It’s been a long time since I dared to comment on Lincolnite. Besides the occasional heroic explanation from Barry Turner, it would seem that for many County residents, politics is an indulgence they wish to avoid.
Considering all the problems we are currently facing, who can blame them? Changing the world is not something many people are interested in right now. Anyway, as far as Lincolnshire is concerned, business as usual seems to be business as usual.
With the possible exception of Lincoln City, it even seems that there is still little choice for any political party other than the Conservatives in any of the county’s seven congressional districts, especially now that the Labor UKIP seems to have been done.
As someone who grew up in the 1960s, I guess my political credo comes from the words of the late Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s younger brother and, like him, a victim of an assassin’s bullet: “Some men (remember you ladies, his words were spoken some sixty years ago) see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never existed and I wonder why not”.
Since the Conservative government pulled us out of the EU, a lot has changed in our lives. Brexit has finally happened, although it is clearly far from “done”. COVID has been confronted but is still with us currently in a less harmful form, Boris Johnson has been defenestrated and now our new Prime Minister is set to be chosen by around 160,000 Conservative Party members, far fewer than the 14 million (just over 43%), who “chosen” their prime minister in the 2019 general elections. Turnout was then just over 63%. So you do the math and figure out what real support this party and its leader got almost four years ago. (I think it was about 31% of the entire electorate).
So we have, in percentage terms, a government with the support of less than a third of those eligible to vote, making decisions on our behalf with no apparent plan but to cut taxes and blame Johnny Foreigner for all our troubles current. To top it off, we are about to have another new prime minister, whose tenure to govern is based on his ability to woo the faithful. As Mr. Spock might have told Captain Kirk; “It’s politics, Jim; but not as we know it.
In theory, as Barry Turner once wrote, we actually go to the polls in a general election to choose an MP. However, I would bet that most people prefer to think that they are voting for a party to form a government. Many also identify this holiday with one person, hence the current beauty pageant which is held to benefit members of the Conservative Party.
I agree with Barry that it’s time we stopped trying to ape the United States by pretending we have a presidential system, because we don’t. However, isn’t it also time we developed a political system that reflects modern needs rather than those of the 19th century? I’ve made it clear in previous articles what I think we need to do to kick and scream our politics into the 21st century. I will not go back to the old ground.
I suspect that when the next general election rolls around (which should be sooner rather than later, especially now that the Fixed Term Parliament Act is no more), the choice for most people would traditionally be between the Tories and the workers. The response to a Conservative government being a Labor government makes about as much sense to me as the recent quote from a Nation Rifle Association spokesperson in the United States that; “The answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”.
Yes, of course, Labor must be a major player in an anti-Tory fightback; but not, to use another NRA analogy, “the whole shooting match”. This is for me and I think for many other pragmatic voters, this is the dilemma for all non-conservative parties. How do you make your vote count in a system weighed against pluralism, where people still crave black and white while we live in a multicolored world?
Please don’t base your judgment of the coalition government solely on what happened between 2010 and 2015. Despite the faults of the Cameron/Clegg government, given what happened after , if I was asked to choose which half of the decade I would be willing to relive, it would definitely not be the second half!
Individually, opposition parties would find it difficult to effect change, even if they sought to do so; but, working together constructively, maybe they could. They failed the unity test miserably in 2019. Will they learn their lesson for the next time, or will the largest minority, be it blue or red, triumph again?
John was a councilor for thirty years, before retiring in 2017. A teacher by profession, he served on North Hykeham Borough Council (1987-2011), North Kesteven District Council (1987-1999, 2001-2007 ) and the county of Lincolnshire. Board (2001-2017). He was also a county councilor for the former Lincolnshire Police Authority for eight years until his resignation in 2009. In 1997 he was the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Sleaford and North Hykeham. He is currently not a member of any political party.