History is in the making

It’s Friday 13th December 2019 and the nation is reeling from waking up to the news of an extraordinary Conservative majority under Boris Johnson. Not only that but the most significant Labour loss since 1935, winning just over 200 seats.

This is of course a historic election in the context of Brexit and the future of Great Britain. But I wonder if there is something else at play that is worth noting.

A few political caveats

Before we dive in any further, let me be clear about my own political viewpoint that the best possible thing for the country is a strong leadership in both the left and right camps of politics. I am not a hardline party member of either side and whilst I consider myself to be right leaning on some issues, I am also left leaning on others.

I think it’s in our best interests for both dynamics to be represented because it creates a healthy tension where all are held accountable. After all, the best policies in the world are useless if they aren’t brought into fruition.

What went wrong for the left?

With that being said, on the back of this election result and campaign, I think it’s really important for politicians and agents on the left to take a long hard look at what went wrong. And that for me is all about communication strategy.

Is homelessness an issue? Do we care about those who are less fortunate in society? Should we all pay our fair share and take up our social responsibility? Shouldn’t we be concerned about the many and not just the few. Well of course. How could anyone think otherwise?

It’s easy to make assumptions about why people voted the way they did

And yet crucially for some reason, people didn’t vote for it. The easy answer for those disappointed today is simply that those around us are terrible humans or terribly deceived. Or that there’s a conspiracy from those at the top to keep hold of power. I think there might be a simpler and more logical explanation.

In an effort to gain the attention of the public, Jeremy Corbyn and many others across Labour and other parties have slipped into a disastrous medium of communication, fear itself.

Fear shuts down real conversation

Fear does not help any of us. It creates worry, anxiety and worst of all causes us to disengage. In fact, fear shuts down real conversation. It speaks straight to the heart whilst strongly discouraging dialogue or dissent. 

Incidentally, that’s why many young people have been influenced by Corbyn’s message. Because part of the gift of what it means to be young is to feel things more intensely. And the older (typically more cynical – no offence intended here) members of society have disconnected.

Are we allowed to talk about climate change?

Let’s look at an example. Climate change, living sustainably and taking care of the planet we live in is a worthy cause. And yet so many continue to tell us that human catastrophe is coming in a matter of 12 years.

I’m not a scientific expert on such things. But I can see that nobody is living as if that is a reality including the actors, politicians, influencers and popular voices. And especially not the vegan millennial middle class who still use air travel to holiday destinations across the globe multiple times a year.

Do we really believe in these extreme statements? If you do, I wonder if you’re cancelling Christmas and your holidays for the next 12 years. No more Nike trainers either. Perhaps the general public is not so naive as some would like to think in assessing such things. It seems to be a case of, ‘do as I say and not as I do’.

The mob is in need of a hug

The problem with fear is that any dissent to the popular voice is met with ridicule and abuse from the angry mob. But the mob is deluded and notably very afraid. The mob is in need of a hug because they are living in world full of anxiety.

There have been many more examples at play. If you have any thoughts on immigration you’re called racist and you’re now an active participant in acts of racial violence.

If you talk about keeping tax low (or simply not hiking it), you’re called self-serving and the friend of billionaires. If you talk about freedom of speech, you’re inspiring hate and upsetting people’s rights.

Many withdraw their ideas from the mix

No doubt for some who talk about these, some of which may be true, but also there is no doubt that for the majority of the British population, this is simply not the case. The real shame is that we miss out on a balanced debate on real issues as many withdraw their ideas and opinions from the mix for fear of the mob.

Fear shuts down the conversation and creates an environment of extremism on both sides and a silent majority of people who don’t feel like they can be heard. 

Until of course at election time.

We all have something to learn

My prayer is that this election will wake us up for the need to move outside of groupthink and to engage in reasonable discourse. Christian scripture is clear that fear isn’t helpful or God’s intention for society. In fact, the only way to overcome fear is with love. Let’s stop demonising people who disagree with us and let’s build bridges. Maybe just maybe we have something to learn from one another.

Ps. whatever your take on the results of the election, go be an awesome human being today. The future is much more defined by the decisions you make every day than a vote you make every few years. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

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