Thursday, 19 December 2019

Some thoughts on the 2019 General Election results

'Voting is your values in action' - I read that quote last Thursday and felt optimistic that we were on the cusp of a shift towards something more in keeping with my values. I thought the pendulum had swung as far to the right as it could, and we were heading back in the other direction. Waking up on Friday morning I felt angry, fearful and sad, but mainly incredulous. How can people have voted for hate, for greed, for a manifesto that is not in their interests? And in such numbers?

It shook one of my core beliefs - that people are generally good and kind. But how can we feel that way towards the 13 million people who voted Conservative? It’s easy to declare them all massive bastards or greedy, uneducated racists, isn’t it? Easier than accepting that they will have had their reasons for voting the way they did, that those reasons are far removed from your own. It’s easy and it’s divisive, and that’s a place I don’t want to go. Aren’t we already divided enough?

Read this article - it's illuminating. It helps outline the six different moral concerns and they vary according to political outlook. If you’re left leaning, you prioritise care/harm but if you’re right leaning, you prioritise group loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity (treating things as sacred and untouchable, not only in the context of religion). Mainly, though, it’s a good reminder that people voting Tory yesterday are fellow humans making a choice based on their moral priorities. Yep, different to (y)ours.

In Bristol, the majority of us voted Labour and that’s who we have elected here. The majority of us in this city prioritise care and we want to avoid harm. That was the case before the election and it’s the case today, and I’m proud to be part of this city and what it stands for. It’s also likely the case for the other 10 million people in this country who also voted Labour.

We need to hold fast to our values but also to stay open to other points of view, to other humans. It’s not easy. It wasn’t easy when Thatcher was in charge either, but I suspect some of us have had our values shaped by that experience, and I suspect our children (some of whom will be old enough to vote next time) will learn the hard way, too.

And the NHS. Well, I don’t have any answers there (I'm terrified). But for everything else, be the best you can be. Even Michelle Obama’s ‘when they go low, we go high’ feels divisive right now. Just counter this sorrow and anger with kindness.

People are all we’ve got.
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