It’s been a funny old weekend. I woke up on Friday morning before 5, feeling like I’d had concrete poured into my stomach and couldn’t get back to sleep again because my brain was racing. HOW could this have happened? How could the country have voted the Conservatives in again for another 5 years? Over the course of the morning, my fear turned to anger. I couldn’t see how a vote for Blue was anything other than self-serving and utterly lacking compassion and social conscience and so I made a declaration. I took to Facebook and wrote this:
Yeah. I know. Pretty divisive.
My reasoning behind such a statement was that I genuinely cannot see how I have a single thing in common with someone who would willingly vote the Conservatives back into government. I can’t get my head around real, actual people thinking that the Tories can do anything but serious harm to this country. Anyone who can look at how ill and disabled people have been forced back into work, how the NHS is desperately over stretched, how the rich have been given tax cuts while the poorest of us are being fined for having too many bedrooms in our homes, are not people I’m happy to call my friends.
In the following hours, I had a lot of backlash. I had people calling me names, suggesting that I was ‘pathetic’ and ‘small-minded’, I had people outright challenging me to stand by my statement and then having tantrums when I did. I had another blogger (who, I must say, I really barely know) start a whole new thread on her own Facebook page, inviting people to agree with her on how despicable I was for removing her as a friend because of our conflicting views.
All in all, I’ve now got 20 less friends through Facebook than I had this time on Thursday. I know because before I posted the status above I took a note of my numbers, just for the sake of science. Many of them are people I’ve known since school, girls who’ve known me since I was 11 years old, and some are other bloggers. People were really quick to tell me that I was wrong and a few tried to defend their reasons for voting Tory, saying that they thought the Tories represented what was best for them and their families. Hardly anyone tried to engage me in a reasonable debate, rather choosing to call me a bigot and an idiot.
I’ve got to say, I don’t think I’ve ever been more disillusioned than I am now. For me, the Conservatives represent everything that is wrong with this country. I simply cannot get my head and my heart to reconcile the fact that so many people are willing to see the death of the NHS, the repeal of the Human Rights Act and so many other key tenets of what makes this country great. All I can see is that the people who have voted Tory have happily taken from the state, in the form of healthcare, emergency services, education and cushy Government funded jobs, and then pulled the ladder up behind them. What’s that old phrase? Oh yeah…”I’m alright, Jack”.
One person, someone I’d previously liked and respected, told me she’d voted Tory because if Labour had got in, the proposed Mansion Tax would have prevented her and her Husband from buying the lavish new property they’d had their eye on, while another said that, because her Husband was a Letting Agent, the Labour proposal to cap letting agent fees (fees which have got so high as to be utterly prohibitive in recent years, forcing families into unregulated slum housing) would mean they could no longer afford their lifestyle. If that’s not a massive “FUCK YOU” to the rest of our country, I don’t know what is.
Being willing to watch families stand in queues at food banks because they can’t afford to eat and old ladies dying of hypothermia because they can’t afford to heat their homes, for the sake of your own prosperity, shows a complete lack of humanity.
I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the past few days to try to work out how seemingly decent people can so happily drop the axe on everyone else for their own gain. My poor Husband (a paid-up member of The Green Party) has been a sounding board for most of it, and although his politics are in line with my own, he’s able to be a little less ‘black and white’ about things than I am. He’s of the opinion that good people can still vote Tory and that there’s been too much misinformation by the press, manipulating the moderate middle to believe that the Tories have their best interests at heart. Hard working people who don’t have time to research policies, people who come home and read the Murdoch-poisoned rags and believe what they’re seeing.
I can’t say that I’m entirely buoyed by the thought that, of the people who voted Tory, half of them did so out of selfishness and greed and the other half did so because of their utter lack of research. I’ve only been on this planet for 30 short years, but I think it’s safe to say that this has been the most information-rich General Election to ever have been run. There have been websites inviting people to test their opinions against policies to see where their actual values should lead their affiliations and yet people are still voting blindly. I’ve heard untold people say that they voted for the Tories because their parents did, or because their Husbands did. Sister Suffragette, I think not…
I’m not suggesting that every single person who voted Tory did so out of either stupidity or selfishness, but not one person yet has managed to give me a reason for their vote which I’ve been able to get my head around, or reconcile with them also being a good person.
The one good thing that’s come of this is that I’ve sorted my own political affiliations in my head. In the run up, I was wavering between Labour and Green, but ultimately went for Labour as I had strong faith in Milliband and his genuine socialist views. In the wake of him leaving the party, I’ve come to the conclusion that New Labour isn’t quite the socialist party across the board that I had hoped it was, and as of this week will be a paid up member of the Green Party. There’s a meeting in a coffee shop locally next week which Husband and I are hoping to attend as I’m done with being an keyboard warrior, I want to get out and actually act. I’m also now part of a few online groups of women who are banding together as a sisterhood against Conservative rule. I genuinely think we’ve got the power to make a huge change.
I was also hugely relieved to see the protests in London, despite ALL of the major news sources refusing to give it coverage. In the run-up to the election, I actually said to Husband “there’ll be riots if the Tories get in”, and then had to face the sinking realisation that if they DID get in it would be because the majority of people wanted them in power and therefore probably wouldn’t be unhappy about it. So to see that there were plenty of others as unhappy as me has given me hope, albeit small in the face of another 5 years of right-wing oppression.
To the 20 friends I’ve lost in the wake of this election: I’m sorry that things had to be this way. I’m sure you did what you thought was right for YOU. Unfortunately, I’m more interested in what’s right for everybody and I just cannot carry on pretending that it’s okay to screw everyone else over for your own gain.
If you’re interested, there’s a list below of posts and articles that I’ve found really interesting and informative over the past few days. Please also link me to anything you’ve found useful in the comments below:
The Ramblings of a Formerly Rock and Roll Mum: http://www.rocknrollmum.com/2015/05/general-election-outcome-my-dads-thoughts.html