BR OpinionBy Sam Barker

Who knew? Who would have guessed that beyond the tangerine diamonds and exhortations to vote Green that Bridport was somehow blue? That the man purveying shredded Letwin literature as toilet paper outside his house was not representative of the voting intentions of the town?

But then maybe it wasn’t Bridport. Maybe it was elsewhere in West Dorset that gave Letwin this supercharged majority? The man himself seemed strangely absent from DT6 during the weeks of the campaign, preferring friendlier territories like Poundbury or Sherborne. Not that he didn’t come here at all – in a video on his site he’s standing outside the South Street toilets one Tuesday in April, all gap-toothed equanimity, saying how much he likes being out on the election trail talking to “all sorts of interesting people who raise all sorts of interesting points and questions,” celebrating “the chance to argue things out.”

Maybe there should have been more arguing things out. That way, an impassioned minority that felt like a majority might have better known what it was up against. But then maybe it was the arguing that drove the majority to cowed silence. A few weeks ago, Janan Ganesh, the political commentator, said that voting Conservative had become a transgressive act, like being punk or emo. He was right, except that unlike punks or emos Conservative voters played it normcore until the opportunity came for self-expression in secret.

Presciently, Letwin himself foresaw the outcome. In another video filmed on May 1, he says that the last few days of an election are a “precious moment” in which there is the possibility of a “large number” of normally disengaged people actually “attending to the political question.” As the “awesome decision” approaches, he predicts that this group will, “probably more and more decide that they opt for securing a better future for themselves [by voting Conservative]…”

For Letwin, therefore, voting is a private act, the culmination of a short but intense period of personal reflection. A moment of deep communion between citizen and state. Not an expression of long-term tribal affiliation to be displayed on Facebook.

Where does this it leave Bridport? With high house prices and low pay the town has benefited from the tax credits that look most at risk from the new regime. The new government aims to make £12bn in cuts to benefits by 2018 and Liberal Democrats such as Ros Kayes will not be there to check this. Sometime soon, those decisions made in private will start manifesting themselves in public. Start donating to food banks now.