As we move, it seems inevitably, towards a Theresa May-led government, let’s take a moment to think about the fallout for the political landscape of the future. Leaving aside the speculations as to the potential success of Mrs. May as future PM, consider what will be left wilting on the opposite benches of the House: a decrepit, highly unconvincing, and functionally incapable opposition. If we’re lucky, and the gods of political amusement are smiling upon us, this could be spearheaded by Tim Farron, backed mightily by his four fellow Lib Dem MPs, but, then again, we might see him pipped to the post by the fish finger running against him in his constituency (true story). What is inevitable, however, is that whatever opposition we may have in the Commons, it will be an embarrassment, which will negatively affect all voters, whether the blood that runs in their veins is blue, red, orange or green.
The ridiculously low bar set by Comrade Corbyn and Co. of the past two years has been, inexplicably, undercut in the weeks running up to the election. Now, I don’t especially lament over a Conservative victory, but the fact that they don’t have to make any real arguments in this campaign, and are able to sit back and watch the other parties implode, is a little depressing.
Just look at the quality of opposition in this campaign. As I’m writing, the Conservative party has just released their Manifesto, and the customary replies from major opposing Party members have come out. To say that their arguments were weak would be an understatement; their attempts at genuine political discussion couldn’t support a matchstick. Take Labour: “She is hitting older people with a classic nasty party triple whammy: Scrapping the triple lock on pensions, removing the Winter Fuel Allowance and forcing those who need social care to pay for it with their homes.”
Even someone with Corbyn’s level of education should be able to see how dishonest – perhaps even stupid – those claims are. The triple lock on pensions is being replaced with a guarantee to increase state pensions by the higher of either inflation or the rise in wages, the only reason that they need to be raised in the first place. Adding a 2.5% clause isn’t generous, it’s just silly. You don’t need a higher income per year if prices stay the same – a change that is measured precisely and regularly by inflation rates. The Winter Fuel Allowance is being scrapped only for those pensioners wealthy enough to pay for their own fuel – something Labour havebeen clamouring should happen for years. As for social care, the Tories are raising the amount of money that you can keep whilst still being eligible for free care – thus extending the number of people who won’t have to sell their home or raid their pension pots to pay for it. Not a single one of those ‘opposing’ arguments is logical, supported by fact, or even reflects the official Labour Party policy.
Though there are some genuine political discussions to be had in support Labour’s foundations, instead of making these, Corbyn is desperately trying to throw mud at Mrs. May, but seems to fail even at that. His total lack of ability as a political opponent might be good for Mrs. May, but it isn’t good for the governmental process of the United Kingdom, and it isn’t good for you and me. We need politicians to hold each other to account, and a framework where the attempts to do so are almost comical doesn’t help anyone. The Lib Dems are even worse, not that that’s any surprise. Instead of looking at the serious issue of the European Union, a key policy divide to which they are offering a genuine political alternative, they decided instead on this: “Theresa May is betraying working families by snatching school lunches from their children and their homes when they die.” Dear oh dear. Not only does this patronisingly, and very unconvincingly, try to wield the great trigger words – ‘working families’ – but it is just factually incorrect. Under current rules, the elderly have to sell their assets, including a long term family home, to pay for care. Under the Tory proposals, not only would they be able to live the rest of their lives at home, but they could keep more money to give to their family at the end of it.
As for the school meals the Conservatives have pledged to increase education spending, a measure funded by scrapping free school meals for all pupils. The Lib Dems have promised the same increased expenditure on education, but, as yet, haven’t explained how they’d pay for it – perhaps they figured that they’re not getting in anyway, so who needs a reasonable financial approach? I don’t care much for the Conservative policies on social spending, but I am not going to publicly debase myself, as the Lib Dems have done, by lying for no other reason than to make headlines and glumly shake my head on TV.
The Lib Dems should be touting the honest political dialogue that they bring to the table, and extolling the other, valid political opinions they have, instead of the frantic name-calling and flag-waving in which they’re engaging.
I honestly believe that all political parties have good arguments, appeal to sensible voting people in different ways, and play a vital role in the democratic landscape of our nation. In the current political environment, however, parties are wandering aimless in a sea of meaningless soundbites and thinly veiled stupidity; it is a sorry sight. In the Lord of the Rings, a powerful female ruler, Galadriel, mulls over what her potential future would look like, if she takes the Ring of power and becomes a supreme, monarchical figure. Although she heroically denies the opportunity, in her pondering she declares that, if she ruled as such, “All shall love me and despair”. I think a similar analogy might be applicable to the current election. Mrs May might rule with a great majority, but we the people, although supporting her leadership, might forlornly look at the broken pieces of our democratic process left lying in the ashes of a decent opposition.