The Only Way is Down

Some notes on the election result from Dougald Hine.

So, good morning. I’m afraid it’s true: that nightmare you had, it wasn’t a dream. Let yourself feel the shock, the rawness of disappointment sharpened by sleep deprivation. If you ached for an end to five years of government by the rich, for the rich, then what you are feeling today is a blow to the soul. Stay with that for a while, before the pundits and the candidates in the coming leadership elections start to rationalise what just happened. There are other levels on which we need to make sense of this cruel result.

Labour is about to endure a tug of war between those who believe it needs to go leftwards and those who believe it needs to go rightwards. The truth is, neither of these directions will be much help. Right now, the only way is down.

What we have seen is a failure of politics, a failure of democracy at a cultural level, part of a larger story playing out across the struggling countries of the post-industrial west. For now, it may look like the Tories have won, but it is a fragile victory. If you want an image for the state of English politics today – Scotland is another story – then think of three cartoon characters who have run off a cliff. Two of them have just plummeted and flattened themselves into the ground, while the third is still hanging there, feet spinning in the air, oblivious to its situation.

The one cold comfort that Labour – and perhaps even the Lib Dems – could take from last night’s results is that events have forced them into a confrontation with reality, while the Tories will continue to govern on the basis of delusions, with ugly results, for a while longer, before gravity catches up with them. This could give the defeated parties a head start, but only if they are prepared to enter into a kind of soul-searching deeper than anything we have seen in British politics in a very long time.

For that to have a chance of happening, it will have to start somewhere else, somewhere beyond the party machines and the earnest, highly-educated, decent people at the centre of them, who are almost entirely unequipped for the journey to the political underworld which is now called for.

What follows are a set of notes that might help us get our bearings for this journey, some of which may turn out to be wildly off the mark. But I hope they are some use, this morning. Take care of each other. Give someone a hug today. Look out for the moment where you catch a stranger’s eyes and recognise the loss you have in common, a loss that goes deeper than the tally of seats. Grieve for the inadequacy of the ways in which we have tried to stand up to greed and fear and exploitation. But hold your disillusionment gently, don’t let it harden into damning conclusions about human nature. Get ready for a dark ride ahead. We are going to have to rethink politics on a level this election didn’t touch.

Everything is broken

1. Three tribes go their separate ways. About the only piece of commentary from the election campaign that felt truly prescient last night was Paul Mason’s analysis of the fragmentation of the UK into three distinct political geographies: a Scotland dreaming of a future as the warm south of Scandinavia, a south-east held up by asset wealth, and a post-industrial remainder of the union. There is no party that is now a major contender in all three parts of the country and their divergence means that there is no unified pattern of swing at a national level.

2. Labour talked to five million people, but it didn’t know how to listen. The sincere bewilderment of Labour figures as the exit poll turned out to be accurate says something about the failure of the “ground campaign” in which activists had five million doorstep conversations over the past four months. How do you talk to that many people and come away having misread the mood of the country this badly? Two easy answers will be given to this: Labour talked to the wrong people and/or people didn’t tell them the truth. There’s probably truth in both of these, but there’s a third reason that goes to the deeper levels of what just happened: the conversations they had on the doorsteps weren’t real conversations. We badly need new ways of having political conversations – and if we’re to start regrowing a democratic culture from below, it will start with finding ways to bring such conversations together.

3. The Lib Dems totally misunderstood their own voters. One of the most striking features of the night was the splintering of their vote in every direction: in some constituencies, it appeared to be dividing equally between Labour, Tory, UKIP and Green candidates. Some collective delusion convinced the Lib Dems that their MPs had earned the loyalty of local voters. It seems truer to see the party as having been a depository for vague dissatisfaction of a variety of flavours, whose raison d’etre disintegrated when they became an adjunct to the Tories.

4. People who are into politics just don’t get how puzzling and alienating it looks to the rest of the population. This is a broader version of the problem the Lib Dems had. Over the past week, I’ve worked with the #dontjustvote tour, a tiny playful art project making its way across the south of England on its way to Westminster, starting conversations about the election in all the places they stopped along the way. The stories they gathered along the way, snatches of which you can find on their Facebook and YouTube pages, brought home to me the sheer confusion, mistrust and disconnect with everyday reality which is most people’s experience of politics.

5. Social media is not delivering on its promises to change politics.There are lots of reasons for this, including that many of the promises were hype. But here’s one element in the mix. If you’re old enough to remember when Google was new, then think back to the first time you saw the Google search page: how long did it take before you got why it was good? Not much longer than a few keystrokes and a click. Then think back to the first time you saw Twitter: how long did it take you before you got why it was good? Probably months. Or maybe you’re still not convinced. The social technologies that have grown up over the past decade layer a depth of social and cultural subtlety on top of the technical platform in a way that wasn’t true for the information technologies of the internet in its earlier phases. This creates an under-recognised gap between the people who have invested the time to get initiated in the kind of active, engaged use of a tool like Twitter and people who don’t get it and aren’t likely to get it any time soon. So it’s not just the self-selecting echo chambers we create that make social media problematic, it’s also the unrepresentative section of the population who are actively present there and the detachment this fosters from the rest of the population.

6. Is it time to ditch the expensive American advisors? Hell yes!When I was a broke student, I spent my summers selling educational books door-to-door for a US company, first in the UK and then in California. Nothing prepared me for the difference in psychology between how Brits like to make “buying decisions” and how Americans do. Just because we share a common language, doesn’t mean American experts are well-placed to help British politicians.

A 200-year moment?

7. The unmaking of the English working class. The long trend underlying all of this is the unravelling of the social settlement that slowly emerged from the Industrial Revolution, from the destruction of pre-industrial ways of living to the emergence of the labour movement to the social democratic consensus of the mid-20th century. We have inherited political parties that belonged to a kind of society we no longer live in. As I rushed out the door yesterday morning, I found myself grabbing E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, a pre-history of the labour movement that covers the period between 1790 and 1830. The period we’re in has many resemblances to that. (If I were a cartoonist, I’d be tempted to draw Cameron as the Prince Regent…) None of the forms of left-wing politics that we’ve inherited are adapted to the times in which we find ourselves – and the process of regrowing a democratic culture is, I suspect, going to require a search for new and unexpected political forms that resembles the history that Thompson tells. The roots of the popular political movements that grew up in the 19th century were deeply entangled with grassroots self-education movements – and something equivalent to this is going to be needed in the years ahead.

8. The British media make a joke of democracy. A handful of tax-avoiding billionaires control the agenda of almost all the national papers which then indirectly controls the agenda of the broadcasters. The grip of a cynical and decadent establishment is another feature that’s reminiscent of the period Thompson describes – and the creation of new grassroots media was part of the process that led to the emergence of the labour movement.

9. Love him or hate him, Russell Brand might just be our William Cobbett… It’s neither a precise analogy nor an unambiguously positive one, but Cobbett found a voice that captured the popular imagination, speaking in dramatic language about the monstrousness of the times. He was also a fantastic egoist. “Cobbett’s favourite subject, indeed, was William Cobbett,” writes Thompson. “But… his egotism transcended itself to the point where the reader… is asked to look not at Cobbett, but with him.” (I don’t know whether Cobbett also swigged from over-sized bottles, but if he did they probably weren’t full of water.)

10. Brand provides a clue to the only kind of revolution that is still even conceivable. The week he went on Newsnight and predicted a revolution, I’d been in England, giving a lecture about “the failure of the future”, in which I suggested that one of the symptoms of this was the impossibility of taking seriously the idea of political revolution in the way that had still seemed possible in the 1960s. As the video went viral, I wondered if I was wrong. And then I remembered something Martin Shaw says, one of his mythic metaphors for making sense of the kinds of times in which we’re living: “This isn’t a hero time, this isn’t a goddess time, it’s a trickster time.” When people like John Berger (one of my heroes) were young, it was a real thing to believe in the heroic revolution that Marx had seemed to promise. Today, the only kind of revolution that is plausible is a foolish one, one where we accidentally stumble into another way of being human together, making a living and making life work. (And whatever that might look like, it doesn’t look like utopia.)

A journey to the underworld

11. This is not just a battle of ideas, it is a battle for the soul. Another thing that Brand is onto, in his inimitable way, is what he would call the “spiritual” nature of the revolution. Margaret Thatcher was explicit about how deep the project of neoliberalism went. Two years into her first term, she told the Sunday Times: “Economics is the method: the object is to change the soul.” The left has never taken this seriously, we have never even tried to contest neoliberalism on the territory of the soul. The people at the top of today’s Labour party, a few of whom I’ve crossed paths with over the years, are in no way equipped to operate in the territory of the soul – so it’s probably going to take the help of some of us who’ve been a long way outside the pale of politics-as-we-know-it, if we’re going to work out how to do this. But one of the wrong notes that Miliband hit in the past few weeks, for all his decency and awkward charm, was his repetition that this election was “a clash of ideas”. The political battle in which we are engaged is deeper than that, it’s a battle for the soul, and until the left feels that, I don’t think it will find its way to the kind of new politics we are going to need.

12. We need to be willing to go to some dark places. I had a public conversation last summer with Steve Wheeler in which he sketched out a set of thoughts about the need for a politics of “depth”. I must edit the recording and get it online, but the thrust of it was that the left has associated depth and the darker, less rational side of ourselves with the worst kind of politics. His argument – which parallels the one Zizek makes about Nazism in his Perverts’ Guide to Ideology – is that it’s a terrible mistake to cede the territory of the intuitive, the emotional, the unconscious, the irrational to the far right. It’s only by people of good will engaging with these sides of ourselves, at a cultural as well as an individual level, that we can prevent a political “return of the repressed”. We need to go there vigilantly, but we need to go there.

13. We need to understand the amount of fear in the equation. Miliband used to talk about the “squeezed middle”, but it turns out the Tories can still count on the worried middle. As I’ve said before, there aren’t enough people doing well in Britain to deliver a Tory majority, but there are enough people who are worried, who hope the brittle prosperity of the housing bubble will sustain their way of living a little longer, who hope that what happened to the poor, the young and the disabled over the last five years won’t happen to them. The puzzlement I see in the despairing posts of friends on Facebook over the past twelve hours comes, I think, from the difficulty we have in understanding this. Somehow, we need a space for conversations where people can speak honestly about their fears, their disillusionment, their lack of belief in the possibility of change for the better – without trying too hard, too quickly to convince them they are wrong. Presenting big ideas or retail policies is no substitute for this.

Regrowing a democratic culture from below

14. Democracy doesn’t end at the ballot box. The aftermath of the Scottish referendum proved this, wrong-footing the entire UK establishment. Below the surface, barely capable of being translated into election results (except in Scotland), there is an extraordinary welling of anger, disillusionment, disgust with the lot of them. I wouldn’t like to predict the circumstances in which this will take louder, more visible shape, but it was one of the running themes that emerged from the #dontjustvote tour. The Scottish precedent needs to be the inspiration for an ongoing grassroots process of democratic renewal.

15. This needs to start outside of politics as we know it. Politics today is broken in ways that go deeper than our political institutions or the people who inhabit them are able to reach. While the kind of regrowth of a democratic culture that I’m talking about is not non-partisan in some detached, objective way, it can’t be on behalf of any one party, either.

16. Build a movement that starts by being present in the place where you are and supporting the most vulnerable. Look at the role that the grassroots movements around Syriza have played in helping people to endure the hardships of austerity in Greece. That needs to be one of the models for whatever happens in Britain, as five more years of austerity are piled on the weakest. And for heaven’s sake, work with the churches (and the mosques, synagogues, gudwaras and temples) – whatever the rational differences many on the left may have with people of faith, the everyday engagement of religious communities puts most of us to shame. And the churches have shown more courage in criticising austerity than most of the Labour frontbench.

17. Another party is possible. The FPTP system may be a steep obstacle, but we live in strange times. Look at the polls in Spain. Look at the polls in Iceland, one of the few countries hit harder than the UK by the banking crisis – they are now in the third (or fourth?) act of some kind of political revolution, where a left outsider coalition gave way to a centre right government, but that government is now losing support as the Pirate Party take lead the opinion polls. Strange times, really.

Come to Sweden (but lose your illusions). I’m writing these notes in Gothenburg Central station, about to rush off the Congress of the “popular movement” that owns the national touring theatre for which I currently work. Since the exit polls came out last night, I’ve had a stream of people, with varying degrees of seriousness, asking me if they should move to Sweden. I wish I could help you fulfil your wishes, but there are far more similarities between the reality of politics today here and the British situation than you would like to believe. The work that needs to be done here is much the same as the work that needs to be done there – though, for now, the harshening grip of neoliberalism is better hidden here, and we have been spared the kind of austerity the UK has seen. But precisely because the work that needs doing is similar, maybe there are possibilities to host conversations here that bring together people from both countries who want to engage in this work. I’m certainly interested in helping to make that happen.

Alright, enough words. Be kind to each other. And be wary of the tendency to allow a situation to be defined by the oppositions present within it. This is going to be a time for redrawing the maps, a time when things we overlooked or undervalued may end up making all the difference.

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  1. stewartbremner says:

    Excellent. There’s a lot to digest now and on so little sleep, it’s beyond me right now. This interests me a lot “it’s a terrible mistake to cede the territory of the intuitive, the emotional, the unconscious, the irrational to the far right.”

  2. mefinx says:

    Marvellous piece. I started following BC after the IndyRef last year and you have more than delivered. And I was intrigued by your comparison with the 1790-1830 period. Last night I went to an excellent lecture about the radical Samuel Bamford (1785-1872) at the Manchester Lit and Phil Soc, and saw jaws drop several times at the poignancy of the parallels drawn between those times and this. God save us from another Peterloo.

    1. the parnell in me says bring it on

  3. Paul Carline says:

    Hi Douglas, very much enjoyed your thoughtful – and thought-provoking piece. If you want an example of a fairly grassroots local effort to get more real democracy you could have a look at what is being done in Falun. Contact Bruno Kaufmann there.

  4. Alan says:

    “Time to ditch the expensive American advisors”. It was the Aussie one that counted in this election. See Lynton Crosby: the man who really won the election for the Tories.

    In Australia, Crosby and his longtime business partner and collaborator Mark Textor also honed their electoral technique of “wedge politics”: finding an issue that can be exploited to split off an opponent’s traditional supporters. With typical shrewdness and ruthlessness, Crosby identified the surge of Scottish nationalism in recent years as a wedge that could be used against Labour, both in Scotland and in England.

    Also makes sense of the split personality of the English and Scottish Sun newspapers. And that would be the handiwork another Aussie trouble maker. In cahoots no doubt.

    At the end the comment is “There are those who think that Crosby’s cynical, divide-and-rule approach to elections will be bad for the Conservatives in the long term”. For everyone else now but no doubt the shit will catch up with them.

    1. IAB says:

      Cameron did divide and rule at the end of the referendum but it came back and bit him in the face. The English backlash won’t be long in following.

      1. Connor Mcewen says:

        Hope so.

    2. Mia says:

      The Crosby/Textor duo have done very similar damage here in New Zealand – even down to using the same slogans.
      I am at a loss as to why people these days vote against their best interest.

      1. Saor Alba says:

        Stupidity might be the answer to that.

  5. I found this article to be just so much middle-class pseudo-intellectual psychobabble. Or, in my more familiar lower class patios, it’s pish. Here’s my most prominent example: As the video went viral, I wondered if I was wrong. And then I remembered something Martin Shaw says, one of his mythic metaphors for making sense of the kinds of times in which we’re living: “This isn’t a hero time, this isn’t a goddess time, it’s a trickster time.”
    Write in plain language, or don’t write at all.

    1. IAB says:

      Neil – plain language is okay for many things but you could do as I did – I went online and looked it up.

      1. Dougald Hine says:

        Well, the bit you picked out is definitely the most obscure passage in what I wrote! The whole thing was dashed off on a train journey, after two hours sleep and feeling raw as hell, like a skin I didn’t know I had had just been peeled off me. So I’m surprised that so many people have got so much out of it.

        That point about a trickster time – I’ll see if I can do an interview with Martin to draw out what each of us means by this and explain it more clearly, rather than relying on the reader already being familiar with this rather far-out language.

    2. Jim Bennett says:

      Neil, your response is disappointing as the author has obviously put a wonderfully thoughtful analysis together.
      Try only reading the points made in bold. They communicate his intent clearly and plainly.
      Sometimes good writing requires good reading.

      1. Saor Alba says:

        Good comment Jim. Maybe Neil will write something for us to read and digest in “plain language”. Chucking stones at others is easy.
        I found Dougald’s article very interesting and analytic as you obviously did too.

        Thank you Dougald for this. Readers sometimes have to make the effort themselves, however, as Jim so clearly suggests suggests.

        1. Saor Alba says:

          Slight mutation there producing an over stated suggestion. Can I blame the iPad?

    3. robertalcock says:

      By “it’s pish” do you mean “This conversation is configured by encoded power differentials”? If so, then please speak in plain language we can all understand.

    4. Paul Crummay says:

      In plain language, we need to be canny, not confrontational; step sideways, not into the “breach, dear friends, or close up the wall with our English dead”, but into the shadows where we can join up to create a compassion-based groundswell that eventually sweeps away the corruption. Clear enough to me.

      1. Saor Alba says:

        He may have got it now Paul.

  6. Fay Kennedy. says:

    Think how us poor misbegottens are suffering down under. Lynton Crosby clones everywhere in Oz. Scotland a beacon for hope over fear. Saor Alba

  7. Jim Bennett says:

    Really interesting, stimulating stuff. Thank you!

  8. Alastair McIntosh says:

    “….but there’s a third reason that goes to the deeper levels of what just happened: the conversations they had on the doorsteps weren’t real conversations.”

    On Tuesday night a dear old No-voting friend phoned up out of the blue, said that he was through from Edinburgh. He’d just spent the day knocking on 150 doors for Douglas Alexander’s team. Was there any chance he could stay the night prior to resuming the following morning?

    Over a Talisker, we mused on our political differences, enjoying the listening and the sparring, enjoying one another’s time-smoothed company. He was still hopeful Alexander would get back in and become Foreign Secretary. Mindful that he could be ousted by a 20 year old, the poor man was apparently spending all day every day phoning undecided voters and listening to their cares.

    My friend said that he couldn’t for the life of him understand the strength of SNP feeling that he was witnessing. He’d had to put up with quite a bit of lip going round the housing schemes. I asked if he thought his public school accent and dress style might have encoded a message that exacerbated such a reaction. After all, his persona extends a statement about social class. Maybe that was me just me trying to excuse anger-driven rudeness.

    We moved on to discussing land reform. He came out with the old Highland quip, “The slipperiest stone is the doorstep of the big house.”

    Perhaps it was just the Talisker kicking in, but I couldn’t help thinking how, for generations, actually, we’ve subconsciously adapted to standing on the doorsteps of big houses. As Dougald puts it in this article, “The conversations they had weren’t real conversations.” The conversations were always configured by encoded power differentials. You had to be compliant if you weren’t to slip. It distorts everybody’s reality, especially that of power because it hears its own codes echoed back. Compliantly.

    The difference, post-Referendum, is that we’ve lost our fear of slipping. We’re finding our footing. This is what Dougie MacLean called Solid Ground.

  9. Robert says:

    I agree with what you say, Dougald, but with a couple of provisos. Yes, we absolutely need to go down into the dark to find responses to our present situation — and not just in terms of elections.
    But we can’t lose sight of two important facts on the way:

    1. Labour didn’t actually lose the election. In the country as a whole (despite the big loss in Scotland) they got 740k more votes than in 2010 while the Tories got 630k more. Labour’s share of the vote increased from 29% to 30.5%.

    They lost it _in the key marginals_ which is another thing altogether. Once again, we are governed thanks to the decision of a tiny minority of “swing voters”. I’m damned if I’m going to see the whole Left collapse in a pool of misery and self-recrimination on that basis.

    Meanwhile the Greens, which for my money were the only real left-wing party contesting the election in England, got 1.15 million votes. Their votes grew by a factor of 4.35 compared with 2010, in other words, more than any other party, even UKIP (who grew by slightly less, a factor of 4.22): and entirely thanks to grassroots organising, not the media-fuelled fear of immigrants.

    So yes, this election was a disaster for the left, but not because they lost it: just because the Tories were much, much slicker at pushing the buttons of the few voters whose votes actually count towards the result. So the answer is not to work out how we can change and do better what we did badly last time. The answer is to work out how we can change the voting system _through direct action_ before the Tories do too much damage.

    2. And since we’re talking about damage limitation, it should be pointed out that the Tories didn’t win big. They won the smallest majority in the House of Commons since 1974. They have a majority of 8 seats.

    What is it like trying to run a government with a single-figure majority in the House of Commons? It’s fucking chaos. For every single vote you have to call back all or nearly all your MPs to make sure you don’t accidentally lose by a handful. Granted, a lot of the Labour and SNP MPs have further to travel to London, but the Tories are also going to be trying to run the government at the same time, and there will be a lot of dissent within their ranks, on both wings. So don’t assume the Tories are going to have an easy ride if Labour and the SNP put up a serious fight in Parliament. It’s going to be a fertile period for resistance both inside and outside Westminster.

    1. robertalcock says:

      Let me just correct this, after seeing the graphic of which seats changed hands (at

      Labour didn’t even lose in the key marginals. They actually took 10 seats off the Tories and lost 8. The only place they lost to the Tories was in former LibDem seats, and 11 of those were in the south-west (where there’s never been a strong Labour party). Elsewhere, Labour won 12 LibDem seats to the Tories’ 16. (Of course, Labour lost to a real social democratic party in Scotland.)

      Since the LibDems were acting Tories anyway, this result only strengthens the Left and weakens the Tory-led government, whose working majority of 80 in 2010 has been slashed to 16. (Not 8 as I said before.)

      1. Hi Robert,

        I’m a bit puzzled by your suggestion that “Labour didn’t actually lose the election.” Looking at the UK-wide vote share, the Tories got 36.9% to 30.4% for Labour. That Labour were up slightly against their terrible result under Brown five years ago doesn’t count as winning.

        More generally, while you’re right that slim majorities make for lots of parliamentary antics, to focus on these points feels like a way of avoiding the deep engagement with the significance of what just happened that I’m suggesting is needed if there is going to be the kind of renewal of democratic culture from below that I dearly hope for.

        1. robertalcock says:

          You’ve got a point there about 2010 perhaps not being the right baseline. Still I do feel the left has actually moved forwards, not back, in this election — just nowhere near far enough. Nowhere near a victory, but certainly not a total defeat. Tory triumphalism rings hollow.

          But with your general argument, of course, I agree. We desperately need the kind of deep engagement you’re talking about, to drive the real reform that’s got to happen. Not just voting reform, but as a bare minimum, something like the 6 core demands of the Occupy Movement:

  10. Neil says:

    Maybe the RIC or ‘commonweal’ should actually do something of note, like standing for election? 98% of Scots votes went to parties that are neither radical, or progressive.

    I am sure that the majority of RIC / commonweal travellers visit the Bella echo chamber – why not get them to do it?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You appear to be writing in the ‘echo chamber’?

      1. chamber, chamber, chamber, chamber

  11. embraman says:

    That’s a good analysis, i think. We should beware though, of falling for the trap of thinking that Scotland is fundamentally different from the rest of the UK. Nationalism has provided a quick fix for bringing people together (it’s what it does) but it would be wishful thinking to believe that this has somehow engendered a lasting progressive change.

  12. Burl Solomons says:

    Interesting points and mostly valid. However in point 16 you mention Syria, a party that came to power on pre-election promises they were always going to be unable to deliver.

    Idealistic intentions to do right by those less fortunate than ourselves come from the heart but need to be tempered by the head or election failure is certain. There are a lot of selfish people in the world and no matter how good our intentions we are all guilty of putting ourselves first – that is the truth of human nature. It will take more than 100 years of Labour’s good intentions to change 100,000 years of tribal human social evolution.

    1. Burl Solomons says:

      Sorry. That should have read Syriza. Dan autocorrect.

    2. JGedd says:

      Yes, but human evolution also depended on altruism, or if you like, enlightened self-interest. Living, as we do now, in bigger, more complex societies, can distort basic human nature. As a result we are ourselves complicated, having within us aspects of social behaviour that equipped us for survival in prehistory which then had to adapt to changing circumstances as societies developed through the ages. Adapting sometimes meant that what we might regard as negative behaviours, like aggression and selfishness would come to the fore and be rewarded.

      Most people today would choose not to live in the kind of harsh society in which those attributes were essential for mere survival. In fact human history has often been about the struggle not to live in the kind of society which is about survival of the fittest. As Richard Dawkins remarked, Darwinism is not for human beings – at least since the middle of the 20th century.

      Those on the right wing, for their own purposes, like to emphasise competitiveness and aggression and ignore those behaviours that are also part of our nature, which also contributed to survival, such as empathy and compassionate engagement. The dominating argument in neoliberal politics is to play up those attributes of individualism like greed and narrow self interest which serve their view of society. That so many of us feel dissatisfied with that society shows that for us, such a human environment is actually inimical to our deep-seated desire for cohesion and connection. Perhaps that’s what Russell Brand means by ” spirituality “.

  13. Lyn Dee says:

    The people most affected by the austerity measures of the last five years, and will be over the next five years, are the people least likely to use their vote. The daily struggle to make ends meet and look after themselves and their families leaves little energy to fight the establishment and why would they anyway, they can’t change anything, it’s a waste of time voting, what will be will be whatever party gets in!
    That’s what I hear every day from disengaged people who are also some of the strongest, most resilient people I know so why aren’t they being reached by politicians.
    Religious communities, adult learning centres, neighbourhood groups, family centres and other local meeting places need to be utilised to encourage and support people to become engaged in the political process.
    There are five years for the political parties to reach out to people who, with all the strength and tenacity they have shown to get through the last five years, can make the next election a fairer and more inclusive process.

    1. Darien says:

      Scots did not vote SNP so 56 MP’s can sit at Westminster for the next 5 years warming their bahookies on tartan seats while Scotland’s economy and society continues to be trashed by the Tories scorched earth (respect!) policy. I think sooner rather than later Scots will be looking for evidence of backbone from these MP’s. And I mean deeds, not words chucked across the chamber simply to be gobbled up and spat back by Tory hounds.

  14. lsanderson says:

    My hero, Paul Krugman, has a theory about elections; basically, how is the economy doing 6 months before the election? He asks if anyone has done a study on the UK elections, and compares the recent UK election to: “So you want to think of the economic environment for yesterday’s election as being roughly comparable to that facing Clinton in 1996. Pre-election polls suggested a close vote, but given that environment, we really shouldn’t be surprised that the incumbents did well.”

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