Jon Snow knows nothing. Evan Davis knows nothing. ICM knows nothing. Ipsos-Mori knows nothing. Lord Ashcroft knows nothing. Party HQs know nothing.
In particular, I know nothing.
I'm not so stupid as to think that my social and social media circles reflect the views of the man and woman on the Clapham omnibus: my Twitter feed is disproportionately middle-class, PhD-heavy and privileged in a number of ways, as are my friends and family in meatspace. And yet, and yet. I've been out on the streets delivering leaflets for Labour in this depressed city. My students are culturally diverse and virtually all working-class. I read political coverage on paper and online every day. Although I expressed worries about a 'shy Tory' vote in the days running up to the election, I genuinely thought – as did every pollster and commentator – that Ed Miliband was advancing on a gentle wave of personal and political support, and that Labour would lead an administration of some sort.
I do not know how the pollsters got it so wrong. At this point, having demonstrated that I know nothing, further speculation from me would seem utterly pointless. Dick Tuck's 'The people have spoken – the bastards' might be gracelessly witty, but it's lurking in the back of my mind. Why would people vote Tory? The xenophobic campaign against the Scots appears to have paid off amongst English voters. The Scots seem to have abandoned any faith in pan-British parties to represent them and put it into the SNP in the hope that they really are a progressive post-68 nationalist party and not crypto-Tory ethnic essentialists. Labour in Scotland has rotted from within over the decades, the inevitable result of complacency, arrogance and all the special (sectarian) ingredients of that nation's politics.
In the end, I'm left with the conclusion that democracy works. People have got what they wanted. You can't blame the political parties - especially the Tories – for their breathtaking cynicism. While they tried to obscure some issues such as where cuts will come, we have to admit that a large enough group of English and Welsh people deliberately voted for zero-hours contracts, for the abolition of the Human Rights Act, for eventual dissolution of the UK and exit from the EU, against environmental protection and clean air, against union rights and workers' protection, for the privatisation of the NHS and the education system, for higher tuition fees, for enhancing our contribution towards nuclear holocaust, for global warming, for racial and social segregation, for total surveillance, for poverty-shaming, and of course for food banks.
Perhaps the famous British class system has never gone away, and the voters actually feel comfortable tugging their forelocks and installing the upper classes in power as though it's 1815, not 2015.
In sum, the voters have decided that there is no social contract, no moral or political bond between us all, that we have no responsibility for the wellbeing of others or our shared commons. The fantasies of Gove, Murdoch, Mensch, Osborne, Ayn Rand, Jeremy Clarkson, the hedge funders and financiers whom we saved at the cost of Sure Start, EMA and all our other social provisions are about to be put into action. We've had no shortage of personal and corporate lies, fraud and deceit over the past five years. The Chairman of the Conservative Party is a proven liar and con-man: we voted for him. The newspapers which hacked the phones of everyone from murdered teenagers to people who shared the same name as celebrities' relatives have been rewarded. The banks which ripped off individuals via PPI schemes, fixed LIBOR and other rates and – in the case of HSBC – knowingly aided drug cartels are going to be encouraged. Tax cheats will be pressed close to the government's bosom. Even more of our schools will be handed over to cranks, fundamentalists and arms dealers.
Meanwhile the elites on the liberal left such as the New Statesman are going to argue, alongside rightwing commentators, that Labour lost because it wasn't rightwing enough. I think they're wrong. The Scots voted for what appears to be a leftwing party. I don't think there's any mileage or point in Labour becoming any more neo-Tory. That's what the Lib Dems did and the voters preferred to go straight for the real thing. Without wanting to make excuses for Labour, it was also faced with an almost uniformly hostile media landscape, from the newspapers owned almost entirely by tax-avoiding non-coms via offshore shell companies to broadcast media which seems so entirely dominated by exactly the same people as the politicians. They mostly went to private schools, then to Oxford and Cambridge, where they knew the politicians. James Langley: Etonian. The Financial Times leader writer who condemned Labour's concern for inequality: a member of the Bullingdon Club alongside Cameron and Johnson. The commentators, whether BBC or not, are almost exclusively the 1% and find it impossible to challenge the dominant discourse.
Can I find any bright spots in this? It's some consolation that my local Tory MP Paul Uppal was deservedly ousted: a smug, lazy, arrogant, untrustworthy property speculator, he was the very definition of mediocrity.
On a very selfish level, I have one of these on my desk.
Despite occasional wobbles, I always thought the British were capable of a generosity of spirit and altruism that would keep life here bearable. After this election result, I'm starting to have my doubts. I like this country and its people very much, but it's not looking this morning like a country whose citizens care about each other very much. Exit from the EU and the break-up of the UK now looks only too plausible, and even if these things don't happen, an administration of Cameron, Gove, Shapps, Pickles, Iain Duncan Smith, Osborne, Jeremy Hunt and co can only produce a country strong on envy, suspicion, xenophobia and meanness. That the British people consciously voted for it makes me wonder whether it's time to look elsewhere. Cowardly, I know, but I'm shell-shocked this morning.
If I don't run, what can I do? Working in Higher Education, particularly at this institution, I feel a responsibility to my students that far outweighs the exchange of teaching for cash. These (mostly young) people have never known a leftwing or even liberal polity. The vicious individualism of loans, debt, privatisation seem natural to them. Collectively, I can work harder (somehow) to rebuild a caring, socialist politics in the face of overwhelming odds. Personally, all I can do is repress the instinct to run and redouble my effort to embody the values of the left, which boil down to one thing: kindness.
I had such high hopes. I thought Ed Miliband was capable of greatness. I thought the electorate, battered by neoliberalism, was ready for a period of thoughtful altruism. I thought that having spent most of the past 40 years wearily fighting against the neoliberal tide that I'd be able to relax for a while, even enjoy life. I was ready for a rest.
I was wrong. As I said, I know nothing.