Been away doing my day job.
Written way too much to make up. Please read and share.
I’d taken a break from all social media because it was beginning to make me uncomfortable. Not even beginning. It’s just not healthy for anyone, public person or not, to be invested in the continual twin streams of flattery and vitriol. Once I’d gone cold turkey I had a lot more free time to not get on with anything. Which I did.
But…there’s an election coming up this week. Probably the most important and consequential one of my lifetime and, for no good reason other than that I put on silly voices and tell stories for a living, I have a platform where hundreds of thousands, and, eventually, millions of people are exposed to my thoughts. It seems a waste of opportunity and responsibility, when I feel strongly, not to make an argument as to where your vote should go, should you be British, on Thursday Dec 12th. To try to persuade you if you disagree with me and to marshal your forces if you agree. As for my American friends - we’re clearly the light entertainment appetiser for you before the grotesquery of your own election next year. Bon Apetit.
So. These are extraordinary and unprecedented times. The stakes are so high that an enormous number of elected members of parliament from all sides have discarded a lifetime - or even generations - of party politics, thrown away both promising and fully realised careers and shown loyalty instead to their principles, to what they see as the best interests of the British people, to our country. Former prime ministers and political heavyweights from both Labour and Conservative parties have broken ranks and cost themselves their legacies and their standing with their peers. The country is on the edge of a dangerous precipice, say Tony Blair, John Major, Michael Heseltine and many, many others, and action is required.
Why? And what should we do on Thursday?
The studiedly neutral Institute for Fiscal Studies tells us that all 3 main parties manifestos are unaffordable and absurd. Despite the ludicrous promises of huge giveaways or take backs or re-alignment of British society, there’s really only one issue at this election: Britain’s relationship with Europe and the future of the United Kingdom as a consequence.
Where you stand on Brexit depends a lot on where you get or got your advice and information. Of the 50 odd million potential voters in 2016, just over 16 million voted to remain and just over 17 million voted to leave Europe. Who were we all listening to? How many of us, on either side, could accurately separate the facts from the fiction? Could see where it was going?
Very few of the 33 million who voted are psychic, so we listened. We took our choices between gloom-laden predictions that leaving the EU would destroy business, destroy the manufacturing and financial service industries, would damage and isolate our imports and exports, starve our institutions and those, more optimistic pundits, who told us of multiple trade deals, of countries lining up, free from European regulation, to invest in us, of invading hordes of Eastern European exiles no longer taking British jobs, council houses and welfare money. Of a National Health Service with hundreds of millions of pounds extra per week to pay for nurses, doctors, beds, medicine - all the things it needs.
Now here we are a few years later and the picture is very different. Not even depending on who you listen to. It’s the same story everywhere: Theresa May’s government was very clear as it was advocating a full Brexit. Its ministries, its think tanks, the passionate sellers and champtions of the Brexit ideal all came to the same conclusion:
It. Will. Make. Us. Poorer.
Any version - soft, hard or virtual. No equivocation, no political double talk. The country will have, will make and will be able to spend much less. A cautious estimate was a 5% loss, but it could be much worse. It’ll be worth it in the long run, the advocates say. We’ll turn it around because we’re just so entrepeneurial and attractive and just, well, fabulous, that we will. Somehow. The reality is that a country that has lived under austerity measures and cuts to many public services for the last 10 years will be hit much harder and forced to cut back much more. Under the Conservatives, of course, the poor will suffer the most, but under Corbyn’s Labour, we’ll borrow so much from our children that future generations will be crippled by the repayments. The NHS will struggle (is already) to find staff. The abandonment of Northern Irish interests in any agreement will give fuel to the violent extremists who are looking to re-ignite catastrophe there. Scotland will seek independence and the union may well disintegrate. No more UK. You can see I’m not a fan.
Now this is a a General Election and not the time to re-run referendum arguments. You might not agree with my assessment, but, hopefully, like many people in our country, you’re aware that the circumstances since our 2016 vote have changed considerably: that many lies (and liars) have been exposed and that, despite that, we are on the eve of possibly giving Boris Johnson the kind of majority that could allow him to force through any form of Brexit, no matter how punishing to the British people, how unrepresentative of the intention of the original vote, how ideologically driven. The right wing extremists of the Tory party have captured their centre, driven out the moderates and absorbed the UKIP and Brexit parties. Johnson and his blinkered cronies are so gung-ho on crashing out of the EU that they will leave us exposed in all areas; security, trade, medical, law and order, travel and many others.
The polls all tell us clearly that Jeremy Corbyn has zero chance of winning. Ditto but more so for the LibDems. The best case scenario, given the various unpalatable outcomes of this election, is a hung parliament or, at least, so small a majority for Johnson, that he is unable to enact the more extreme parts of his manifesto.
And that he is forced into giving the British people a final say referendum.
That’s far and away the most important thing that could come out of this election and you can make it happen. The LibDems and Labour can and will insist on it if government business is to proceed at all and you need to play your part.
You may be committed to vote Leave again and that’s your prerogative. I suspect, rather, that an enormous number of people have changed their minds having seen the carnage involved in leaving and think that they were misled.
Either way, it was once a fantasy deal with fantastical claims and now we can wipe the slate clean, look at the actual deals that have been proposed, at the length of time that it might take to negotiate and then legislate and make our collective minds up based on some real facts. There’s nothing more democratic. It will truly be the ‘will of the people’.
And to make it happen, we have to make sure to give the Conservatives the smallest majority possible - as so many ex-Tory grandees are pleading with us all to do.
By….TACTICAL VOTING. Of course.
It may well involve voting for candidates you don’t particularly like, whose party policies you disagree with, whose every utterance sets your teeth on edge. But politics is the art of the practical. We need to get done what we need to get done and we have to do it now. We need a second referendum, oddly, to unite the country and preserve it for the next generations.
How? By going to VOTESMART2019.COM which is an aggregator for all the other tactical voting sites. Go there, punch in your postcode and vote for whoever comes up as the most likely candidate to unseat or beat the Conservative. And share the link with everyone you know and everyone who follows you on any social media. This is what it was invented for.
Do it now. votesmart2019.com Click it. Share it.
If you want to see the second referendum arguments made far more clearly, economically and repeatably, go to final-say.com
I realise this is more of a doorstop novel than a tweet, so thanks for reading and vote smart.