The sun was shining this morning. I woke earlier than usual, made a cup of tea and switched on the TV, expecting to be bored by the election results. After all, I fell out with the Labour Party in 1966 and (short of alternatives) have tended to vote Labour holding my nose ever since. Never more so than during the Blair-Brown years from 1997. In fact, I came close to joining the ranks of the non-voters. I know that anarchists say we shouldn’t vote because it only encourages them – which is amusing but not much help. I do much more understand when people condemned to zero-hour contracts, frozen or non-existent social welfare, threadbare pensions feel neglected by the political class (THEY ARE) and don’t vote. But I vote on class lines, always have, because that is the foundation of my life.
But, I wasn’t bored – well, only by the talking head journalists who couldn’t believe that their own prejudices had been utterly confounded. The wooden PM, Theresa May, had been expected to get at least an increased majority, if not a landslide. In the end, we got a hung parliament – she hasn’t got a majority at all. How does that feel when you were promising ‘strong and stable leadership’ entering negotiations with the European Union to be the first ever country to leave? Whoops! Several Tory ministers will now have to defend wafer thin majorities next time round.
Better still was seeing the pundits confounded by the performance of the unelectable Jeremy Corbyn and his re-vitalised Labour Party, re-focused as not for decades on its core messages. He had barnstormed joyously around the country in a somewhat more restrained but bouncy version of Bernie Sanders, attracting huge crowds wherever he turned up. The big thing was that, finally, the younger voters got out to put their crosses on the ballot papers and made their voices heard. Not loud enough, but getting there. Let us hope they are in it for the long haul and don’t immediately return to walking aimlessly along the street with their heads down, earphones in, checking their Twitter feeds and crashing into lamp posts.
Given my politics, I am not going to get overly excited. I wouldn’t have done that even if Labour had won. But I am chuffed that our very personable local Labour MP massively increased his majority – a nice extra wedding present for him. He is a pretty decent guy, and so is Jeremy Corbyn. I am glad they have been vindicated in sticking as close as they possibly could to their personal convictions. It is at least good to feel some passion is back in British politics, and not in the nasty, xenophobic shape that dominated the Brexit referendum. Yes, there is hope back, little though it may be just yet. There is also some sense of relief that things were perhaps not quite as bad as previously thought.
Sadly, it won’t make much difference to the people on the Meadowell estate in North Tyneside. But they are a resilient lot. Having no other means, they have learned to fend for themselves, collectively, through their own organisation in the community, through decent, neighbourly solidarity. Now that really is worth celebrating. That, in the end, is what will change the world for the better and it has to come from the grassroots, not from the political class. Stop moaning, ORGANISE!