When drawing comparisons with parts of the UK, it’s responsible to say that the town I live in, Reigate in Surrey is relatively affluent. However, much debt people may be carrying, the amount purchasers are prepared to pay for houses in this town is way above the national average.
Past associations between affluence and the habit of voting Conservative in local and national elections is well established. That said, for a good half of the population in Reigate there’s no love of what the Conservatives have done over the last 12 years. In fact, I would wager that a good number of former Conservative supporters are well and truly fed-up with the never-ending deception and incompetence of that political party.
Yesterday morning, just for a short while, in the chilly air a few local people gathered on a street corner to protest. Their concerns included polluted rivers, climate crisis, cost of living crisis, real incomes falling, idiotic Government rhetoric, corrupt politics, a damaging Brexit, and the suppression of the right to protest. The public response was overwhelmingly positive. Drivers tooted their horns in support, people waved and stopped to chat.
As is perfectly reasonable, there were a small number of passers-by who disagreed with the group’s banners and posters. Most often this was a shaking of the head or a traditional English gesticulation, but in addition one or two words were voiced. That’s the heart of the matter. It mystifies me how some people can be happy with the current predicament in Britain.
The most distressing words uttered were: “What’s the choice?”
There are several ways to interpret this negative shout-out. One: it could be a cry of genuine desperation. Two: it could be a deep reticence accepting a bad situation and a loss of hope. Three: it could be a stubborn Conservative who’d be happy regardless of the situation.
This is what those who want to see change happen have got to get to grips with this year. To bring real change about there needs to be a big collection of people who openly welcome change. That does mean embracing those who are still sitting on the fence.
It means seriously building confidence that today’s troubles can be beaten. As can be seen from this small group’s posters the list of troubles is long, so this is no simple task. Hope for the future means overturning incompetent incumbents and giving a chance to competent fresh faces. It means having honest and practical solutions ready to go. It means having a vision.
Rebuilding Britain’s liberal democracy is the vital and urgent mission.