Some explanation for the abstention is vote pairing, which means if a Tory MP isn’t there to vote yes because they’re busy abroad, or at a function, or laying eggs into the mouth of Prince Philip, a Labour MP will abstain in return, to make the decision about whether people who didn’t go to uni are allowed more than two children, by two parties run by people with three children, fairer. How to explain vote pairing? It’s like when someone is too ashamed/ill to go to their food bank, but most people living in that area are too self-obsessed to donate anything – it kind of evens out.
It is somewhat rich to see Labour being berated for abstention by an electorate who largely didn’t vote because Thursday is “pizza night”. I suppose the Labour party are like people who’ll watch a man beating his wife in the street but don’t want to get involved. “Really this is a private matter between the Tory party and the starving, distracted masses who decided to stay with them. I mean – if she really didn’t enjoy living in poverty – why didn’t she just leave in May?”
At least we know why Ed Miliband ruled out any deals between Labour and the SNP: he knew that realistically he’d have been doing deals with the Tories. We now have a Labour party so passive they make Anastasia Steele look like Boudica. Is there anything they will oppose? The destruction of the BBC? Leaving a Murdoch-dominated media landscape with shows where, each week, shrieking irradiated cannibals sing power ballads as they compete for the right to die?
An antsy liberal press pushes the idea of one of the leadership candidacy androids being able to court Tory voters, despite seeming completely unable to convince their own, and frets that Jeremy Corbyn will lead Labour to the left and alienate public opinion. From where they are at the moment John Major could lead them to the left, and Corbyn’s policies are actually fairly popular with the public. It’s worth remembering that in the press, public opinion is often used interchangeably with media opinion, as if the public was somehow much the same as a group of radically rightwing billionaire sociopaths. To be fair, much of the negative commentary on Corbyn explicitly focuses on how badly he will play in the media, without asking why that should be when he is the only candidate with any obvious personality or charm. In lieu of any charisma from the preferred candidates, Tony Blair appeared like a prize-winning Iraqi Halloween costume and was cheered for spewing out some meaningless rhetorical algorithm by a political class that somehow still uses the phrase “big beast” in the middle of a paedophile scandal.
I suspect that what all the Corbyn-bashing really means is that our media thinks the only people who are fit for anything in this society are those who have internalised the assumptions of its propaganda. That banks are too big to fail but countries aren’t. That unbelievable foreign villains have made movies ridiculous, but not history or the news. I honestly don’t think that Corbyn would make a good leader but only because he would quickly take his own life in a highly unconvincing manner on a long country walk, an inquiry taking 15 years to report that he had kicked himself to death.
The reason for Labour’s abstention is that polls indicate a lot of public support for the welfare bill. I guess for anyone who’s read Descartes, the logical conclusion of deciding your policy through polls is eventual non-existence.
One thing the welfare bill accomplishes is to put people who have failed a fitness to work test on to the same payment as people who have passed it, like some tent-revivalist preacher tipping sinners out of wheelchairs and screaming “Walk!” Who would have thought that electing people who hate the welfare state to run our welfare state could go so badly? In practical terms this change means people with things such as MS and Parkinson’s will lose £30 a week. That extra £30 a week was there because, sometimes, chronically ill people’s bodies don’t work so well and they might have to get a bus or a cab or pay the babysitter to stay for an extra hour so they can get to and from the latest humiliation from the Department for Work and Pensions. If you, as a candidate for leading a political party, can’t make your electorate see that is wrong – or, worse, won’t try – then you have stated that you don’t want to fight injustice but are simply looking for your own role in serving it.