Probably the best I had was my fingers crossed while, just once or twice, thinking that it just might happen. Well, it was quite the opposite. Yet even in the wreckage, I see signs of what might be.
It appears that Scotland decided to ditch “socialism lite” and go more for the real deal with a resounding and joyous shout. Wales remains, largely, Labour and does much of the Capital. In response our Prime Minister talks about one nation. Did I hear echoes of the “Big Society” here; whatever happened to that? In my view, one nation shouldn’t be a comfort blanket that those who govern us use to cover the fault lines but about how people really feel about what we all have in common, what unites us. One nation has to be about us all being in it together and where have I heard that before? In this I am reminded of those things that featured in that amazing opening ceremony at the London Olympics of 2012; some of the foundations of which may well be dismantled with even greater cuts planned over the next five years.
Well, this morning the UK is a place where the fracture lines have been well and truly exposed. In addition, it now appears that much of the new government’s time and effort over the next 18 months will be taken up with a referendum over our EU membership with the ensuing uncertainty that that will create for business; while the next five years will see even more stringent cuts and greater austerity. Where is hope and optimism especially for our young people who have their whole lives in front of them?
Well, nothing is inevitable so let me say what I would like to see, which is a government that thinks it has a more active role to play in our society than just dismantling its foundations. I want one which recognises that, just as we as individuals try to move seamlessly from day to day, planning as best we can, so should governments. They need to have a clear view of the world as they see it based on more than just market forces and “Blow you, Jack, I’m all right”. The market, after all, is a guide not a god.
This plan needs to be based on a decent education system that helps our all young people to develop the “vast amount of untapped talent” that Jesse Norman described in his book “The Big Society”. It needs to have a comprehensive system for health and social care, a decent and co-ordinated transport system, a living wage (surely not too much to ask for in the seventh richest economy in the world). Above all, these should not be based on the ability to pay. That’s, surely, what we pay taxes for. You don’t, after all, choose to have a disability.
So, this morning, as I survey the wreckage, I still see my New Jerusalem. Fortunately, for me, that light shines even in the darkest of times. Hope, as they say, springs eternal. You just have to keep going. It’s funny but just writing this has helped me to do just that.