I was hoping to post something in-depth this morning, with dazzling wit and brilliance to lighten your Tuesday and to vent my spleen a little about the upcoming general election that our glorious leader called on a whim a couple of weeks ago. I was hoping to break my silence with a post that would be seen by fifty million people and convince them all to vote at all and, preferably, to vote for a party that isn’t going to turn our green and pleasant land into a toxic hate-filled wasteland built on the bones of nostalgia for a time where we could trade with the whole world, mostly because we owned most of it.
But the time I carve out of my week for blogging is currently filled with the delightful sounds of children and I find myself obliged to prevent them from killing each other. Such are the pleasures of parenthood.
So, Theresa May took a look at the polling data whilst she was out walking and decided that she was going to take the opportunity to utterly destroy Labour and cement herself a crushing majority in the House and claim a mandate to drive our country over the Brexit cliff unopposed. The polls at the time showed that she could be expected to walk away from the election with a majority of 100 or more, even making some gains in Scotland. The most recent polling suggests that Mrs May’s lead has tumbled dramatically. Of course, she is still set to win a crushing majority.
This depresses me.
It depresses me mostly because I am a Christian and I can see that most Conservative candidates also are, and a great many Conservative voters are also Christians. This is something I have never been able to comprehend. Jesus spent his life helping people with nothing, getting down into the dirt with them and giving them a hand up. He didn’t means-test his healing, he cured the sick without demanding payment. He demanded that his followers do the same. He told everyone who would listen that a true follower of God clothes the naked, feeds the hungry, cures the sick and takes care of the powerless (in his day, that was the widow and the orphan: today, we have many more categories of people who fit that description). Conservative governments have a long and gory history of doing exactly the opposite of all of those things. In recent years, we’ve had people dying of starvation in the wake of their benefits being sanctioned (the causative link has not been definitively established, of course, so I can’t say that the gentleman concerned died because his benefits had been cut off); we’ve had private companies taking over healthcare from the NHS (because the profit motive has been long-proven to improve service to those with no money to pay); we’ve had tax cuts to companies paid for by cuts to the most vulnerable (admittedly, the government were forced to back out of that one: it was more flagrant than usual); and we’ve had a constant stream of lies about how leaving the EU will be wonderful to us all because it will allow us to drop rules about how curvy a banana is supposed to be.
Over the last few years, I have been forced into the realisation that the English tend, as a majority, to be hateful people to whom nuance is viewed with suspicion. We prefer to be fed simple lies and outrage than given actual truths, projections and plans and asked to use our brains to select the best option. We hate brown people; we distrust gay people; we think that refuge should not be granted to those fleeing war; we think that desperate people must look a specific way in order to qualify for our sympathy and they’d better not be seen with a smartphone; we think that gathering in our diversity and talking peace and prosperity is overrated; we think that Britain should be Great because we used to be: after all, we invented cricket and turned slavery into a vastly profitable global industry.
I’ll be voting in the general election, and I urge you to do so as well. I will be voting for whichever candidate looks most likely to unseat the local tory and I urge you to do so as well.
My country depresses me. All I have left is hope. And an expectation that it will be dashed on the rocks of lies, propaganda and tribal fear.