When a government with a majority, calls a general election most voters don’t want, three years before they ought, something funny is going on. And when something funny is going on, there comes a point at which many people will say, ‘enough!’
So here’s The Citizens’ Party. It doesn’t look like other political parties. For one thing, it has no leader, no subs, no HQ. You can join it in your head, and not tell anyone about it, and you can shout about it from the rooftops (though if you try to go down the maximum publicity route, you’ll get tarred as ‘saboteurs’, ‘enemies of the people’, and worse).
The Citizens’ Party is the DIY movement which has emerged, blinking and stumbling, from the train wreck set in motion by the 2015 general election, in which foul tactics, and possible foul play (the CPS has the evidence against the Tories on that score), secured an unexpected ‘victory’ for David Cameron, and all our woes.
In a democracy, you cannot tell half the electorate that their wishes count for nothing, and that their voices must be silenced ever more. Erdogan in Turkey is trying it, which is shocking enough, but so is our own Prime Minister. And we aren’t having it.
In normal times, May would not be permitted to trample all over her opponents like this without massive and constant challenge from the Opposition. That is their job. But the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has other ideas. He, too, buys the modern fiction that a vote won equals the end of the argument. So we are on our own.
The election campaign, on the surface, looks like the big guns of the Tory-Brexit Party under “I’ll say anything, and then do the opposite” May, working with WMDs like ‘Sir’ Lynton Crosby, and The Daily Mail (Falange badge free with every copy), up against the allotment management committee, with the plucky little Lib Dems making occasional charges armed only with rolled up copies of the i. It offends every British instinct about fair play, but British instincts about fair play have only ever been skin deep.
The surface impression is wrong.
I started this blog when the 2015 general election was called, but carried on with it, because in a sense the campaign has not yet ended. The feeling now, at the beginning of the 2017 campaign, is very different from the mood music two years ago.
Back then, in the distant past all of 24 months ago, the assumption was that normal early 21st Century British politics would prevail. Sullen voters, whipped up by the Dogs of War press, would monster the earnest, clever one because he looked funny, and couldn’t eat a bacon sarnie, but they wouldn’t warm to the posh boys, Cameron and Osborne, either. And they’d give the Lib Dems a well-deserved punishment beating. A hung parliament might ensue, or a minority Labour government, or even another coalition of some sort. Business as usual.
We don’t, can’t feel that way now. May and her cronies might be doing their damnest to normalise Brexit, but they can’t. No exhortation to ‘unite’, to ‘come together’, can hide the fact that this is a rumbling, low-level civil war, in which people, neighbours, families, generations, regions, are divided implacably. That’s the truth Labour doesn’t want to hear, either. There is no way to speak for ‘both sides’. The fiction that there can be a ‘Brexit that works for everyone’ is nonsense. You are on one side of the argument, or you are on the other. The people are still speaking, and this argument goes on.
Everywhere there are groups of people meeting in person, or virtually. Conference calls of organising committees planning action. Disgruntled constituents of loathed MPs slagging them off on Facebook. Nice middle class gentlemen using the office computer to design anti-Brexit, anti-Tory memes to upload to Instagram and Tumblr. Waspi women Tweeting their distain for the politicians who won’t listen to them. The Citizens’ Party created itself, and it will have an effect upon this election.
So what can unite the Citizens’ Party? What do they want?
They don’t want business as usual. They don’t want most of the political leaders we have. They don’t want the parties we have, working in the system we have. They want change. They want to do things differently. They want their voices heard. They want hope.
Knowing what you don’t want, and hoping for better, is a start, but it’s not a plan.
A plan is emerging for election ’17.
It’s guerrilla war, hand-to-hand fighting, little skirmishes here and there. The aim is to halt that Tory-Brexit train.
That means using every trick in the democratic box necessary to deprive the Tory-Brexit Party of the massive majority May craves, and preferably to deprive her of even the slim majority they have.
The Citizens’ Party. Taking Back Control.
First published by Yasmin Ali in her blog All Human Life Is Hereabouts on 20th April 2017 https://aliyasminali.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/the-citizens-party-manifesto/