It was precisely when Justin Trudeau -in all his hot, liberal glory- said “A Canadian, is a Canadian, is a Canadian.” during his victory speech that I heard myself audibly sob, before telling myself “this is bullshit.” @ myself for being a complete nerd.
I wasn’t sobbing because of how hot Justin is (he is tho), rather I was sad because I reflected on the I’m-still-not-over-it 2015 UK election at that moment. I’ve side-eyed people who talk about abstractions like ‘hope’. You can’t sell hope on the doorstep. On the contrary, it’s utterly patronizing. I repeatedly heard neighbours attack one another, hate on people with whom they should be allied. Low income workers to benefit claimants, to benefit-claiming, job-stealing immigrants. The Tories won literally because they proposed £12bn welfare cuts, not despite it. ‘Economic competence’ now means cuts, that’s it. And not just did these neighbours want cuts because they were a competent and assured way to ‘clean up Labour’s mess’, but because it is a moral crusade against burdens on your road. The neighbours wanted to punish one another. UKIP won 4 million votes on a ticket and with rhetoric identical to Harper’s. The SNP say they won on hope, but rather it was on a nationalist tide, being against an enemy rather than for solidarity.
‘Hope’ doesn’t win elections, I’ve grown up to realise (or rather, I grew 20 cynical years in the few seconds of the exit poll). I thought it was conventional wisdom that fear and loathing wins.
It would turn out that is fundamentally British. It’s a frustration to watch debates overseas that consider the consequences of the 2008 crash without blaming the British Labour Party or Gordon Brown and the benefit claimants they helped to prop up. Watching the Democratic Debate, seeing Sanders and Clinton quell over how best to prevent another banking collapse was so refreshing merely because it was grounded in the fact of a global crash. It genuinely astonished me.
It astonished me too that Trudeau’s ‘politics of hope’ was based on a pro-deficit spending, pro-immigration ticket. Based on economic argument. Think about that, he promised to run a deficit. And he could because their party wasn’t blamed for the last.
Here, the ‘politics of hope’ will thus never win because Labour and overspending causing the crash has become fact. Never mind trying to ‘break the myth’, it won’t work. It is conventional wisdom. Trudeau and Tsipras won’t emerge here, because we live in an Alternative Universe where your neighbour rather than your bank is your enemy. Hope wins anywhere but an island where the Lehman Brothers did not collapse.
P.s. I just read over that and thought ‘Jesus, mate’. I’m gonna go drink now.