I’ve shut down. I’ve been off social media for over a week now. I can’t even look at the news- every time I walk past the big screen outside my gym that plays sky news and I see the tories I feel panic in my chest. I’m not even being (purposefully) dramatic. I don’t really know what’s under my skin, but it’s hardly a shock. Every time I’m on social media I see stories of governmental lies, migrant detestation, anti gay laws, hate crime rises, the government endorsing horrific ideas of dehumanisation. Today I saw clips of the effulgent pisspipe that is Boris Johnson waffling semantics at the privileges committee and- I am absolutely done at the moment.
I know I’ll get back to a healthy place mentally at some point, but it’s bigger even than my all consuming obsession with politics and the unfairness of it all.
You needn’t worry, I’m not scribing tear filled farewells or anything. I’m just feeling particularly fragile. It’s not just politics but politics is part of it.
I’m pretty honest about what’s going on with me so, here’s the other parts.
This weekend was mothers day, the third one without my mother. Monday was 3 years to the day since I watched her die. The horror of seeing that absolutely haunts me to this day and whilst I can get reprieves from it sometimes, at the moment it’s a constant movie playing in the back of my mind again.
I mean, I also have depression. I’ve done very well I think at safeguarding against it, managed to find coping mechanisms for when I sink. They’re not working. Right now I cannot pull myself out of the mental mire I’ve drifted under.
I don’t want to give up on activism- it feels like a part of who I am, like not flexing a limb I have. But right now I am absolutely shattered. My mental health always sucks because I’m me and my brain doesn’t do chemicals right. Added to that the images my brain is repeating then sprinkling liberally with “the government is super fashy” and you can understand why I am where I am, I’d hope.
I’m writing this to say please give me time and let me heal up. My head is all over’t shop as we northerners say. I will get back to it but for the moment I need to take my head entirely out of the game because it’s deep fried.
I don’t know why all the food references here, maybe I’m hungry.
Please keep fighting the good fight. I’ll be back.
Today I read the first few chapters of Judith Butler’s “Notes Toward a Performative Theory Of Assembly”. This book was written by Butler in 2015 and served as a stark warning to those listening that the removal of the lens of humanity was all too easy under the state & in the public sphere, using the dual tools of governmental discourse and the media. One sentence which grasped my consciousness was the idea of the dehumanisation of humans, and served as a splinter of cognisance of what would transpire and lead to the events of the myriad moral panics of 2023 Britain and the US- and from this paragraph I felt the need to expand on the collective dangers of the UK government’s quest to enforce a hierarchy of humanity.
Think about the people in your life. Are you better than them, or worse? Do you deserve more rights than them? Is it acceptable that, due to their gender, sex, age, race, sexuality, they need different rights in order to exist in parity with you in our society? Would it be fair if we all had the same basic rights and nothing more, or is equity a cornerstone of a society which has fostered the type of inclusion which gives everyone a fair chance at betterment?
These should not be difficult questions, and yet our existence is currently limited to a society which seeks to obfuscate that simplicity, smokescreening the neon bright answers behind the idea that “just asking questions” about basic rights and equity is not a dangerous path down which to tread.
Some look at rights like specific anti discrimination legislation or protection from misogyny as entitlement and not a grim indictment of modern British society- because in a truly equal society one would not need anti discrimination legislation as protection from bodily harm, workplace harassment or mental duress.
The ECHR was established on the 4th November 1950, in response to the atrocities of World War 2- a solemn promise to the countries involved that the very fundamentals of human rights would, should and must be upheld- that it is anathema to human existence to allow these rights to fall into question. The UK government’s narrative that the ECHR meddles in its decisions should be a death knell for their leadership- for if a court dedicated to protecting and enshrining the basics of human rights protections is interfering in your decisions, this follows that your decisions run counter to the respect of human rights. There is no “hierarchy of human rights”. If you are human, your rights as a human should be respected. These do not give favour, they do not elevate you above others. They are rights universally agreed upon- and opening questions on whether all humans should have access to these rights is the first, and most troubling sign of danger- but one could argue that it is not a step but a slippery slope.
Once you begin questioning human rights and who deserves them, it is a simple matter to widen the discourse. Only the most heinous, unforgivable human beings do not deserve to lose their human rights: But who decides what is heinous and unforgivable- we live in a world where Daesh believe that grooming and raping girls is part of a holy mission, where women and girls in Afghanistan are beaten with sticks if they go outside without men or boys as guardians, where in America the right to bear arms is sacrosanct and yet if I saw a person with a gun on their belt in my city I would flee and call the police for fear of the danger they could bring with them. The reason human rights are iron clad and unquestionable is that the very act of questioning them, weakens them. All and sundry, no matter how evil, deserve human rights and if we decide a threshold, we begin the process of collapse.
Additionally, are we not inhuman if we then wreak horrors upon a human who we have decided is not deserving of these rights? Another question for another time, but an eye for an eye is a wise proverb in a sea of theological nonsense.
The government’s determination to demonise certain minorities is a key substrate in a wider movement towards enforcing “acceptable humans”. By placing terms and conditions on what a “good” human is and even moving towards rhetoric that removes humanity entirely, the government is eminently capable of disenfranchising individuals amongst the collectives.
Look at Shamima Begum. A fifteen year old girl was groomed on the internet by Daesh, because of failures of state security- meaning the state let her down and could possibly let down others. Rather than face blame for their poor handling of Begum’s radicalisation, the state designated her the root issue. Begum’s behaviour was objectively bad- and happened to a British born citizen, indicating that it was not merely the groomers nor Begum who had the issue- the state under which she was raised contained fundamental lapses of protection. She was a product of a state not equipped to prevent her radicalisation- not only should the state face censure for their failures to safeguard her and others, but she is a product of a flawed UK state and therefore our problem, and should have been brought here to face questions over it. By the government refusing to allow this & making her stateless this is a visible refusal to accept blame for their failures- but also serves a troubling double purpose of driving home a message that compliance with good, state endorsed behaviour brings the reward of citizenship. This also raises the idea of citizenship as supremacy- those who have it are superior to those who do not. You don’t have to like Begum or her actions to understand that there are lines of questioning that must be verboten, about when and if we lose basic rights.
The most troubling and yet overlooked aspect of Begum’s treatment by the state and media, is that it begins the process mentioned above. There is now a threshold, a precedent set at which you can act which will prompt the state to remove your innate right to citizenship. Something which we have always declared a sovereign, basic right is no longer- and a worrying proportion of the UK’s population celebrate this as a win, whilst others hesitate to point out that those rights are rights we also hold- and the question now falls from “will it happen” to “how low is the bar for the enforcement”: Will people like I who openly question the state and its methodology one day be stripped of citizenship for querying their implementation of this legislation? Who knows- we have far to fall, but are moving at disturbing speed.
One must also note the involvement of the British (and American) media in the enabling of this discourse. Academics warned repeatedly that the British press’ foray into open, daily transphobia would lead to danger- why even Judith Butler wrote a piece for the Guardian which laid bare the links between the far right and the TERF movement across the U.K., and the piece was surreptitiously edited to strip this paragraph despite its objective basis in truth- and if journalists strip out truth to protect the feelings of fascists one should find grave concern in its operation- and if someone like Butler warns of fascism, one does not stop up their ears.
To return, though, to the “small boat” moral panic that has swept the UK, one must find it almost comical to watch the UK subsumed again by a government narrative. The Conservatives are almost comedically unpopular, reviled by everyone from the supposed libertarian sect of political adversaries we hear regularly espousing their views from behind England flag shirts, to those who call ourselves true patriots because we question the country and ask for it’s improvement rather than accepting it’s gathering descent into mediocrity. Yes, the number of small boat crossings has ramped up in recent years. Has the government explained to the peoples of the UK why? Have they admitted to their own roles in destabilising countries which people are fleeing from by leaving Afghanistan to the Taliban, by working to arm anti government forces in other countries to enable cheaper sales of fossil fuels? Have they worked to re-stabilise countries blighted by damaging regimes or demagogues? And can they truly fall behind the “not our job” defence whilst we arm Ukraine- a noble, important requirement which brings the question of when the state should intervene into sharp relief. The UK should be cautioned on its intervention in some places -for it is our dark past of western imperialism that has caused a dizzying number of the issues for which the world is paying now. The key language of Sunak and Braverman is “stop the boats” where they refer to “small boats crossings”, completely failing at any point to acknowledge the people involved, the humans within those vessels. The people arriving here in small boats are people. People with fears, wants, goals, dreams, biases- fully, achingly human. Are all of them good? Of course not. When large numbers of people are in a group, the likelihood that they are all good people is not going to be high- unless you group them by your very subjective definition of good. There are those who would fail to line me up in the “good people” group simply because I am a gay man, would refuse to add women who believe in feminism. Good, bad- these are abstract and personal and the U.K. has fallen victim to allowing the subjective morals of objectively bad politicians (who hide lies by prime ministers, funnel money from the public to private individuals, who strip back rights like protest, like striking, like voting) to be used as a public yardstick for lawmaking.
Just because bad people may exist amongst a demographic of people does not mean that all of them should be treated like the worst. To hate, fear and punish an entire group of people for their membership of a group is to give in to bigotry and that is an iron strong fact. If British citizens allow all migrants to be punished for the worst amongst them, British citizens are the group sprinting fastest towards inhuman behaviour- not those being punished. Look at it this way: as a gay man I am painfully aware that bad persons exist amongst my demographic- those who do not respect bodily autonomy, those who are misogynist, even those who are cruel to others based on their subjective appearance. Does the existence of these bad elements mean that all of my demographic should be subject to censure?
Worse still is an insistence that the government’s methods are “tough but fair” and will “break the funding model of smugglers”. This sort of thinking is both cognitively dissonant (tough, yes, fair to deport those who have arrived via supposedly illegal methods because there does not exist a legal method? No.)
Break the funding model of people smugglers by allowing them to smuggle people then punishing the people they smuggle? It is equivalent to arresting the victim of a mugging to disincentivise the mugger because less people are on the street to mug!
Braverman, Sunak et al are firmly entrenched in fascist behaviours. The UK believes fascism to be waving swastikas daubed on big red flags- and part of the danger is that people do not see the obvious. Fascism and Nazism are different- Fascism can strip the clothes of Nazism and dress itself up as something else- Christian Nationalism, small statehood, the silencing of any dissent towards your thinking. When you see a government draped in Union Jacks enforcing laws which rip away your right to protest, your right to strike, your right to vote, when they dress up their failure to hold the NHS together or their manipulation of contract tendering to enrich their friends and family, when you watch them mock and revile transgender people, migrants, “lefty lawyers”- you are looking at fascism under a new dress code. And so many British people fail to acknowledge the hypocrisy this government condones. Sunak and Braverman speak with open hatred of the “lawbreakers” arriving in small boats yet Sunak has broken the law twice, Braverman supported breaking the law in a “limited and specific” way… the lawbreaking is only a problem when it isn’t the conservatives doing it.
The dehumanising rhetoric will continue, and more will fall prey to its fervour. I have no doubt that corners will turn in future, that down the line, should I be lucky enough to make it to my later years I will watch documentaries of people tearfully apologising for being radicalised into the demagogues of TERF beliefs or believing that migrants on boats are the root cause of their poverty. But right now, as we live and breathe this slow immersion into rhetoric that becomes more deadly by the day one must wonder how far the British public is willing to go in ignoring the construction of a hierarchy of behaviour to which we are all subject- and when the thumbscrews we’re all forced to wear are tightened, how long until the bulk of us cry out in the pain we’re forced into… and will it be too late to extricate ourselves from being subject to the question: are you an acceptable human?
The Lockdown Files are important- nobody would deny that. Equally, we cannot lose sight of a broader, more terrifying picture in the swell of information from Hancock’s phone. The government continues to attack trans rights, demonise “small boat migrants”, platform ignorance and sow deeper division over Brexit. By all means pay attention to this story- but don’t forget about the rest.
No information in the “lockdown files” has shocked me. So Hancock leaned on the press not to report an influx of cases due to Sunak’s “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme- is anybody shocked that “people mingling during pandemic spread the virus” was a thing? Hancock should be arrested for industrial manslaughter- so should Sunak. Families who lost loved ones due to their hare brained schemes and self indulgent idiocy should be allowed to sue them. They should be castigated, reviled from high to low, never allowed to forget. But these are not shocking revelations that I don’t think anybody ever expected: I mean, really, dear reader- is it absolutely mind blowing to you that Matt Hancock, a man shallower than a Wilco’s spoon pushed to look after his public image? I already knew the man was a seething moron because I had to listen to his waffling prestiges on the news every day. Are you particularly surprised that our Prime Minister Sunak would watch your nan choke on her pleural fluid if it meant an extra £12 in taxes collected? It’s about as surprising as finding out that, shock horror, Boris Johnson likes to shag a lot of people he’s not married to.
But the government’s behaviour prior to and during this pandemic has demonstrated exactly who they were, are- and will continue to be.
Rather than knuckle down, they buckle- refusing to review economic models that have been thrown into abject chaos with the double fisted throat punch of brexit and the pandemic. Instead of focusing on how to protect and enlighten the British public, to combat disinformation, to improve British lives- they sow culture war seeds then use the sweat of red faced nationalists to water them. If it’s not small boat migrants or trans people or “THE GAYS” it’s people of colour or women, all bothering everyone with our polite requests to be treated with a modicum of respect. The government and a compliant media relentlessly feed us with the idea that we need to pull ourselves up with our bootstraps, that it’s nobody’s fault but ours – unless its migrants or LGBT+ people or our mothers, sisters and daughters.
The most frustrating part of the Lockdown Files is that it’s predictably being used by the media to justify a narrative that we were forced to abide by inhumane conditions. Perhaps we were- but what alternative was there? Should we have all taken the risk, never followed any restrictions and just hoped that getting infected with covid multiple times wouldn’t kill or disable us or our loved ones?
Lockdowns were awful. I grieved for my mother in total isolation, couldn’t even hug my father or touch her coffin to say goodbye to her. I didn’t do it lightly. I did it because my mother’s death from cancer was not a simple passing into the afterlife- her body was failing and, much like covid, her lungs filled up with pleural fluid and she drowned in front of me. And if I knew that there was a one in a million chance of suffering that fate, much less passing it on to someone else, someone with a wife and kids, I’d never have done it. I don’t know how much the government misled us- I’d like to. But I don’t regret being in lockdown if it meant that I didn’t get covid more (I’ve had it twice and am currently trying to find out if I have permanent lung damage from last time) and that I didn’t play a part in making more deaths inevitable.
The tories are scum. I’ve no doubt they manipulated us- because that is the essence of the tories. But they didn’t need to do it by enforcing lockdowns… The sleepwalking public in the UK has allowed them to decimate our protest and strike rights, made barely a peep as they enforced harsh new voting laws which currently have an estimated 2 million people without ID, they have unleashed a hurricane of hatred towards minorities and vulnerable people. All of this in plain sight, all of this widely spoken about.
As the tories continue to firm up on their nonsense plans to “stop” the small boats “crisis” one has to roll their eyes. Today, Braverman was quoted as stating that she hopes to “break the business model of people smugglers” with harsh new directives aimed at punishing… the people they smuggle? Firstly, if you aren’t going to do anything to the people smugglers one would assume they won’t care. Secondly- people smugglers. Not known to be the nicest of folk. They don’t and won’t care what happens to the people who get here- because they got paid already. Thirdly- there are ways to easily deal with people crossing on small boats. Opening processing centres in key countries would mean that those seeking asylum could do so from abroad and be retrieved should they be successful. But the government does not wantto solve the “small boats” issue. Because if they did, who would they blame for their uselessness? The moment the government actually makes a depreciation in small boat crossings it will be hailed as a victory but they will never actually try to solve the root issue- because these crossings make a convenient scapegoat. The same with every other minority with whom the government is playing chess right now.
From transgender rights and equalities being the subject of casual debate now, to Badenoch, our “women and equalities” minister who ignores myriad studies about benefit schemes for those suffering menopause, who cheers the bravery of a woman who says she would vote against equality for lesbian, gay and bi people- this government is utterly bereft of policy, they are without direction and vision and rather than any attempt to do better, to help the British people – they unfurl new banners to rally behind in culture war after culture war. The conservatives themselves are the rot at the center of our society- Boris Johnson was the first prime minister found guilty of breaking the law in office, Sunak has now broken the law twice. Braverman has been warned her rhetoric is akin to that of Adolf Hitler and she “refuses to apologise for it”. Hancock mocked the British public, saying we needed to be ‘scared into compliance’- treating us as cattle, rather than human beings with whom he could reason.
The conservatives are not good for the British public- they are malignant, a stain on our country. They help nobody, stand for nobody, stand for nothing. They should rightly be punished for every scrap of information leaked in the lockdown files- but this is not their only transgression, their only crime. They have spent years letting us down, severing our ties to a better economy, a brighter future, deepening our immersion in fake news. They play to the basest crowd, ignoring the majority of the UK who are decent people wanting for better. So if we are to hoist them by their own petard, let that petard weigh heavy with the shrapnel of the tories in totality- not a mere sliver of their crimes, neglect and abuse.
Striking and protesting are not primary actions. One does not ask to finish half an hour early then strike when told “no” any more than one immediately takes to the streets when bills begin to rocket up in price. These are desperate actions, taken as a last resort to call heed to the wider powers of the country that a problem unsolvable by workers, or the public as a whole, exists.
For too long now, the British public has been misled by the twin arms of an utterly ineffectual government and a media machine desperate to spin a gaudy narrative of lazy workers wanting more for less. Glaring headlines shared by Conservative MPs declare that Britain has become a “something for nothing” state- and yet an anonymous healthcare worker striking outside Leeds General Infirmary recently told me “some days it’s like coming in to a hospital in the trenches- I’m not striking because I enjoy it, I’m striking because- whether we’re there or not- it’s not safe for patients OR for staff”. When I spoke to a striking rail worker outside Leeds train station a few weeks ago I was told “my life is practically over. My mortgage went up, my electric and gas went up, my food bills are up, my wife is sick- Whether I strike or not I cant afford to live”.
Striking has long been a fundamental right of workers, but this right has been restricted and squeezed continuously since the dark days of the winter of discontent. In 1980 Thatcher passed anti “sympathy strikes” legislation, halting any wider spread of striking. Balloting was enforced, and the time between ballot and response was decreased from seven days to five whilst postal balloting was also introduced- not only did this involve increased cost, but it also meant determined organisation was required in order to even question adequately the workforce involved in the ballot and even these subversive moves were only the quieter actions laid by Thatcher to suppress strike action.
Unfortunately, the previous labour administration did little to remove restrictions on protest. Blair was reportedly focused more on drilling down on the economy and bringing in results, believing it was unnecessary to scrap the anti protest legislation in favour of simply working constructively to address issues which would prompt strikes.
Prime Minister Sunak’s desperation to enforce legislation around striking which guarantees a “minimum service level” is wholly ironic: minimum service levels are not being met at present, even on non-strike days. When I was thirteen I broke my wrist, and I thought the four hour wait in A&E before I was given a cast was exorbitant: now, 36 hour waits in A&E are the norm: people die waiting for ambulances to arrive or inside of them as they queue for triage outside departments crowded to bursting and understaffed. These issues long predate the pandemic- an NHS staffing crisis has been ongoing for so long that I do not believe we’ve seen normal staffing levels since 2010 at best.
Having worked as a recruiter for the NHS directly for two years, I remember being given the amended pay scale one day and being agog: a fully trained, fully qualified consultant earned just over £100,000 at the time. People will, of course, say this is a high salary- and yet I am willing to bet that those complaining do not have to pay hundreds of pounds for indemnity insurance a year, hundreds of pounds for GMC registration, for parking, for a mortgage within an appropriate distance from the hospital in case they are summoned for an emergency. Those who quickly complain that NHS staff salaries are high too often fail to factor in the huge amount of money doctors and nurses must spend in order to simply progress in their careers.
That pay scale has barely changed since 2016 when I left the NHS’ employ and yet, due to governmental mediocrity we have seen an unprecedented rise in everything we are required to spend on: mortgage and rent have spiralled, uncontrolled bill growth continues, in Labour run councils council tax is the only means of funding as it is widely suggested that the conservatives throttle funding, so council tax bills rise and, of course, the very goods we buy- food, clothing, sanitary products- have continued to grow exponentially in prices. The malfeasance of Truss and Kwarteng led to a fiscal black hole, into which fell the dreams of many- home ownership, reasonable rental prices and more back breaking fiscal requirements fell like lead weights on the shoulders of the British public.
How does the government respond to this shocking burden to taxpayers? By passing legislation preventing us from complaining about it.
But it is not merely workers rights being throttled by the hand of a malfeasant government- the very public’s voice is being smothered under a legislative deluge started by ex Home Secretary, Priti Patel and continued by her contemporary, Suella Braverman.
Patel passed the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill, which was given Royal Assent on 28th April 2022. The bill focused on ensuring the police were given further powers through robust expanse of the “unacceptable protests” clause: a deeply problematic clause which was questioned by many a “lefty lawyer”- for what is an “unacceptable” protest? The act also endowed the Home Secretary with the power to make regulations without having to defer to parliament, essentially widening the scope for prosecution, criminalisation and eschewing responsibility that usually sits in hand with the person in the Home Secretary chair.
Under the PCCSB, you could be charged as a “public nuisance” if your protests were “noisy or disruptive”- unlike those very useful quiet and non disruptive protests we hear of so often in the history books.
As the bill moved through the house of lords, huge sections were excised, deemed too extreme and draconian. Braverman, unable perhaps to create and implement her own legislation, swept the offcuts of this bill up, waited for the PCCSB to pass royal assent, took over from Patel then (ignoring the brief period where she stepped down in disgrace for leaking confidential information), used the new powers included in the primary bill to pass the offcuts unopposed under the Public Order bill.
The Public Order bill essentially criminalises the act of even attending protests- those who have attended protests within five years can be compelled legally to “check in” their nonattendance at subsequent protests and can even be legally barred from referencing or speaking about protests which others may attend on social media, thereby disrupting the possibility of encouraging active participation in protest. Braverman also has the power to give injunctions to those “likely” to protest- and yet the regular crowd of free speech advocates who go to pains to defend peoples’ rights to speak out are suspiciously quiet on this.
Garden Court North chambers had this to say on the Public Order bill:
The right to protest is at the heart of all of the hard-won rights that we enjoy in our democratic society. The Public Order Bill 2022 presents a grave threat to that right and would mark a regressive shift of power away from ordinary people and towards the State.
Not content with stripping protest rights back to the bare sinew, Sunak is now passing legislation so restrictive it even prevents “slow march” protests, where protestors walk slowly in the streets to disrupt traffic.
The overarching question which the wider public should be asking is this: would a government interested in solving problems also actively garrotte the publics’ methods of speaking out about them?
A well run country does not need to pass anti protest and anti strike legislation, because governments which drive results and correct issues are curing the diseases of which strikes and protests are a symptom. One begins to suspect that the disease from which these symptoms emanate is, in fact, a government embroiled in scandal after scandal- from Sunak’s second FPN of his public tenure to Braverman’s lazy dismissal of a holocaust survivor’s warning of her rhetoric, on to Zahawi’s tax affairs which saw him removed in shame- ironic, given Sunak’s taxation snafu over non-do status, or even to the fresh sleaze revelations of Johnson’s securing up to £800,000 loan by a friend he then appointed to a key BBC position and a distant cousin at the bank. We sometimes do not know where to turn in the U.K. because at every juncture lies further injustice, further malfeasance and stricter repercussions for not simply “making the best of a bad situation”.
The normalisation of “suffering for Britishness” is an odd phenomenon, reminiscent of the frog in the slowly heating pan. The citizens of the United Kingdom do not realise that we are, or deserve to, slowly boil in the swamp of corruption pouring steadily from Westminster, subsuming the country and winding us inextricably into the corruption the tories have solidified- and until the British and in particular the English become aware of the steady heat rising around us, we will continue to be scalded by the bad actors who stack the cabinet.
Additionally one must take into account a third arm of state machinery- the police force. The police are an arm of control the government has been all too willing to use at their discretion, creating the bills mentioned above under Patel and Braverman to restrict our rights. The police force continues to be assailed daily by the excoriating light of truth- police are outed as rapists, racists and bigots, all leading to more state protection through watery statements from Braverman and other officials, or by promises of reform which still does not improve the ramshackle-state of either trust in the police, or the actions of them. The police are the physical clenched fist of the state, the government it’s rotting brains, the media it’s fork tongued mouth and with these three pillars in place, we fail to be the country we can be, we fail to keep the rights we deserve and we continue to be pinned supine under the conservatives. A government who takes these radical actions is not a government who will address the root causes- so one must then ask whether a cabinet uninterested in fixing the issues of a divided, exhausted country is a cabinet rotten to the core… and in need of replacement.
Politics in the UK is in tatters. Everyone- from the people I hear discuss it in the streets, to Lord Heseltine on TalkTV, can see that. It’s hardly a controversy to point this out, the intellectual equivalent of leaving an apple on your desk for weeks, watching its skin dry, pucker, rot- then, one day, for no particular reason suddenly jumping up & exclaiming “my goodness, this apple is mouldy!” It’s played out in full view. Amongst many problems including the deep and intrinsic winding of the far right around key positions like Home Secretary, that rot has pushed people who used to be more radical in their leftism- when it was easy, in full swing in the political sphere- into centricism. When you number amongst the dreaded far left who are demonised across the board, what is one to do when the leader of the Labour Party says “like it or lump it”.
Firstly let’s start with a disclaimer. Yes there are idiots amongst the far left. There are also total muppets amongst the center left, dicks aplenty amongst centrists, wankers galore amongst the centre right- and I dont think we need to go into the far right do we. No, I don’t condone the actions of twitter incels who call themselves far left but act like misogynistic weirdos, who spam people’s comment sections, who slurp at the shaft of weird totalitarian figures of communist atrocities past and present. It’s weird behaviour that I don’t understand and I don’t associate with my politics. If you want to think that because I call myself far left I’m lumped in with them I will not lose one iota of sleep over it.
The article Starmer wrote in the Times is misrepresented in several places- but it’s hard to know that considering it’s insultingly behind a paywall. It’s all well and good saying “if you dislike how I run my party you can leave” then monetising that behind a screen that stops you reading it, hardly a brave callout to clear off if you have to pay the Times of all people for the pleasure.
The times journos and pundits sell it as a kiss off in its entirety to the far left. It’s not that, the article itself is a celebration in strides made against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Whilst I’m happy to hear moves have been made to deal with antisemitism, which is disgusting and must be rooted out in the most aggressive terms, I can’t speak to that- I’m not jewish, nor am I a member of any political party and I prefer to take my notes about how to respond to antisemitism from Jewish people. The only way to find out if antisemitism has improved in labour is to listen to jewish voices. Some are happy, some are not and that’s entirely their verdict to make. What I found consternating on a personal level is the self congratulatory tone of a job well done in making strides forward, and yet the complete ignorance of other burgeoning equality issues in the party- and terming yourself the party of equality rankles me deeply. Firstly, to be a true party of equality you may consider writing for a newspaper other than The Times who, upon the murder of trans teen Brianna Ghey on the weekend, went to pains to deadname Brianna, deny that her murder was linked to her status as a trans individual and who has also played an integral part in the anti-trans culture war- which an ex advisor of the Conservatives has resigned over, claiming that Sunak will fight the next election over culture war nonsense. I’m not a stupid man. I know that Rosie Duffield is untouchable. If Starmer did give her the boot, the newspapers would practically gum up with front page stories: “SILENCED AND CANCELLED DUFFIELD- KICKED OUT FOR KNOWING WHAT A WOMAN IS”. She’s untouchable because any move to step her down would ratify her deranged movement in their eternally misplaced idea that they are the victims of their perpetual hate movement against trans people.
Nobody who is sane, least of all trans people, deny that women’s lives are awful- especially with the rise and rise of pindick incels like Andrew Tate, though it goes back further than that. Focusing all your anti misogyny energy on excluding trans people instead of men who quite literally want to subjugate women as sex slaves is something I’ll never understand and yet it seems to be the way of things- and lets be honest, who am I to tell women how to deal with misogyny. I just find it weird that the people saying “we’re literally women lets fight misogyny together” are often described as the biggest threat to women over the radicalisation of a huge swath of young men, the rise of date rape culture which has worsened dramatically in the last 4 years and the all but abolishment of rape punishment under a government who refused to make misogyny a hate crime. It’s entirely possible to stand up for women regardless of their gender. How about we do that- because I don’t see that as radical in any way, I see it as the bare fucking minimum.
That’s enough of a dividing line for me. My support of trans people and women in particular is a hard-line and I’m quite literally happy to end friendships and change my political alignment over it. But if that’s not enough for me to be constantly chewing my nails over labour, how about more?
Brexit. Fucking brexit. Secret upper crust nonpartisan meetings of political leaders discussing how much brexit has decimated our lives. Do you know how offensive that is- that British politicians retire for a couple of days to chat over just how much of a fuckup our lives are, all whilst turning their collective back to the public eye between reciting “get brexit done, unleash Brexit’s successes, turn on the brexit bonuses levelling up vaccine rollout siren”. It’s so insulting. Am I saying this little tete a tete shouldn’t have happened? No, I’m saying we should be INVOLVED. If the UK government knows brexit is a failure and they’re happy to discuss that amongst themselves, just remind me who endowed them with the power to do it? The people they’re currently ignoring in favour of chatting to each bloody other! Even the Times, again, a paper so steeped in the mythology of Brittania being unfettered by leaving the EU has reneged and called Brexit’s time of death. So for British political parties to completely cut out the PEOPLE in this discussion is an egregious betrayal. Did Starmer know about this summit? Did Lammy get his say- so to attend? And why, why were the British people, especially those of us whose voices are hoarse from shouting about the brexit failures, completely circumvented in consultation? Starmer’s labour continues to promise that upon election they’ll make brexit work- by taking advantage of it, but not by reunifying in any way. This line of edict is just as undemocratic as the Tories tearing us out after harrying us into a yes or no then ignoring any indication of what had come before. The very leavers who promised we’d stay in the single market and customs union now tell us it’s good we left them too, as the British economy writhes on the floor turning a disturbing shade of purple. I feel like I’m being gaslit and not just by the ineffable liars in power- but by those I’m supposed to cheerfully vote to replace them. And when I raise that concern, when I say “ah, I dont know how much I like this”, I’m immediately shouted down- Starmer has a plan, Starmer has an ace up his sleeve. I can only go off the words he says- brexit was voted through by people who wanted to vote for a dream and now I’m being told to vote for a dream to undo it! That way lies folly. I just want to vote for reality- is that wrong?
Brexit is an issue we’ve been fighting on for a long time due to its intangibility right? Okay, how about the other culture war bollocks heaped on us by the shovelful every day: Immi-fucking-gration.
“There’s not much between labour and conservatives on immigration”.
Do you know which far left operative said that provocative, dangerous line?
Keir Starmer. On LBC. If that’s the truth, if we have another iteration of labour who are willing to -as Angela Rayner said on TV recently- tag asylum seekers for the crime of COMING HERE TO SEEK ASYLUM then I don’t know, I feel pretty good about not being okay with that. Treating every immigrant and refugee like a criminal when we don’t give them legal recompense to come or assign enough people to help their paperwork process in decent time is not “hard headed common sense” as Sunak calls it, it’s barbaric, a failure ridden system that needs abolishment and replacement with something that does work, is humane, that considers the world that we’re in and that is still suffering from the reverberations of the British empire and our ridiculous colonialist aspirations- people are being displaced from countries WE started wars in then we have the cheek to get mad when they turn up on our shore!
I sit in myriad group chats now on twitter, on WhatsApp, on instagram and I listen to people disparage me, my politics, people like me and my rage continues to grow. Ah yes, I’m the problem, silly little airhead me thinking that we might be able to forge a way forward that pleases reasonable people, that we don’t have to continually appeal to centricism – and I hasten to add that whilst I don’t personally dislike centrists because they are centrists, I eschew the idea that moderation is important when so many bulwarks of society, politics and culture are haemorrhaging simultaneously- we need radical reform and it may mean uncomfortable changes and far reaching reform- but for those who suffer under the status quo, I’m willing to bear discomfort as they have for so long: And anyway how much more discomfort do you need than skyrocketing bills and mortgages, stagnated wages, debilitating viral spread, people forced to strike and disrupt national services, an NHS in its agonal breaths and political lying utterly normalised? Now I need to clarify, yes I understand that in this ridiculous broken system in the UK, we DO have to appeal to a broad range of voters. But if that means appealing to the xenophobes, the anti trans, the “acceptable” culture war nonsense then I am also allowed to lodge a very-big-bloody-problem with it.
To my friends who continually slate the hard left- hi, I’m the hard left. Am I a bad person? Do I seem mean? Do my politics terrify you? Or am I similar to you in a lot of ways but no longer knee jerk react to every person who lodges a complaint with labour’s slide away from radical reform with “OH WELL SEE HOW YOU LIKE THE TORIES THEN”. This tired narrative of “get on board and make changes later” never works- because you somehow never actually make the changes. So many people who claim deep rooted interest in politics want things to change- unless they are affected. I can see it now- “He’s only just been elected, he needs time, that would upset people, oh he’s trying, he can’t rock the boat” or, my favourite one: “it’s not the time”. When is the time to fight for our beliefs and aspirations. It’s a tale as old as time and the people you’re so angry at, AKA the far left, AKA me, are people who have been asking for change for as long as you have and go from being utterly ignored to ridiculed to being told we have no choice but to vote for those who will not enact our will- the difference I see between myself and you is that I haven’t abandoned my more radical views, even if I’ve delayed them to match the crawl of UK political progression. Yes, you will win the next election- and keeping stuff exactly the same is the grossest betrayal of everyone suffering under the mire right now that I can imagine.
Do I think a labour government would do better for many people than the tories? Yes- but that’s not a glowing endorsement of labour and their actions. I have a Donald Trump toilet brush I trust to do a better job than the tories. They are parodies of politics, besuited shills set on benches in parliament to say empty lines about the jobs they’re getting on with and how levelled up we all are, whilst their back pockets positively strain to hold illicit cash. Preferring labour to that isn’t a ringing endorsement- it’s the least one can do. Do I think some of the moves labour are offering to make are good? Yes, of course. I know things will be better in many ways under labour, but being better than disaster isn’t a ringing endorsement. I have to ask, how many sacrifices of things we dearly want and need are people like me going to be asked to make? How far will you go to demonise us and our aspirations rather than facing the literal hard right who are in power now? I see so much garbage about the hard left from people who spend their time on twitter. Apparently its anathema to insult capitalism… How’s that capitalism workin’ out for ya though? Yes there are horrible examples of socialism throughout history, terrible crimes committed by those who espouse communism and absolute fools willing to enact authoritarian communist state politics. I also read a story the other day about an American man who now can’t bend his leg at any joint from hip to ankle because it was crushed at work and he’s too poor to have it fixed, or about an American housewife who died because she couldn’t afford to have the chemo needed to treat her cancer so it just grew inside her. Look at the state of the UK- as people turn their literal power off in their houses because they can’t afford their bills you decry those who lodge their issues with living in heavy capitalism? You want to talk moderation? How about moderating between positive socialist ideals and positive capitalist ideals and finding your moderation there.
I don’t care about Corbyn very much. I know that’ll upset other people who have agreed up to this point. Yes he was monstered in the press, yes I wanted him as PM, some of his actions frustrated me then and they frustrate me now. I don’t think he’s the devil he’s been painted out to be but I don’t think he’s the only hope for leftist discourse and unity in the UK. In fact, I actively refuse to pin my hopes and aspirations on just one person, just one politician because my leftist politics hangs between the hands of every person who believes in it. We are the change, not anyone who sits in parliament. I’d hope he’d agree with that along with anyone who believes in leftist reform. I believe we need broad, brave change across the UK. I believe we need to confront problems both archaic and new. We need to reform education, resuscitate our public health system and not look to privatisation as a fix considering we’ve seen how that works for energy, water and the public travel systems- we need to confront the sinuous twisting of the far right amongst our highest offices & to dispel the hate of LGBT+ individuals and migrants, we need to build in a societal buffer for women to ensure that men who practice vile misogyny face the harshest stricture. I believe we can do it. But that involves change- not maintenance. The system is not fit for purpose. I am willing to watch it be chipped at, provided help is given to those suffering under it now purely because I do not believe blowing it up will be any more helpful than holding it in place as it crumbles. If you ask for me to vote to keep things the same, you’re asking for me to vote for the mire into which we sink- is that what you want? Because It’s not what I want.
I am tired of trying to appease people who do nothing but disparage my politics. Tried of hearing “if the far left don’t like it they can leave”. Fine! This must be the epitome of the abusive political relationship where I’m told to leave my ideas at the door then I can come in and have the obvious stuff everyone wants but nothing else, the bare minimum stuff it shouldn’t even be a thought to ask for. “But you’re tory enabling if you don’t vote labour”- a huge indictment of our voting system; but how far is labour allowed to stray from my ideals before it’s not my reluctance to vote for them with enthusiasm that’s the issue? I don’t like it, I’m told to leave, but then I’m told leaving is tory enabling so a genuine question: What do you want from me?! You keep asking me to go if I don’t like it then telling me that going makes things worse. Exactly what choices are you offering? Now we’re told “if you don’t like my vision, leave”. And go where? Vote for another party who will never see power? I’m stuck- it’s not for me to change my politics, it’s for you to represent them!
To those who read this and react with rage, I want you to understand that your knee jerk reaction to anyone questioning labour comes from fear of the tories winning and I understand it, but if labour win, and if labour maintain this horrendous status quo in ways that benefit you but not the oppressed who have lodged complaints- do you want change that helps everyone, or do you just want to win and make sure that you’re ok, at the expense of the rest.
It is also not radical to point out the failure of capitalism. Look at how our bills and rent and goods continue to escalate. It is hardly a shocking standpoint to rationally ask if this system that ties us to debt works- does that mean socialism is the answer? No. But it means discussion of alternatives that do work should not be anathema.
I am tired of pretending to be more moderate than I am. My politics make sense to me even if they aren’t perfect, even if they are “airy fairy”. I do not want labour to lose, I am not trying to work against them- rather I am trying to force a confrontation between the front bench and reality. Voters do not want to hear the same tory line about brexit and minorities do not want to see how truly disposable we are in the face of voter shares and polling. And those desperate people who flee the war zones our meddling creates do not deserve to be demonised by every party. Unfortunately these stances alone seem to be radical. A shame and an indictment on the British political status quo, and calling that out is not meant to be a defection against labour. It’s a cry to the wider voting public to ask why we accept these as the terms of engagement for voting- because to me they are all adding up to be a bridge too far. I don’t want to not vote for labour, I don’t want to vote for them through gritted teeth. I want to stand behind the party proudly and vote for better- I want them to win my vote, not take it through lack of options. That is not radical.
In his article, Kier Starmer clearly states “we are not going back”. Good, I don’t want you to. But I do want you to move forward. This is not about going back to the halcyon days of the Corbyn manifesto, it’s about moving through the socio-political quagmire into better days. We need PR, we need broad reform to politics and we need political leaders who stand for bold progress- not establishment. If it’s a crime to think that, lock me up.
The rise and rise of polarisation has been a theme of everything I’ve been speaking about for a great many years now. From politics to consumption to the increase of moral panics, and then into the responses to the coronavirus pandemic, humans are being confronted by issues that pose great danger to us. So why are huge proportions of the human race determined to go with outlooks that may damage- or quite literally destroy- us?
There are two main arguments that absolutely flummox me every time they come up- and they do come up, every day. Climate change, and coronavirus.
Studies going back decades show that climate change is a huge threat. Sea levels could rise, the earth could heat up enough to disrupt sea currents which would cause mass death of marine life, the weather could be so destructive that we’d see mass death as crops wither in the fields. The main contributors to this emerging disaster are big businesses who refuse to do anything that may damage their profits- the main enablers are governments, who accept what we can probably call “legal bribes” to legislate protections into law for these businesses to continue. But behind the scenes, those businesses have also sunk money they could have used to change their models for something more green, to flood the internet with disinformation about climate change- and for some reason, a huge subsection of human beings- not big business owners or the politicians they pay for, but just everyday people have taken this information and fashioned it into a fight.
Climate change is not something you can deny if you believe in science. It’s happening. You might not be able to see it every day, but it is happening. It’s like denying the existence of the sea floor- you may have only seen it on documentaries but it is there… Yet these individuals are convinced that it’s all a scam, designed to tell us how to live! The core thinking that seems to revolve around this type of mindset is, as I’ll lay out here, rooted to the idea that essentially these people are extremist libertarians who don’t want to be told how to live. Oddly they’re fine with the laws that say they can’t be gunned down or robbed, that they legally own their own home and so on- just the suggestions they could throw paper and plastic in different bags are the ones they don’t like.
We see the exact same mindset with the coronavirus deniers- because yes, in 2023 people still exist who think coronavirus is a scam, made up. Having caught it in November and still having lung problems now, I can assure you it’s quite real and though my second brush with COVID-19 didn’t kill me, having lung problems 3 months later and having been forced to lie in bed for a solid week, death isn’t the only way viral illness can affect your life. But still, if they don’t deny covid they refuse to imagine a world where we’d continued on as normal and likely almost a billion people would have died. A survival rate of 97% sounds good until you realise that that means if everyone on earth was infected once, 240,000,000 deaths would have occurred just from viral infection. I, though, have been infected twice, some people multiple times. Three and a half United Kingdom’s worth of people would have died just from COVID, then those who needed healthcare outside of viral infection would have died due to overwhelmed hospitals. Supply chains would have completely fractured, goods would have ceased production. Famine, death en masse, long term health issues. All a worthy price to the people who think covid is a scam though!
The prevalence of these mindsets seem to revolve intimately around one thing- a cocksure attitude that you’re so right that it doesn’t matter about the possibility of being wrong because you aren’t, so these heinous scenarios could never occur.
Frustration buds from two main points here: if I’m wrong about climate change, we sink a lot of money into new energy solutions that hasten technological development and we harshly tax businesses for refusing to update their business model. I’ve no doubt a harsh pursuit of green solutions would cause societal change that would cause issues to the populace but we already have issues causing the populace problems -floods in Pakistan that wipe out whole villages, days so hot in the UK that asphalt melts, crop failures in vast patches of eastern Europe due to abrupt weather changes. Complaining about problems when there are problems is reminiscent of those who took pictures of empty shelves during early 2020 and posted them to social media saying “this is what Corbyn’s England would have looked like”, failing to see the irony of posting photos of Johnson’s England looking like their apparent idea of a worst case scenario. No, there is no easy way to pursue green solutions- but when the cost of not doing so is a smouldering crater for a planet perhaps it’s worth doing so.
You, when raising this, will predictably be met with people who will scoff: It won’t happen at all, it won’t happen for a long time or it won’t be that bad. The same absolutist confidence that I see as one of the main reasons humankind is doomed.
The world doesn’t have to follow the worst case scenarios for it to be a disaster. We don’t have to face ecological wipeout for climate change to ruin millions, tens of millions of peoples lives. If the seas currents do change it will affect those whose living relies on the sea not doing so. If the sea levels rise it will affect coastal living. If the climate stays the same as now the horrific flooding and storms and weather irregularities will continue- and that is a disaster already occurring. But the possibility of worse to come is still not enough- because the people who push the oppositional thinking aren’t directly affected; or are, but are not invested enough to care.
Looking at covid- this is not a virus that is simply going to vanish. Thousands of people a week are still dying. “What would you have us do” they will reply, “another lockdown that ruins peoples mental health and does nothing”. I don’t actually know how we could ever tackle coronavirus, but the issue is- there’s a gulf between “doing nothing” and “zero covid” and people refuse to budge one inch, refuse to wear a mask because “they aren’t effective” (I just finished reading my third study that shows they are). I asked an anti masker once, why do they bother you so much and after cornering her enough she confessed the truth. “I just don’t like being told what to do”. The terror I feel, being surrounded by a not insignificant number of people who will risk becoming a vector for a virus that’s ruined my lung capacity because they get offended at not being asked politely if they don’t mind very much to cover their face for five minutes is immeasurable. I can’t not go into this without mentioning how ridiculously obvious it is that these people are wrong. I keep seeing people posting about “adverse reactions to vaccines”. Yes, there were always going to be adverse reactions to vaccines; it’s been a known side effect since vaccines were created, and when you scale that up to billions of doses, shockingly those side effects that we already knew about- happen. You know what didn’t happen? The explosion of severely autistic people you were all talking about 5 years ago. If vaccines caused autism I suspect giving out over 16 billion vaccines might have caused a spike in people with autism… and yet here we are.
When it comes to covid and our thinking- if we’re wrong, you look a bit stupid because you’re wearing a mask when you don’t need to. Masks don’t cause any of the nonsensical rubbish people talk about, if they did, doctors and cleaners and builders would all be sick constantly. The worst that happens if we’re wrong is that you look weird in public. If you’re wrong, you are spreading a disease that can be as bad as a nasty cold and having had a few it’s rude and gross to spread that anyway, it can cause illness severe enough to take a 34 year old off his feet for a week and give him long term health issues, or it can mean someone ends up choking to death as their lungs fill up with pleural fluid. Is it worth that risk? Still, for many of these people, yes- hence my semi withdrawal from a society I was, until now, unaware was absolutely filled with people ranging from deluded to frighteningly callous.
The reason we’re told masks cause disease is because they can’t just rely on “I don’t want to” as an argument on an international scale. The reason we’re told that green solutions would decimate industry is because they think those industries won’t be decimated by an earth that becomes close to uninhabitable. And when it comes to other arguments- about marginalised groups etc, you will often find that it’s not enough to simply dislike others, no- people of colour are causing a “white genocide” just by existing, gay people are corrupting your children with drag, trans people are trying to sneak into spaces not for them… I often wonder if the people who fall into these utterly ridiculous ways of thinking genuinely believe them or they know that “I just don’t like them and I don’t want to change my mind because being wrong equals losing” is a stupid mindset.
Being wrong is not a sin
People seem determined to conflate incorrectness with losing. Being corrected on something you’re wrong about is not losing. Rejecting correct information and clinging to bias, bigotry or abject nonsense because you cant possibly be seen to be wrong is. Being wrong is usually a huge part of how we learn. We study at school and we write our sentences out and the teacher corrects our spelling and grammar and we learn. We make errors in our calculations and we’re shown where we make a mistake and we do better. Why does the idea of being corrected suddenly go from par for the course to equivalent to “losing” as soon as we leave mandated education.
The reason culture wars are such lucrative social currency is that the world has decided collectively that it’s better to fall into a tunnel of disinformation that backs up a lie than to bend to the acknowledgement of the objective truth. And many people without morals exist who are all too happy to partake- from Tucker Carlson whose show is so wildly unreliable that he has had to declare that he does not tell news but is a fictional show, to pundits in the UK like Jeremy Clarkson who is so blithely unaware of his radical hatred of women he writes columns about flogging and sexually assaulting women he doesn’t like.
Hartley-Brewer, Oakeshott, Coren, Johnson- these people’s careers are built on spinning the idea that the objective truth- of good relations with the EU, of climate change, of viral mitigations- are all bad. That we should be able to do exactly what we want, where and when we want because it is our right- and yet when your rights conflict with others physical safety, when your simple wish to display your face to the world consists of an unbalanced risk of viral disease, why is it suddenly feeling over fact, for the people whose moniker has always been, fact over feeling? Fact, climate change is real, you can see it happen in real time. Fact, masks work, vaccines work and covid kills. But we live now in the world of alternative facts, of fake news, a whole deep pool of comforting mistruths that people can dive into if simple reality is too much.
Ultimately, I wish I could say I didn’t care. I wish it was as simple as letting people get on with it. If you want to end up choking to death because of covid or going hungry because you set the world alight, I wish I could let you get on with it. But you’re dragging us down with you. The stupidest most selfish humans in existence are using the rest of us as collateral. And I am sick of it. If you want to die- die. I won’t stop you. But stop wrapping the noose around my neck too, and telling me to stop complaining about it.
This article is mainly aimed at fellow LGBT+ people- but I’d encourage you to read it if you aren’t part of our group, and rather than get offended, upset or confused about it- write to your MP and question why people in the LGBT+ are increasingly feeling this societal disconnection and how they can remedy it. As hate crime and deadly rhetoric ramps up, if your issue is to blame a symptom like LGBT+ people feeling fed up instead of the disease of virulent hate spreading through society like cancer in lymph nodes… you aren’t the ally you may think.
I came out at 15. Before I came out, I was petrified I’d be outed. I grew up knowing I was gay, or at least that I liked other men. I would have done anything not to be outed- then a friend at school I’d trusted started telling people behind my back and I thought, fuck it, people are going to find out. Why don’t I just rip off the bandaid. So I told everyone.
Turns out that was a good decision. Suddenly people couldn’t bully or offend me any more. “Ha, gayboy” was met with “yeah moron, I told you that…”. Suddenly I realised I’d been desperate for people to accept me for who I wasn’t, but I didn’t care if they didn’t accept me for who I was. I had a renaissance with myself- finally I liked me for who I genuinely was, and I set about trying to do two things: make amends for my pre-coming out idiocy, and ensure that other people like me felt safe and happy enough to be themselves too.
When I went to college I tried and failed to set up an LGBT+ group. Only one other person came despite a multitude of people coming out to me- as bi, as trans, as curious. That was fine; it was a strange time where society was largely okay with it- but woe betide you if you went home and told your family. The reasoning behind working hard to set up groups, open chains of communication and be visible as an out gay teen was to spread awareness- and acceptance of- LGBT+ people as what we are: normal. Honestly? The least exciting thing about me is that I like men with big chests and arms- the way heterosexual men treat videos of other men in the gym, I’m certainly not the only one. I just like them a bit more than you. I realised, to my joy, that if you got offended when I mentioned my sexuality, that was very much a you problem- not to mention those who complained sometimes ended up being, to coin a modern phrase, a bit fruity.
On to uni and continually trying to join groups, meet others and spread more awareness that LGBT+ people are just people with an acronym you might not share. Things seemed to be going well. I remember the halcyon days of going quite literal years at a time without so much as a raised eyebrow over my sexuality, I remember the happy societal shift away from the phrases “sexual preference” (I don’t prefer men, I am incapable of being sexually attracted to women) or “tolerance” (I tolerate a sore neck until I can take painkillers, I prefer acceptance thanks). Things seemed to be on the up and up.
Then we come to the modern day.
I remember watching the trans panic start. Now, I already had a good friend who was trans. She came out to me on valentines day in 2013(?) with a huge garbled message, which ended with “and if you can’t accept this then I understand but I wanted you to know”. I laughed- why wouldn’t I accept my friend… I loved her, her gender was irrelevant. She told me about her feelings, her life, what was going on with her and it brought us closer together. I was just happy she was happy. Watching people on the internet occasionally write salacious and stupid rumours around trans people was weird- picking out the story of the one transgender sex offender in a 900 mile radius was a weird argument to me considering if you took a long walk you’d walk past about 50 cisgender offenders- so I raised an eyebrow, but I figured someone had kicked a hornets nest of ignorance and they’d be distracted by sexy M&Ms or gas stoves before long (had to wait til 2023 for that).
But it didn’t die off. Instead what started as an online movement of people who say things like “biology not bigotry” yet making fun of the way people look whilst sharing photos of people with mastectomy scars, writing utter fiction to get angry about or blaming the crimes of non trans men on trans women continued to grow exponentially. Then, inevitably, because trans people are accepted largely in the entire community- suddenly the accusations spread. Even yesterday, Bev Jackson who started the LGB alliance was begging slavishly on twitter for someone who tweeted that “the trans stuff” has made him go against gay marriage to realise that the movement she pushes every day is only meant to ruin some people’s lives, not hers. “Groomer” is normalised parlance about anyone who is LGBT+ or supports us. In America states are legislating against trans healthcare, the parents of transgender people, drag performances and drag queens even being visible- as if men haven’t been in drag since quite literally Shakespeare’s day, as if I couldn’t go into my local city on a Friday night and find 30 cishet men in dresses as “banter” or “jokes”, as if men haven’t been pantomime dames, as if drag hasn’t been a subversive form of expression in our community for decades- And as if trans people haven’t existed in society for hundreds of years too. Suddenly this panic over our long existence has been fanned from embers to a towering inferno of societal ignorance, leaving people like me blinking in the light and heat.
Still, I hoped that there was a way to have rational discussion with people who had increasing fervour against our community. That hope quickly died out.
I used to both want and need acceptance from the odd, flawed cishet patriarchal society in which I’ve been raised- a society I never used to question. I used to want to be able to walk down the street holding hands with another man and have nobody raise an eyebrow, talk behind their hands or call me a slur. I was praying (very atheistically) for the day that nobody gave a shit. That hope is gone. I think people will always be bothered by my sexuality, by people’s gender expression or lack thereof. And what a sad realisation that was- that ignorance will continue and be permitted in a society too lazy to confront its shittiest members. I’ve watched- in thelast month alone- people stand at microphones and state calmly that people like me should be executed, seen footage of bloody handprints left by bleeding humans mowed down by extremists walking into our spaces and snuffing us out, and I’ve heard lawmakers who don’t even understand the complications of chromosomes, gender, hormones, sex characteristics and intersex health conditions pass legislation that strips us of basic access to our rights or prevents us from pursuing our livelihoods as performers. And it’s clearly not enough for us to have the meagre spaces afforded to us by those who purchase bars and deck them out for us- we aren’t even safe in there between those who stand outside with weapons and those who walk in with them.
The difference is, I’m no longer viscerally upset by this. I don’t care any more because I don’t seek, or want, acceptance. I just need it to live in peace- and wanting and needing something is very distinct.
As these ridiculous scenarios have continued to spiral I’ve found myself more and more tired of being asked to be tolerant of narrow minded views of my community, been told we should sit and have constructive conversations with people who hold banners accusing us of paedophilia or grooming, and coming from the side who forces religion, dress code, mannerisms and more on their offspring it’s more than just a hair ironic. And I’m tired of watching a world where these ignorant, shouty fucks seem to be gaining ground- but the cherry on top is also being consistently surprised when people I think I can trust, from politicians to celebrities who take the crown of “ally” for themselves, to friends, suddenly break cover and reveal their own participation in this forest fire of ignorance. This is why I’ve coined the phrase that inspired this article.
The entire idea behind LGBT+ separatism is to teach young LGBT+ people that societal acceptance is, for many of us, a need so we can live in peace- but it is not something to want beyond that. We should not want to participate in a society rooted in misogyny, built and paid for with white supremacy and which actively treats us with varying degrees of scorn, sympathy or vitriolic hatred.
LGBT+ people don’t choose our identities. When I was a child if you’d given me the ability to change my sexuality I’d have done it in a heartbeat. Now, I’ve been gay for so long and it’s so deeply wrapped around my perception of the world and how I’m treated I don’t think I’d ever change it even if it meant the difficulties that come with it being removed. But so often the argument of choice is levelled at us. People are genuinely foolish enough to believe someone wakes up one day and rashly decides they’re a different gender or that they like their same-gender friend as more than a friend. It doesn’t happen that way for the vast majority of us, and if you’re in executive control of your sexuality or gender then you’re different than I- but choice or not, it’s worthy of respect, rights and equality.
I’m aware of the dangers of this movement- becoming lax about the necessity of acceptance is a byproduct of this type of disillusionment and we can never lose sight of the idea that society does have to offer us some acceptance, simply to ensure our existences are not threatened and legislated against. The goal is not to move away from striving for that, demanding and making the case for progress in our safety- it is simply to offer an alternative to being exposed to the daily humdrum of this flawed society.
The ideal scenario would be an island populated only by LGBT+ people, where we only interact with each other. A pipe dream of course, but one I sometimes find myself imagining.
People will, of course, assume I think our community is perfect and we’d create some utopic existence. I do not. I am aware of the problems in our community, mostly perpetuated by white cis gay men like myself. It’s my sincere belief that we’d be able to confront and deal with these issues if we created this separatist society- but lets be honest, it’s a pipe dream anyway, and I as a cis het man benefit from natural high status in our community- and I fucking hate that that is the case. Our community is a microcosm of wider societal ignorance and gender, skin colour, ability etc shouldn’t (and I would hope wouldn’t) dictate societal superiority in that world.
My intermediary wish is for us to create pathways to withdraw from participation in this society as much as possible, to form our own subculture, our own ways of navigating outside the mainstream- like rocks at the bottom of a rushing river and the network between them, I want to move through life surrounded by those who also seek refuge from this ridiculous society. Some would call this an echo chamber- name it how you will, disparage it if you must. Your participation in a society that necessitates this type of action is the reason for its existence.
How we achieve this, I wish I knew. There would be, must be, should be ways for us to create this network, methods to create rules that apply, resources we can rely on that can create a buffer between us, if we number enough, and wider society- the generation of a sub culture specifically designed, catered for and administrated by the wider LGBT+ community. But I don’t know for sure. I just know that as society continues to demonstrate its malignant denigration of us, I continue to become more enthusiastic over finding a workable alternative for a community who has suffered endlessly under religion, under heterosexual cisgender politicians and entitled, deluded public figures who aren’t even in our community but seek to command control over what it is, who is in it and how we live.
This is a cisgender, heterosexual person commenting on an article saying specifically that more people are identifying in England and Wales as LGB+.
When it comes to the LGB alliance, the only answer those in our community stupid enough to try and seek acceptance from those who continue to hate us ever give me when I ask exactly what they have done for our community is – “They support the rights of people to be same-sex attracted”. So not stopping the government deporting LGB people (which, by the way, trans people can also be), to countries that will cut their heads off? Not lobbying the government for strengthening of equality laws to ensure that we don’t suffer discrimination like I did in the workplace? Just a movie nobody saw and making you feel like you’re justified in your bigotry? That’s not helpful. They did however publish a tweet suggesting gay marriage was pointless because “not enough” of us use it. I was unaware there was a quota for when gay marriage is a good idea, or that it was a finite resource we all needed to get for ourselves.
When it comes to the enablers of bigotry above, or the people who embody that bigotry with their stance against us, if they don’t want us in their society- fine. I get it. I don’t wan’t them in society either. Small difference being I’d like them to educate themselves into not being arseholes and some of them want me to be imprisoned just for being alive.
You see the difference? I want ignoramii to fill their empty brain cells with knowledge of why bigotry isn’t cool- bigots want us to be imprisoned or killed. There’s a difference. I wish we were like oil and water, that I would sink past the phobic in the world and be able to move on with my day without even realising they were there. So my question to the community is: is it possible? Is it workable? Can we do it?
There will, inevitably, be backlash to me even writing these words- people accusing me of heterophobia or cisphobia. To that I’d like you to accept one very large, long eye-rolling movement from me. If you dislike me for my sexuality, please dont be surprised that I dislike you for your opinions. And if you are a homophobe, why the hell do you want my approval any more than I’d want yours? Overall, the accusations of cisphobia are dumb (im cis…) and heterophobia are laughable- much like a white Brit claiming to be experiencing racism because a black person calls them cracker- feel offended by this article all you want- then turn around and walk out your front door into a society and a country that accepts you entirely, that doesn’t cause you issues based on your identity and understand that the reason your shoulders don’t sag when you leave your home is because you emerge into a society that is made for you- a luxury many of us don’t experience.
I am tired of being part of a group that is demonised for its worst members or its imagined crimes by a group who refuses to get its own house in order. I am sick to my back teeth of institutions like the Church, thick with well defended paedophiles and based on a book that condones slavery, rape and forced marriage or misogynistic nonsense being held up as a moral authority, over a community who are forced to gather in the dark spaces we’re reluctantly given. And most of all I’m tired of trying to cater to a society who believes people like us are wrong because it is too narrow to realise that an identity that isn’t a carbon copy of their own is not wrong.
Overall my aim in writing this piece is to start the process of making links with others who feel the same and beginning the process of forming the links to build a separatist network. Your gender, skin colour, age, disability does not matter in this group- it is simply about founding a community in a new sub culture that exists within the bowels of this corrupt system in which we’re trapped and offering solace in a world we are forced to participate in- but no longer wish to.
British culture is built on an iron strong foundation of the glamorisation of suffering for your patriotism- and seems to intertwine those two ideas into one. From phrases like “just lie back and think of England” when you’re in a situation you’re suffering through to ridiculous notions of “blitz spirit”, we are a country in a torrid love affair with the fantasy of our own suffering somehow being noble, a country unable to break the ropes of an oppressive government because we simply cannot extricate ourselves from the idea that this is what we’re allotted: we are not meant to suffer for our nationality, and it is time for us to come to this collective conclusion, and strive for better.
Austerity was a political choice. The levers to create it were pulled at the end of the old labour government in 2009 in response to a worldwide recession, in order to try and pare back money the country was deemed not to have and to prevent us from entering the type of runaway inflation and decimation of various sectors of the UK economy that- ironically- we’re getting a hearty taste of now. The tories took emergency cost saving measures and unbolted the safety wheels, cash-grabbing money back from the British public under the guise of protection. This affected public services which have never recovered since. Austerity has caused mass death. We can put this alongside the government’s handling of coronavirus, both the virus itself and not funding mental health resources, as another way in which they have failed many people who would otherwise be here with us.
To someone my age (I am 35), austerity and its reverberations are still felt now. I am “used”, I suppose you could say, to a country that chronically underfunds its resources. I’ve done limited travelling, but I do remember being amazed at how clean, up to date and timely German public transport is. I went to Cologne in December 2017 to enjoy the Christmas markets with my then boyfriend. Everything was lovely: the streets clean, the trains showed up exactly when they should and even some of the architecture that reminded me of England’s brutalist office buildings thrown up in the seventies were in good repair. I found myself raising my eyebrows at the regularity, pricing and ease of the public transport systems. I had a similar experience in Portugal with trains so cheap, regular and timely that I was amazed at how they ran. It was impressive- but public transport that shows up on time is not, actually, amazing or revolutionary. It’s what should be expected.
Yesterday my train home was delayed because flooding on the tracks meant the driver was stuck elsewhere and another had to be found. These things happen, of course, but it’s symptomatic of the UK’s horrific infrastructure. Our public transport up north is notoriously- to coin a northern phrase I love- shite. Old trains that break down, are loud, crowded and infrequent. Between the companies who run these lines and a government who doesn’t care about the north it’s not surprising. But we’re used to it, until we see that it can be done elsewhere. Did you know, in Japan, rail operators kept an almost defunct platform functioning for years, to get one girl to school? I wonder if the UK would do that…
As systemic problems always do, this spills beyond my idle frustrations with substandard public transport. Strikes abound in the UK now- rail, postal, university, healthcare, public servants and more are furious, and it isn’t simply that people are furious about pay- which, just so it’s clear, is a perfectly valid reason to strike on their own. People are striking because their working conditions are, and I am quoting from a doctor friend of mine, “abysmal- like working in a field hospital”. Our public services are collapsing around us. In the middle of last year we were warned about possible energy shortages, blackouts, food shortages. And how do the establishment respond to these stories? Firstly when I say “establishment”, I have to point out that I am now of the firm opinion that most of the UK press is an arm of it. So let’s look at the press!
How did the media pundits amongst us respond to worrying stories of blackouts? Why, well known right wing columnists eagerly inked their pens and wrote that treasured phrase from above: blitz spirit! I mean, they got through blackouts in the war, didn’t they? It built character! The minor difference being there was a war at the time. These blackouts have yet to materialise but if they do, it’s not because the Luftwaffe are dropping shells on us- it’s because the government has never wrested energy companies under control, worked to forecast the actual infrastructure the UK needs, implemented proper taxation against the hyper rich (both individuals and companies) and put that money into the regulation, restoration, upkeep or improvement of energy infrastructure.
We were warned there could be blackouts and the press’ response was: “get candles and enjoy the quiet, peasants”. Ironic, also, that we were forecast energy shortages- most of us are afraid to put the big light on now. Remember the stark rebukes of our fathers shouting it was “like Blackpool illuminations in here!” when the big lights were on- ironically now the country has scaled back so much on helping with the price of energy bills it wouldn’t shock me if our living room bulbs ended up a more decadent display of wealth than the whole promenade’s flashing cacophony.
How about the food shortages? Most of these warnings were two pronged- the damage done to import/export by an almost hilariously badly implemented Brexit deal means that it’s harder and more expensive to bring goods into the country and, when they are here, there aren’t enough workers to get the goods on the shelves. The escalated prices are passed, through governmental lassitude, to the customer- so you’re paying more money for less readily available goods. The press was absolutely fervent in its desire to advertise poverty porn, running stories about the positive side to fasting (fasting is a choice, not eating because you can’t afford food is called, say it with me, starvation), or which types of food you can eat even when they’re mouldy. They were happy to platform MP’s like “30p Lee” Anderson who claims, still, that you can make meals for 30p. Lee, as an MP, earns £82,000 a year by the way. Even today Lee posted a photo on twitter of a “30p breakfast”, of two weetabix and milk. 4 pints of milk is £1.65 and a box of 48 Weetabix is £5.50- are we allowed to go to Tesco and ask if we can get our milk and weetabix in daily 30p sized assortments? I shouldn’t say that should I, that will be Lee’s next bombshell bill in parliament… and the government are so on the nose about their distaste for the working class it’ll likely be termed the “let them eat cake” bill.
A brexiteer recently, someone who somehow STILL supports Brexit as not an abject failure, told me we need to “be more positive and make the best of it”. I’m sure she meant that to be helpful but I read it as “ignore reality and try to eke some joy out of the utter ruination of our economy based on hubris”. If you voted for brexit, I don’t hate you. If you still support it, this far down the line, I think you’re utterly foolish and are one of the people who this piece aims to wake up.
Our suffering has been normalised- we’re told by press and by our very parliamentary representatives that it’s normal to be cold, in the dark, hungry, sick, unable to not go to work, forced to walk office corridors with people who think wearing masks is an infringement of their rights but their covid breath isn’t an infringement of yours. And we accept it.
That’s the point that makes me want to tear out my own hair. So much of the British populace accepts it! And I’m not talking about the belly crawling shoe kissers who thoughtlessly worship career politicians like Boris Johnson (e’s so relatable, I could have a pint with him- me nan died in her care ‘ome cos of ‘im but ‘e did ‘is best), of course some people exist whose entire raison d’être is to gently caress the loafers of their “betters”. I don’t concern myself with that type, I can’t help them and frankly, I don’t want to after many years of trying. I mean the people who grumble and mumble, who moan and mope- and who still accept it. The people who are truly fed up but who never speak truth to power. Those who are as fed up as they should be with the government but who do not act are entirely antithetical to improvement. They grumbled and mumbled as the cliff edge of brexit came closer and closer, they whinged and griped as the government peeled back our protest rights not once but twice, they shook their heads and frowned as the government gripped our right to vote in it’s hand and squeezed until it stopped flailing… The people who are completely subsumed by the 1984-esque message of “it has to be this way and we need to make the best of it” are lost, but those who know it’s unrepentant bollocks and who still don’t fight back infuriate me.
The country will continue to collapse around the ears of everyone in it and some of us are working both behind the scenes and in the open to push a critical mass of the public into calling for better. Many of us are forming broad networks to counter the insidious message of “suffer for being British, you are British because you suffer”. And still, still sitting in their dark kitchens, fingers white with cold, a core knot of Brits who hate it but don’t stand up against it, throw their fine chains around our necks and hold us collectively in place! If everyone who was sick of this industrial fuckery took to the streets we’d petrify the government into action before they could snicker at us.
Let me be the first, the loudest to break this spell which has so thoroughly entranced so many.
You deserve better.
You, as a person, do not deserve to worry about how much it costs to put your light on. You don’t deserve to buy the cheaper cuts of meat because you can’t afford the normal ones. You do not deserve to shelve the idea of property ownership. You do not deserve to have to move to a smaller place because your landlord put your rent up and your employer’s kept your salary the same for 7 years. You don’t deserve to drag yourself, coughing, sweating and still shivering, into work because you can’t afford a day off and your boss legally does not have to let you. You don’t deserve to wonder if you can get away with one more slice of bread from the packet if you just scrape off the little green bits (I did it recently, it’s not pleasant). You don’t deserve to work 8 hours a day with an hour’s commute either side, where the transport is late and costs you so much it eats over a quarter of your salary but where if you work from home pundits like Isabel Oakeshott call you entitled. You don’t deserve a government who sees you strike from your job, not because you’re greedy but because- work or not- you can’t afford your bills, your rent, your goods any more or because the conditions you’re working in are so dire you are getting PTSD.
Britain does not have to be a country of abject misery. We’ve done this to ourselves, imbibed a past that, in large part, doesn’t exist and the parts that do don’t deserve to be wooed across our front pages because they are already romanticised by the fools typing them with no clue of the suffering they reference. Of course they suffered during the war- it was a war. And I’m tired of hearing about how you grew up with frost on your fucking windows; because you did, doesn’t mean I should- do we, or do we not, want to improve conditions for the human race as we grow, do we or do we not want better for our children than we had?
We are a country who tells its young to go to unprepared schools to catch coronavirus whilst telling them to get better grades on harder tests to apply for jobs that need experience and a degree we’ve made more expensive- then, finally, an employers says yes and offers you a salary that means you’ll never be able to save enough to buy your own house. Asking for more means you’re greedy, so we accept the miserable salary because maybe we can cut back on our designer coffee- the coffee that used to be £2.80 that’s now £5- it’s wise for a capitalist to bump up their prices but stupid for us to buy it, so we don’t, and yet still – no savings because the rent on your run down flat went up and the bus that sometimes just doesn’t show up is more expensive… and we tell people this is normal as if it is not the definition of wrong.
We take misery from the shoulders of the older generations, reshape it into a whole new type of trauma than they suffered, and then tell kids how easy they have it.
Being endlessly condescended to by people who normalised their own misery and abuse is tiresome, so here is another key message that must be forced out into the British populace like a vaccine against this ridiculous rhetoric: what you went through was terrible, and shouldn’t have happened to you. Just because you survived it, doesn’t mean we all should have to.
We have utterly normalised suffering at every level of our society- and why? What has it brought us? What is the grand old payoff for all our noble British suffering?
Nothing positive can, or will, come from the British continuing to embrace warmly the notion that our immiseration somehow magically creates a better, stronger country. It’s for those of us with the strength and with the conviction to gear up and march amongst the throngs of those who still embody this message to disabuse them of it. Suffering does not make you British. Britishness does not have to make you suffer. It is not just that you deserve better because everybody does, but because when you accept worse conditions for yourself this has a collective effect on everyone around you- when the strongest amongst us accepts poorer, those less strong must do the same and for much too long, the strongest amongst us have been forced to accept less.
Britain can and will be a prosperous country filled with people who are happy to be here, not because we suffer under a government unbothered about its country, but because the country will take care of us again. We need broad change- to legislation, to our dealings in the world- but most importantly, to our own self perception. We do not deserve the continual recycling of harsh anti British rhetoric camouflaged by the act of waving a union jack or wearing a golden crown as it’s said. The establishment is arguably anti-British, calling for us to chin up and accept our difficulties- the true patriots among us are calling for a final end to the long suffering of our lives, to the reformation of a system which has seen me, at thirty five see three recessions. Our leaders must not be weakly constructed from the same tattered cloth as those from before but be those strong and brave enough to break the rusted chains of suffering that we are forced into and chart us a new course.
Does all this seem hyperbolic? Good. Too long in my short life have I watched people in this country languish and have the pavlovian urge to enjoy that suffering. If this writing lights even one fire in one other British person’s heart then so be it. We deserve better. I’ll say it until I’m no longer here to- because the establishment won’t.
LGBTQ+ existence has long been pitted as a culture war where the bejewelled combatants assail everyday ways of life, hurling gay grenades down the halls of institutions like American congress or men in leather pants and harnesses are kicking in the doors of middle England to convert your children. There is no war, and it’s time to quite literally put down your guns.
I had an argument today which I’ve screencapped for your perusal. As an Englishman I find American obsession around guns and gun laws to be absolutely gauche. But most of all, when men crow about their love of carrying guns I look at people like that with a mix of utter suspicion and- frankly- derision.
I find this type of delusional thinking objectively fascinating. The lack of nuance never fails to amaze me: if I walked into a kitchen and saw a man brandishing a knife I wouldn’t bat an eye- contextually it’s normal even if a knife is a deadly weapon- but if I saw a man brandishing a knife walking down the street I’d be pretty within my rights to think “well… that’s not good”. Same with a gun. In the right context, guns don’t scare me: I’ve been on shooting ranges and guns in that context are normal- I’ve also walked past the mint in Leeds where money is created, and had police with P90s stand looking at me warily. It’s intimidating, and it’s done for one of two reasons: to avert danger, or to threaten it.
Men with guns aren’t out stretching their firearm’s legs, there is a reason behind why they carry weaponry and walking out of my favourite gay bar after a show to find a line of men dressed up like marines rejects fingering the trigger of an AK47 is, understandably, nerve wracking- and yet honestly mystifying.
To act like fear is not the motivator for carrying guns- why else has anyone ever carried a weapon in history- either to do harm, or protect themselves from it- so which scenario do these anti drag folks envision- protecting themselves from drag queens or wreak harm on them. Ironic too, for people used to carry sidearms back in Shakespeare’s day… when this newfangled “men in dresses” thing started, because there were no women in Shakespeare’s plays, only men in drag.
Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps it’s rage. Either way it’s misplaced. If it’s rage, be reminded that drag queens aren’t trying to convert your children: it’s impossible to do that and a huge swath of the LGBT+ will tell you so. If it was possible to convert, how many of us would have chosen the path of least resistance in our youth to avoid this ridiculous argument we’re forced into. If conversion was possible, conversion therapy would work: it doesn’t, it leaves most of its victims psychologically scarred enough that they don’t act on their urges, but it doesn’t remove them. I’d also hasten to point out that the existence of conversion therapy speaks to who is trying to “groom” whom into being like the other.
If it’s fear that necessitates dragging firearms around, which I suspect, I fail to see what’s so scary about a man in a dress and fake nails, other than the possibility of a catty comment or being accidentally blinded by flying sequins. But can we be surprised that so many are radicalised into thinking LGBT+ people are creating a WAR on normativity? Look at the messages pumped out by conservative media outlets.
Each of these things has been described by Fox News as having a “WAR” against it
If there was a war; we wouldn’t stand a chance. 3.5% of Americans identify as gay or lesbian. 0.3% identify as transgender. If 3.8% of the population waged war it’s not exactly going to go well- is it. But conservative types are desperate to push this narrative that anyone outside of their normative model is assailing it, coming for your way of life, trying to FORCE you to be like them.
Making small concessions towards a tiny fragment of the population isn’t war. Not asking people personal questions that you don’t want the answer to any more than we want to give it is not war. If you ask if I have a wife and I say no, and you tell me I should be married at my age and I just smile and say nothing you’re being intrusive- why not leave it instead of prying further then being offended when I tell you I’m gay? It’s like purchasing a rod, waiting for it to arrive, taking it out of the box then handing it to someone and asking them to hit you with it.
It may come as a shock: I don’t want there to be more gay people in the world: I want the people who are to be able to come out and be happy if they so wish, I want the people who are trans to get their healthcare and get on with their lives, and especially, I want people so brainwashed by the endless shouts of WAR, WAR, WAR against them to let go of the rhetoric and realise they’re not being threatened by gay people- but by their perception of us: you’re fighting ghosts. Yes, you might get fired if you call me a slur. I might get fired if I call someone a slur… it’s not a right I have that you don’t, simply that there are no slurs to describe you and even if there were I wouldn’t use them- but of course, normative culture has a morose obsession with trying to make normal words slurs. TikTokers like Nicholasvanj call heterosexual people “upsetterosexuals” or “straggots” and then face deluges of “HETEROPHOBIA” in their comments. People constantly decry the use of the word cis when it’s literally a descriptor like “tall”, “athletic” or “interesting”. If you don’t want to be called cis I won’t call you cis- but I’m sure going to be confused about how you’ll wring insult out of a factual descriptive word with no negative connotations, and I’ll make extra sure that you don’t use any offensive lingo either- you’d be fascinated by how many people offended by a biological descriptor like cis throw around anti trans or homophobic words with what they believe is impunity.
The saddest part is that most virulently anti LGBT+ people seem miserable, obsessed with something that isn’t their concern. I cannot imagine spending my life wrapped so intimately around something I find disgusting. But they cannot simply disengage because there almost seems to be a need to create a dark shibboleth of the community, to make us the enemy that worsens their lives, poisons their water and steals their precious children into depravity. I don’t just want them to stop because they endanger my life with their increasingly provocative rhetoric: I want them to stop because I don’t like seeing miserable people yelling about my private life 24/7 and I think they must have better things to do with their time: Imagine how much happier you’d be if you stopped worrying about imaginary genitals or whether I’m a top or a bottom. So much free time to knit, to go to the gym, read, drink beer, I don’t care- just stop obsessing over people who, frankly, want nothing to do with you.
Heteronormative men in particular are desperate for there to be some sort of attack against them- constantly pushing the rhetoric that they are having their way of life dismantled, their freedoms taken away, their free speech censored. Unfortunately this is what parity looks like: when you finally get held to the same standards as others it’s not because we’re taking your rights away, it’s that we’re applying societal norms to you that your predecessors did not face. Let’s imagine there is this fabled war though, and when they win, when they finally take over… then what? I don’t understand the world that the men who espouse such toxic nonsense actually want, and frankly I don’t think they do either. If you rid the world of the LGBT+ and the feminists and the feminine men, how long do you think it would be until the less masculine men were up next, charged with feminising the real alphas… and which group would you be in? If every man suddenly became a super masculine paragon of manliness it would be a flash before they turned against themselves- they have to have an enemy to survive, because the whole ethos of the “alpha” male is victimhood garbed as strength, and if nobody is there to pick on them.. what then? It’s an ideology that folds in on itself like poorly done origami the moment it’s subjected to critical scrutiny, and one too many men fall into to expunge blame for their own failings when they are often the arbiters of their own misery against each other.
The fallacious thinking of the meninist crowd is made complex by people debating the grossly vapid talking points of empty fools like Andrew Tate, who likes to spend his time failing to antagonise 19 year old women on the internet or by lionising the actions of those cosplaying Navy SEALs outside drag bars when it’s really very simple: Men have spent years being lied to by media, shown movies where masculinity is control, manliness is anger, where if you just keep pestering, eventually she’ll say yes- from James Bond movies to every other action movie dross, negative masculinity is at the forefront of most of our historical media. Men grow up being told if you’re rude and dismissive to women they’ll do what you want because all women secretly want bad men- but wait, no, feminism is ruining it, making women think they have equal status? You have to put effort into dating? To men who think like this, I have to ask: do you even like women? I saw an interview with a meninist recently who argued his girlfriend should not be allowed to go on holiday without him because other men looking at her is disrespectful to him. Security with a partner comes from trust, and if you cannot trust you are deeply damaged. Forcing someone into fidelity by simply refusing to allow them to go anywhere and do anything is not a paragon of masculinity, it exemplifies true fragility- and if you disagree, reverse the roles and ask yourself how you would feel about a woman averse to allowing her partner to go on holiday without her…? Control freak? Crazy?… Insecure. It’s no different in the inverse. A partner is just that: someone on equal standing who supports you as you support them, and if you’re too weak and fragile to be in a relationship with an equal I want to heartily assure you- it’s not women who have the problem in that scenario. Strength seeks strength, so if you hope to find a weak willed woman who will do what you say it’s because of your own inherent weakness, not because of your strength.
Further, LGBT+ people aren’t coming for your way of life. Many LGBT+ people call for integration into cishet society and whilst I understand it, the older I get the more I want some form of base separatism. I want to be left alone to live my gay life in a gay subculture that barely bumps against straight culture. I don’t want to have to mask my irritation at insensitive questions about my sex life, or feign patience when I listen to someone say “I’m fine with it, I just wish they’d leave kids out of it” when I have always known I was gay and was suicidal as a child and into my mid teens because nobody could or would help me understand it, and despite this endless patient explanation still being told “but some people might take advantage”- again, creating imaginary “what if” scenarios proves to me only that you’re more interested in living in an imaginary world than the physical one. If you want to have a realistic conversation about indoctrination lets talk about forcing children to say the pledge of alliegance, or splashing water on their forehead so they don’t go to purgatory forever or relentlessly pestering your young children about if they have a girlfriend or a boyfriend… or is is that there’s good and bad types of grooming and indoctrination?
Society is crowded with bigots riled up by media pundits whose mission is to make you think everyone who isn’t a carbon copy of you- skin colour, political affiliation, sexual proclivities- is coming to destroy your life. Ironic, then, that they so readily destroy lives that they see as apart from their own. If your existence is maintained via the dismantlement of other peoples’ normal, perhaps your normal is the aberration.
When it comes to masculinity, the very idea of feeling so threatened by a drag artist that you hover outside their work with a loaded gun is not masculine: The essence of masculinity is security, displayed by being so unbothered by gun toting yahoos that you cooly stroll into work unbothered by the threat of their presence. If you want to shame people for dressing up to be that which they are not, might I suggest you take off your store bought army garb, holster your unused firearm and realise you’re just as much- if not more than- a cosplayer as those you hope vainly to threaten.
From the top job to opposition parties, from the ineffectual reporting of “untruths” and “unlawful actions” by the government in a media who, wholesale, sanitise the actions of the inept in power, the United Kingdom suffers from an insidious sickness: political lies. Here, today, a stark reminder that this should not be normal: that we deserve better from politicians, from our media- and from each other.
Rwanda, ‘The migrant problem’ and fundamental falsehoods
Rishi Sunak’s government is currently trying to re-sanitise itself- not quite a return to the norm; for example, the “party of law and order” is pushing, through sub-standard MP’s like Jonathan Gullis or public liabilities like Suella Braverman, to break human rights laws, and the “party of fiscal responsibility” keeps haemorrhaging leaks about misappropriation and misspending from PPE to fraud write-offs to wasted money on a brexit festival: it’s more of a re-branding. The twin forks of lawfulness and lawlessness, fiscal idiocy and fiscal responsibility show a party divided. And even when you legalise disgusting plans like “the Rwanda plan” otherwise known as government sanctioned human trafficking, its legality takes nothing from its repugnance. Using the perceived face of the public, MP’s like Gullis push the angry, nonsensical and demonstrably false opinions of a British public that simply does not exist: a majority of the British public, contrary to the home secretary’s claims of yesterday, support refugee protections along with broad reforms in the UK’s operation, including opening further migrant processing centres in the UK. Remember also that at last count around 77% of claims were upheld, meaning deporting to Africa will cost much more as those who are approved are eventually settled regardless.
The furthering of this agenda is more unneeded proof of a government in tailspin: a plan grandiose enough to snare headlines and useless enough that the perceived “problem” with migrancy will continue: for those in doubt of this, let us take a moment to ask whether a roulette spin of possible deportation will deter people so desperate to try that they will climb into a half deflated, crowded boat and sail across a choppy sea, running the risk of an incident much like the one which occurred last week leading to death.
The government is lying about this plan. It will not deter migrants. It will not increase safety. It will not prevent people trafficking, and is, in fact, the legalisation of trafficking persons by a government more wrapped around ideological opposition to refugees than invested in border management. And this is by design: the more the government and media demonise migrants, the more the unthinking masses attribute their issues to these migrants rather than a government who has held power for twelve years, has had an overwhelming majority for three. If the government truly wished to do so, it could prevent migrancy in almost totality: it does not, because migrants are a useful scapegoat: but how many migrants have voted for your taxes to go up and prevented runaway inflation? And one must stop for a moment to marvel at the not funny but incredulous laughter inspiring parity and parody of a government who declares its most diverse cabinet in history, whilst preventing families like their own from settling peacefully here.
The government continues to spin the pop-culture issues like mass migration, the culture wars (from trying to strip royal titles from those they perceive as inferior despite this flying in the face of “chosen by God” to blaming the actions of sick, perverted men on transgender women and more) because they must, to maintain power, divert blame.
Braverman, when questioned on the fiscal irresponsibility of her Rwanda deportation scheme along with its general success prospects, accused her opponent, an SNP politician, of becoming “ideological”- an irony. Founded evidence shows that the UK has failed to create safe routes for refugees in key areas across the world- and this was shown in a stark and gut-churning select committee in which Braverman, who has aspired to the Home Secretary role for many months, who left in disgrace after leaking privileged information, who was mysteriously reappointed by Sunak despite this- could not provide a single safe and legal route for a high risk refugee. An ideology is a system of beliefs to which you cling even in the face of evidence that it is incorrect- and Braverman clings to the belief that refugees, not tory ineptitude, are the net cause of UK issues. But this is not unique: other areas of the UK in crisis are easily shown to have been failed continually by the tories in the last years and yet the issues in these areas are continually attributed elsewhere.
One must ask at what point the Conservatives do plan to take account for their leadership.
Failing the NHS-a capitalist choice
The NHS is always going to lose money. It’s clear that you must face that fact: healthcare is not, at its core, a money spinner despite the clear necessity of its’ duties. It is not a luxury, but a fundamental right- and in the UK it is currently neither.
The government’s determination to try to wring profit from the NHS is disturbing. There are pragmatic models of healthcare governance which show that fiscal competition can sometimes be a driver of increased health outcomes- but studies like this fail in totality to account for the humanity – and, worryingly, human cost of life or quality of life- behind these studies. Outsourcing of healthcare may, as Wes Streeting, labour health secretary, says, help the NHS to function if done on a limited and short term basis- but Streeting’s determined positioning of those ideologically opposed to healthcare privatisation as “the real conservatives” misses out on the fundamental reasons behind why the NHS is lauded as a brilliant institution. Healthcare is not and should not be a for profit model, and ensuring that any costed privatised health brought in has no say in the NHS and simply provides the service at minimal taxpayer cost, should be seen as a sign of the utter dereliction the tories have run the service to.
Whilst tory ineptitude may force us, through lack of options, to outsource- one has to ask whether you can call for wholesale reforms whilst also giving temporary control of NHS services to the highest bidder: to fix problems, one needs a holistic approach; outsourcing services is a blocker on long term observance of those services and their issues, which will prevent resolution. Worse still, those in direct power are determined to stand in the way of NHS improvement: diverting blame, obfuscating stories about medical staff leaving due to exhaustion and a basic reluctance to fairly compensate highly trained workers in literally lifesaving roles have led us to a crucial moment: the UK’s public must decide whether they stand with workers who somehow dragged us to this stage during the pandemic even with its existing systemic issues, or to capitulate to the double headed hydra of governmental malice and a media whose toe-point-switching of support and demonisation of NHS staff can only be described with a term I normally loathe: gaslighting.
The government has even openly resorted to employing bots on social media to spam disinformation:
Governmental think tanks align around certain core ideas and use social media to openly lie to the public’s face whilst wearing the mask of “one of us”. Where exactly are the people who see these tweets and believe them and are then shown evidence of their falsehood? You would think that being lied to on an industrial scale- as we were by Matt Hancock when a child was treated for illness on the floor of my local hospital which I used to work at, would rankle: but instead the public greedily devours the government line even when it’s proven to be from a poisoned pen: why?
Even here though, lying about the causation of issues does not reach the depths to which the conservatives are sinking when it comes to political lying and it’s enabling. Jacob Rees-Mogg has now been brought so low as to actively lie to his own supporters about the government’s disastrous attempt to wrench us from the European Union, enabled of course by those denizens of internet nonsense who cannot bring themselves to accept their government of choice’s ineptitude. Rees-Mogg was recently seen on Question Time, belaying the worries of a wine import expert, a lifelong conservative voter, of some 30 years and confirming that the man’s founded experiences and factual stories of increased difficulty negatively impacting his business: even going so far as to openly disregard the man’s qualms. He also confirmed that the NHS was given it’s £350 million a week post brexit and yet no figures attesting to this can be found: one suspects that if £19.2 billion had suddenly been injected into the NHS, we would not be quibbling over a pay rise for nursing staff.
Brexit, of course, is the shibboleth for success for both sides of the government as they try to style themselves as moderates: from the conservatives shouting louder and louder that brexit is a success as the UK slides further and further down and to the right of the Overton window and the fiscal charts of success to the leader of the opposition promising that we will “make a success” of brexit, one has to wonder why everyone fails to mention the terms and conditions attached- with fair winds, good economy, no wars, no governmental malfeasance, it would take about 35 to 40 years for the UK to re-establish itself as a world leading economy outside the EU. I will be 70 to 75 when this happens, and I don’t believe the children in my family, some literally toddlers, should have to wait until they are my age or older just to see some parity with pre-brexit economics.
The mainstreaming of governmental lies, despite popular recitation by those like Peter Osborne in his book, “The Assault on Truth”, far predates this conservative iteration: from the Falklands debacle and pitting the government against the miners to the long established roots of the word “tory” (allegedly coming from an old Irish word meaning “thief”), governmental policy has been long shaped by those willing to lie to and mislead the public. It is tacitly accepted by populations globally that we are lied to on an industrial scale by the government and that they are aided and abetted by media like Sky, like supposedly independent channels like GB News (whose shady donor links should make anyone scorn the word independent)- even by the BBC who are constantly lamented by the right as too left wing and too right wing by the left- the fact is, I do not want the BBC to be “more left wing”, I want it to be more honest. Can the right say the same?
Political lying is as in-your-face-obvious as the chaos that suffuses this current government. Division in the tories is sown openly across the pages of the newspapers, divided now themselves amongst what to report to prevent open rebellion by a beleaguered nation. To begin to restore political trust, one must begin with political honesty- for one does not trust that which is not honest. So if we hope to regain control of the runaway train of British political discourse and progress someone must wrest the wheel from those who would seek to plow us through more obfuscation.
In the far flung recesses of my mind I long for a government who aligns with me on issues like the mass taxation of the hyper rich, the reformation of the NHS in a “post” pandemic Britain, the forging of strong links to our neighbours, the protection of immigrants- on prevention of landlords abusing the populace and assisting the young in being able to afford property, in modernising education and in standing up to the megaphone dullardry of bigotry who complains about cancellation from multiple mainstream media; but for the moment I look at the status quo, at a nation devouring its own tail just to avoid hunger pangs and I’m willing to settle for a government who just doesn’t lie to me every day, a government who doesn’t throw ideological shrapnel into the face of the population- and most of all, a government committed to bettering the lives of the citizens of the UK. Once upon a time I’ve never lived, governments supposedly did what was right for their people: currently we subsist under a government determined to recycle money amongst themselves, demonise the innocent, divide the nation and scatter our resources amongst themselves as they angrily ask you why you should have to share with strangers.
Until we begin to steadfastly call out mass political lies, like Mark Francois blithely giving out vaccine misinformation in parliament, to our own allies continuing to push the Big Lie of Brexit (as my good friend Aid Thompsin now calls it), the normalisation of lies will continue- and until people realise that politicians, our representatives, lying to us is not “for our own good” but “at our own detriment”, the United Kingdom will continue to be run like a racket by those whose only success is to pillage the nation whilst blaming the innocent for their bulging pockets.
It’s so easy to slip into apathy- to close your eyes to the endless iterations of madness our world is suffering from. Climate deniers, anti vaccine bobble heads and corrupt politician after corrupt politician. But sinking into denial is less sinking into a warm bath than sitting in a slowly heating pan of water: by the time you realise you’re cooked, it’s too late.
I don’t know where to find the strength some days. It can be anything that sets me to the edge- another story about working class money thrown directly into the maw of another dodgy millionaire like Michelle Mone, Baroness of Bras. It can be being made aware that, as many homes across the UK daren’t turn on their heating for fear their bills will spiral into financial ruin, MPs can now claim Christmas parties (as well as utility bills) on their expenses. Or it could be another right wing demagogue, screaming about being silenced from between the pages of another national newspaper. It weighs on you.
The biggest frustration with this never ending slew of salacious stories is the fact that you always know there’s more we don’t know. I, for one, am regularly told stories by insiders who work in and near the government that I can’t verify but absolutely believe, stories about terrifyingly senior politicians running out of brothels high on PCP, MPs running a racket of continual suing of their detractors so they can make hundreds of thousands of pounds whilst posting on social media about defending free speech, or about extremely high up political figures throwing their partner down the stairs and using a gagging order to silence her. To know that even the ugly underbelly of our society that is being waved before our eyes is still concealing the rot beneath- that this “exposition” still somehow is condoned by politicians, controlled by them. It can be utterly overwhelming to know we’re in the mire- but never know just how in the mire we are.
Recently I found myself needing to stop, to close my ears and eyes to it, just for five minutes- and why? I did charity work for Dignity in Dying, whose ethos is to push for assisted dying laws for terminally ill people. And that experience opened my eyes to just how broken our society is.
Firstly- the homophobia: with the rise of hate crimes in the UK I expected that a camp man wearing a pink hoodie may, perhaps, face some indignities. I wasn’t wrong. I was called a “comforter of Lot” by a cantankerous old man, along with being called a murderer- for wanting to help those already dying die without the agonising days long deaths I myself have witnessed from family members. I told the man if he didn’t agree with the mission of DiD to go away and he came back three times to heap more abuse on us, some of it homophobic, some of it at me. I hope that man never finds himself in the position I have witnessed several family members, and that if he does it gives him the grace to understand the mission: but I also do not brook homophobia. There is no excuse. To have people publicly assail you for your sexuality which you aren’t even referencing is rage inducing. But I wish that was the worst incident of that day.
As I stood there with my associate we’d occasionally ask people if they wished to join the campaign in asking for a debate in parliament. Some would say yes, most would ignore, and some would be outright rude. That’s charity work! One man in particular stumbled up to me and asked me what I was doing. I explained and he responded with “do you know what the worst thing that ever happened was”. I already had a pang of worry for where this would go. I took a breath through my nose and said “go on…” in a guarded tone.
“Hitler losing World War Two” he said. I stared. He weaved to the side a bit. “…Are you actually fucking delusional,” I responded but he was ready to cut me off. “No, no, think about it… what he done to the jews was bad and that, but imagine how much better things would be if he’d won though” he said. “I’m going to need you to fuck off before I leather you with a sign” I replied. “Mate, think about it!” he said, shocked at my reaction and insistent on labouring his, and I use this word loosely, point. He waved his finger in my face, frustrated that I hadn’t blithely accepted his loving critique of his, apparently, führer. “I have thought about it. It’s why I think you’re fucking daft you nazi dick head now fucking walk away”. “You got to listen to people mate” he chuntered, already turning to walk off. Ah yes, the appeal to the illusion of free speech. Should have seen that one coming.
He stumbled off, muttering the whole way. I turned to a couple next to me and said “did… I just get confronted by a Nazi in the street”. They just nodded, looking half amused and half scared. My heart pounded- a nazi sympathiser just appeared from nowhere to have a chat…? Not my first dealing with fascists, not even my first time this year- I attended a counterprotest in summer because The Patriotic Alternative (a fascist organisation) protested drag queen story time at Leeds Library. Nothing like spending 5 hours in the sun being called a pervert by the sort of men who look like they desperately want to hold Andrew Tate’s genitals whilst he urinates. Those child protectors, by the way, set off the fire alarms in the building which traumatised many of the children present. But this was different. This wasn’t facing a crowd of baying morons behind police barriers.
It was that moment that made me start to question just how ridiculous everything has gotten in the UK in a way that nothing else has: from a government hammering us economically with a vanity project called “sovereignty” to Johnson threatening to do nothing about a viral outbreak that’s now claimed over 200,000 of our countryfolk, and from snooty politicians laughing openly at our compliance with lifesaving rules as they brought suitcases of wine into the very heart of British democracy to damaging legislation like the Police Crime courts and Sentencing bill and its steaming offcuts served back to parliament- the Public Order bill, the Voter ID bill that disenfranchises millions… all of these things were terrible, galvanised me against a political machine that was armed with weapons that I could slip between.
But to look around me at my fellow working class and see people espouse Nazi talking points as naturally as referencing football or the weather? How had we fallen so far that the Luftwaffe wandered the streets with us, casually referencing eugenics and making Adolf Hitler out to be a bastion of democracy at best and a cheeky little chap at worst?
I grew up reading endless books about world wars, forced to at first by a grandfather who wanted me to understand the crimes humans commit when we forget our duty to each other. Men who espouse nazism do not get a pass- they learn and atone or they are cast out. Or so I believed. And yet, our society is so fractured and the lie of “free speech above all” so endlessly refrained, that people will repeat pro Nazi rhetoric and have the temerity to be shocked when you threaten to batter them with a sign.
The UK is so much more broken than we knew. Our homes freeze (I am shivering as I write this, afraid to turn on the heating for the cost will ruin me) and our government give themselves “Christmas party expenses” along with writing off an estimated two million pounds of collective energy bills- and all the while those of us who should be organising in the streets, calling for elections OR ELSE… are wrestling with how to reconcile standing up for a proletariat with whom nazism is becoming normalised. Even prominent artists are comfortable warmly enthusing about their love of the SS.
Before Sunak mystically slipped into office, placed there by the failure of other inept politicians, he threatened to refer those who spoke poorly of Britain to the PREVENT deradicalisation programme. Sign me up Mr Sunak, because I am disgusted with modern Britain. Nurses hold picket lines outside hospitals, not because they selfishly want more money but because your predecessor hiked up their mortgages by an average of 40%. University staff, constantly demonised as “forcing a progressive agenda” (otherwise known as tolerance and education) on students ask for more, scant years after the Tories blew the lid off university price caps. People call radio stations to leave their living will and testament, terrified that they will quite literally freeze to death in their own homes. The UK taxpayer is asked to foot the bill for Boris Johnson’s defence in the case of whether he misled the house- AKA us. Imagine someone murdering your wife then asking you if you can bung them a few grand so the courts don’t wipe out that million they earned touring the US reciting speeches they didn’t even write?
The UK- the world itself, is broken. Right wing demagogues clutch power with both hands, insisting as they siphon money into their back pocket, that it’s the others, the lefties, the snowflakes that are the problem. Nobody ever points out the fact that things have demonstrably gotten worse over the 12 years the tories have been in charge and yet they blame migrants and trans people, women, people of colour, nurses, doctors, our work ethic… as the people with the reins, you can only rely on your libertarian sense of every person for themselves for so long before you should cast your eagle eye on yourselves, the people holding the reins as they zip through your fingers.
It, I admit, broke me to realise that so many fools walk amongst us- not just people stupid enough to espouse genocide rhetoric, but people stupid enough to think “we’ve always done it this way” and “things keep getting worse” are not mutually exclusive… if we’ve always done it this way and things keep getting worse, maybe we should stop doing it this way??!
But it was an important moment for me. I realised that thronging those idiots who back tories or rhetoric more extreme are people just unaware, and among those, people who are aware and want the change too. So I refuse to let the continual beatings keep me down.
I finally admitted to myself that this might not be a winning game. Maybe the world is doomed to repeat the same fascistic cruelties it allowed before. Maybe the gun toting anti gender thickheads will win. I can’t control them and you can’t educate someone too radicalised to recognise sense. But it doesn’t mean it’s not worth fighting. Some of us are fighting for voter reform and for access and education in politics. Others of us are preparing for the longer haul, for the pushback against authoritarian demagogues which we see rearing up, faster and faster every day like Jörmungandr on the horizon, ready to spew the poison of rhetoric amongst a beleaguered public.
All I know, and what keeps me going, is that even if I fail, at least I tried. Even if the world keeps getting worse the collective push to improve it cannot stop. If we surrender, if we give an inch, they will take a mile. The world may well continue to sink into the depths of corruption: but as long as we push for better there is a chance for it.
There is no surrender when fighting for a better world. One nazi, ten, hundreds, thousands… a cabinet full of fascists; it doesn’t matter. We must stake our claim. And I’d rather lose to fascists fighting them than let them stand tall in the crowd, peppering every disgusting sentence with their right to “free speech” on my streets.
Make no mistake, reader. The UK’s government is increasingly fascist- pushing extremist rhetoric for so long now that it is completely normal to read actual extremism in comment sections of otherwise droll social media posts. They may not be reading from the same speeches in Triumph of the Will, they aren’t espousing the exact same rhetoric that came before. But they are pushing the type of language, using the type of dogwhistles that forments danger for us all. Johnson, less than two years ago called us a “country united in blood and soil”, a direct far right dog whistle. And it was heard.
Ask yourself deeply, how much lower we must sink before you and yours will act. How debased will you allow this government to make us before you cry out “no” and stand against them. It is not a case of “if” but a choice of “when”. Join those of us already standing and fight back and lets beat the darkness back to where it belongs where we can- and expose the rest of it to the light of truth and remove it from our path.
Britain freezes. Snow is everywhere and temperatures have collectively plummeted across the nation. This is particularly worrisome for poorer people and older people, and especially for poor old people. But for every person speaking up about the conditions we’re being made to survive by governmental malfeasance and the never ending greed of the aggressively capitalist society we’re ever so proud of, there is another person lined up to extoll the virtues of their “living through” the same or worse. Here’s why I’m done with listening to that rhetoric.
Yesterday, a caller on LBC rang in to explain, frankly, that he was worried he would die in the cold. He didn’t have enough money or resources to stay warm and was on the verge of tears that he explained that he didn’t think he would make it through winter. LBC’s twitter account posed the clip of the man explaining his dire situation with Ben Kentish and was, with the predictability of blinking, met with tweets like this:
It’s almost become a fetish for people who somehow stumbled through their appalling childhoods to weaponise them against others. Why shouldn’t we all wake up to frost on our bedroom windows? Why can’t we all cope with an empty stomach for two days at a time? And why don’t we all restrict the only time we feel warmth is from our father’s palm as it slaps us across the face? Apart from the no doubt shocking fact that a lot of us don’t want to wake up in freezing cold bedrooms left unheated because we can hear the whirring of the energy meter in the cupboard nearby, and other than silly little things like the factual observation that it’s a basic human right to live in comfort and safety, I have a confession. One of the biggest reasons I don’t want another generation of people to grow up in these miserable conditions (apart, obviously, from the above) is simply that I refuse to foster a world where this ridiculous idolisation of your own victimhood is used as a stick to beat others with. I don’t want another generation of emotionally ruined people rewriting history to pretend they weren’t suffering and making do, to foist their nonsense on future children.
So you survived waking up to ice on your windows: do you want applause? And do you actually want a return to that for people? It’s so ironic, as it’s often statements like these made by people from behind double glazing in long paid off houses worth £100,000 more than they it was bought for- I bet you’d be unwilling to replace your loc-tite windows with plastic sheeting, so ask yourself why you’d foist that living on others if you’re unwilling to endure it yourself. Additionally, it’s always interesting to bring up the disproportionate rates of serious illness and infant mortality rates back in the “frost on yer windows” days to people.
Using your own suffering as a stick to beat people is ridiculous and is indicative of unhealed trauma. I don’t want people to freeze in their houses now any more than I wanted you to then. I want people to be warm now as much as I want you to get therapy for your trauma, a trauma that you’re desperate to foist on others.
When people bully others, it’s usually because their lives are miserable in some way- from a child tripping others in a playground to a cruel co-worker going home to their abusive spouse, misery begets misery and it’s all too clear to see that those who will espouse how they, through luck, survived adverse childhoods, seem to want others to suffer as they did. Nobody should suffer from fuel poverty, food poverty or ANY poverty these days, any more than anyone should have survived cruel winters through luck then.
Additionally, what’s the point of inventing technology to keep people thriving if we reserve it? Why invent double glazing and central heating, inventions that have saved untold numbers of human life, if we don’t use it or if we attach price tags that quite literally freeze people out? Humanity must adapt and progress to thrive, and refusing technology that ensures people do not fall ill, become disabled or die is a vile and massively normalised aspect of modern society, that allows a distorted society- one we’re currently living through.
The mass normalisation of living through adverse conditions, where “survival” is the end goal was made clear through the pandemic. So what if you spent 2 weeks sick with a virus, now your lung capacity is ruined, you get out of breath just sitting still and you have arrhythmia- you survived didn’t you? You should be grateful! Societal madness writ large.
Survival being a goal is a failure of any society that pushes it- every society should be encouraging you to achieve, and providing the framework for, thriving.
Anything less is humanity failing to reach its potential and in a country like the UK where this has been baked into legislation like austerity, it is state sponsored failure of its citizens.
There is an almost straight split of people who hold values about austerity being positive, “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” and those who actively wish to either have people “suffer” their way out of adverse situations or suffer through them as they did. To those who push the lie that one must suffer to build character, ask yourself why you fail to relate to other humans, why you wish for them to push through negative situations they should not have to “just because you did” and wonder to yourself whether, perhaps, the sentence “and I turned out just fine” might be the biggest lie you ever told.
You’ve heard it, I’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: I’m not even just talking about Kanye West’s latest deluge of verbal offal to human heart gristle Alex Jones. Stupidity is everywhere, and it’s getting worse. As humanity continues to wend its way through the universe on the only planet we have, I shouldn’t be shocked that the lowest, dumbest conspiracy theory nonsense is being banded about by idiots- and yet I am considering the only planet we have will be a flaming ball of iron and there’ll still be some crispy climate change denier gasping out “M-my…op…opinion” before bursting into flame. So my question is, and I’m not even being rhetorical- why are people so okay with mainstreaming stupidity under the guise of “opinions”?
I’ve seen so many people trot out the usual, tired lines about the Kanye West debacle this week. “It’s freedom of speech, everyone is allowed an opinion”. And for the longest time I was stymied about how to put my feelings into words against this sentiment. Our language is limited in this area: because, yes, if you want to go with the most base, un-nuanced version, the things Kanye West has said are opinions. But please tell me how we’re so low as a society that “I think pineapple is the best fruit” can be categorised in the same hall of descriptor as antisemitic conspiracy theories and full throated support for one of the most despicable figures in all of human history. And what’s happening to internet searches of his name in the wake of Kanye West’s latest episode of “when dickheads have money” you ask?
Tell me this, defenders of FrEe SpEeCh: why is it that so many of you will throw yourselves out of your chairs to defend Kanye West’s rotted opinions like he’s paid you to, but you’re suddenly of the opinion that free speech ends there: that nobody has the right to reply, debunk, discuss or point out that if someone’s opinion comes with a body count perhaps it’s more important to protect human life and liberty than someone’s right to talk shit? If you care so much about free speech you’d listen to peoples responses, but it seems people just want to shut down any replies under the guise of protecting the original speech… I don’t understand how the free speech protection coalition never seems to understand that this leads to circular discussion: one side yelling at another, the other responding, the original one yelling again… we need to come to resolution, and resolution happens when we debunk falsitudes- and we only debunk falsitudes if we’re allowed to cut the original lie off from being repeated or it spreads.
Hate speech is like a virus: it has a patient zero, and it spreads virulently- the vaccine is widely available: education. people seem to misconstrue being corrected on a stupid opinion as some sort of invasion of bodily autonomy, but being corrected on wrong information isn’t a “winners and losers” game, it’s collectively good for society if you stop espousing nonsense… and if nothing else it stops you looking like an absolute arse. As we’ve seen, there has been a precipitous rise in violence worldwide, but in the UK in particular the continuously contentious anti trans row has meant a 56% increase on the already not insignificant hate crimes faced by trans people and even the home office, run by cartoon transphobic villain Suella Braverman has admitted that “transgender issues have been heavily discussed on social media over the last year, which may have led to an increase in related hate crimes”. Meanwhile in America, the vile meninists who blame women for issues caused by their own reluctance to accept their distinct mediocrity, and therefore unattractiveness as a partner, have been working in lockstep with regressive right wing policy makers which has culminated in attempts to entirely strip abortion rights from the US- and if you think this row is staying abroad, the one thing Jacob Rees-Mogg has learnt to do between sucking cold teabags, is import culture wars: regardless of Brexit. He was heard describing the right to abortion in the case of rape as a “cult of death” recently- Rees-Mogg by the way, earns some of his inconceivably vast fortune via a company which… manufactures abortion pills. Nothing like clinging to those morals unless there’s some paper with the royals on it, is there?
We’ve had this nonsense running faster and faster for years, and I want people to remember- anti vaccine demonstrators were SURE 10 years ago that vaccines cause autism and now billions of covid vaccines have been given out and autism cases are…’nt, suddenly it’s something else: heart problems or dizziness or a sudden dislike of cheese… Sudden Adult Death Syndrome has existed for years, and is now converted into a shibboleth for the anti vaccine mess to explain that uncle Brian died and we don’t know why. Now anti vax groups are blaming SAD cases on vaccines without evidence. And we let them! Media outlets who could disseminate easy, factual truth like “every vaccine has adverse side effects but that is hugely smaller than the millions of covid deaths”- but do they? Unfortunately, factual truth doesn’t really seem to move the news cycle, but giving an incel 10 minutes to rail against women sure brings in the viewers, doesn’t it: heedless of the damage it does. You don’t NEED to present a man who hates women to argue against his viewpoints because all he cares about is saying his nonsense.
Reason doesn’t work on unreasonable people, so don’t GIVE the unreasonable people the airwaves!
We have to refine the discourse around what constitutes opinions, because the phraseology is hopelessly limited- but further to this, we have to discuss why, WHY as a supposedly intelligent species, we’re happy to push stupid, incorrect information, dressed up in a cheap wig and fake moustache with “my opinion” scrawled on it. If my opinion was that people called Ben were all evil, I’m fairly certain there’d be dissent, that I’d be told I was wrong, weird, stupid, making it up, purposely being dense- is that not totally normal, expected even? Or should I be allowed to walk around spouting anti Ben rhetoric…? When an opinion causes harm to the innocent, when an opinion is patently false-when an opinion comes with a body count, maybe your right to hold it isn’t as inalienable as others’ right to safety.
Because here is the other problem, the awkward point that nobody discusses in these swirling debates of never-ending ignorance: opinions don’t just float in a void. Starting with an inert opinion, if it’s my opinion that tacos are the best food on earth you can bet I’m going to eat tacos at some point… make sense? Opinions lead to action, especially when those opinions are contentious. When you constantly demonise and fear monger over a minority, you have no right to cling to the defence of its inertia as an opinion when others who share that opinion take it as permission to use that “opinion” as justification for murder. It does happen: the US right wing media and right wing nee’rdowells like Tucker Carlson, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert who is in charge of the district in which a mass shooting of the gay people she’s condemned and called “supremacists”- and even disgraced and disgraceful ex president Donald Trump continue to fearmonger that the LGBT+ community are somehow “grooming” children by existing. Pushing the idea that a whole community are paedophiles looking to hurt children will inevitably lead to radicalised people with these apparently oh so protected opinions swirling in their heads, walking blithely into an LGBT+ space- one of those places we make so we’re not ‘shoving it down your throat’- and mowing us down with guns. You can’t spread rhetoric like that, knowing you’re stoking this type of hatred, then shirk any and all responsibility for it.
This is the other contentious point: people want their access to what they think is “free speech” (it is here that I tiredly remind you that free speech is your protection from speaking out against THE GOVERNMENT without repercussions), and yet they want absolutely none of the responsibility that comes with it. When you say things, people listen. When people listen, they decide how they will act based on that information. When they act on that information, their actions are of course their own, but if your wilful spread of harmful rhetoric led them to that action- the inescapable false conclusion that jewish people are bad, that black women should accept racist lines of questioning, that LGBT+ people are dangerous, that abortions which save lives all over the world are not healthcare- then you should, you must accept your role in spreading it.
I always, at this point in this discussion I’ve had hundreds of times, have people approach me to say- usually in some lofty tone as if they’re about to teach me something I haven’t thought about before, “erm, you are aware that discussing this stuff is how we know that it’s bad and that discussing it is important”. To you I say simply- why do I need to enter into a long “both sides” discussion about war crimes to know war crimes are bad? Why do I need to listen to straight men talk about how people like me make them uncomfortable and thats why I don’t deserve to live, and have to defend my right to walk the earth or not be imprisoned for the crime of “you can’t stop yourself thinking about me having sex”- this has happened twice this week… Is there proof you can give me now that my mere existence as a gay man, that my community existing, makes the world worse? Because if there isn’t, please let me know why you think I should debate this pretty obvious thing with you. And why do you also discount my expert opinion as someone who is literally IN THIS COMMUNITY, LIVING THIS LIFE?
Not everything needs to be discourse needs to be blown up to size 100,000 and written in the sky by planes to remind people that just because YOU want to discuss gay people as if we’re a theoretic that doesn’t exist to do anything but annoy you by showing diversity on TV, doesn’t mean I do.
It’s not just that we’re collectively accepting that stupidity is the price of “opinions” and “free speech” when we don’t have to- it’s not, because the least we can do is call it out and ostracise those who promote and cling to disgusting ideologies; it’s that we’re also allowing people to do this, then act confused when the trail- from corpse to gun, gun to wielder, wielder to manifesto, and manifesto to interview after interview about the dangers that random minorities pose, leads right back to them. You do not have the right to wield a hateful opinion without also wielding the responsibility of it: if what you say leads to harm and death, perhaps you shouldn’t have said it in the first place, perhaps it IS our place, societally, to delineate that its actually NOT OK to praise one of the most notorious warmongering evil humans in history, mayhaps decisions about healthcare should be decided on by the people who need to access that healthcare with minimal interference from outsiders, however well intentioned?
Let’s be frank. Society is failing at the moment. We’re letting people like Elon Musk, billionaire right wing jerk merchant, pretend twitter is a “marketplace of ideas”. I’ve said it before but a microblogging site is not the place for intelligent conversation. The reason that anti trans and pro trans people clash is that clear ideas like “women regardless of gender should feel safe” are being pared down to the bone and tiny flecks of rhetoric are spit back at “opposing sides” when both sides are pushing the same fucking obvious idea- that women should feel safe. But trying to inject nuance into a platform that runs off controversy and is character limited and run by a ham sandwich with a face is never going to work. And there are some ideas that we don’t need to discuss. What is there about Hitler, drug fuelled hate wielding maniac, mass killer, pure evil, that committed horrifying crimes we should all hope never to see again, that you could possibly ever love if you’re a decent person?
People also fall to “mental health” to defend indefensible remarks, and it’s possible to accept that someone is mentally unwell and still not let those remarks fly. Britney Spears shaved her head and ended up in such a restrictive conservatorship that she’s spoken about being mentally broken by it- odd how she wasn’t touted as a champion of free speech then, isn’t it. Mental health contributes to- and yet does not excuse- antisemitism or hideous rhetoric like that of people like Lily Cade who called for “parents of trans children to be lynched”. Mental health is vital and those who suffer should be treated for it- but it doesn’t give you carte blanche to do everything but grow a curly villain moustache and start saying evil things casually.
The time is passed now where we can simply sit back and allow the “marketplace of ideas” that is society to be polluted by such “if you don’t agree with this you need to wonder why you don’t fit into society” issues- but at the very least, if we must continue to sink into the dystopic horror of discussing these topics, it’s at the very least fair that the people pushing these ideas start accepting the responsibility, start acknowledging the blood that stains their hands and start to grasp the concept that “free speech” covers our right to call them evil just as thoroughly as it covers their right to be evil. Overall, the question we need to ask is as simple as this: why are people so desperate cling on to, to defend, to discuss “opinions” that are so clearly wrong and why can’t they approach unpicking these “opinions” and asking themselves if they’re wrong with the same zeal they have for clinging, white knuckled, to rhetoric that gets people killed.
Day after day, I see more brain dead ramblings from people who think that there is no way to explain gay people existing to children without bringing out a blow up phallus. Lets go through the arguments and make, and I use this word loosely, “sense” of them because – as a gay man- I have had enough.
It will traumatise them
It absolutely flabbergasts me that people think they can bring children up in religious doctrine and that’s normal, but telling them about LGBT+ people is the final straw. So your kid can believe an all powerful being is looking after uncle Jerry after he plowed his car into a tree on his way home from a bar, that god sits there peering off a cloud watching people exist and that if that child does something wrong god will let them be tortured for all of eternity in fire- but telling them two men who were holding hands in the street are gay is what’s going to mess them up? The cognitive dissonance astounds me daily. LGBT+ people do exist, and acknowledging this simple fact prepares your child for a life of very occasionally encountering LGBT+ people in their daily/weekly life: we’ll be their doctors, hairdressers, accountants, baristas… You don’t have to teach them to like it, but “I can’t teach my child facts because it’s counter to my beliefs” is really fucking funny to hear people say unironically.
They’re too young to understand
If they’re old enough to see two teenagers necking on in a bus stop, they’re old enough to understand that sometimes that might be a boy and a girl, a girl and a girl, a boy and a boy, two non binary people or any combination of these things. You don’t have to break out the action man and barbie figures and start smashing them together like you’re trying to reconstruct the large hadron collider experiments for children to grasp that sometimes people of different genders like each other.
The amount of people who don’t think adult men tickling little girls or asking children if they’ve got partners jokingly or encouraging boys to bully girls to express their feelings are all normal behaviours, and yet think acknowledging LGBT+ people’s existences is grooming is increasing, and increasingly confusing. Grooming is normalising sexual behaviour with people who aren’t legally, mentally and physically prepared for it and should be protected from it at all costs. It’s a pretty fucking dark accusation. It’s also bullshit. If you’re ok with showing them sleeping beauty where a guy KISSES AN UNCONSCIOUS WOMAN, maybe ask yourself about your priorities VERY closely because “gay people sometimes exist” and “look, maybe some day a man will kiss YOU when you’re asleep” are actually not the same message. If you don’t get upset with half naked people writhing provocatively on a Jean Paul-Gaultier perfume advert, you can also not get upset about gay existence, because one is sexual and I would posit close to grooming and one isn’t- and it’s not the ones you think.
It might make them think they are
So? So what? Are you that afraid your child might not be the carbon copy of you that you were desperate to create when you mounted your wife like a drunk raccoon, and you think that means your existence was meaningless? If your child briefly wonders if they might be gay or trans just because they see a gay or trans person so what! If they’re not- they won’t pursue it, and if they are maybe immediately rejecting them based on that isn’t because you “failed”, but because you’re a bad parent…
It makes me uncomfortable
“I can’t cope with the literal fact that other types of humans exist” is not a compelling argument for not educating your children. It makes me uncomfortable to hear people talk about my sex life on tv, it makes me uncomfortable that people wear crocs in public and yknow what I do? Move on.
I think it’s an adult topic
Exactly how do you see this conversation going? “sometimes men like women, sometimes men like men” is quite a simple sentence. If you’re the ones who have to go into excruciating detail about where genitals go, what genitals are and who does what with them, its because you suffer from a terminal lack of nuance- that’s not LGBT+ peoples’ fault. If you don’t want to talk to your kids about it, don’t. But they will learn elsewhere, sooner or later, and leaving that to the world then getting mad about it is a pretty stupid look. And again, you can acknowledge LGBT+ people without having an adult conversation with your kids- it’s like, super simple.
I think it’s wrong
Ok? All the more reason for you to educate your children I guess but sure, hide us from them, lets see how that goes when little Timmy discovers he likes little Ben as more than a friend and has nobody he can confide in because his parents suck.
I have to wonder what people who endlessly moan about the LGBT+ and our existence think we feel when we look at them. Listening to people who waste their lives complaining about us gives me frustration but mostly makes me nonplussed. If you want to spend your entire life angry that other people exist, I can’t stop you. But I do wonder how much happier these people would be if they’d stop imagining my sex life. We’re constantly told we “force it on people” because we wear flags to denote our existence- the same way you guys wear union jacks… its our identity and we like to share that… I’ll stop wearing mine if you drop yours? We’re always accused of being everywhere- that is LITERALLY life now. Your hairdresser? Lesbian. The guy at the bank who approved your loan? Trans. The person who checked you in at the airport three weeks ago? Bisexual. Your admission that you can’t cope with the fact that other people exist is not a good look, and yet people continue to open throatedly confess that they dislike literal fact.
I wouldn’t even mind people constantly being arseholes about me and mine if we didn’t literally pay for society to cater to these losers. Ah you feel free speech is threatened because I exist? What do you propose you do about it? You want me to be prevented from talking about myself and my life? Uh, so you’re not really a free speech advocate then I guess. Cut my taxes to the bone, because if I’m not treated as a full member of society I shouldn’t be paying for it.
Honestly, society continues to confound me: people think that now is the peak of human civilisation and we can’t even go two weeks without threatening to drop bombs on each other. We have much growing to do, and we aren’t going to be able to do that until we stop causing division over nonsense. People continue to conflate my community with paedophilia to the detriment of actual victims of paedophilia, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender of the criminal involved. If you think our existence is the end of society, you may want to reflect on the simple fact that we’ve existed as long as you have and society still keeps on going, and perhaps it’s your wilful entitlement as “the right type of person” that’s causing division and societal friction and not the people who exist amongst you and just want to be able to kiss their partner without a bunch of yeehaws crying about it.
If you’re incapable of having a talk with your child about sexuality or gender without making it weird, if you can’t even bring yourself to acknowledge us to your child, it’s not because we’re awful evil people- it’s because you’re a bad parent, failing to prepare their child for a world in which we exist just as surely as they do and a world in which, regardless of your sentiments towards our community we deserve to exist unmolested.
The British government, hand in hand with the monarchy, has cracked the spine of fairytale books and told us time and again over the years, but never more so than recently, their favourite myth: that we should, must…will suffer together collectively for the “greater good”: austerity, pandemic, the cost of living crisis- it’s no wonder that people’s empathy has all but burned to ash in the constant pushing of the fallacious narrative that one must suffer for their fellow man: especially when the curtain obscuring the truth is gossamer thin and cobweb light: let us lift it now and talk about the great wealth heist.
The Crown Jewels of the British monarch are worth between £1 billion and £4.9 billion pounds. As his mother ailed, Charles, this year, sat solemnly on a golden throne, next to a crown made of gold and diamonds to address the British public and to say gravely that, together, my friends, we face difficult times ahead. On that, my unelected king, we agree for certain: difficult times have been here for many years for some of us but clearly there are no plans to abate this. One imagines the heating bill for what is now Charles’ estate is astronomical in this climate: he’s very lucky that he’s one of the breakaways who does not pay his own energy bills. Or rent. Or, anything really. I do. You do. Your family and friends here do. We pay for everything, from the ill gotten diamond that adorns the crown to the golden chair Charles sat upon to tell us how hard things would be, that austerity and cost of living was coming and to prepare to cut a new notch and again tighten our collective belts.
The Royals sit hand in hand with the British government, overseeing affairs of state. Now, earlier this year MPs voted on a pay rise, bringing them to £82,000 a year (their subsidised food and paid for expenses notwithstanding)- this is more than twice my own salary, almost three times: and of course people will hear this with jealousy. Yes, I would love to earn that much money, mostly because I’d have something of a shot at getting a mortgage before I’m 45. But the point is, the threshold for being in the top 5% of earners in the whole UK is £85,000. So when the government, too, tells us to prepare for austerity- Truss in her flash in the pan told us that, what she planned, she “wouldn’t call austerity”, but a rose by any other name, eh, Liz? Now Sunak prepares to draw us into another collective five to ten (or more) years of harsh cuts, rollbacks, spending halts and more, one has to remember that these people, those shot callers, the people making these “hard decisions” that we all have to live with- won’t suffer. Like fibreglass is insulation in a cold home, money is an insulation against austerity: if you already have it, you can afford not to suffer- after all, it’s literally called a cost of living crisis: the cost attached to how much you need to spend, just to live. Dystopian.
Rachel Johnson, sister of the disgraced ex PM did a radio show a few months ago, waxing painful on what luxuries she’d have to cut back on due to the cost of living crisis in some unfathomably painful attempt to appear as a woman of the people. Johnson is also a regular advocate for returning to the office rather than working from home: she described civil servants as “riding pelotons” instead of getting on with the job, as her brother (at the time still our prime minister) said working at home was “distracting” and taking about how you would just eat cheese: remember, by the way, that the prime minister lived in a flat above his workplace at the time and suddenly you realise just how horrifyingly prescient his statement, for once, was. Bear also in mind that Rachel Johnson’s opinions on anything are unfetterably only interesting because she’s related to the sex addled scandal ridden man who spent his entire tenure as prime minister, lying to the public- brexit would be simple and boost the economy, we would ignore the coronavirus and get on with it, we all had to stay separate for each other, he didn’t know Chris Pincher was a pervert… One has to wonder whether Rachel holds her brother’s dual ability to be as unfailingly, unpleasantly delusional and yet be paid as handsomely as he back when he was a journo, once describing his exorbitant second salary at a newspaper -£250,000, as “chickenfeed”. Ones sympathy for Rachel’s brave cost of living sacrifices is as limited as her ability to see under her no doubt constantly carefully maintained fringe.
Day upon day, the UK public are fed messages that are so 20 karat dystopic in nature, the cut so diamond sharp and crystal clear, that I find myself in an almost constant state of flabbergast: we, the little people, the poor, the beleaguered, must go to the office, and earn our meagre salary (but don’t worry, you’re paying less tax under the anti tax tories who raised them 15 times), putting that money aside- not for frivolity but just to afford our variable mortgages, to keep the lights on and to quietly drive to the local food bank, primark sunglasses shoved up our noses so the neighbours don’t realise it’s us because god forbid people realise for a second how dire our own and each others situations have become-because we’re all in it together, aren’twe?
Rishi Sunak, the new prime minister, is married to one of the richest people in the UK. During his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer he broke lockdown rules when he wasn’t extremely busy making sure he and his wife took full advantage of the broken tax rules to pay less than their due to the country he serves- but when he was working on the pandemic, he was a crucible for the situation we’re now in. Some will cry that he had to pull out all the stops: furlough cost money don’t you know. These armchair economists, friendly to Sunak, usually only know the value of a pound contrasted against a Freddo and have a purposeful lack of understanding when it comes to countrywide economy. Yes, Sunak had to pull out all the stops for furlough or the hospitals would have been flooded with sick workers, death on even more of an industrial scale- because people could not afford to go to work and die, nor could they afford to sit at home for free. Naively, these same chocolate penny economists will tell you that furlough came at a cost to us: not to the landlords though. Those of us lucky enough to own property and to be paid for it- furlough covered them, because where did that money people earned for “sitting at home doing nowt” go… banks, or landlords, and energy companies. And harking back to the ineffably babbling point- missing waffling vicissitudes of Rachel Johnson, it’s funny how many rich folk wanted us back in the office- not, I believe, to ensure that hard work continued (after all, according to Truss, and Raab and Johnson, the British proletariat are lazy, idlers, prone to drink and violence over a hard days graft) but because rich people own property. When you own eight office buildings, and none of those offices need you any more because SURPRISE, home working does work, your valuable property that accrues you money for just sitting there is suddenly useless.
During Truss’ tenure, if you didn’t blink and miss it, you may remember that she came up with what she termed as an “aggressive growth plan” to shore up the economy. Do you know the real reason that stupid, ill thought out plan didn’t work? Do you know why you should block and ignore any single person, pundit, newsreader, broadcaster or family member who for one second believed in the mythical magic wand waving of trickle down economics? Because we’ve just lived through proof it doesn’t work.
Pandemics throughout history had been assumed by economists and historians to be a crucial crux of wealth redistribution: the rich suddenly having the onus thrust upon them to pay for the poor when the world came to a crashing halt and could not function as normal. But this only demonstrably happened once- it was an aberration, during the Black Death, and other subsequent pandemics didn’t offer this proof. But they should be. Because wealth is accrued via the poor doing the jobs the rich pay us tiny slivers of their wealth to do, and when that stops, the rich should stop getting richer… shouldn’t they? That is when trickle down should manifest, as the rich haemorrhage money because the poor are verboten from working for them. But that didn’t happen.
Wealth accrual is not, or should not be, another form of immunisation against the pandemic: the poorer suffered from more adverse conditions than anyone during the pandemic. CEOs sat in their spare room ordering the office to continue under covid guidance, royalty broadcast remotely from chintz desks worth more than my flat’s monthly rent and bills. And so richness became an immunisation against covid too- because as with abstinence, it’s the best preventative. If you have a huge estate and you’re never exposed to another person, you won’t get sick.
The rich are in charge, the rich are in power- and so of course, they sit on their golden thrones or behind their vivid red placards, quoting three word slogans and telling us that we’re in it together. Because even in the most horrific conditions, they do not pay their fair share- and during the coronavirus pandemic, this was exemplified. The rich collectively gained a huge sum of money that the poor- us- lost. That money was not economy money, like the money that is created when people apply for mortgages or create a new business to meet demand: it was a simple transfer of wealth, from the collective poor to the privileged few. Investors in vaccines and masks, in ventilation tech or in industrial sign printing or whosoever else was “savvy” enough to spend a small sliver of their money to make huge gains right back. So there you have it: trickle down economics doesn’t work- because during the pandemic and beyond the rich have accrued collective money at a rate never seen before in history and… it hasn’t trickled down. We’re still in a cost of living crisis, still in an energy crisis, still being told by those who benefited from existing wealth and wealth disparity that we’re all in the same boat. The difference is the boat has ten chairs, all occupied by unfathomably rich people, and the rest of us are dangling over the edge desperately paddling with both hands towards a shore we’ll never reach because the rich do not want us to.
Austerity is a choice. It is a choice, to force the poor to pay more tax proportionally. To offer temporary, sticking plaster aid to people to pay their bills, a choice to cut money to already skeletal public services when the answer is there: it’s plain to see energy companies and the rich collectively need to pay windfall taxes. Do you know what a windfall is? It is when money unexpectedly comes to you all at once. So we’ll implement half hearted windfall taxes against some energy companies sometimes as an emergency.
What about the billionaire CEOs who invested money into PPE schemes and got returns numbered in the millions, each pound or dollar measured in the flickering beep of a heart monitor attached to a COVID patient? That wasn’t smart investment, it was betting on death, insider trading on mortality. And those people get to… what, keep that money? Sit back and enjoy the spoils they, if you can lower yourself to using this word, “earned” by transferring wealth to already rich companies?
In accounts around the world, wealth sits- be it the collective wealth of companies or the accrued riches of some illusory businessman. That money could be put to use- it could pave our roads, fix our schools, hire our doctors, it could be leveraged back to its company to cheapen our bills, it could be used to democratise property ownership and prevent predatory landlordism. Instead this money, this accrued wealth of those who could provide solutions to the problems humans face every day, goes towards vanity projects like buying social media, goes to space flights or it’s offshored where it is secreted away from the economy it came from: smaller sums go towards golden wallpaper or towards paying security to sit in one of six estates owned by a man whose claim to fame is his mother’s title, and her father’s title after that. This wealth exists to create a them and an us, and during this time, as temperatures plunge, as mortgages spiral, as windows stay dark and old people ride buses just to stay warm, we still live in a world of fools who think the them, the millionaires and billionaires, will keep feeding us the crumbs from their cakes if we just keep paddling that boat for them.
National debt is a myth. Money can just be printed. Its value is imaginary and human life is worth inconceivably more. And between a monarch under a gold and diamond hat, clutching a sceptre, and the richest PM in history whose wealth is still being accrued from a business operating out of Russia, being told we’re all in it together is not just a bitter pill to swallow: it’s a placebo.
Daviemoo is a 34 year old independent writer, radicalised into blogging about the political state of the world by Brexit and the election of serial failures like Trump and Johnson. Please check out the rest of the blog, check out Politically Enraged, the podcast available on all streaming platforms and share with your like minded friends! Also check him out on ko-fi where you can keep him caffeinated whilst he writes.