I mean ‘The System’ has always favoured the rich minority over the rest of us plebs, so the political plight we find ourselves in today is nothing new. Centuries ago the population lived through serfdom and the feudal system, and while we may think that we have moved on from those dark days to a more progressive, more egalitarian world, the only real difference between now and then is that we have the Internet and package holidays.
In 2016, the people of the UK appear to be under the thrall of an audaciously neoliberal government. Austerity has been our constant partner for almost a decade. Wages are worth less and less with every year and are at their lowest level for generations. Because of this, millions of families consisting of adults working full time are unable to manage on what they earn, so are forced to rely on food parcels, loan sharks and charity to get by.
Think of that payday loan advert on the television where a waitress (clearly on a zero hours contract) finds that she hasn’t been given as many shifts as she had hoped for, and that because she had to take a couple of (obviously unpaid) days off with ‘flu last week, she’s now in a situation where she can’t pay the rent. But that’s ok! By getting a payday loan (with a 2,546% interest rate), her problems are solved! And damn — doesn’t she look pathetically grateful by the end of the advert?
Why the hell do we accept this as the norm? Think about it. Nobody in work (or, quite frankly, not in work) should be put in a position where they have no choice but to contact a government-backed loan shark who is advertising their wares on the television in order to pay the rent! But accept it we do. Just as we blithely accept that our council tax bills are going to be higher this year, but the services our council tax pays for are going to be far fewer. Again. Just as we shrug our collective shoulders and accept that people have committed suicide because of ongoing cuts to their salaries, their benefits and other safety nets that have been taken away by this government.
How did we end up sleepwalking into this? Are British people really THAT bovine?
Rumour has it that George Orwell can be heard spinning in his grave, whilst simultaneously yelling ‘I told you so’ as the sort of ‘Reds under the Beds’ propaganda we learned about in history lessons at school is broadcast to us twenty four hours a day via the national media. The BBC, ITV and both Channels 4 and 5 are all hell bent on sending out the same messages:
- (Schrödinger’s) Migrants will steal your job AND take away your benefits!
- All people claiming benefits are LAZY, WORK-SHY SCROUNGERS!
- ALL Muslims are bad!
- Women MUST be controlled by the thoughts and actions of men (who will decide what they can / cannot wear and the amount of control they are allowed to have over their own bodies)!
- If there’s a violent crime, it will have been carried out by a Muslim…or someone with MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS (and watch out everyone — both are evil)!
- Oh, and Jeremy Corbyn is an evil Trotskyist who wants to destroy the world.
Talking of Mr Corbyn, a little under a year ago I paid £3 to cast my vote for a new Labour party leader, and when Corbyn was elected, assumed that I had taken part in a fair and democratic process and that I needn’t do anything else. Looks like I’m a bit bovine too….
…so here I am in August 2016, in a situation where I now need to pay another 25 quid to vote for the same person to remain leader. Because the elected members of the Labour party who sit in the Houses of Parliament every week, wishing they could be sitting across the despatch box and snuggled up with their Conservative cronies, don’t want to be associated with a Labour party that is left wing. They want Jeremy Corbyn out as soon as possible, they want their leader to be as neoliberal as possible, and they will alienate the paid-up members of their own party to get their own way.
Now, let that penultimate sentence sink in. Elected members of the Labour party don’t want to be associated with a Labour party that is left wing.
That’s like saying that vegetarianism will only be legal if all vegetarians agree to eat meat: illogical at best, terrifying at worst.
What the hell has happened?
I’m absolutely bloody terrified.