Hear the countryside
There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear. The General election result highlighted a nationwide failure of politicians to listen, but if anything is to be taken away from this destabilising fallout, it’s that we all need to start listening to and respecting each other.
Last year’s Brexit vote was endlessly termed ‘the will of the people’ and the losing side’s distress over a bruising referendum dismissed as grizzling, yet the reality was that there were only about one million votes in it. Jeremy Corbyn’s old-fashioned, ideological approach was scoffed at, his Pied Piper abilities underestimated. Nicola sturgeon displayed a tin ear about scotland’s flagging enthusiasm for independence; the Tories hoped a surging youth vote would understand about tuition fees and pensioners about the loss of their winter fuel bonus; the Lib Dems could have been the party of compromise, but were obsessed by the notion that families and communities were dying to tear each other apart all over again about Brexit.
Theresa May’s advisors might have listened more carefully to her constituents, who see her as warm, accessible and hardworking not a remote, power-dressing handbagger. And Mrs May herself should have clocked a big clue from weary Brenda of Bristol that not all voters were focused on her Brexit mandate when they’ve got serious issues closer to home.
The campaign was mercifully short, but insults and puerile point-scoring rather than constructive, workable ideas became the stock in trade and momentum was, understandably, lost due to two awful tragedies that put life into perspective. A humiliated Conservative Party may find it hard to resist internal recrimination and previously restive Labour MPS will be sheepish about the extent to which they relied on Mr Corbyn’s appeal to win their seats. Both parties will have to heed more the desires and needs of scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will hold the balance of power in future legislation.
The real winner may, however, be the countryside, for whose support the Government should be desperately grateful; the new electoral map shows that the vote share— a respectable 44%—came overwhelmingly from rural, not urban, constituencies, from the Welsh mountains up to the Northumbrian borders and back down to the hampshire Downs and the south-west’s moors. This was the sector that remained ‘strong and stable’, not the towns.
The countryside hasn’t always been well served by Government, fobbed off with a diminished department (Defra), archaic technology and stuck at the back of the queue for services. Last Friday, a newly collected Mrs May promised to share prosperity across the UK. she and her ministers need to share their ears as well.
‘We all need to start listening to and respecting each other