Kate Townshend is a journalist, a feminist and a card-carrying wishy washy liberal. She likes cheese, gin, rivers and books. Her Twitter is @_katetownshend

Forget the seven stages of grief. More and more frequently over the past twelve months, I find myself going through five queasy stages of political adjustment. From shock and denial to apathy, fear and eventually, if I’m lucky, not acceptance but something at the polar opposite end of the scale – defiance perhaps – and the will to keep fighting and believe that there is a point to the continued fight.

So, it was yesterday when Theresa May returned to class after her break, ready to read us all an essay titled “Things I decided to do during the Easter holidays. (A tale of why I should be in charge of everything, forever).” Seemingly proud of her cliché-ridden ramblings, May basically used this as an opportunity to explain how naughty the other Westminster children were being in not just going along with everything she said, and how much better off we’d all be if we just let her take charge and implement ‘the people’s’ wishes. (All of this ‘the British people have spoken’ nonsense makes me imagine all 65 million of us standing on each other’s shoulders wearing one ginormous trench coat.)

Under normal circumstances, given how utterly and diametrically opposed I am to almost every decision this government makes, I’d be jumping for joy at the chance to put my vote where my mouth is. But, I suspect like many left-leaning types right now, the problem is that I have plenty of energy to channel into supporting a party and no clear party to support.

I like Corbyn’s policies but I worry that he remains too divisive a figure. The Liberal Democrats’ pro-EU stance matches my own, but I’m still wary of finding myself voting for yellow-clad Tories… particularly given that my last Liberal Democrat MP had a voting record almost indistinguishable from a Conservative. I admire the Green Party’s willingness to offer something different but they remain a party on the periphery.

It’s clothes shop syndrome all over again where the racks and racks of choice start to make me dizzy and the fear of getting it wrong and thus wasting time, or missing some perfect gem of a skirt that will make me look like Carey Mulligan becomes paralysing and all-consuming. Only, obviously, it’s a whole bunch more important than that, because people are being hurt – and will continue to be hurt – if we don’t seize this chance to chart a different course for the country. (See, Theresa May, two can play the ‘use some sort of vague navigational terminology’ game.)

What I’ve realised though is that my uncertainty when it comes to who to vote for is something I have time to work on. And actually, I am clear on the absolute most important thing in this election.

Anyone but the Tories.

If you don’t want this suicidal hard Brexit ripping the country apart, anyone but the Tories.

If you voted for Brexit because you thought things could hardly get worse, anyone but the Tories.

If you care about the NHS, anyone but the Tories.

If you think that women being expected to prove they’ve been raped in order to claim benefits is ridiculous and barbaric, anyone but the Tories.

If you’d rather Scotland stayed with the union, anyone but the Tories.

If you think there’s a chance that you or anyone you love may at some point be poor, old or sick, anyone but the Tories.

I know, I know – they’re points ahead in the opinion polls and some of the right-wing newspapers are already forecasting – with predictable glee – landslides of blue votes burying every library, community centre and hospital in the country come 8 June. It’s inevitable they want us to believe this, of course – who has the energy to try to challenge a foregone conclusion?

But hey, upset apple carts are all the rage on the political catwalk this season and the idea that mid-June will see every wishy washy liberal being righteously beaten around the head with a copy of the Daily Mail is currently just as much of a fantasy as some messed up world where people decide instead to send the message that they’re not buying what Theresa is selling.

I still feel waves of despair when I hear the Tories on the radio, complacency oozing from every syllable as they parrot the same soundbites that have served them well so far. But if pride cometh before a fall, then goodness knows they’re due.

And if June doesn’t, as all common-sense and logic and decency would suggest it should, herald the end of May, I want to at least be able to look my nieces and nephew in the face and tell them I tried.

So let’s all at try to pick a party or a candidate or even a cause and try to make a difference.

Because really…

Anyone but the Tories.

Image of a sign which says ‘polling station’ hanging from a gate

Courtesy Angie Muldowney on Flickr

Comments From You

Rachael Emma // Posted 22 April 2017 at 2:21 am

Yes! I entirely agree with you. I am feeling rather lost in complex emotions right now. My fears are reflected so much in your words; I’m just so glad I am not the only one facing these feelings. Personally, my gut feeling is often to vote for the Green Party but in this instance I’m worried that it may be a wasted vote to do so. Voting Labour would be my next choice but Corbyn hardly seems like a fitting figure to step up to the role. You are completely correct though; surely the only chance we have now is ‘anyone but the Tories’ and will that what comes next pushes our country a little further in the right direction.

The only person I see casting a ray of light in politics at the moment is Ruth Davidson. Though her actions mainly affect Scotland, and she’s just announced she will not be running in the upcoming elections.

So on all fronts I am feeling incredibly dishearted by it all: from my Scottish outlook and a more national outlook.

I would certainly love some further insights from you as June draws closer!

Susan F // Posted 24 April 2017 at 9:16 pm

People might be interested in the Google Doc “HOW TO VOTE TO STOP THE TORIES” (url removed to see if that’s what’s triggering the spam warning).

I wish it had a column for “what to do if you don’t regard the Lib Dems as non-Tories”. I want to vote Green, though I’d be happy to vote Labour if I thought they stood a real chance here. The local Lib Dems will say their candidate is the only chance to get rid of our Tory MP, and the spreadsheet agrees … but they say that about every election, even the Euro-elections where it’s clearly not true. Decisions, decisions … will I regret voting my preference if the incumbent wins with the LD second, more than I’ll regret tactical voting if it doesn’t work? Can I ever vote for them again after what they did in 2010?

sugarmouse // Posted 1 May 2017 at 3:06 pm

In my town you could put a pile of twigs up as a tory party candidate and people would vote for it. They could have a parrot continually repeating the same mantra “strong and stable economy” and people would fall over themselves to reach the little pencils.

In the upcoming local election I have a genuine choice; Labour already hold the seat. My cross in the box matters. But for the general election I feel I cutting my toenails would be a more productive use of my time.

Around the country the picture is just as depressing. The country don’t have to sit and cheer May on as she strongly and stably dismantles public services and leaves people to die from welfare cuts. They can proudly be a part of the action. It makes you wonder what she and her party have to do to put people off. Widespread election fraud is simply not enough.

I wanted a Corbyn Labour. I wanted it so badly, but a mixture of backstabbing and right-wing press have all but trashed him. How can anyone be trust a PM who wouldn’t trigger nuclear war. How useless can you be when you value the survival of the human race?

Whenever I hear poor people like me announcing they are voting Tory, my heart sinks. There are none so foolish as those who shoot themselves in the foot. I felt the same about Brexit. My heart broke that morning. I felt as though something had been stolen from me, which I could never get back. I accept the outcome, but I will never respect it. It has pushed out everything else that matters, the NHS, education and public services. What do they matter any more? The agenda for this election is Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit.

I will vote. Women starved themselves so I could vote. Emily Davison died so I can vote. I will vote for someone. If I can help the Greens get their deposit back, at least my vote won’t be a total waste. Anyone but the Tories.

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