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Columnists

The right to vote

James Cary

Cary

'A word said in anger reveals the heart' sounds like a verse from the book of Proverbs, doesn't it? There probably is one along those lines. I just made that one up. There's certainly one about keeping your mouth shut since speaking will make you look stupid. Gotta love proverbs. We know that heated arguments can cause people can to say 'things they regret'. Later, later they might pass them off as things 'they didn't mean'. But they did mean them. They just weren't able to control themselves and apply tact, courtesy and respect to their comment. Bear this in mind when using social media. I'm friends with a lot of people who were sorely disappointed by the result of the general election. In their disappointed rage, they tweeted and posted hateful comments and reactions about the selfish, the idiotic and the downright evil people who voted for parties on the right. Now the dust has settled, perhaps they feel slightly ashamed of their bilious comments, directed at people like me who see politics very differently. The rage may be the result of the surprise attack from the 'Shy Tories', who seem to routinely lie to opinion pollsters. We should be thankful for the secret ballot, introduced to stop people feeling pressured to vote for the party of their employer, who'd sit on the election platform watching them. Nonetheless, keeping quiet about your Toryism is seen as a great sin by the left. But is it any wonder people keep their right-of-centre politics to themselves when all the cool kids like Stephen Fry and Steve Coogan scream and shout for the left? Everyone else joins, assuming their political enemies have only the worst of intentions. This had been going on for months before the election. In circles like mine, expecting Tories to identify themselves is a like expecting football away fans to wear their shirts and shout loud when they find themselves in with the home team supporters by mistake. Politics is not a civilised place like a Premiership Rugby match, where all the fans are able to mix together and there is no question of violence or serious abuse. Facebook politics has become more like the Den at Millwall. Who on earth wants to turn up there all alone in a Crystal Palace strip? Some have regained a sense of perspective, realising their rage has partly been down to shock. Comedy writer John O'Farrell tweeted 'I fear Twitter has not helped the left since the 2010 election. We create our own digital bubble & forget that millions don't agree with us.' He is right. There have been a number of stories about the Twitterati living in an echo chamber. What I liked about Ed Milliband was that he did not hide his socialism. He offered himself to the nation as a socialist prime minister, but the nation declined. We've not had an appetite for this sort of thing for decades. Tony Blair only enjoyed success because he wasn't a socialist. Which is why old Labour hated him. But to the socialists, their philosophy and virtue is self-evident, needing no justification. I've read plenty of post-election press from intelligent Labour supporters who, despite the rejection at the polls, still assume the moral high ground at every turn. To them, are three different 'explanations' for why each class would non-sensically vote for the Nasty Party. If you're a poor Tory voter you must be badly educated or mentally incapable, easily manipulated by the press. Never mind that the Daily Mirror is available, the BBC is everywhere and people don't believe the media anyway. If you're a middle-class Tory voter, you've done alright from the current system, so you must be some kind of a sociopath, unwilling to see the plight of the poor and selfishly, you're pulling up the ladder on those below. There can be no intellectual or pragmatic explanation for your behaviour. So shame on you. If you're very rich and powerful, you only vote Tory because you're clearly a psychopath, hell-bent on the total destruction of the poor. Never mind any charitable foundations you might have set up or large donations you have made. We know those are just a front. There are perfectly decent rational, moral, social, theological and economic reasons for voting Conservative. Until the left can bring itself to engage with it, and make their own case of sacrificing Liberty for Equality, then I cannot see how the Left can win back the electorate in that numbers that will satisfy them.