The Politics of Compassion

It’s local election day here in the UK. And I was thinking why is it that people still vote Tory after the last ten years. And what can we do to change the terrible direction the UK is heading in. The facts are there, the graphs of death, of job losses, or economic disaster, are all there to see. Why do people still vote for the party that is tearing the UK apart and getting fat on the spoils?

Look what the Conservative party has achieved in the last ten years: 150,000 dead through negligence and greed. Vast corruption stealing billions for PPE and even at the lowest level some wallpaper. A housing crisis, asylum seekers kept in concentration camp conditions, Grenfell, Windrush, public services slashed, NHS workers in poverty, tens of thousands of police cut. A hostile environment so racist even members of the royal family are not safe from it. And starving children, starving children in a country where the Prime Minister wants us to pay for his £840 a roll wallpaper. It’s abhorrent.

People still vote Conservate despite these things.

But then I have just realised that people don’t vote Conservative despite them keeping asylum seekers in concentration camp conditions. They don’t vote Conservative despite them letting children go hungry. They vote Conservative because they want these things.

But then I have just realised that people don’t vote Conservative despite them keeping asylum seekers in concentration camp conditions. They don’t vote Conservative despite them letting children go hungry. They vote Conservative because they want these things. You can’t spend ten years seeing children go hungry, people burning to death because the Tory council doesn’t care, children drowning on rafts in the English channel, and then vote for more of it unless you’re happy to see it happen. You want it to happen. They deserve it right? Those foreigners. Those poor people, It’s their fault. How can you be poor and hungry if you own a TV, or a phone, answer me that eh?

But you say, many people who vote Conservate have been radicalised by an increasingly right wing press that has replaced news with opinion. By the likes of Murdoch, Dacre, and the Barclay Brothers – billionaires full of hate and bile and who see the only way of hoarding their billions is by radicalising generation after generation and teaching them how to hate. How to hate the poor, how to hate the other, the person with darker skin, the transgender person, the gay person, the foreigner, the brown princess, the liberal. They have taught their readers how to hate. And they vote accordingly.

This plays a part I’m sure. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it hate. There has to be some hate there already. Some reason why you would see drowning or hungry children and say “I want more of that”. I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t have the answer. I don’t know why people read the words of Farage, Morgan, Hartly-Brewer, Vine and the like and feel like these people have the answer – rather than being a shameful stain on the good nation we could be if we looked beyond these right-wing charlatans.

I’m pessimistic for the future. Our electoral system is broken. First past the post leads to safe seats where nothing ever changes. Where some politicians can carry on with their corruption safe in the knowledge people will blindly vote for them. And look at the opposition. Labour is too scared of bigots to dare oppose them. The Liberal Democrats are partly to blame for where we are now due to their Quisling pact with Cameron.

Our planet is dying. Previous generations have used up the resources and poisoned the air we breathe. They’ve spent all the money, enjoying the free education, healthcare, cheap housing, generous pensions, freedom of movement, easy trade – then decided to take all these things from the younger generation. Taken away the good jobs, the houses, the hope. Destroyed the ability for the young to even leave this country and work across the channel.

In 2016 in the week of the referendum a close relative of mine told me he voted for Brexit because “there are too many immigrants” in this country. Several generations ago his family were immigrants. Heck, I’ve heard many people tell me to my face “there are too many immigrants” despite me for all intents and purposes being an immigrant to this country. An accidental Englishman. Would they put me and my children back on the boat to Ireland? Maybe I’m white enough for a free pass. I guess it depends on what flavour of hate is their favourite.

What’s this moaning about? Why are you such a terrible “woke” lefty. Can’t you see the poor people and the blacks, the gays, the liberals, they are destroying this proud country. Can’t you fly the flag and be proud?

Where do my politics come from? Not from Marx. Not even remotely. Not from the Guardian. Not from five years of academic study of politics. I’m not “woke”, that stupid slur the right wing press is so fond of when it can’t understand why decent human beings are being decent human beings. My politics come from my late mother. We were brought up to believe in the sanctity and decency of human life. That while we might be different we were all equal, all loved, all worthy of dignity and compassion.

My mother was a Christian. Not a go to church on Sunday, vote to starve kids on a Thursday, kind of Christian. But someone who saw the values and teachings of a brown-skinned man 2000 years ago as values to live one’s life by. And while I haven’t always shared that faith with my mother, I’ve always shared those values. That whoever you are, wherever you come from, your life is worth just as much as mine. Whatever struggles have led you to where you are now, that’s worthy of understanding and compassion.

And while I haven’t always shared that faith with my mum, I’ve always shared those values. That whoever you are, wherever you come from, your life is worth just as much as mine. Whatever struggles have led you to where you are now, that’s worthy of understanding and compassion.

And I’m also angry. Really damn angry. My children will have to get into debt to enjoy the same education that the older generations got for free. They will find it almost impossible to afford a home. Their horizons are limited by the stupid xenophobic wall that is Brexit. Their whole future is blighted by the likes of Thatcher, Cameron, May, and Johnson – those who have bled the country dry, and then pointed the finger at the foreigner and convinced a gullible public of the truth of it.

Ah well, you would say that, you’re just a bloody immigrant. Raft, cargo flight, womb, what does it matter. You sneaked in and leached off this country while enjoying owning a flat screen TV and a mobile phone.

There was a point to this. Maybe it was just giving me a chance to vent. It’s been a really hard year. A scary year. We were lucky – we lived in a part of the country less touched by the virus, in a big house, in a rural setting. But even so it’s been a hard year and I don’t know how people in cities, in crowded housing, have coped. It must have been awful. And the horror of this virus was enough – but then we have a government that saw this as an opportunity to make billions for themselves and their friends, to tighten the grips of power, and use it all to make political capital. Of course I’m angry.

I look at what New Zealand has achieved. It’s no coincidence it’s a country they’ve tried to keep Murdoch out of. The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph – each increasingly a dangerous virus as much of a threat to a healthy mind as Covid is. As I write these words today the ring-wing press is wanking itself silly over the exciting prospect of war with the Frenchman. We can be better than that. You don’t need to be afraid of people who are different than you. You don’t need to hate what you don’t understand. Don’t let them teach you to blame. Look beyond that.

Go vote. Please. Go vote. And vote for a decent human being. There was a point to all this, I’ll go look…

Playing Politics?

Following the Euro 2020 final last night Dover MP Natalie Elphicke sent a private message to fellow MPs which said, “They lost – would it be ungenerous to suggest [Marcus] Rashford should have spent more time perfecting his game and less time playing politics.”

After wide condemnation she apologised today.

Natalie Elphicke MP was caught out, believing her racism and cynicism was private. She apologised because she was caught, not because she thought she had done wrong.

We still – just about – live in a democracy. That means whether you work, are unemployed, are retired, are a footballer, film star, brick layer, chef, teacher, whatever – you are entitled to take part in the democratic process as well as do your job.

Some Conservative MPs would rather we didn’t interfere in their running of the country, forgetting they work for us and are answerable to us. They don’t like criticism, and many are childishly thin-skinned. One Tory MP has pestered my wife merely because I publicly disagreed with him.

It is perfectly possible to be a professional footballer and someone who engages with the democratic process. Though it seems that it’s not possible to be a Conservative MP and ensure the poorest children in our society are fed; or deal with a dangerous pandemic without lining their own pockets and the pockets of their friends.

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