Into the darkness..

We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.

The words of the inspirational Martin Luther King seem a little hollow this bleak November morning.

2016 has not been a year to celebrate for me or for many of my like-minded relatives, friends and acquaintances.

The result of the US presidential election sets the tin lid on what has been a quite dreadful 12 months.

Intolerance, racism, bigotry, outright misogyny and small-minded nationalism have become the political norm on both sides of the Atlantic.

I can find few positives to take from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, from America’s decision to elect Donald Trump ahead of the competent, experienced Hillary Clinton or from the general move of political culture to the right across much of Europe (what price Marine Le Pen and her fascist Front National sweeping France’s presidential elections next year?).

I’m tired of hearing how these votes are how the great unlistened to, the uncared for, the ignored are finally telling political elites they’ve had enough.

This is a failure not only of political leadership but of education and aspiration.

These are not votes for change, not votes to rip up the establishment and install a new more equitable order.

These are votes for a past we can never return to. The howl of anguish from mainly white men at an industrial and social world that has changed and evolved to mean much of their autonomy and power has been shared around with women and minorities of all hues.

Angry men – and women, it has to be said – who want to tear down the society they no longer control without any clue as to what horror might replace it.

Well, the rest of us are not going anywhere. Women, minorities of sexuality, ethnicity and religion. We’re here to stay. And the rights so ferociously fought for over decades will not be surrendered.

For those of us who believe in civil rights and equality for all, things have never looked more bleak.

But from the darkness must come light. It’s hard to find any hope in this most desperate of days, but find hope we must.

Again in the words of Dr Martin Luther King:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.

And I’m trying to find some inspiration in the words of JFk, one US president the world didn’t recoil in horror from:

One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.

It’s the hope that kills you

Well, there are now only four days left until the general election. Relax, I’m not going to tell you who I think you should vote for.

Five weeks ago, I wrote my Franifesto of the policies I wanted to see from political parties to persuade me to vote for them.

My final point wasn’t a policy at all. It was more a plea for vision, for inspiration, for hope.

It’s about what kind of society we want, not whether we can afford that kind of society. Ask people to invest in their community, to feel they are a genuine part of something bigger than just their household and they get it, they understand it and they value it. Think about more than just numbers, politicians, give us a vision of a nation that we’d all aspire to live in.

Well, I’m sorry but not surprised to say I have seen little or no vision, zero inspiration and not a lot of hope.

The Tories have run the most shambolic electoral campaign I have ever witnessed – incoherent, contradictory, relentlessly negative and horribly personal. It shouldn’t work but it just might get them over the line. How depressing.

Labour has been unable to throw off the shackles of its New Labour past to present itself as the shiny reborn version of Old Labour that many voters claim they want to see. Ed Miliband has at least articulated an idea of a fairer Britain but not enough to win over the justifiably wavering if the polls are right.

Obviously, there’s no SNP in my constituency, but you’ll forgive me for watching events in my native land with great interest. Many of my friends and family in Scotland will disagree, but even the tremendously popular SNP’s biggest selling point seems to be “vote for us to give Labour a bloody nose”. Oh and then that elected army of Nationalist MPs will march on Westminster and, er, work with Labour to keep the Tories out. Work that one out if you can.

The Liberal Democrats push themselves as the compassionate politicos the Conservatives refuse to be and the hard-hearted economists Labour cannot be. Embodied by Nick Clegg, they’re even more nakedly hungry for power than the Tories – and that’s saying something. Like the SNP, their plea to voters is a negative one.

The Greens are probably the most radical of all parties but then, to paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies, they would be, wouldn’t they? With little chance of any of their policies being enacted, the Greens can afford to think outside the box.

I’d like not even to mention UKIP for their very existence is so horrible that it pains my soul. No to Europe. No to immigration. No to equal rights. No to welfare. No. No. No. I can’t say no enough to them.

So, here we are with four – actually just three – campaigning days left until we cast our votes.

I already know who I’m voting for. I nailed my (a)political colours to the mast on Twitter on Saturday.

The National Health Action Party (NHA) has put up candidates in key Coalition ministers’ seats to challenge the reforms that are slowly strangling the NHS in England and Wales.

I support their aims 100 percent and so I’m backing Dr Carl Walker in his attempt to unseat Tory Tim Loughton in East Worthing and Shoreham.

Unfortunately, it does feel as if my voting for him is yet another negative in this long, draining pessimistic campaign.

I’m doing my best to sell it to myself as a positive. My x in the NHA Party box is more than just a vote against a party I despise; it’s a vote for something I passionately believe in, a national health service free to all and free from the ideological straitjacket that it must somehow make money out of ill-health.

When I walk into the polling station on Thursday, I’ll be doing it with – if you’ll pardon the expression – hope in my heart.

And just as I did when I voted for the very first time as a naive 18-year-old in the 1983 general election, I will do so with conviction that I’m doing the right thing and a belief that my voice, like those of every single person in this country, is worth hearing.

Please, do the same. Because sometimes hope is all you’ve got left.