I voted Labour. Apart from a brief flirtation with the Lib Dems after the Iraq War (travesty), I’ve been a pretty loyal Labour voter. I think I’ve been pretty open about my political beliefs on here, and I’d welcome anyone else being open as well, so do feel free to leave (respectful and constructive) contrary remarks in the comments.*
So I didn’t wake up feeling great this morning. I was one of those who heard the exit poll predictions and hoped that Paddy Ashdown would not have to eat the marzipan hat he promised us all (hilarious though that would be) but spent the rest of the night wide-eyed and refreshing the tab with the election results as I watched us slide sickeningly into a Tory majority. A Tory majority that This Morning on Radio 4 predicted would precipitate a lurch to the right.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid, and I think a lot of us feel that way. Part of this is self-interested. As a working woman whose career (I hope) will be established over the course of the next five years, the prospect of further Arts cuts, further Academisation of schools and the hike in tuition fees promised by the Tories are a very frightening thought. When universities are run like businesses and schools are pushing children like it’s a production line to meet this target and that target then education suffers. The Arts and Education are my life. Then I get to thinking, what if I want to have a child in the future? Will I be able to get a stable job? Will my right to maternity leave remain protected? What if my partner only gets the most paltry amount of paternity leave? What happens when I have to pay their university tuition fees and I’ve only just finished paying my own loans off?
And then beyond that, there’s cuts to libraries, and a trip back in time for my alma mater, Oxford, where a hike in tuition fees would make sure that it was not the brightest but the wealthiest once more who were able to go there. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Those of us in the middle tighten our belts and hope that we can afford to give any children we might have a decent chance at a decent future.
Then there’s the NHS. “Free at point of use” means “privatised”. That’s what people don’t realise. It’s a euphemism. And sure, it’s “free at point of use” now, but what happens when businesses own it, and start taking steps to charge for healthcare? It’s fundamentally flawed in my eyes to run a health system for profit. It doesn’t work. Lives get lost. I feel sick just thinking about how our health service is being slowly sold out from under us piece by piece with the refrain of “free at point of use”. And under a Tory government, it’s only going to get worse.
I could move to Scotland, I suppose. The SNP wipeout is just a massive fuck you to Westminster, isn’t it? But we didn’t have that option in England.
I really believed that things were going to go Labour’s way. I was full of hope. I think this election has been a huge blow to people like me; people who believe, deeply, in socialism. People who are afraid because the most vulnerable are being squeezed at a time when our economy is still weak.
I don’t know what five years with the Tories is going to hold. I don’t know, but I know I feel awful and afraid. My facebook feed is filled with leftie arts graduates who all voted Labour or Green and who can’t understand how this happened. I can’t. But there are loads of people out there who believe the Tories are the answer. For my part, I honestly can’t see why.
*I wish I didn’t have to say this, but after the Scott Aaronson debacle I feel I now have to a. warn people I am going to express an opinion and b. ask them not to send me abuse.