It’s been a political week. The Conservative Party has won a general election in the UK. Brexit is going to “happen” – meaning it’s scheduled for Jan 2020, although what that means in practice remains to be seen. (Deal, extension, crash?) Either way, I live in an area that supports both the Conservatives and Brexit; the EU-funded liberal Cornwall that I fell in love with no longer exists.
In our current, right-wing climate, I’m your “snowflake leftie”, but that’s not “delicate little idler”. Through a decade of family illness I’ve worked, volunteered, raised a family, and cared without asking for help, pay-outs, or support of any kind from anyone, and I was able to do this via the privilege of prior education and life savings. This experience confirmed what I already knew: hard times can hit anyone and we need to support and care for our most vulnerable people; to care for those trying to overcome disabilities, to welcome families joining us from overseas, and to house those who, through chance, lack of education, mistakes, illness, abuse, or addiction, find themselves without work or sleeping on our streets. All people deserve free education and healthcare. All people have the right to be on this earth, the right to safety, healthcare, schooling, comfort, love and warmth. I believe this as someone who has taken nothing from anyone. I believe it with all my heart, with everything that I am.
Yesterday, our electorate voted in a government who reduced benefits for disabled people, under-funded our schools and hospitals, and put border control and defence on higher priority than the immediate welfare of some of its most vulnerable members. I am middle-aged and I have weathered elections of all types, but this one struck home. Perhaps it was because I recently read the notice that said that our increasingly used local food bank could only feed people for 3 weeks (what do they eat in Week 4?), or maybe it’s the closed shops in town. Maybe it’s because I’m at an age when some friends are talking about inheritances and how many houses they own, while others realise they’ll never afford their first. Or maybe it was the retired man who emphasised that on principle he was prepared to risk (nominally and likely temporarily) losing hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of share capital investment to escape the “control of the EU”… without openly considering that if you can lose several hundred thousand pounds without any change to your daily life, that money could, alternatively, save lives.
I’m angry and disappointed. I feel sorry for my country; I think it’s ended up a lesser version of itself than it could have been, and I resent the Bullingdon club who play cards at the top without ever feeling the sharp end of the repercussions. It was ever thus, but it doesn’t have to be.
I should have the wit to help sort out some of this. I should have the energy to change things. This is, as much as it is anyone’s, my responsibility too. I am strong and educated and privileged, so yes, I’ll be working on that.
But right now, all I can say to the proponents of this current system is, “I am not yours.”