Sunday, 7th July, 2024

[Day 1574]

The weekends are characterised by the care workers coming to us 30 minutes earlier than usual which means that the minute I awake, some time after 5.00am it is time to get up and get things ready (like myself showered) before the care workers arrive. Today were two trusty workers but their conversation with each other is often dominated by how the day’s schedules are going to work as workers on zero hours contracts phone in as sick and therefore unavailable whilst one of the younger care workers has crashed her car for seems to be the umpteenth time. We did not mind a fairly early start because we can start to watch the political programs starting with Trevor Philips on Sky News and continuing with Lorna Kuennsberg on BBC1. There is a story going on the rounds that Laura Kuennsberg as a closet Tory was looking ‘sick to the stomach’ when it became evident that the Tories were being wiped out in the small hours of Friday morning. Perhaps stung by this criticism, she apparently had a go at a prominent Tory politician on her show this morning but I must confess I was asleep during most of it and therefore might try and view it on catchup. On BBC One’s Sunday the former health secretary – who is widely expected to put herself forward as a contender to be the next Tory leader – said the Conservatives needs to ‘act on those values’ in the party which voters support. Alluding to the meagre 121 seats the Tories took in the election, Kuenssberg asked Atkins: ‘What went wrong with your values then?’ Atkins replied: ‘We know that the country, actually, is instinctively Conservative, if you look, people want lower taxes.’ To this, Kuennsberg retorted ‘Do you think the country is still instinctively Conservative when they booted you out? You’ve got your worst defeat ever.’ I think the whole tenour of this exchange to be quite instructive. Most commentators are of the view that the Tory defeat (with the exception of the ‘Brexit’ election won by Boris Johnson with a majority of 80) is actually part of a long term trend in which the modern Tory party is losing touch with the electorate. Indeed, William Hague, the one time Tory ‘wonderchild’ and one time leader made the point in ‘The Times‘ on Saturday that if the electorate had been confined to those under the age of 60 then the Tories would have lost practically every seat in the country. But the Atkins view of the world is that is an aberration for anybody in the world to actually vote anything except Conservative and cannot start to imagine why they have lost support amongst most social groups in the country – apart from the retired population, of course, who have benefited from the ‘triple lock’ preserving the value of their pensions.

After we had breakfasted it was not too long before the Eucharistic minister came from our local church as she generally does each Sunday, when she can. Today, she and her husband were feeling a little distraught as they had lost two more of their very deep and good friends with whom they have treked up hill and down dale in their younger days. We commiserated with each other that this was a symptom of our position in the life cycle but I think she had two funerals that she felt she wanted to attend within the next week. At the same time as an organist and a cellist, she is quite heavily engaged in one or two concerts over the Bromsgrove festival period. As some of these performances are in the early evening rather than the afternoon, they are not really accessible to Meg and myself at the moment but, having said this, our 90 year old chorister friend that we meet regularly in Waitrose, was going off to attend an organ concert this weekend. We received a telephone call from our University of Birmingham friend on the strength of which we decided to go and meet with him for a coffee later on in the morning. This was a real bonus for us because the weather forecast seemed to indicate that we would have a succession of showers right throughout the morning and we did not wish to repeat the experience of yesterday when we were soaked to the skin. However, the day seemed to look as though it was set fare so we raced down the hill at a great pace of knots, had about twenty minutes with our friend and then had to be make it equally quickly up the hill in order to bee in time again for our carers. We then lunched on the wonderful cottage pie that our friends has prepared for us and delivered to us yesterday and then spent the early part of the afternoon watching some Michael Portillo ‘railway-cum-travelogue’ programs that are still reasonably interesting.

There is an interesting political point which I have not seen made elsewhere. Quite a lot is being made of the point that the Labour party despite having won 420+ seats did this on a vote share of (in round figures) 34%. The Tories share of the vote was 24% and the Liberal Democrats 12%. Some of the consequences of ‘FPTP’ or First past the Post’ or ‘winner take all’ approach in the current electoral system is that if a vote is spread widely and not concentrated upon particularly areas we have seemingly ridiculous consequences from the point of view of connecting votes cast with seats gained. So in this election, the Lib Dems secured 12% of the vote and 72 seats and Reform took 14%, but only five seats. The Green Party also emerged with four MPs, despite having 7% of the total vote. But the figure concentrating minds is the low vote share gained by the Labour Party with a huge majority of seats. But to mind, we are now living in a society in the ‘First past the Post’ system might suit a society such as 1950’s Britain where the political landscape was dominated by taw two huge monolithic parties of Tory and Labour. But we are now living in a multiparty democracy with two centrist parties, Labour being Centre-Left and the Tories being Centre Right. But we also have an overtly right wing party in Reform and a more left wing party in the Greens, together with nationalist parties in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a smattering of Independents throughout the country. So we may now start to see the start of some serious discussions about voting reform and proportional representation but I am not holding my breath.