One definition of Evil is: to consciously do something which will undoubtedly cause suffering and harm to others.
Over the last ten years, a growing majority of people in Britain have become familiar with the effects of Tory government policies which may be described by that definition.
But governments are not handed power for the hell of it or by accident. Members of Parliament are elected by citizens of this country every four years as a nod to Democracy.
In the process it is understandable that people support politicians whose moral integrity and social outlook most closely match their own. What is shocking, is that those who voted for the current administration apparently did so in full knowledge of the Conservative’s appalling record of financial misconduct, ecological genocide, social injustice, lawbreaking, cronyism, deception, escalating poverty and deepening inequality. Most seriously of all, their disreputable personal behaviour and their insidious depravity has infected the integrity and morality of every British citizen.
I accuse those who voted for them of being as responsible as the politicians they elected.
The historical facts of previous Conservative governments should have been enough to set alarm bells ringing for anyone with an ounce of social conscience. But then, in mitigation, the Conservative Party’s propaganda machine has always been a powerful weapon against transparency and honesty by gilding dreadful performance and entrenching falsehood. A case in point is the myth, circulated ad nauseum, that Conservatives are the most dependable custodians of the British economy. The fact is, by almost every measure, their track record since WWII demonstrates significantly less competence than Labour. It is worth reminding ourselves that the financial crash of 2008 was precipitated by Prime Minister Thatcher’s deregulation of the financial sector during the 1980s. Historically, Tories are not good at finances or caretaking the economy.
By the election of 2010, our experiences of the Thatcher/Major governments were still within living memory. And again, by the election of 2017, we knew very well the nature of Conservatives, that they were untrustworthy above and beyond the usual measure of politicians. We knew of their greed, their self-serving conceit, their entrenched cruelty and the fact that they target the weakest and most vulnerable not caring that their policies further degrade and humiliate themselves as well as society as a whole. We knew about Operation Vaken and the “hostile environment.” We knew of their mission to privatise public services, most notably the NHS, and their ambition to open up British pharmaceutical markets to the impenetrable cartel of US suppliers. If people were prepared to research and listen, they would have had all the information needed to make an informed decision about where not to make their mark on the ballot paper.
And yet, despite 71% of British voters not voting for them, the Conservatives won.
Notwithstanding the aberrations of our electoral system, we should not blame the Government for crowing from the rooftops after all, they were democratically elected. It should also come as no surprise that, in celebration of their majority in Parliament, they would “exercise[ed] coercive powers over [British] citizens on a scale never before attempted” to deprive elected Members of Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise their activities by illegally closing Parliament. Neither should we be surprised that they are prepared to break national and international laws to inveigle us with their ideological agendas.
Neither should we be surprised they immediately began to speed up implementation of their policies – stepped up bombing raids in Syria, endorsed oil exploration in some of the most ecologically fragile landscapes on Earth, sanctioned arms sales to Saudi for them to kill men, women and children in the Yemen and elsewhere, hiked university tuition fees, whitewashed the Windrush scandal, sidestepped Grenfell, defunded key National Health services, expedited privatisation of national assets (Prison services, Probation services, Forensics, parts of the BBC etc.), entrenched the Bedroom Tax, cut legal aid, reduced or redacted jobseeker funding, cut education funding, defunded family and junior doctors, defunded early years childcare, jeopardised the Human Rights Act, scrapped bursaries for nurses, sought to revoke citizens’ right to privacy (Investigatory Powers Bill), sought to further restrict workers’ rights (Trades Union Act), slashed green subsidies, scrapped child poverty targets, froze public sector pay . . .
Austerity is driven by political ideology, not practical necessity. A bold hypothesis, I know, nevertheless, it is a view endorsed by numerous experts in economics and sociology. In fact, there is broad consensus that (even before Covid-19) the national economy and social fabric of the country has been so severely damaged it is difficult to envisage when, or if, it might recover. We should not be surprised, after all, they were democratically elected.
Many of their deeds are evil and cause often irreparable damage to the financial stability and mental wellbeing of millions. The individuals who voted for them, whether misguided or purely malicious, are equally responsible.
You must do better next time.
Sources: World Economic Forum, Office of National Statistics, London School of Economics, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Internationalist, UK Parliament, Erich Fromm, Lord Sumption
Photo: Prisoner by Fernando Cortes
© Rod McRiven 2017