Friday, November 22, 2019
Home News Caroline Farrow: I voted for ‘progressive’ Mr Gove with a heavy heart

Caroline Farrow: I voted for ‘progressive’ Mr Gove with a heavy heart

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Watching the election results until the wee hours, the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” was rebounding in my brain. There we were in a period of stability and Mrs May’s hubristic gamble screwed the pooch!

From the moment that the exit poll was released, as result by agonising result came in, it became clear that we were going to escape a socialist hell by the skin of our teeth. To be honest, as soon as I learnt that the turnout was high in our local polling station which was held on our church premises, officials admitted as they dropped the key back just after 10 pm that footfall was three times larger than it had been in 2015, I felt a strange mix of elation and foreboding.

It’s heartening to see a large voter turnout and people exercising their hard-fought for democratic freedoms, but last time around it appeared as though a large swathe of young people were apathetic. Therefore if they were now voting, it seemed likely they would plump for Corbyn whose campaign had been directly appealing to the youth.

One one level, you can’t actually blame the youth, who surely can have no idea of what they are wishing for with their “take me to the ‘70s” hashtag. A time when the tax regime was one of the most punitive in the world, where you would pay £1.04 for every £1 of investment income (which included any investment income over £6,000) and triggered an exodus of entrepreneurs and highly-paid stars who went to live abroad. Inflation reached 30 per cent and the UK required a humiliating bail-out from the IMF.

Of course, the young are going to be tempted by promises of having up to £50,000 of student debt written off. Nobody enjoys having the Student Loans Company breathing down your neck or being saddled with such a large a debt before being able to get one’s foot on the housing ladder, especially when the baby boomers supposedly got their higher education for free (although many have more than paid for it through the tax system), but surely the wider issue ought to be about whether or not 50 per cent of the population needs what was once a highly academic degree, in order to succeed in their chosen career? One question that all political parties have studiously avoided addressing.

Expecting a comfortable Conservative majority, I had anticipated my reaction to the election result being one of relieved indifference. It was with extreme reluctance that I cast my X in the box for our local candidate Michael Gove, who only had his stance on Brexit and not being a loony lefty to commend him. Had there been either a Ukip or Christian Alliance candidate in our constituency then they would almost definitely have had my vote instead.

It was his lacklustre support on the crucial life issues that did it. As someone who is open about the fact that he is adopted and ought to count himself lucky that liberal abortion was not in force when his student mother unexpectedly found herself pregnant, Michael Gove’s disinterest in the almost 200,000 abortions that take place in the UK every year is baffling. His abstaining from the Commons vote on sex-selective abortion, unforgivable. His appeal to his own status as a church-goer to lend authority to his theological view that gay sex is not sinful, thereby contributing to the hounding of Tim Farron on account of his Christianity, disappointing.

Whatever good stuff Michael Gove may have achieved during his tenure at the education department, it remains that he is a deeply divisive figure who managed to alienate even the most moderate of teachers. As a parent who chooses to educate her children in the private sector, thereby saving the State the burden of educating four children, his generalisations and dismissive comments about private schools belied ignorance.

The proposed Tory government increase on probate, which was, in effect, a cynical tax on the bereaved, a charge of several thousands of pounds to obtain an A4 piece of paper, had my parents, lifelong Tories living in David Cameron’s former Witney constituency, ripping up their membership cards in disgust. In short then, voting Conservative and validating Mr Gove in his safe seat, was a less than appetising prospect. But I did it, simply because there was no other viable alternative.

I could not vote Labour in good conscience – the party who have promised further to undermine the family with the introduction of ‘no fault divorce’ in their manifesto and wickedly, to further liberalise abortion, making it available on demand right up until birth. The Greens and the Liberal Democrats, the other two candidates on the ballot paper, were similarly unappetising.

Jeremy Corbyn, with his hardline left policies, comedy Toytown Trotskyite routine, unsavoury links with anti-Semitism and terrorists, was such a terrifying prospect that my vote for the Conservatives, was not for any positive vision, but rather to keep out this ageing Wolfie Smith with his tenuous grasp on economics and desperately unpleasant team of sidekicks.

I was anticipating another five years of dull Theresa May, who talked the talk on Christianity but as yet seemed unable to walk the walk, but who would at least steer us through Brexit with a number of reliable and experienced stalwarts, such as Liam Fox and David Davis on side. It was far from being an ideal vision of Britain, one which put the interests of families as being the building block of society at its core, but it was definitely the least worst option.

As Mrs May surveys her loss of political authority and looks to the DUP to shore up her Commons majority (which is at least one silver lining for social conservatives, in a night which saw several decent pro-life politicians fall) she and the Conservative party might wish to reflect on how to mould their vision into being something in which the great British public, the majority of whom did still vote Tory and for Brexit, can believe.

As for me, after being up all night, I’m off to pour myself a stiff Gin and Tonic, have a hot shower while I still can, and after tucking the kids into bed, thank my blessings that I can continue to keep them in school. At least until the next election.

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Caroline Farrow
Caroline Farrow
Columnist for the Catholic Universe

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