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Wednesday, 7 June 2017

I was going to vote Conservative and then this happened...

Last month the British prime-minister and leader of the Conservative Party decided, for the good of the country to have a general election.

I was flummoxed. Who should I vote for? I'd never voted Conservative before. I've voted Liberal, Labour and Green, but Conservative? Never. But Theresa May stood for strength and stability, that's what she said, that's what the newspapers and the television said. And I believed her. I believed them. And No Deal is better than a Bad Deal. That's never really worked for me when I'm refixing my mortgage or trying to get a better pay rate, but what do I know. She's the prime-minister after all.

But what really swung it for me was the appearance of a Theresa May scarecrow in the allotment next to ours. It was a sign. The first time I saw her she had the sun behind her and she was laughing. That's how strong and stable and happy she is. This scarecrow was a sign that everything is going to be OK. Better than OK. Britain is going to be just great. Theresa May's joyful face was a mirror to the Conservatism that was going to transform our nation forever. We were going it alone and Chairman May was at the helm. What could be better!

I took it to be a sign and I made my pledge. I would vote for the Conservatives. Here in Bath we have a great candidate in Ben Howlett. I saw signs supporting him and let me say how much they helped me decide to vote for Ben. He's a local champion. He wants to shut the library, build a park and ride over one of the most beautiful landscapes in the West and he's always toed the party line on every vote. That shows he's loyal. And strong and stable. And can make tough decisions on things like selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

My impressions of the prime-minister only got better. Theresa May did something that I thought was very strong by refusing to appear in a debate with Jeremy Corbyn. Actually she refused to appear in a debate anywhere. That's good I thought. That's more than prime-ministerial. That's presidential, Mobutu-Level presidential! I was very happy with my choice.

Not that everyone agreed with me. I was villified on Facebook for choosing Theresa May. I heard that people were saying she was weak and unstable because she didn't dare face the people. I even heard people say that No Deal was worse than a Bad Deal, that No Deal was the worst possible deal, that only a complete fool would think No Deal was any kind of deal! Nonsense I thought. Theresa May is strong and stable and Theresa Scarecrow, her garden manifestation in the allotment next door is proof of that.

So off I went for reassurance to gaze upon Theresa Scarecrow and bask in her strength and stability. But something had changed. She had started to wilt a little. Her face rippled, her skin peeled, her colours had started to run.

So what, I thought. It's just a scarecrow. But deep down I knew that wasn't true. This was a scarecrow with a presence, and somehow that presence had been distorted by some mysterious force. Then I remembered the story of Dorian Gray, the man whose picture aged and showed sign of corruption while the real Dorian Gray stayed young and flawless no matter what degradations he imposed on himself and others.

What if this wasn't an ordinary scarecrow but a scarecrow of Dorian Gray: a scarecrow of Theresa May! May and Gray, they even rhyme, so it must be true.

I watched the television and looked at the face of Theresa May. She still blinked and gulped when somebody asked her a difficult question, she still laughed awkwardly when they called her cruel or a coward. And he skin and hair remained absolutely the same. Yet here was this scarecrow showing all the signs of what was happening beneath the surfaces. What if the ripples and the peels of the scarecrow's skin were signs of Theresa May's lies and deceit, of her cruel and venal beliefs.

It couldn't be. Poppycock I thought. Stuff and nonsense. But then this morning, the scales fell off my eyes. I walked into the allotments for my morning walk and what did I see. Scarecrow Theresa was faceless! It was like a nightmare.The scales fell off my eyes, it was Dorothy pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz. There was quite literally nothing there. Her face was empty and her face was a mirror of Conservatism. All those words, those policies, those soundbites were as empty as Theresa May's face.

This was not an election about strength or stability, or deals and no deals. It is an election about truth and honesty and social justice.

I realised that my beliefs about Ben Howlett had been founded on a lie. Libraries are a good thing, Green meadows are a good thing. Affordable housing, health care for all, equality in all things including education, a belief in caring for the least fortunate in our society, a belief in a civil society that is justified by itself and not by the profits it reaps for its shareholders. That's what matters.

I know now, thanks to that scarecrow, that Theresa May doesn't believe in any of those things. That the Conservative Party doesn't believe in any of those things. It has turned this nation into a cruel country of food banks where the poor are blamed for the policies of the rich. Through cuts to education, housing and community support has stripped whole communities of opportunities to come together and be as one. It is only interested in division and the money it can reap from the asset-stripping that accompanies this division.

In my constituency, Labour can't win. If they or the Greens were up against the Conservatives, I would vote for them. In Bath, it's the Liberal Democrats. I'll be voting for them, as will my one time Ben Howlett voting friends. This is the poster they have on their gate now. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who saw that scarecrow.

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