I literally wept down the telephone speaking to my Dad on the morning of Friday 8 May 2015…
I was tired (having stayed up all night to watch the election results) but the reason for my tears was an election result which seemed to suggest a society that lacked any hope for the future (at least outside of Scotland). And the polling had not prepared me for the possibility of a Conservative majority of 12 when another hung parliament seemed the most likely outcome which could have given Ed Miliband the keys to 10 Downing Street.
Two years later, and a member of the Labour Party, having joined when Corbyn became Leader, I volunteered during the 2017 election and remember the euphoria of the exit pole and a result which once again surprised, having predicted a comfortable Tory majority.
This morning, I telephoned my 85 year old Dad to ask him to consider voting Labour (“for your grandchildren, if not for yourself”).
I knew how he’d respond…a factory worker all his life who now subscribes to The Daily Telegraph and says he’s “voting for Boris” to “Get Brexit Done” as he’s sick of it.
Dad’s vote for Labour in Harborough would only be symbolic as the Tories have held this seat since the 1950s and have no chance of losing it, but I made a half-hearted attempt to emphasise the differences in the two men who might be our next Prime Minister.
“They’re are all the same” said my Dad, which means he truly sees no difference in the character of Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson!
My fears for the NHS and how Brexit will accelerate our transition to what life’s like in the USA (“Dad, if you get cancer without insurance there, you lose your house”) left him unmoved. The NHS which has looked after him and my late Mum is now no longer sustainable, he says, because “there were only 50 million people in 1950s compared to 70 million today and we’re all living longer”. No Dad — it’s also because its being undermined by neoliberal ideology which sees it as a source of profit for business.
Sorry Dad, but Corbyn is not the same as Johnson. And on every issue I care about the Labour Party trumps the Conservatives — from a progressive foreign policy that cares about human rights (unlike recent UK policy involving the Chagos Islands, the torture of Assange, Palestine), to action which reflects climate and ecological emergency and an economy that works for the many, not the few.
Over the last few days I’ve started to become more optimistic. With one day to go, polls show another hung parliament is within the margin of error and no national poll can predict the success (or not) of various campaigns to encourage tactical voting to #GTTO (get the Tories out).
Perhaps I’m in a (social media) bubble just like my Dad? Instead of claims of Corbyn being a security threat or an antisemite in the Daily Telegraph (both rubbish in my opinion - see Medialens analysis), I see numerous reports or videos which convince me that ‘Jezza’ is a thoroughly decent man from thousands cheering him at rallies around the country or at football matches abroad (thanks, Liverpool #JFT96) or simply old videos of his speeches which can’t hide his values. A man with empathy for human beings.
That Labour still appears to have an outside chance of forming the next government, in spite of the relentless media propaganda, is testament to the ineptitude and lies of the Tories but also to its manifesto of hope and its leader.
Tomorrow could see the first socialist government in the UK for forty years (sorry Tony, your warmongering was far from progessive, and nothing like what Corbyn is offering).
Final word from Lowkey on what’s at stake tomorrow…fingers crossed!