Political homelessness galls; private pleasures keep me sane
‘I am an instinctive, conventional, tribal Conservative voter. But now I just can’t bear even to listen to the shenanigans in Parliament a moment longer’
Don’t confuse my loathing for the EU for a loathing of Europe. My grandfather was brought to the UK from Italy as a child and built a huge hotel group from inauspicious beginnings. He was short and moustachioed and from rural antecedents—his family had raised horses for the Italian cavalry. He believed in education and self-improvement and had a strong work ethic with the unabashed aim of making money. He worshipped—I don’t think that is too strong a term—Margaret Thatcher. My father was Italian, his family live in Rome and I speak French, Italian and Spanish; I am no Little England supporter, however the rhetoric may try to paint me.
I voted Leave in the referendum, not because I don’t like Europe, but because I loathe the political elite who think they know best, and are dragging us into ever-closer political union with scant regard for national democratic processes. I despise the unelected federalists who speak with such confidence about which direction Europe should take, and the second-rate politicians who find incredibly well-paid sinecures in the Commission. I watch with disbelief as the great bloated European beast drags itself from Brussels to Strasbourg, without ever feeling the need to square the accounts.
So now what? I am an instinctive, average, conventional, tribal Conservative voter. I am, as they say, socially liberal, but fiscally conservative. I support gay marriage, abortion, the living wage and want the NHS to remain free at the point of use. I usually imbibe my knowledge of what is occurring in the world from avidly listening to the Today programme every morning, a Saturday Guardian and the Sunday Times.
Now I just can’t bear even to listen to the shenanigans in Parliament a moment longer. The lofty tones of Mishal Husain quizzing another hapless, hopeless politician who is defending the indefensible have broken me. The breach occurred when listening to the Liberal Democrat spokesman who wants, if they win the election, to ignore the results of the referendum but rejects Scottish Nationalists, who fairly argue that a vote for them is a mandate to demand another independence referendum .
I used to admire Nigel Farage for his single-minded vision, but now loathe his grandstanding. I can’t bear Jeremy Corbyn, his worship of Communism, his antisemitism, and his disdain for ordinary people. What does he achieve by despising our small and industrious lives?
And yet, my party has let us down worst of all. All these meaningless terms that are bandied around. What does “one-nation Tory” even mean any more? Who are these Conservative politicians who were elected and agreed to abide by the referendum results, but find every way to weasel out of fulfilling their commitments? Who is this useless passel of every political persuasion that never fail to tell us that we didn’t understand what we were voting for, that they know best, that they and they alone can find a way to cut this Gordian knot?
Well, a plague on all their houses!
Just like Candide, I have wondered whether it is best just to tend to my garden; the temptation is to stay quiet, not to engage; to look inwards rather than outwards; to let the vociferous, the angry, the extremes duke it out; but that would be to accept defeat. I am busy raising children and cooking meals, fighting late trains and deadlines, trying to ignore the avalanche of advertising, worrying about the ills of social media and fearing the effects of climate change, the proliferation of knife crime, the insidious rise of criminal gangs, modern slavery, Russian aggression and American isolationism.
What makes me happy these days is concentrating on the things I can have a direct impact upon. I am opening a new hotel in Sussex with my mother and I find it relaxing to focus on the many details I need to decide every day. The hotel has just been closed down for a seven-month refurbishment. We are discussing logos, bathroom finishes, lighting wattage, the wine list, laundry providers, bathroom amenities, the strength of the WiFi signal and everything in between. Oh, and don’t forget the staff training programme!
I love walking on the glorious Downs, immersed in pondering lighting and menus. I feel involved and potent. I want to quaff wine in the evenings and laugh with friends and kiss my husband and cuddle my children and plan holidays, all with a blatant disregard for what is happening outside the boundaries of my own little world.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the first election ever since I was 18 years old that I just won’t vote in. On the other hand, if Corbyn gets in, small entrepreneurs like me will have to turn off the lights, lock the door and emigrate, so I will probably swallow my bile, cross the Boris Johnson box and hope, eyes closed and fingers crossed, for the best.