Somebody's got to pay

The best that can be said of this election campaign is that it’s nearly over. Where debate has existed it’s been poor, unless your idea of intelligent discourse consists of how fast blame can be shifted or frequently a phrase can be repeated. I suppose there’s a skill to this but there’s a limit to how much you can endure. Had I taken a shot every time I’d heard ‘Get Brexit Done’ then I’d surely be dead by now, and I didn’t even watch the televised debates. 

The electorate like it to be simple. The single message drilled with military precision clearly strikes home. Labour’s plans may be bold and expansive, but no-one believes they can be achieved. People don’t trust politicians, unless it’s about getting Brexit done it appears. 

The scale of this muddled thinking was encapsulated in one voter interview featured in Saturday’s Guardian. The journalist, Gary Younge, had gone to Stevenage, a Tory voting new town, where he’d met Jeff, a 64-year-old who’d not voted Labour since the 1970s.  

“Labour have all these wonderful ideas,” said Jeff. “But at the end of the day somebody’s got to pay for it – either through their taxes or higher prices – and I don’t think Labour’s ever quite got that.”

Jeff has a commonly held theory, possibly perpetuated by the Tories and their media allies; Labour can’t balance the books. His next statement caught the people’s mindset with perfection. Jeff had voted for Brexit, of course, and doesn’t mind even if it makes us worse off. “It might be uncomfortable but that doesn’t mean we stop………..We won’t know until it’s happened and then we’ll have to deal with it.”

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash
By this logic Jeff doesn’t like the idea of people having to pay for extra services, but a shrunken economy where everyone earns less is apparently fine, we’ll have to deal with it. Jeff doesn’t like the thought of robbing Jeff to pay Jeff, he’d rather leap into the unknown.

It’s ‘bang your head against a wall time’, slightly difficult when you’ve got your back to the same wall but at least you’re standing on your own two feet. The argument that Labour has spectacularly failed to clarify is that a better economy where more people earn more is better for the country, they pay taxes and spend more. The businesses where they spend also pay more taxes (in theory). It’s a cyclical economy instead of a failing trickle-down version. 

People persist in thinking that the country’s finances are like their ownThe media doesn’t dissuade them from this. Consequently, a lie on the side of a bus which contains a huge number without context sticks in the mind, even if people like Jeff say it makes no difference. 

Why has Brexit become so all-encompassing when we have so many other issues and problems?  Perhaps people can get their heads around leaving the EU far easier than they can accept a rise in taxes. The right has taken hold of people’s mindset, more taxes = robbery, EU = evil, et al. I used to think we were all too placid, docile and plain dumb for a class war but a few more years of Tory rule could definitely test that theory, whatever Jeff thinks.