Tory Majority Day 3: What Happened In GE 2015?

Sunday May 10th 

The ping-pong on social media amongst my Facebook friends calmed down towards the end of yesterday chiming with the sun warming the air that had been drizzling with rain.

All the way through Friday after the Election results were confirmed there were constant comments from my friends and acquaintances over social media. After initial expressions of shock were over, they seemed to divide into two camps:

Those that were as unprepared and as hurt as I was about the Tory majority and those who the media are calling ‘shy Tories.’ They emerged, poking their heads above the parapet and explaining: yes, they did vote Tory and then saying why.

I admire them holding their hands up publicly. It helps to work through what’s happened.

That very British ideal that you ‘never discuss religion and politics’ has flown out the window.

Facebook: good for mobilizing social opinion or misleading?

Facebook: good for mobilizing social opinion or misleading?

The mainstream media have been doing something similar.

Within a few hours an article was being circulated: “How to Survive A Tory Majority.” It was soothing to read because it gave a positive spin. It said that it was a call-to action for everyone to become more mobile, more active in politics.

I absolutely agree with this. We can’t be armchair politicians any more. Well, I can because that’s all I can do – but even writing this blog is something, rather than nothing.

One humorous and well written article suggested that rather than Googling: ‘hot country, speaks English, emigrate,’ we should regroup and start to directly address those people who think that a Tory government is a good idea.

The view of the writer was that people who don’t think voting Tory is good for Britain should get all the facts at their disposal, then gently start to address the inaccuracies in their friends views.

They said that chipping away, challenging, addressing, revising and using our intelligence, rather than force will change people’s views.

Then mid-afternoon and rather like the election results coming in, a person on my Facebook feed made a declaration of his Tory vote.

He signed off the post saying he was: “happy, happy, happy, happy” and added a few smileys afterwards, so many that they disappeared from the space given on the post preview. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 …..

A teachers view 

Someone I know on Facebook who works in a primary school nicely asked people to explain to her why they voted Tory. The stream of long, well thought out comments from both sides was illuminating of the arguments overall.

She had friends that she didn’t realise were Tory sympathisers. Her other, non-Tory friends explained what being a teacher under the Coalition has been like. They used in well thought out, well considered language.

For them it has been replete with changes, impossible targets and antithetical, anti-education directives arising from an inordinate amount of memos of change from the Coalition government.

Her friends who voted Tory generally came up with bland and trite explanations for their vote. “They’ve been really good for the economy,” was the main theme. I winced reading the long replies from the other teachers who rallied and used their skills to patiently explain why it’s about much, much more than that.

Surprisingly it then descended into a personal argument when a Tory voter trotted out the old line: “why are you complaining, you get all those long holidays.” I shook my head and shut down my computer at that point.

Having worked in a University I know how hard and arduous being a teacher is. My colleagues arrived at work at 7 or 8 am and worked non-stop throughout the day. Then there’d be the actual teaching.

Teaching: not one long summer holiday.

Teaching: not one long summer holiday.

Marking and admin would mean they’d leave again at 7 pm. Teachers who make it look easy are brilliant teachers. It is as expert a profession as any other. My respect for teachers is unparalleled.

The Facebook argument was closed down eventually by my teacher friend who said: “all through this stream of comments the only person who has resorted to personal slights and insults to justify their vote, is you.”

Hug? 

My favorite call-to-action was from a friend who works in the creative industries and is also a musician. She is a lyricist who is known for a heartfelt, beautiful and finely crafted sound. She simply said:

“Does anyone need a hug?”

I clicked on “Like” and the “Like” button pinged with notifications all day while the count increased and increased and increased.

Yes. We do.

Head spinning 

My head is spinning from disparate views, opinions and the articles I’ve read. Most have popped into my news feed and have been posted on by friends.

One of them explained why Facebook made me only see the views of friends who agreed with me. Surely not.

I know Facebook is the curates egg when it comes to social interaction but it can’t be THAT powerful to have hoodwinked the UK as to how we were going to vote, could it?

The discussion about why the polls were so wrong continues.

Council Housing

A walk through a council estate 

MECFS  is my disability and the reason for my not being fit to work.

Treatment includes doing exercise daily to maintain fitness and increased tolerance to exertion. I aim to do a short walk each day.

Last night I took myself out of my flat in the early evening sunshine. I needed to get out for mind as well as body.

Near me is a council estate. It is well maintained. In the last year all the windows have been altered from wood frames to double glazing. All the front doors have been freshly painted. The public lawns that dot through the houses are neat, green and clipped, there is no ‘trouble.’ It is safe to walk through at night.

In the run up to the election my local MP explained that 3 years ago money was released in Council budgets that allowed this essential work to take place.

I asked him whether this is because of the changes under the 2011 Localism Act that devolved more power to Councils:

“Partly,” he said,” it’s also because there used to be a system in London where a portion of council tax revenue was given to all London councils. We didn’t have the money to do it before now.”

“Ah, that’s so interesting.” I replied,”the electorate need more explanations like that because it cuts through the spin and rhetoric – it credits us with some intelligence.”

Our eyes met and behind them I saw a glimmer of reaction. I thought about that conversation as I walked over the grass last night. I looked up at the balconies and passed a group of children loudly enjoying playing tag.

The air was still. Not as many doors were open as there usually are. Washing on lines seemed frozen in time and unmoving in the air.

I wondered if the people inside knew that one of the Tory policies is to audit council housing and change the system so that people can be evicted after 5 years if they can afford private tenancies. They will also change the system of legacy tenancies: currently if your kids are born to you whilst you are tenant in a council home, they can inherit it.

I’m so torn by this policy. I deserve to have a council home. I qualify under medical and economic grounds and there are none around. Will this give me the home I need?

The irony of the Tory policy about cuts to welfare benefits is not lost on me. It is illogical. How can they cap housing benefit or ask people on housing benefit or ESA to pay towards their rent?

This discussion about how this policy might impact the Tory’s negatively is starting to be picked up in articles online as well.  The welfare website Benefits and Work in a more blunt article talks of how it was the “worst possible news for claimants.” 

Basic common sense and maths means that people will become homeless as a result of this policy, particularly in London where the housing benefit bill needs to be higher to accommodate higher rents.

Are the Tories going to implement their council housing audit before they implement the cuts?

Will it be like the 80s when decisions were made that decimated communities across the UK with no acceptance or plan to address the economic ruin as a result?

John Snow 

British journalist and presenter Jon Snow photographed at the Royal Festival Hall Thursday, 23 January 2014. Ph: Rebecca Reid

British journalist and presenter Jon Snow photographed at the Royal Festival Hall Thursday, 23 January 2014.
Ph: Rebecca Reid

In the melee of post election opinion and confusion John Snow on Channel 4 news reached out to ask the question I need answering.

Interviewing a selection of party officials on Friday 8th May he said: “…and your welfare cuts? when will you start implementing them?”

The Tory party member he was interviewing replied thoughtfully: “Hm. Well that will have to happen soon because we’ve given ourselves 2 years to reduce the deficit.”

John Snow replied with a low tremor in his voice: “Yes but when are you going to let people know? People who are reliant on benefits who will be affected by your policies need to know what’s going to happen.”

I don’t remember if there was a reply because I cheered out loud.

Pre-election evasiveness should be over. Yet still there is no answer…

© Lindy 2015 

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