The youff have spoken

“We have people never trained to think anything through, leaping to their grimly predictable conclusions, with the strange complacency of a seething mob, animated by demagogues, and monitored by pollsters.”

I am quoting myself, from this morning’s Catholic Thing (here). Or rather, I am quoting my muse, Calliope — who is, if possible, more contemptuous of democracy than I — in light of the British election I was foolishly watching past midnight last evening. Congratulations on her victory to Theresa May.

And yes, I am being facetious, for the “youff vote” seems to have come out, after all, for the socialist lunatic, Jeremy Corbyn, so that Mrs May is now perhaps the only voter in Britain who does not know she is finished. (“Stiff upper lip.”)

Nostalgia comes into all of my examinations of British constituency results. I read numbers but remember voices, and faces — by now from another generation, and many surely dead. Another generation that was, in its way, no wight more sane. On topics they knew anything about — gardening, for instance, or how they liked their tea — they could be quite thoughtful, and informed. Politics were not a topic they knew anything about, or that anyone could know, since they are invariably conducted in a dark place.

By which I don’t mean to suggest conspiracies. There are, in mass-market democratic practice, too many factors in play to let any conspiracy work. Like many other human things beyond human control, to fully appreciate the possibilities and angles, one would have to be The Devil. Among my reasons for keeping things as simple as things can be kept, is to somewhat limit his scope. Democracy may sound simple, in the mouth of a rhetorician, from a plain tally, but it is reached by a complex and devious route that is constantly changing.

What good can come of this? I was trying to think of the upside while noting the sudden rise of Corbyn, in the gaming hall of a hung Parliament.

I lived in England — London, to be more frank, but with much wandering about — through the middle ’seventies and for a shorter spell in the early ’eighties. By the late ’nineties I visited a place that had been in many ways transformed, and clearly for the worse, by the Thatcher Revolution. Tinsel wealth had spread everywhere, trickling down into every crevice. Tony Blair surfed the glitter, and people with the most discouraging lower-class accents were wearing loud, expensive, off-the-rack garments, and carrying laptops and briefcases. No hats. It was a land in which one could no longer find beans-egg-sausage-and-toast for thirty-five new pence, nor enter the museums for free.

I missed that old Labour England, with the coalfield strikes, and the economy in free fall; with everything so broken, and all the empty houses in which one could squat; the quiet of post-industrial inanition, and the working classes all kept in their place by the unions. I loved the physical decay, the leisurely way people went about their charmingly miserable lives. Cricket still played in cricket whites; the plaster coming off the walls in pubs. It was all so poetical. And yes, Mrs Thatcher had ruined all that. For a blissful moment I was thinking, Corbyn could bring it back.

Actually, he would bring something more like Venezuela, but like the youff of England, one can still dream.