The Conservatives have simply gone too far. But that won’t matter one bit on voting day.
What has surprised you most about the 2019 General Election? For some it’s Labour’s spending promises, but for me it’s the Conservative Party and their newfound taste for Orwellian, even authoritarianism-inspired disinformation campaign.
Writer’s note: I think when you write something so personal it is difficult to write something impersonal the next time you sit down. What overwhelmed me about the article I wrote about being queer was not just the support and acceptance I received from others but how much it took out of me. I had to dig so deep for those words that, sitting down to write this, I now have to find something else in myself. I’ve always maintained that every article, no matter how formal, is akin to art. With every artwork reality remains the starting point, so it is here we return to this week.
Specifically, London on a Monday morning. I’m on the way to work, I come out of Victoria Station and start walking to Grosvenor Gardens to head towards Hyde Park Corner, when two columns of police motorcycle riders come together and converge. No-one stops as this convoy of men, leather and authority turns into a single entity; there is a true sense of another tense day starting. London is just that after the recent terrorist attack on London Bridge, in which two innocent civilians and the assailant were killed.
Not that it wasn’t tense before. We have become, not so much used to the occurrence of terrifying incidents in the capital, as perhaps immunised to the fear they attempt to create. Something happens. News comes in. Rumours fly. The attacker is killed. We count the dead. Analyse the attack. Then go back to memes. For one sweet moment after each of these attacks we put down our tools of disagreement and focus on what we, as a community, can do to help. Even the main parties took a break from the election campaign.
Or, more aptly, a break from turning it into a predictable quagmire of undeliverable promises and political faux pas. What has been rather unexpected is the level of undignified behaviour the Conservatives have descended to.
This is a party that has discarded and cast away from its person any pretence of gamesmanship. From dressing its Twitter up as a factchecking service to threatening Channel 4 for empty-chairing it with an ice-sculpture, to Rees-Mogg insulting the victims of Grenfell and the party creating a fake Labour Manifesto website. To add insult to what should be injury, YouTube recently removed two Conservative election videos from its platform amid complaints from the BBC.
All these incidents should mean that come Friday 13 the Conservatives will see red. Their blatant disinformation campaign should mean a collapse in their popularity — right? No. the most recent YouGov poll gave them a nine per cent lead over Labour.
Why? Because they have the support of the ignorant. Those who fell under Farage’s spell in 2016; those who would have voted for the Brexit Party; those who will not Google policies; and those who want change but don’t want to understand what that change will entail. These people trust the personality of their leader even if their policies will harm them in the long run. It’s because of this and the disproportionate level of negative press Labour receives that the Conservatives can make so many mistakes and still lead the polls.
It feels unreal knowing that the Conservative Party will not be punished on election day for their mistakes. It leaves the rest of us tense for what the future will hold if a party can lie so much and still remain popular. It’s not an Orwellian diet but isn’t too far from a taster.
My commute continues on as I ride the 13, 36 or 390 for the one stop hop up the hill to Hyde Park. The thing is, I don’t know whether it’s ‘Whamageddon’ or political Armageddon that I’m heading towards. Maybe it’s both.