Remove the word “rail” and change “Westminster” to “Washington”, and Polly Toynbee is describing the US rather than the UK.
For those at the sharp end — the low-paid, the food bank users, bedroom tax debtors and all who struggle with rising rents and unpayable bills on fallen incomes — life will become more or less bearable according to the swing of the electoral pendulum. For middling earners fretting over inescapable commuter rail fare rises, outraged by the energy companies’ cartel, anxious over their children’s chance of finding a decent footing in work or housing, what happens at Westminster matters more than ever. Those feeling alienated need to know that not voting is no protest: it’s a vote gifted to those you most detest.
What we need here is our own Syriza or Podemos. But past empires have prevented such occurrences as long as they were strong enough to do so. Here again we have the chance to be different, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.