So the elections are over and the count is in. Everything has returned to a sort of normality.
Sense, a sort of sense at least, has prevailed.
There is all sorts of talk about UKIP having triumphed, but it didn’t. in fact, its numbers, its popularity dropped by about 6% on a year ago. This is a good thing, a very, very good thing.
In my particular neck of the woods, my constituency elected four UKIPpers. I am utterly horrified. There is no over all control in my local council, which would be fine, except that it is swinging to the right, which makes me very uncomfortable.
What makes me even more uncomfortable is that those four UKIP councillors were elected in the poorest most rundown wards with the highest rates of unemployment and child poverty, and the lowest rates of home ownership and residents with higher and further education qualifications. The very people who would suffer most under a right wing, reactionary regime are those who are voting for it. Ignorance absolutely is not bliss.
The most ethnically and culturally diverse ward, my own, voted Liberal Democratic. This was not my choice, but since virtually everyone else voted Conservative, I suppose this was about as leftist as it was going to get.
This brings me to a particular piece of political canvassing that dropped through my letter box last week, and perhaps the nastiest most cynical piece of electioneering that passed through my consciousness. I was frankly appalled. I was appalled because it appealed to people’s good sense while actually being emotional blackmail. It was an act of honest-to-goodness desperation.
It came from our local Liberal Democrats. You may remember that they were voted into office in my ward, so either it worked or the majority of the local voters were already in their camp. Either way, I’m not thrilled.
The flyer did not outline the good work the Liberal Democrat councillors have done on the council in the past and it did not outline their plans for the future. It did not talk about its politics or its policies. The flyer that was pushed through my letterbox and through the letterboxes of thousands of other homes simply said that Labour could not win in my ward, so we should vote for the Liberal Democrats, because if we didn't the Conservatives would win, and we didn’t want that, did we? It was practically imploring.
Let's put aside the fact that the Liberal Democrats quite happily got into bed with the Conservatives four years ago in order to give themselves some sort of credibility and a hand in running the bloody country. They could have moved a little to the left, but, instead they opted to shake hands with David Cameron. As I said, let's just ignore that for a moment.
The Liberal Democrats showed no conviction. They did not try to persuade their constituents that they had the best plans for the area going forward, or that they had the future welfare of the electorate at heart. They were simply running scared. They didn’t want to lose their jobs, and they didn’t want the other bloke to win, but they couldn’t come up with a single good reason why they were the better option. They didn’t appear to believe in what they were doing, or they didn’t think they could make us believe in them.
Instead of filling us with confidence in them, instead of finding areas of agreement with us, they tried to frighten us. I think we were probably frightened enough.
Some people were frightened and angry and ignorant enough to vote UKIP for crying out loud.
I voted my conscience. It matters to me. If my conscience had been to vote Liberal Democrat this nasty piece of trash landing on my doormat would probably have dissuaded me from voting at all. I won’t be frightened by politicians and I won’t be blackmailed by them.
I don’t know what effect this had on other people, but it made me angry, and for none of the reasons the Liberal Democrats intended.