Shock. That's the reaction
to the election result in the UK which left the Conservative Leader,
David Cameron, put in Downing Street for another five years. My friends
are crying into whiskey with their bacon and eggs as I write this, the
day after the UK general election.
The polls that showed
Labour neck and neck with the Conservatives (hinting at a Labour
victory) were horribly wrong. I believed this because my Facebook feed
surged with hope before the election and plunged with disappointment
As a Trini/bagonian it was
interesting watching an election in a first world country. Firstly, all
the papers took a political stand in the election campaign. For
instance, 95 per cent of the columns in the Rupert Murdochowned tabloid,
the Sun, have been anti-Labour. The Daily Telegraph, a respected
conservative broadsheet, sent out a mass email to its readers urging
them to vote Conservative and included a link to the Telegraph’s
editorial backing the Tories. The Guardian endorsed the Labour party.
The disappointment at the
outcome was so great that one of its columnists, Stuart Heritage wrote
this histrionic column following the David Cameron victory.
“Glancing around this
morning, the overwhelming instinct is to succumb to despair. The country
is screwed. The electorate is evil. The UK has become a flat, ugly,
smouldering disaster zone, and by the year 2020 we'll all be dressed in
rags and feasting on abandoned placentas for sustenance.”
In Trinidad, if we wrote
something like this journalists would be pilloried, pummelled and ousted
for “biased” reporting. The fact is that newspapers and journalists have
a right to take a stand. The other thing that I found interesting about
this election is that everybody voted on issues. It had almost nothing
to do with personality.
Even the most tabloid of
tabloids, The Sun devoted two full pages in the run-up to the election
stating the issues and what each party represented. Just as a template
for us, the issues were seen to be the following.
The economy. Immigration
and Europe. National Health Service. Security and defence. Education.
Energy and environment. Crime and justice. Housing. Foreign aid.
Britishness. Freedom of the press. The BBC.
No matter how disappointed
people are, no matter how devastated or elated they are, depending on
which side of the fence they stand, they voted on how they thought their
government would work for them. It’s understood. The Government works
for the people.
The other thing that
separates us from proper leaders of proper countries is that the leaders
of the losing parties—Liberal Democrats, (Nick Clegg) Ukip (Nigel Farage)
and Labour (Ed Miliband) have resigned.
The Brits are not
pugnacious in defeat. They do the right thing. They resign without being
forced out by some scandal which bleeds so heavily that no band aid can
contain the damage.
It is true that I am
personally disappointed at the outcome as I have always leaned towards
Labour but like the electrician who came to fix my stove today, I think
Tony Blair watered down Labour so much that it became barely
indistinguishable from the Conservatives. He said that under Labour he
bought two homes.
Under the Conservatives his
prospects haven’t changed much although he works much harder due to the
tax regimes that penalise people who earn above a certain amount. No
matter how much they protest, it is no denying that under the
conservatives the rich and powerful will stay that way. Under a Tory
Government visitors, students and immigrants to the UK will suffer.
The Conservative government
has promised an EU referendum. They have promised to cut net immigration
to below 100,000 people a year. Under Labour foreign students had two
years to work after they graduated. The Conservatives cut that out.
It will remain that way. I
suspect the far right, the fascists will gain momentum and there will be
a greater emphasis on being white and British. Whatever that means.
As a journalist who has
literally grown up with the BBC, I am particularly saddened that the
Conservatives intend to “review the BBC Royal charter to ensure it is
delivering value for money,” which means they will cut staff and
possibility the world service which will be devastating to millions
around the world. Under this government the Scots will almost certainly
go their own way.
A spark of hope is that the
Conservatives are committed to working toward peace in Syria and Iraq
and the defeat of IS (The terrorist Islamic State).
The end result is democracy
is alive in the UK. I can’t be so sure of that at home. We are so
fractured that the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Keith Rowley, who was
suspended from the Parliament will not be allowed to return to the House
for the remainder of the session over ‘false’ emails. The vote was taken
in the absence of the opposition members, who walked out hours before
Leader of Government Business Dr Roodal Moonilal moved a motion of
censure against Rowley. It stated that Rowley produced false information
to the House when he brought some 31 emails to Parliament two years ago.
So who is running the
country? Who is the watchdog? Where are the checks and balances? This is
far more ominous than the Labour defeat in the UK. The UK is shocked but
we are disappointed.
Democracy is on its knees in T&T. Almost dead.