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Thursday 4 July 2024

Today's The Day

Today’s the day.

Fourth Of July

Fourteen years of the worst government and worst leaders/ politicians this country has known since the extension of the franchise will come to an end today. For a party that prides itself as the natural party of government, the nature of the five Conservative Prime Ministers and their policies and actions since 2010 has been staggering, an unending run of incompetence, lies, cuts, cruelty, corruption and criminality and a ceaseless (until today) shower of men and women who represent the most overpromoted cabinet minsters we’ve ever suffered. For anyone who suffers from imposter syndrome at their work, something we all do from time to time I’m sure, just a glance at some of the people who’ve held high ranking cabinet posts in this country since 2010 should cure you of that- Liz Truss, Jacob Rees- Mogg, Dominic Rabb, Matt Hancock, Oliver Dowden, Therese Coffey, Andrea Leadsom, James Cleverly, Kwasi Kwarteng, Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braveman, Boris Johnson, Rishi Sunak, on and on it goes. Many of these people would think twice about being able to run a medium sized outlet at a retail park. The Tory Party put them in charge of the country.

Let’s run through their legacy briefly.

David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak; between them they have made the country and its people poorer in every way, from austerity to Brexit and beyond. They have diminished us all, made the nation smaller, meaner, grimmer and inward looking. There is little hope or optimism, no sense as there was in 1997 that things can get better. We have become a small, narrow minded, poverty stricken, regressive nation on the north west edge of Europe cut adrift by the Tories. 

Between them, the five Tory PMs have cut funding to councils by up to 50% with the inevitable cutting of vital local services. Axed genuinely beneficial services for young people like Sure Start and Connexions. Introduced the two child cap on child benefit plunging families into poverty. Capped local housing allowance that has pushed people out of renting and into homelessness. Cut the educational maintenance allowance for 16- 19 year olds from poorer backgrounds. Tripled university tuition fees. Axed grants for low income students. Cut the budgets of all government budgets leading to underfunded schools and hospitals, threadbare public services, and violently overcrowded prisons. Overseen a vast recruitment and retention crisis in teaching. Scrapped the Green Deal. BREXIT. Labelled the judiciary as ‘enemies of the will of the people’. Windrush. Prison ships to hold refugees and migrants. The illegal proroguing of parliament. Restrictions to the right to protest. The Rwanda scheme. A housing crisis. The crashing of the entire UK economy in 49 days in 2022. Stagnated wages. Falling living standards. An increase in poverty. Approximately 3.6 million children are defined as living in poverty. Widespread use of food banks. A 74% increase in rough sleeping. Hospital waiting lists longer than ever. Ambulance waiting times longer than ever. A crisis in GP services and dentistry. The state of childrens' teeth is worse than at any point since the introduction of the NHS in 1948. The awarding of PPE contracts to friends during Covid. The breaking of the laws they made to protect all of us and the refusal to acknowledge that there was anything wrong with this. A sense nationally that in living memory things have never been worse, are still getting worse and that they can’t see a way they’ll get better.

Whatever happens today, these people must be defeated. Not just defeated- electorally obliterated, ground into the dust, humiliated, chased out of constituency after constituency, rejected so comprehensively that the Tory Party is for a generation (at least) associated with the stink of their failure, their policies and their defeat. They must tear themselves apart in response to this, shrink even further into right wing factions and strange regressive, nostalgic cults who get teary eyed over the sound of Spitfires and the words free trade. 

I think for that reason that voting tactically is the correct thing to do- we must vote to defeat the Tories. It’s that simple. If that means Labour, vote Labour. If that means Liberal Democrat, vote Liberal Democrat. If that means SNP, vote SNP. If that means Reform, vote... actually, don’t bother, go back home.

Reform have been canvassing in south Manchester, a handful of local volunteers setting up in suburban town centres under their racist gazebos and talking to passersby, trying to convince them to entertain Reform’s outsider narrative. It’s no surprise that the last few weeks have seen various Reform candidates come to light as cranks, conspiracy theorists and racists. They may not all be racist, conspiracy theorists but there will be plenty of them- far right grievance politics attracts them. I think there’s an argument that the concerns of the 12% or so of the population who’ve been polled and say they're voting Reform during the last few weeks need addressing, their disaffection needs to be engaged with. But Farage himself is a chancer and a grifter, a posh, privately educated former merchant banker who has portrayed himself as a man of the people. ‘He speaks the truth, he says what the others don’t say, he tells it like it is’ is a common fallback, fuelling the view that all of Westminster is ‘the same’, everyone tarred with the same brush as the list of Tories who have lied and shlepped their way through parliament since 2010. I see this at school where Farage’s message is cutting through with some of the youth, 14- 15 year old boys who aren’t old enough to vote yet- but will be next time. Farage is the pub bore writ large. Disruption for laughs. Stirs up division, then goes home. I hope the people of Clacton send him packing.


'They put up a poster saying we earn more than youWhen we're working for the clampdown

We will teach our twisted speechTo the young believersWe will train our blue-eyed menTo be young believers
The judge said five to ten but I say double that againI'm not working for the clampdownNo man born with a living soulCan be working for the clampdown'

Farage’s politics are the politics of division, the othering those who are ‘not like us’. In May this year he said British Muslims 'do not subscribe to British values', a comment that labels all British Muslims as them. He peddles the far right politics of resentment and grievance. None of the main parties have tried properly to counter his narrative- that migration has a net benefit for the UK, that our economy and services won’t work without it, that illegal migration actually accounts for less than 5% of all migration annually, that other countries have taken many more refugees than the UK has. This has been the main success of Farage and the right wing press that amplify him – to make immigration undiscussable in rational terms and to shift all the main parties into anti- migration territory. The far right playbook is a massive concern- look at France and the US – and Farage pulls pages from it all the time, being careful not to ay anything explicitly racist while fanning the flames of racism. The prospect of Farage and a handful of Reform MPs in parliament is grim but it says something about where we are as a nation that it’s a possibility. Far right parties gaining the respectability that comes from being elected representatives has a long tail, and history warns us that it doesn’t end well. Labour and any/ all progressive politicians have to make the case against them and keep at it. The voxpop narrative, fuelled by Farage for his own benefit, that ‘they’re all the same, none of them can fix it’, is a cosy excuse for voting for Reform. What's more, I don’t think it’s true-  there are many people who go into politics because they want to improve things, they want to make people’s lives better. I don’t think many if any of the Tories who have been in power since 2010 have had this as a motivation. I think, at the very least, Starmer probably does.

What about Labour? I have struggled to find much to be that excited about. Kier Starmer is not exciting, he doesn’t set the pulse racing or inspire. That could be a good thing- maybe a period of dull but competent government is exactly what we need. He will have an enormous mess to deal with from tomorrow (assuming he becomes PM) and the manifesto has made some vague commitments to progressive policies (house building for instance) without really challenging the economic and political orthodoxies that have been in place for decades and are partly the reason why we are where we are- services that are underfunded and don’t work, industries sold into private hands and run for shareholders rather than the public, people who want the paradox of a low tax and low wage economy with a well funded NHS. Starmer’s stance over some things has been downright difficult to defend but I guess the bottom line is that five years ago no one would have believed Labour could overturn a Johnson majority of 80 seats and here we are, on what looks like the verge of victory. At the least, and it’s a low bar admittedly, a Starmer led Labour government will at least not have the outright performative cruelty of the post- 2010 Tory ones- the sheer cruelty and barbarism of the Rwanda policy for example. I hope he and they find something to give us some cheer, that there are some fixes for the mess we're in and that they can give us some hope. 

 Waiting For The Great Leap Forwards (Live in 2019)

In the constituency in South Manchester where I live, we can play our part in kicking the Tories out today. Since becoming aware of politics in the early 80s there’s only been one occasion where I’ve been able to celebrate a Tory electoral defeat- 1997. I’m hoping, praying and expecting that today is number two, that we can watch the results come into tonight with a growing Labour majority, Tory after Tory ejected and rejected, their legacy the long bitter taste of defeat, laughing our way through the night as they get their comeuppance. And that tomorrow we wake up to something better.

Today's the day. Fuck the Tories. 


Anonymous said...

Well Said. Big yes from over here. Swc.

Charity Chic said...

Every word there on point Adam.

Ernie Goggins said...

Can't disagree with any of that. Whatever misgivings we might have about the alternatives the priority is getting this lot out. Things will only continue to get worse until we do.

C said...

Brilliant, just brilliant.

Danny said...

Amen brother

Rol said...

I don't read the news media anymore, so I get all my political opinion from the like-minded souls I follow on the blogosphere. Thank you, Adam. I hope you get the result you're looking for, locally and nationally.

Anonymous said...

Every. Fucking. Word.


Martin said...

Yes, yes, yes. Best thing I've read today, and I've read a lot.

Mike said...

Well said !!

Khayem said...

A sobering thought that this extended post still only scratches the surface of why the Tories have got to go. Wonderfully written, Adam, and a welcome reminder of why we shouldn’t forget.

A shame that these conscious-free bastards will not be financially dependent on the jobs that they are about to lose and find themselves sinking into the same poverty that they’ve tipped so many others into.

Khayem said...

“conscience-free”… or maybe I got it right the first time!

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone. An hour til polls close. I'm really quite excited, anticipating what I hope will be a Tory wipe out. It feels like a once in a generation thing. Hope we're not disappointed. It does feel good to think that if Labour get 2 terms that would see us through without a Tory government until 2023.
Fuck the Tories.
Swiss Adam

DaG said...

Very well written and I totally agree. I am so angry with the Tories even more than I was with Thatcher ! My children are even angrier - denied houses, studying abroad, working abroad etc etc and they would have a revolution if they could but had to explain that Starmer may be "boring" but if you are not in power you can't change things except by force.
It's not going to be all roses tomorrow but at least we have hope and hopefully leadership and real change.

Tom W said...

To quote Guns N Roses 'It's been 14 years of silence, it's been 14 years of pain, it's been 14 years that have gone forever and we'll never have again...'

Swiss Adam said...

Not a quote I was expecting to see Tom W!