Sometimes a moment can be pivotal in a way which is not obvious at the time.
This article explores whether the UK is at such a critical moment now, without most of the population realising it. And it suggests what we can do about it.
The challenge is that we have a government which is failing the UK on every measure, and which is busy dismantling UK democracy in order to govern for the benefit of its extremely wealthy donors. The good news is that we may be at a point where we can change the direction of the UK – if we act now.
The Government is Failing Us
For the first time since the early 1800s, we have sustained impoverishment of the mass of the British population: most people are poorer today than they were in 2010 when the government first came to power. And we are set to become still poorer as the government does nothing to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
The government has just passed a Health and Care Bill which will enable them – finally – to get rid of the NHS as we know it and turn the UK system into something much more like the US system. This will be literally ruinous for many UK citizens. We have one of the worst COVID records in the world, and it has just been confirmed in court that the government was reckless in moving COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes and that this policy led to thousands of unnecessary deaths.
The Government is dismantling UK Democracy
They have been systematically destroying our democratic safeguards – just in case we might resent being made poorer and having our healthcare removed and try to do something about it. Last night, for example, they put the Electoral Commission, which is the (formerly independent) body that is meant to ensure that UK elections are free and fair under the control of Ministers. At the moment, that means Michael Gove. From now on, you will not be able to vote without showing ID like a passport or driving licence. And the permissible forms of ID have been carefully designed to prevent younger people from voting: a senior rail-card, for example is admissible ID; a student railcard is not. And thanks to the Police Bill, you no longer have the right to peaceful protest.
It could not be clearer that the government is not governing on behalf of its citizens. So who is it really representing? Various groups of wealthy donors, many of whom are not even British, and who have no concern for the wellbeing of the UK population.
We May Be at a Turning Point
All of this is extremely depressing.
But at the same time, we have some glimmers of hope: Johnson’s tenure may be near its end. His personal approval rating has plummeted, and his party is now way behind in the polls. And this means that his support in his own party is increasingly tenuous. And his confirmed law-breaking has caused more Tory MPs to speak out.
His colleagues know that he will sacrifice anything – including them – in the interests of his own career, so they would be wise to act first.
So a bad result in the May elections could well be the trigger for his removal. That is not the end of the risk for the UK, as the most likely successors are equally bad – but it is an important first step.
So let us make sure we take it. Now is a time when we can pile on the pressure and get rid of the worst PM in modern British history. Let’s do it.
To secure the future of the UK, we need:
- Moderates and progressives in all political parties (including the Conservatives) to realise how high the stakes have become and to co-operate to avoid another Conservative government – together, moderates and progressives have a very good chance of winning;
- Voters to drop their traditional party allegiances and vote tactically – it is unlikely that the next government will be perfect, but it need not be destructive, and voters have the power to elect the least harmful option. In the very short term, they need to take steps to make sure they can vote at all;
- Non-voters to understand that – even if in the past they did not feel that their vote could make a difference, it can now (as the results in Shropshire North, Chesham and Amersham, Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton all show, there is no longer such a thing as a safe seat).
And meanwhile, we need to make sure that as many UK citizens as possible understand the threats to their rights and their – and their children’s – future.
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