Reply To: Elections aftermath

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Kim Sanders-Fisher

The most recent articles you have identified make valid points that contribute to the injustice of a vote bought and paid for by the wealthy. I am not an expert on financial matters; obviously there are many areas where corruption can warp our politics with the infusion of vast sums of money. These avenues of questioning over funding and foreign interference are well worth investigating, so I hope you will stay on the case and not give up.

I do respect other points of view in an attempt to make sense of this shocking result, so I did read the article you directed me to “Letter from Britain, why Labour lost.” Overall I thought the piece was a good analysis right on the money in many respects but, as hard as I try, I still can’t get my head around the part that justifies Brexit reasoning. “This points to the underlying explanation for Labour’s debacle, which was Labour’s impossibly over-complicated Brexit policy.”

First of all, despite all the attempts to make the Labour offer sound incredibly complex, in reality it was amazingly fair, pragmatic and ridiculously simple. It lays out a clear roadmap for success that should have been adopted before the 2016 referendum, working through all of the complex issues ahead of the referendum so that at decision time the public actually know what they are voting for. Last time there was absolutely no planning regarding how to carry out Brexit; it was just a nebulous pipe dream, heavily reliant on lies and bigotry, that the architects of this disaster were incapable of managing after their shock winning vote.

The “will of the people” mantra, enshrined for all time as an immovable obstacle to rational thinking and considered review of the damaging consequences, has endured as a form of morally bankrupt coercion. The 2016 vote has been used as a stick to beat dissenters into submission despite recent surveys that, on reflection, indicate public sentiment has changed. A confirmatory referendum with proper restrictions on campaign spending, elimination of outside or foreign influences and heavy penalties for lying to the public would have provided a legitimate defining decision representing the genuine public sentiment of a well informed majority.

Corbyn’s neutrality as an honest broker was an honourable decision that in hindsight should have been adopted by other Labour MPs, but it was hard to articulate anything given the overwhelming media propaganda on this issue. We should not be considered mindless automatons, led by the nose and absolutely dependant on the opinion of a select few MPs. How any one person casts their personal vote is completely immaterial if you firmly believe in a democracy where every single vote counts.

One can only consider expanding the voting franchise to be “unfair rigging” if you honestly believe it was fair to exclude certain key groups in the first vote, which clearly it was not. Lowering the voting age to sixteen merely recognizes all those young people who will be forced to live with the consequences of the EU referendum for the longest period of time. These young people will have seen all the tantalizing options for their future within the EU fade, replaced by the strong probability of a recession and endlessly prolonged austerity. How fair was it to exclude this key demographic in the first place?

EU citizens, many of whom who have lived, worked and contributed to our thriving economy here for years, in some cases decades, should have had the right to decide on a referendum question that would disproportionately impact their lives in particular. Interesting this interpretation of “rigging” is expressed by an American writer who should remember his own nation’s history; the reason for the Boston Tea Party was: “taxation without representation!” Many of these European workers have helped keep our NHS and other essential services running and we will be rewarding them by shattering their lives and tearing families apart just as May did with the Windrush generation. Is that really fair?

I note that the Tory manifesto once again makes the same empty promise of allowing those living abroad to retain their right to vote beyond the current fifteen year limit. I have no doubt this will be the first promise jettisoned by Boris, but if the Tories had kept to their word and honoured their 2015 manifesto pledge last time, this group would not have been excluded in the 2016 referendum. How fair was it for the Tories to renege on this manifesto promise? In reality it was the initial referendum that was seriously rigged including a House of Commons vote on an “advisory referendum” on such a major issue, with only a 50% threshold, that was then deceitfully offered as a binding vote.

“Unsurprisingly, pro-Brexit working-class voters in northern England and in the English Midlands, presented with a proposal like this, turned their backs on Labour, and voted for the Conservatives instead.” Certainly messaging was heavily distorted by the pro Tory propaganda machine; all of these important points could have been presented a lot more clearly if the BBC had not forced every Labour interview down the fake anti-Semitism cul-de-sac. However, despite these challenges the claimed reasoning for the recent Tory “landslide” still does not stack up.

I have digressed somewhat from the issue of what in the results of this recent election still cannot be explained by the apparent conversion of Labour working class voters to support the cause. This was the Tory party responsible for inflicting, what we now publically acknowledge was, unnecessary suffering due austerity cuts, neglect and abandonment that impoverished and destroyed their communities. Although this was well and truly beyond unforgivable, we are expected to believe it was heartily rewarded with overwhelming support because the most important item on the agenda was Brexit. Brexit at any cost, ignoring the consequences and placing trust in a party that had exploited them for decades; I just don’t buy it.

In the article it states that: “By contrast pension-age voters, many of whom would have voted Labour in their youth and who would once have held working-class jobs in Britain’s now closed coal mines and factories, now vote overwhelmingly Conservative. In the general election that just took place 62 percent of pensioners voted Conservative, as opposed to just 18 percent who voted Labour.” Many of these pensioners would have used a postal vote handled by the IDOX Postal Vote Managed Service. Their apparent conversion to the Tory Party was easily manipulated to match their dedication to Brexit as stated: “This almost exactly correlates to the 60 percent of pensioners who voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.”

However this correlation, although at first glance believable, falls apart under logical scrutiny. The now retired parents of today’s workforce, while more secure personally, will still have issues with the rabid Tory agenda they have endured for the last decade. Along with the public in general they might no longer be under the obscure illusion that Brexit will magically solve all their problems. Among their OAP ranks are a large number of the WASPI women who started work at or before turning 16 and suffered years of pay inequality only to be cheated out of years of retirement. Support their cause or not, they would still have represented a significant factor even if they doubted the extent of Labour’s offer to compensate them.

Retirees would still have had to consider who could be trusted with our precious NHS at a point where they will increasingly be reliant on healthcare services. Some will even remember a time before a Labour government introduced the concept of free access to healthcare. The Tories disgraceful track record of neglect, underfunding and accelerated privatization is an undeniable fact. Pensioners would have considered their future access to personal care as well as treasured facilities like the public libraries and other public facilities closed during Tory cuts. The only Tory salve on offer was an easily abandoned or compromised pledge to start undoing the severe damage inflicted on UK communities through a decade of ideologically driven austerity. To say that such a dubious promise was worth all the risk for the already debunked illucive “benefits” of Brexit is totally irrational.

Beyond their own personal needs most of these OAP’s will have children, grandchildren and friends who are being severely impacted by the swinging cuts of austerity. Many will know of disabled people demonized by this government and forced to endure the uncertainty and torment of constant unfair assessments of their ability to carry on working; some will have died trying. They will have witnessed the retched impact of alcohol and drug addiction on members of their own family driven to desperation over paying ever rising rent, bills and expenses while dealing with the insecurity of zero hour contract work; some will have ended up on the street or taken their own life.

These working class pensioners will have grandchildren failing in crumbling schools with bulging classes, few supplies and dismal prospects for the future. They will have their own children using food banks and constantly begging them for money because they can’t make ends meet despite working fulltime jobs. They will have daughters who have been forced to move back home after an eviction who are now sharing their cramped childhood bedroom with their own brood of kids. They cannot simply right off the appalling impact of the Tory Universal Credit scheme driving people into poverty and destitution, because to do so would be to ignore their own kith and kin.

How could these vulnerable working class voters have been duped into believing that Boris and his group lying Tory millionaires would halt their needless exploitation of the poor and be more inclined to respect their interests after years of unspeakable cruelty and deception? Why, when Corbyn offered the potential of an end to the decimation of abandoned Northern communities, reversing privatization, halting austerity and Universal Credit, with a Green New Deal for jobs and investment would they vote Tory? In addition to all of this if a Labour Brexit deal would prioritize safety standards, the environment, and above all, their welfare and hard won rights at work, why would working class voters risk more poverty, inequality and injustice?

Even if Labour only followed through with a fraction of their ambitious promises their fully costed manifesto was a lot more believable and inspiring than the proven track record of Tory deception and instant campaign promise retractions. The article claims that this confidence trick came down to Brexit but, no nostalgic desire for the past can overcome the brutal realities of the here and now; the undeniable evidence that under the Tories there will never be a genuine intention to relieve the plight of the underprivileged. Despite her determination to persecute the vulnerable under the hostile environment and being caught out over the Windrush scandal, Theresa May made the exact same warm pledges to help the “Just About Managing.” Later, under pressure from Corbyn, she claimed that austerity was over but, in her own words, “nothing has changed!”

“Why Then Did Labour Lose? The short and unavoidable answer — and one which is gradually gaining acceptance, despite continued denials from some quarters — is because of Labour’s stance on Brexit.” The article claims: “It is not a coincidence that these regions voted heavily for Brexit in the 2016 referendum.” This well hyped myth has not gained my acceptance as I try to expose the truth. No, this illusion is part and parcel of a fabricated tissue of lies constantly being fed to us via the BBC and print media to try make their narrative fit the contrived numbers of this rigged election.

Place greater faith in human nature and do not readily accept fanciful nostalgia, isolationist bigotry and incomprehensible gullibility. The Brexit supporting Northerners really are caring people, not so selfish that they voted for their children to suffer destitution and their grandchildren to starve due to their ignorance. I believe that these pensioners postal votes were deceitfully stolen to bring this hard right government to power and maintain neoliberal inequality. The exploited working class voters, both young and old, have a lot more common sense than the media give them credit for. I remain convinced that this election was rigged.