I went to bed on Thursday night knowing that on Friday morning there was going to be a lot of fuss and a lot of head scratching. It seemed that the polling companies had massively misjudged the mood music and the level of hatred for the so-called “nasty party” was in fact more accurately described as grudging respect. After five years of austerity and cuts the backlash at the Conservatives simply didn’t materialise. Instead the Liberal Democrats were sacrificed on the altar of public indignation, the SNP became in every sense of the word the Scottish National Party, UKIP proved that the current electoral system makes it hard to translate support into seats and the Greens need better PR.
Much has been said in the last twenty fours hours about what this election means, why it went the way it did and whether it was fair or not. The reality is we now have another five years of Tory government and as a result there will be more cuts, more savings made and life will for many be even harder than it is now. Yet, do any of us have the right to say that the decision was wrong, that those who re-elected a Conservative government were selfish and uncaring to do so.
The result wasn’t what I wanted, I wanted a party elected that represents me and my values and are willing and able do something about my concerns. For me that’s simple, to protect the current system of justice and no more cuts to the legal aid budget, and to throw out the idea of dual contracting in legal aid.
Why do I want that?
Two reasons; because I genuinely believe that access to justice and proper representation and the ability to protect my rights regardless of my means is a vital part of any civilised and enlightened society. Secondly, because I work in criminal justice and reliant on a salary to pay my bills, service my debt and provide for my children and ex-wife. Further cuts and the introduction of dual contracting puts that at risk. It is the second reason that means we now have another five years of Conservative government. Very simply, more people thought they would be better off with the Conservatives than with the other parties and that means they were re-elected.
Is that selfish? Possibly.
Is it right? That’s not for me to say.
Is it understandable? Absolutely!
I’m reminded of the quote which has been widely (and probably wrongly) attributed to Voltaire “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” and much used in various campaigns of late. The fact that a Conservative government has been re-elected doesn’t give anyone the right to abuse others, to blame others for it. We all made our choices, we all had our chance to have our say and the fact we didn’t get what we wanted doesn’t necessarily make it the wrong decision.
For me, for now I will continue to oppose the cuts made to legal aid and the attacks on the justice system across the board. One thing is certain, having a Conservative government and the possibility of another five years of Grayling means there will be no surprises. We know what is proposed and what he has on many occasions stated he wants to do.
Now we just need to decide how we continue to fight him if we value our jobs and access to justice regardless of who we are or how we voted.