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Please put playground political punditry in the past

I have just read a blog that confirms my worst fears regarding the political system in this country and people’s understanding of it.

The pollsters were apparently surprised by “shy Tories” who got into the voting booth and put their X where it wasn’t expected. There should have been no such surprise.

Witness the demonstrations outside Downing Street by people holding Socialist Worker placards the day after the election result. Witness the e-mail sent out days later by Amnesty International pledging to scupper a policy of the days old new government. Then tell me how many protestors there would have been or how many negative e-mails would have been sent out if anyone but the Tories had won. Short answer: none.

It is an accepted fact that people who are on the left of the mainstream political spectrum are always far more vociferous than those who support the Conservatives. The only time you get protests or any kind of outcry from right-wing parties is when those on the far right decide to speak out – the BNP, EDL and their ilk. You simply don’t get Tory supporters marching down the street with banners, children in hand with painted faces and party emblems, making a stand for what they believe in (even UKIP supporters would think twice).

That’s just the nature of the people and that’s why when you ask someone who they are voting for they are more likely to tell you if they are backing Labour and those supporting the Tories are more likely to keep their cards close to their chest. Part of this reason, it has to be said, is that nobody wants grief from someone else and if you say you think Cameron is a good guy and the Tories actually do care you can expect to be laughed at, ridiculed or even shunned. You would certainly be thought of differently than before. So if you have any work colleagues or friends who have never told you what their political affiliations are, it’s a fair bet they are Conservative. If they were Labour they would announce it with pride and expect you to feel the same. After all, why wouldn’t you? There would have to be something wrong if you didn’t.

This blog asked “are you feeling sad about the election?” and reckoned that loads of people had taken to social media to say that they felt really depressed at the outcome. The blogger (who I am deliberately not naming lest I be accused of targeting another writer) said the people were right to feel “disappointment, sadness and loss. It is a normal grief reaction to something shocking and unexpected which dashes hopes for the future”.

So a Tory win dashes hope for the future? What arrogance people openly display when something does not go their way! If a Labour government had been elected would we be having a discussion about how everything is about to go tits up for the next five years? I suspect not. And why would that be? Oh, because Labour are about being fair-minded whereas all Tories are closet fascists who despise everyone except the richest one per cent.

You would only feel sad about the election result if you didn’t want the Tories to win but is it right to portray their win as a failure of common sense? Those who trust (and vote for) the Tories are dismissed as misguided right-wing zealots who have no compassion for anyone but themselves. The selfish ones have taken over the asylum.

It’s true to say that just as there are many middle-class people who vote Labour there are many working class people who vote Conservative. It shouldn’t be about class, anyway, it should be about who you think is the best bunch of people with the best policies for the country.(and yes, for yourself and the people you love).

To dismiss a party for the simple reason that they are apparently the ‘nasty’ ones is like dismissing the achievements of the Chelsea football team because you support Arsenal. You cannot be (or you should not be) blinkered in politics or political comment, unless of course you are obviously in a particular political camp. And you should always understand that it is a major mistake to assume that every right-minded person will agree with what you say. You never know, you just might be wrong.

If we only learn one thing from this election it should be to move on from playground political punditry and treat all parties with a modicum of intelligence and respect.

And yes, Arsenal fans, Chelsea has won the league and you haven’t – respect what they’ve done and move on.

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Rory Baxter, owner of The Word Factory, has decades of experience as a writer, editor, and public relations practitioner.

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