Twentieth century beats the nineteenth

Election night. An interview with David Lammy on ITV talked about how he might manage relationships with the rest of the world, a conversation that recognised the new present. Everywhere else there was only reporting on projections and speculations, as if they were facts, like the rest of the campaign: no serious discussions of policy, a short fortnight of monkey tennis ideas before Farage decided to stand, and then nothing but polls, imagined futures, in the media, until now. Futures offered without reference to visions or plans or present circumstances: just numbers, discussed instead of things that might happen. Arguments not about different presents that might influence opinion, or particular futures that might seem worth working for, just outcomes that are imagined to happen by themselves, in the absence of any action or commitments. It’s the weasel abdication of responsibility for everything, even imaginary futures, that I find so disgusting.

Bigger questions, away from the tiny shadow futures of the CGI polls and battle boards: few extra votes for Labour, Reform second by a large margin in early seats. The landscape of the next two elections is being laid out now. It feels as though the twentieth century has beaten the nineteenth, and we can – only decades late – get on with understanding what the twenty-first century might need. Perhaps we will have a political consensus again, one that in 2080 can set a path for dealing decisively with the problems of 2030. Or perhaps events will overtake us, as usual, and this is our last democratic election.