Election day is upon us. After the drama of the last parliament, a new administration should feel like a better future. All eyes have been on the polls – and a vote to keep out the Tories is a vote not wasted.
First published in December 2019.
Firstly, allow me to wish everyone a very happy Election Eve. Hopefully you’ve got your big stockings out for a big day tomorrow. Honestly, the Christmas analogies for this election have been superfluous. It’s cold, rainy and bleak but at least the allegorical talents of journalism have been in full performance. Unfortunately, it’ll take more than seasonal cheer to get this election result into the grotto.
Yesterday’s YouGov MRP poll, the second of this campaign, tightened the gap between a nice round Tory majority to something with a glint of no majority. Instead of two front teeth, the dejected of Britain and Europe are hoping for something positive – I’m in it for the hung parliament, personally. The Westminster lobby must be like a scene from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, with paper flying everywhere and suffocating us. A dystopian image of red tape and hurdles – the film’s not bad either.
The campaign has been marred by the deliberate attempts to belie the general public with falsities. Indeed, the Conservative’s headline top-biller ‘Get Brexit Done’ is in itself an inaccuracy. They know this of course, but the Tories worship this central belief that they are more intelligent than everyone else.
50,000 new nurses and 40 hospitals to be built. Amazingly, as I’m sure many are astutely aware of, these lines are lies. It’s not 50,000 new nurses, it’s only 31,000. And those 40 brand spanking new hospitals aren’t even costed or scheduled for the next five years.
The Conservatives’ digital campaign went supersonic. Online adverts were thrusted into every box and subtitle they could fit. Just under 90% of ads were labelled as misleading by the independent fact-checking group FullFact. That’s near total dishonesty about the basic points of their political programme. It’s like we’ve learned nothing from 2016.
A woman who had sparked claims that the viral photo of Jack sleeping on a hospital floor was staged has spoken to #Newsnight.— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) December 10, 2019
She insists she was an innocent party and her son says it had nothing to do with him. pic.twitter.com/0TStJQz7KM
But it’s not just political parties in the fridge, journalism has had a whopping six weeks of scandal. Most recently, leading journalists Laura Kuenssberg, Tom Newton Dunn and Robert Peston published unconfirmed reports of an assault outside Leeds General Infirmary, where Matt Hancock was mulling around. A video confirmed they had been given a spun report – and yet they still tweeted out the lies without any barrier. It’s not the first balls-up the BBC have made this campaign. There’s still time for it to get worse.
There’s so many small stories and memorable moments that it’s impossible to scrutinise them all. So let’s look to ourselves, now that our public figures have done their jobs.
I’m voting Labour in my constituency. I like their manifesto, hate their leader and his leadership groupies, and am very aware of the party’s institutional anti-Semitism. In short: a seriously tricky decision. Many undecided voters are opting to tactical votes to ensure the best possible outcome. Blame our voting system for that one. But it’s still difficult to be proud of popping your paper into the big black box when you’re unhappy with your choice. It is hard to make that step – don’t let anyone from any party tell you it’s easy.
But it’s completely necessary.
It’s not all about Brexit. This campaign has done what everyone predicted, which was a broader look at our problems. Desperately needed, too. On my incumbent Tory MP’s campaign leaflet, he mentioned the need to get Brexit done. He didn’t mention our closing A&E which serves tens of thousands, or the growing homeless population. Our high street is one of the worst in the country for growth. Not important to him – life-changing for everyone else.
So when you get to the polling booth, make a decision that could change our lives for good. Tactical voting is a potentially significant force, a few hundred in some constituencies could tip the balance. Every vote matters – so get everyone to the polling stations for this crucial and generation-defining moment.
Good luck everyone.🔷
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