Remainers.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats now have new and more sensible leaders but no mission. They continue to split the non-Tory vote. Politics have moved from a left/right divide to a more selfish/less selfish divide.
The more selfish want to promote their own interests, and those like themselves, with little regard to those that are different or less fortunate or live in another country. Like fans of a football club they think the glory of the players, today or in the distant past, rubs off on themselves and makes them special. They despise the fans of other clubs for no discernible reason other than they are different. There is a well-established political party for the more selfish.
The less selfish have a similar self-interest, they will not make substantial sacrifices to make everyone else’s life as comfortable as their own but they will make some sacrifices. They do want a society that makes a serious effort to do the right thing for everyone else, not just in the UK but throughout the world. The two parties for the less selfish, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, are both encumbered by their history. These particular “football teams” are not going to get the players, manager, strategy and loyalty of fans that is need to win.
Without such a reshaping of UK politics it is going to be more and more embarrassing to be British.
Keir Starmer’s straightforward honesty is admirable and will hopefully win in the end. The last thing Labour need right now is to have a leadership contest. Starmer needs to up his game and maybe have a more dynamic sidekick.
Maybe Starmer should take a few more risks, be more noticeable and get out there a bit more.
Douglas Ross, the Tory leader in Scotland, has called on the SNP to work in unity, presumably with his minority group of MSPs, in the recovery from the pandemic and the economy. I am sure Nicola Sturgeon will be as accommodating of the opposition as Boris Johnson is in Westminster.
I agree with Alan Warner (Letters) about the sense of moving the Champions League final between two UK clubs to the UK, but Covid-19 isn’t the only reason. There is also the huge carbon footprint of such a 3,000 mile round trip for the teams and 8,000 supporters. Or does Uefa do green?