Saturday, 9 May 2015

Wondering how this could happen

A day later and it's still raw. We have not only returned to power a political party that is ideologically intent on destroying the welfare state in this country, but done so with a majority; we might think that being in coalition with the LibDems didn't make a difference, but I shudder thinking about what they will do without even that minor obstacle.

Make no mistake, this is probably the most extreme economically right-wing government this country has ever had; Thatcher was a cuddly moderate by comparison. I have already seen people I know who describe themselves as libertarians (of the absurd, childish Randian stripe) howling in triumph like the short-sighted, self-regarding hyenas they are. With an apology to the good name of hyenas everywhere. I think this tells us everything we need to know about this government. They will continue to asset strip our society for their own profit, leaving the rest of us disenfranchised.

I started by saying that “we” have done this, and we have. As a society we bought into Thatcher's lie that you can have a functioning civil society and welfare state without paying for it through taxation. Blair managed to get elected by proudly wearing these colours (although that government did quietly do some very good things it is all overshadowed by the harm they did, especially in joining in wholeheartedly to Bush's wars).

We had the chance to choose a different path. Looking across Europe there are movements taking a stand against the economics of austerity which are demonstrably not working to fix things and that the Tories have used as an excuse to cut public spending. But how often do we see reports on Iceland and Spain in our horribly biased media? The press encourages us to stay afraid and the British public clutched that fear and elected it. Enough people are moderately comfortable but afraid so voted for narrow, myopic – and ultimately self-defeating – self interest.

It is said that we get the governments that we deserve, but the effects of this election will be disproportionately felt by those who had the least say in it. Already a plan to further cut the Access to Work programme has been announced. Our health service will continue to be broken up and sold at a cut-rate price to profiteers (who are, coincidentally, often friends and donors to the Conservatives). People will suffer because of this election. Sick people, poor people, disabled people. Most of us will be at greater risk of falling through the cracks, and all of us are worse off, facing a meaner, colder, harsher Britain.