In that six days, I felt a genuine sense of despair. A grey cloud, the nagging fear that the UK just got a little more selfish, a little colder, a little more unforgiving as a nation. It's been hard not to take the result incredibly personally - but maybe that's always the case when the party you vote for doesn't get in. I can't tell you how many times I Googled "how to start a political party" and "emigrate to Sweden" last weekend - my internet history suggested I was writing the next Nordic noir sensation, with a political slant. I couldn't keep away from the news, from Twitter, from the analysis, the think-pieces, the reaction articles. I positively wallowed in the doom and gloom.
Articles like this made me furious – and though I've calmed down considerably since I first read it, I still think it’s far too simplistic a response. To conclude that the reason a huge number of voters are incredibly upset by the election result is because they are merely bad losers is plain wrong. No-one is disputing that the Conservative party won fair and square. We absolutely believe that they were democratically elected – you can tell this because no-one is calling for a nation-wide recount of the ballot papers. We have the right to vote exactly how we choose, but we also have the right to ask questions. The right to freedom of expression. We have, in short, the right - and the reason - to be angry.
Because at the very heart and roots of most anger lies fear – it's fear that’s been backed into a corner and brought to the boil – and there are plenty of reasons to be fearful. It is not as if the Conservatives don't have previous when it comes to instilling fear in people, unintentionally or otherwise. How many more times to we have to bring up benefit sanctions, food bank use, "anti-homeless" studs in city doorways, corporations being able to skip the "tax-paying" bit while the young, the poor and the vulnerable have crucial, life-saving support ripped out from under them? Forgive me, but I am still a little baffled as to how a vote for the Right can be anything other than an "I'm alright Jack, let's keep things the same" vote.
This thread has helped a bit - a lot of the responses refer to good local MPs, and voting for them, rather than ideologically. Which I can respect; it makes a lot more sense than "well, my parents voted Tory so I do too".
In a way though, this could be the best thing that’s happened to the Left. (I hesitate when using the terms ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ because most people don't think in those terms any more – at least not among the younger generations – but we don't really have any other words yet.)
Best case scenario: this could be the thing that moves people from online activism to real action. Sharing articles and signing petitions is great, but it's ignorable. You can't ignore several thousand people marching in the streets (well, you can try, as was shown last Saturday, but it comes out eventually). At least one person I know has joined the Electoral Reform Society as a direct result of the election. A number of good friends are planning on going on the People's Assembly End Austerity Now demo on 20th June (myself included). The test will be in maintaining that sense of urgency, that restlessness, that desire to bring about change, and sooner rather than later.
The 'Left' are perhaps always going to be at a slight disadvantage because real change involves stepping into the unknown. We can, in theory, go anywhere from here - it is, to quote Sara Bareilles, all uncharted.
I've said it before but it can withstand repeating - the people that have brought about real change in this world are the ones everyone else thought were mad to even try. The people who were, in short, way ahead of their time. I think the next two or three years might see a slightly angrier, more vociferous, more obviously politicized generation start to emerge. People will step out from behind their screens, having absorbed all the stories and information and other points of view that the internet has granted them access to, and will be all the more open-minded for it. And it will be them - well, us - who are the driving force for genuine change, fuelled by impatience, bored of waiting for the older generations to catch up.
It's not that we were bad losers, you see. We're just ahead of our time.
And I don't know if I've completely missed the boat with this track - the fact that I keep hearing it in Dorothy Perkins suggests, yes, I have indeed - but I am obsessed with this dark, sexy, mildly-threatening-in-the-best-possible-way little number.