I didn’t watch the election unfold live. I was having a little party for my Mum and also – due to a misunderstanding between myself and a tangle of cables – I did not have internet for 24 hours. From now on, I will check what I’m unplugging before randomly ripping out electrics to make space for the Christmas tree lights (never put me in charge of a hospital ward).
Only once the last of my giggling guests left did I see the exit polls – somewhat of a buzz-kill. I’d expected Johnson to win. I live in a put-your-feat-up-have-a cup-of-tea-stay-as-long-as-you-want safe Labour seat but had talked to enough formerly Labour-voting friends from other wards to know that party leaders are real stick-in-the-muds about antisemitism.
At the risk of triggering a billion shouty comments: when Luciana Berger leaves your party because of antisemitism, why would you not screech to a halt and do nothing – nothing – but reassure and reassess until you had won back people’s trust? I know it wasn’t Corbyn tapping away on Twitter, waging a vicious online war against Berger and others; but it was many, not a few, of his supporters who did. At the very least he should have understood that social media plays a critical part in how his party is perceived – then stepped out of the 1970s and done mountains more to address it. It’s not enough to point to the Tories, as many Corbynites did, and say, “Yeah, but they’re Islamophobic!” Yeah, but they’re Tories. I’m not saying that all Tory voters are bigots – of course not. Some of my best friends, etcetera. But on the whole they are unencumbered by the morality of their leaders.
The Daily Mail, for example, cheerfully printed a column about Carrie Symonds, Boris Johnson’s partner, asking whether Johnson is going to “make an honest woman of her” (if you’re reading this from an era where feminism has actually happened, this means “marry her”). Not a great deal of consideration here for his wife and mother to (some of) his children; their divorce is not yet complete. No thought either to the notion that it might seem crass to suggest that this frequent dodger of the truth and serial philanderer might be able to make an honest anything of anyone.
There are a few people of colour and Muslim MPs within the Conservative Party who may not have enjoyed Johnson’s “letterbox” and “Watermelon smile” banter, but don’t publicly challenge him on it, and certainly haven’t resigned because of it. They might not find it pleasant but ultimately, their leader’s manners, morals and language do not stand in the way of the prize.
The whiskey-powered, chin-up, “Forward march!” attitude which I had last night had waned by morning light. On the school run this morning, hugs with fellow mums were tighter than usual, and the few tears I saw were not the children’s.
When I was a kid in the 80s, we collected tinfoil to help buy guide dogs. Today at my daughter’s school, parents were collecting food for food banks. The donations were piled high in the foyer of this little primary school in the capital city of our developed country. “In the year 2020, families in Britain will be so hard up that we will collect food in schools to feed them” – can you image being told that at as children? We would never have believed it, but there was my 6 year old daughter this morning carefully putting tins and packets of food in bags ready to feed the poor.
But thanks, though, The Right Wing Press, for letting me know, amidst all this anguish, where Carrie’s blouse was from. Carrie Symonds’s hair, clothes, gait will be endlessly scrutinised now. She’ll probably be compared to every other woman from Meghan Markle to Margaret Thatcher to Lisa Simpson. Will she have a baby? Won’t she have a baby? Should she have a baby? Will she get another dog? Will she paint herself blue and dance at Notting Hill Carnival? All of this nonsense will be make her endless fodder for the right wing press and her fluffy haired beau will no doubt consider criticism of her treatment as political correctness gone mad.
Boris Johnson now has work to do to maintain his popularity. The dog was a good start; now, I have no doubt the environment will become a focus to reel in younger voters. Oh lord, I can already see a picture of Boris Johnson on a digger ‘helping’ to build The Eden Project North. The government has said it will consider funding the £85 million project, which will replicate the success of the Eden Project in Cornwall, and create an immersive experience on Morecambe Bay. I wish Eden every success in securing the funding, but please – PLEASE – if it’s going to have a zip wire like the one in Cornwall, spare us the pictures of Johnson dangling from it.
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