By Richard Fleury
No matter how we voted, we all have one thing in common: relief that the 2019 General Election is over. But there is no “going back to normal” this time. There is no going back at all.
The relatively tolerant and inclusive country we grew knew has gone. It won't be coming back any time soon. The genie is very much out of the bottle.
Instead, we have an English Nationalist government so far to the right that a former Conservative prime minister begged us not to vote for it.
In December 2019 Great Britain became Little Britain. And if Scotland votes Leave, the UK may soon devolve into a Little England, a regressive island paradise for angry little white men.
Angry little men like the one who verbally abused a Faversham Eye volunteers as she distributed our Election Special in the market place a few weeks ago: an angry little man who felt his political opinions entitled him to shout and swear at a pension-age woman who had the audacity to politely hand out a community newspaper in a public space.
After his cowardly but ultimately unsuccessful intimidation attempt, he posed proudly for a photo with MP Helen Whately and other local Tories canvassing in the town square.
It would be nice to think that, having got the election result he wanted, he and his kind might now develop a bit of basic human decency.
When her win was announced, Helen Whately said, without a hint of irony: “I hope that in future people will fight fairer, for a decent style of politics."
History will remember this as the Fake News election, won by digital dirty tricks, contrived chaos, flamboyant lies, moody Russian money and a prime minister who hid in a fridge.
But it worked. The world has turned. The lies have it.
The bewildering blizzard of deceit served its purpose, diluting and obscuring facts so effectively that millions fell back on their beliefs. Some believed accusations that lifelong anti-racism campaigner Jeremy Corbyn was antisemitic and serial liar Boris Johnson was telling the truth when he denied the NHS was sale. We'll find out if they were right over the next five years, possibly sooner if we or our families and friends are injured or fall ill.
It's worth remembering that Boris Johnson only increased the party’s vote share by just 1.2 percent on the 2017 election result that handed Theresa May her prime ministerial cards. But, in our first-past-the-post system, that was enough to allow in the most extreme-right Government Britain has seen for a hundred years.
The results here in Faversham reflected the national picture, in as much as hard-right Faversham and Mid Kent Conservative MP Helen Whately increased her majority slightly, while the opposition vote was split between Labour and the Lib Dems.
Nationally, cooperation between Labour and the Lib Dems could potentially have prevented Boris Johnson winning an overall majority. But locally, Faversham is unlikely ever to have a non-Conservative MP so long as our constituency boundary encompasses the blue rinse belt of Mid Kent.
Popular local Lib Dem councillor Hannah Perkin won more than 6,000 votes, doubling the support her party have managed in previous general elections while taking votes from Labour and further reducing the chance of Faversham electing a non-Conservative MP from 'invisible to the naked eye' to 'sub-atomic'.
Despite some determined campaigning, disappointed Labour candidate Jenny Reeves saw her party's vote fall from 12,977 to 9,888. But even combined, the Labour and Lib Dem vote was less than half the Conservative turnout. Always a safe Tory seat, Faversham and Mid Kent is now safer than the houses it is increasingly being covered with.
If there's a positive to come out of this election for Faversham, it is that Hannah, Jenny and Green candidate Hannah Temple all proved themselves strong and effective voices for the town. Unlike Helen Whately, they didn't receive a Government minister's salary or the security and protection that comes with it, while running for parliament. Instead they devoted enormous time and personal commitment to their election efforts while receiving the abuse and threats to themselves and their families which have sadly become normalised since the 2016 Brexit referendum.
We're lucky to have them. If they choose to put their energy and hard-won campaign experience to future use as advocates for our town, we will all benefit.
THE EYE GETS IT WRONG!
2019 GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS FOR FAVERSHAM AND MID KENT
The Eye carefully followed the local candidates in the recent general election, attending the hustings and where possible interviewing them personally.
After heated editorial meetings we agreed that in terms of potential ability, understanding of local needs, concern for the environment and general integrity we ranked the four serious contenders from best to worse as follows:
The outcome resulted in:
So, what does this tell us?
A We are bad judges of electoral suitability.
B The majority of the electorate in our constituency would vote for a turnip if it was a Conservative turnip.
C There is no point in hoping that we will ever get a government that doesn’t act out of their own narrow self-interest without some form of proportional representation in our voting system.
History will remember this as the Fake News election, won by digital dirty tricks, contrived chaos, flamboyant lies, moody Russian money and a prime minister who hid in a fridge
Always a safe Tory seat, Faversham and Mid Kent is now safer than the houses it is increasingly being covered with
Faversham is unlikely ever to have a non-Conservative MP so long as our constituency boundary encompasses the blue rinse belt of Mid Kent