I was born in 1937, have taken a serious interest in all the general elections of my adult life, and fought as a Liberal Liberal Democrat candidate in four of them. I write this on the 2019 election day and before the results begin to emerge. Whatever they are, whilst no election campaign has quite reached the level of honesty and nobility that my Boy Scout upbringing would require, this has been the nastiest, dirtiest most dishonest and ignoble yet. It beggars belief that, after 70+ years of universal secondary education ++ our society, our civilisation, our aspirations, could have sunk so low..
The following list is by no means comprehensive, but based on things I have noted in the past four months or so.
- It is difficult to date the start of the rot, but a significant step was when the 300 or so Conservative MPs in the last parliament, most of whom are probably decent men and women who genuinely feel they want the best for the country and the world, put an incompetent, lying chancer such as Johnson on the ballot paper for the Leadership of their party. They did this because they thought he would be an election winner, and it looks as though they may be proved right. But they should have known better. They are mostly serious politicians and, apart from a delusioned small clique, know the the country's best interests are to remain in the EU. But they put their integrity aside to preserve their seats. Birthright for a mess of pottage comes to mind.
- This same Johnson and his team illegally, attempted to prorogue parliament in order to stifle discussion of their EU Withdrawal Deal.
- Constitutional meddling continued when the Monarch was forced into a pantomime of delivering a "Speech from the Throne" which everyone, including presumably the Queen, knew was a pointless charade.
- When forced by the Supreme Court to continue the parliament, Johnson attempted to confine discussion of his Withdrawal Bill, possibly the most important piece of proposed legislation for half a century, to only three days.
- When about 20 of the more decent Tories voted against his machinations he expelled them from the parliamentary party. So many of them, and the former leader Sir John Major, have publicly said he is not fit to be PM and urged Conservative voters to support other parties.
- In the first few days after the election was called Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of Johnson's closest allies and a leading , if not the leading, Brexiteer, claimed that the Grenfell Tower residents who died in the fire did so because they lacked "common sense " in obeying what were then standard fire fighters' instructions. We have seen and heard little of him since.
- A report on possible Russian interference in the 2016 Referendum campaign has been kept under wraps for the duration of the campaign (and possibly beyond). Why? Because if there were such interference if would demonstrate even further that the 2016 referendum result and all that guff about "17.4 million voters" and the "will of the people" is invalid?
- It is alleged that the Brexit Party were persuaded to withdraw from fighting in Tory-held seats by the offers of peerages and other bribes. Denied of course, but Anne Widdecombe, a devout Roman Catholic, is prepared to swear that it's true. A peerage for Nigel Farage? Really?
- After a key debate in the campaign Conservative Central office rebranded its Twitter account to appear that it was an independent source of factuality - FACTCHECK UK. A contribution to "fake news."
- Johnson failed to join the other party leaders in a debate on the Climate Crisis.
- Having presumably given the impression that he would, Johnson refused to be interviewed on the BBC by Andrew Neal, reputedly the toughest of the interlocutors.
- There was an intervention by the Chief Rabbi which basically called on Jews not to vote Labour. This was timed for a day on which the Labour Party issued some policies on faith matters and was presumably timed to distract from anything positive that was said. There was also the publication of some evidence to an official enquiry on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. The Chief Rabbi's intervention is unprecedented for any religious leader. Did the "evidence" to the enquiry have to be published in the middle of the campaign when most potentially sensitive political material is embargoed? I am not and never have been a member of the Labour Party so I cannot comment with authority, but I suspect that much of the disquiet arises from opposition to the policies of the Israeli government rather than genuine disrespect for Jews. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that both intervention and publication are party politically motivated.
- The resignation of Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party on the day campaigning started was something that Corbyn and the current mainstream Labour Party could have done without. I believe Watson resigned for health reasons, but the timing was unfortunate.
- The BBC has been criticised, I think justifiably, for being over-kind to the Tories. In a news item they cut out the derisive laughter one of Johns's replies to a question in public engendered, and replaced his fudged laying of the government wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday with another version. They allowed him to be interviewed by the less aggressive Andrew Marr "in the national interest! after the London Bridge killings, having said thy would refuse him such air time unless he appeared with Andrew Neal
- All the media spent much more time and pages of ink on the alleged sexual activities of Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts than they did on Johnson and his alleged favourable financial treatment of Jennifer Arcuri, a one time girlfriend, or, for that matter, any other Johnson affairs.
- It is reported today that the BBC chief political correspondent, Laura Kuenssberg, thought by most of us on the left to be over-right wing, has "leaked" the news that the opening of the postal votes seems to indicate "grim news" for Labour. Revealing postal votes before the close of poll is meant to be illegal. Another key figure in BBC political reporting is Nick Robinson, who was President of Oxford University Conservative Association in his youth.
- On the plus side, the BBC and other media seem to me to have been more generous than usual with coverage of we Liberal Democrats.
- Some would claim that this winter election was triggered by collusion between the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists in allowing Johnson to call an election with a simple majority in the Commons rather than the two-thirds required by the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Whatever the result, serves us right?
- On the other hand that 19 Labour MPs led by Stephen Kinnock voted FOR Johnson's Withdrawal Bill meant that hopes of gaining a confirmatory referendum in the last parliament had expired.
What is ironic is that, apparently, the best we Pro- Europeans can hope for in this election is another parliament without a Tory majority, which is what we had six weeks ago.