Here’s what I think: The General Election and middle England

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Here's what I think: The General Election and middle England 1

The United Kingdom will go to the polls yet again in December, for the fifth time in the last five years. A General Election has been called for 12th December; a move which will put paid to most of the “season of goodwill”, and with another Brexit deadline on the horizon could shape the future of this country for generations to come.

Here's what I think: The General Election and middle England 2
Tom Cleaver

As I’m sure people are going to start calling it so, this is the “Brexit Election”. Its winner will lead the country into the next deadline on 31st January next year, and so will ultimately be responsible for shaping whether this country has relations with its biggest trading partner and nearest neighbour or not.

However, being a General Election, this is about so much more than Brexit. Sure, it’s important and linked in with everything, but this election is so much more than a question on Europe. It concerns our schools, colleges, and universities, our police service, our fire service and our National Health Service. At a base level, this election is a referendum on the sort of country you want to live in, and whether we like it or not it is a binary choice.

You see, the Conservative Party have been in power for nearly a decade now, and what has happened in that time? Schools now have £600 less per pupil per year to spend, and now many cannot afford basic supplies such as paper. University tuition fees have trebled, and now I’m two thousand miles away from home to avoid being in a mountain of debt. There are twenty one thousand fewer police officers than there were in 2010, and now crime, and in particular knife crime, is on the rise. Four hundred million pounds has been cut from the fire service’s budget and that’s how tragedies like Grenfell happen, and there are fifteen thousand fewer beds available in the NHS.

they aren’t doing a good job of running the country, and they haven’t stuck to their traditions either

I haven’t even stated an opinion yet; simply raw facts. No matter what your ideology may tell you, things have gotten worse under this Conservative Party. Add that to its current leadership’s blatant disregard for the law; lying to the Queen, being held in contempt of Parliament, and illegally suspending it just to name a few examples.

The Conservative Party has become the party of lawbreaking and disorder, and many if not all of the traditional voices of reason within its ranks have either left the party or been expelled from it. Principled and traditional conservatives including two former chancellors in Philip Hammond and 50-year Conservative MP Ken Clarke, as well as other high profile conventional tory voices such as Dominic Grieve and Oliver Letwin, no longer fit into the Conservative Party.

Once again, no opinion here yet, just facts. This Conservative Party isn’t doing a good job of running the country, and it hasn’t stuck to its traditional conservatism either. Why, then, is middle England still considering voting for it? Why aren’t reasonable and traditional conservative voters abandoning a party which has quite clearly abandoned them?

the idea of the tories running a steady ship has fallen by the wayside in recent years

Let me clear; I’m not talking about the sort of people you hear phoning up radio stations with angry voices or writing on the internet that they want “ARE COUNTRY BACK” in all caps. If the Conservative party wins this election it will be carried over the line by quiet Tories. People who don’t really hold any controversial opinions, always vote Conservative, and don’t think twice about it. The traditional idea of the Conservative Party running a steady ship speaks to them, and they vote for that steady ship.

Further, the binary nature of British politics leads them to believe they have no other choice. There are only two people who can realistically be Prime Minister at the end of 13th December, and the non-Tory option is Jeremy Corbyn. Without apportioning blame, it would not be unfair to state that Jeremy Corbyn is a deeply unpopular figure in middle England. The truth is that many in middle England would not even contemplate voting against the Conservative Party even in its current guise, for fear of allowing Corbyn into Downing Street.

However, how much of that traditional belief is true? If you’re a traditional middle England Tory voter, is it time to change your stripes? The idea of the Conservative Party running a steady ship has fallen by the wayside in recent years, the harmful cuts to public services have noticeably reduced our safety, security, and health, and with the party now seemingly wedded to the idea of a “hard Brexit” which is first of all is a move into uncharted waters, and secondly will demonstrably weaken the economy, stability has never seen further away from the Conservative leadership.

as middle england ages it will find itself more reliant on these public services

If things are worse than they were and are still getting worse, at least they’re not as bad as they would be under Corbyn, right? But would any of the Labour Party’s policies actually make things worse for middle England? Labour’s plan to fund public services so that they work better than they do now and get the money for it from taxing billionaires and large corporations at a level they would pay in other developed countries like Germany seems to add up to me. As middle England ages it will find itself more reliant on these public services, especially the NHS, and so I’m sure would rather find them fully funded and fully operational if and when the need comes.

In short, the government of the last nine years has made things objectively worse in this country and is showing no signs of letting up. Our public services are near breaking point, and crime is on the rise. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you Jeremy Corbyn will lead this country into a golden age, but I am confident he can at least halt the decline in quality of life we have experienced over the last decade.

So, middle England, you have a decision to make. Voting as you have always done no longer has the same effect that it always did. This Tory government will not provide us with the stability that you wish for, but a continuation in the decline of our quality of life. Voting against that government would give us a fighting chance of halting that decline. The decision is yours.

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