A Question Before The General Election

I voted to Remain in the EU and I’m a member of the Green Party. In an ideal world we’d have a left-wing Government as part of the European Union but I’m also a realist and, however much it upsets me, I accept that 52% of voters chose to leave the EU and so that’s what’s going to happen. Referendums are binary and we’re heading out.

As we approach the General Election in a few weeks time I have an important question rattling around my head. Here it is:

In light of all that we have seen and heard since the Referendum, with a Conservative Party seemingly aiming for a hard-Brexit, do Brexit supporters feel that the wishes of the 48% should have any bearing on the process? Are those 16.1 million people now irrelevant because 1.3 million more people wanted something different?

With the answer to that question in mind, what point is there in me voting on June 8th? This is not a flippant question. I used to think that every vote, even with a first-past-the-post system, was important because even if you didn’t vote for the winner your MP would take notice of those who voted for other parties. For example, as a Green voter in a Conservative safe seat I’d expect my MP with 53% of the vote to follow the Tory line and represent the wishes of the the majority who voted for him – but I also hoped that when doing their job they’d bear in mind the other 47% and take into some sort of consideration that almost half their constituents had a different vision for the country than them. By voting Green (or Labour, or Lib Dem, or – shudder – UKIP) in a Conservative safe seat I’d expect to lose but I’d also be making my views known and, however quietly, my voice heard.

Post-referendum, I’m left doubting that absolutely. We have marched towards a hard-Brexit with scant regard being paid to the 48%. We are repeatedly told that Brexit is “the will of the Nation” when actually it’s the “will of 33% of those in the Nation who are eligible to vote”.

Along with over 16 million people I have become a non-person, irrelevant and disregarded. Yes referendums are binary, but surely you have to pay some attention to the will of those who didn’t win? Don’t you?

And so back to June’s election. James Cleverly is going to win this seat. It’s a certainty and he knows it. Unless he does something as stupid as the last one he’ll be my MP until 2022, and even if he does mess up some other Tory will be drafted in and they’ll do the job instead. So who do I vote for, or do I vote at all?

Obviously, I’m going to vote. But…

Vote Green I definitely lose and, in light of what I’ve written above, I have no faith that my non-Tory views will be considered for even a moment over the next 5 years.

Vote Labour tactically and I’m 99% going to lose and again, in light of what I’ve written above, etc. etc.

Vote UKIP or Lib Dem and I’ve somehow got to live with myself…

So who do I vote for? Vote for my beliefs or tactically, and does it make any difference? Is James Cleverley and the Conservative Party in general going to pretend I don’t exist on June 9th or might my vote, and the many millions of votes by people like me, be considered for even a fleeting moment whilst the country is being ripped apart?

 

Mix Your Own Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters

Given this table and told to pick a shot from A (fairly standard spirits), a shot from B (flavoured/novelty/grimace-forming), a mixer & a garnish in order to Mix Your Own Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster – this is a selection of what was drunk. (There were others, but by then we were too alight to write them down…)

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Tequila, Jagermeister & Coke. Cherry.

Dark Rum, Fireball (liquor with whisky & cinnamon), Red Bull. Umbrella.

Gin, Limoncello, Elderflower cordial & soda. Lime.

Pear schnapps, sloe gin, lemonade.

Pear schnapps, 10-year-old plastic bottle Seychelles dark rum, lemonade. Cherry.

Vodka, Limoncello & cranberry.

Bacardi, slow gin & cranberry.

Pear schnapps, Limoncello & Red Bull

Courvoisier, 10-year-old plastic bottle Seychelles dark rum, tonic water & grenadine. Lime.

Courvoisier, margarita mix, lemonade. Lime.

Whisky, Genepy, Limoncello, lemonade. Lime.

I recall having one later on that made me shudder to my core – needed a top up of Red Bull to make it palatable. Generally though, there were some great new drinks created!

 

Pale Blue Dot

It’s 100 years since the start of World War I and a lot of trite nonsense is being spoken. There’s also a lot of being the correct way to commemorate it. This extract from Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space talking about the photograph Pale Blue Dot, taken of planet Earth in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers, is the perfect foil to the pomposity of the those who would try to glorify the horrors of that war, and/or pretend that we only need to pay tribute to the British who suffered and fell. We are all the same, we all inhabit a pale blue dot in the vast emptiness of the cosmos, and our individual, group and national megalomania are utterly pointless.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, 1997 reprint, pp. xv–xvi