IT’S squeaky-bum time for the Tories as the polls show a pronounced narrowing dangerously close to hung parliament territory. A rogue poll, or 2017 all over again? Either way, horrified pundits wonder how on earth anyone could countenance voting for the mad Marxist Corbyn and his anti-Semitic rabble. If Boris fails as May did, no doubt the Tories and most of the Right-leaning commentariat will feel mortified, bamboozled and deeply aggrieved.
That is because they just don’t get it, just like they didn’t in 2017 when the Conservatives also played it safe – and all but lost. In the words of the great Gisela Stuart, Brexit was an ‘unfrozen moment’ in British history, when all kinds of impossible things could be countenanced. The British people took a huge psychological leap of faith. As this blog warned at the time, as with any such undertaking that requires tremendous courage, it released energies that must be spent one way or another, and not necessarily for the better.
All the major political parties have betrayed the true spirit of Brexit, that giant leap of faith that was both democratic and revolutionary. Although the Liberal Democrats and Labour have been worst in betraying its democratic dimension, the Tories have now revealed themselves as the worst offenders in betraying its revolutionary spirit to transform our moribund society and its institutions. It may not matter quite enough that Corbyn’s policy freak show, ranging from Clause 4 ultra-socialism to full-term abortion, is very, very bad indeed, because it is truly revolutionary and sates the demand for real change.
In short, the country craves catharsis, not simply ‘getting Brexit done’, and the Tories were never going to be capable of that: a party that regards the holding of office as a simple matter of social entitlement naturally has a low view of the people and, it follows, limited ambitions for them. Post referendum, a properly conservative party should have been fizzing with ideas. It was given another chance at this election – one that quite frankly it certainly did not deserve – and selfishly but entirely predictably put its own interests first once again, refusing a radical alliance with the Brexit Party and offering a tepid, don’t-frighten-the-horses Blairite joke of a manifesto. Small wonder an insulted electorate may be starting to look elsewhere.
Of course, it is entirely possible that these are just blips in the polls and the Tories will make it through, perhaps even gaining a large majority, though I think a small majority on a low turnout is still the most likely outcome. Either way, their cynical, safety-first mediocrity will have successfully frozen Brexit’s ‘unfrozen moment’, but only temporarily: those pent-up energies, that deep yearning for real change, will not for ever be denied. One day the thaw must come.