politics

My Last Ditch Attempt to Stop You Voting Tory

June 7, 2017

This is my last-ditch attempt to stop you from voting Tory. If you still want to, that’s fine, but I just want to make sure that you’re not voting against your own interests and the interests of the people you love.

If you know somebody who is mentally ill (and since you’re on my facebook feed, you know at least one), please understand that although the tory manifesto promises parity between mental and physical health care, their statements and actions while they have been in power tell a different story. One tory MP has been quoted saying that benefits should go to ‘really disabled people’ not ‘people who are sat at home taking pills, who suffer from anxiety.’ Understand that under a Tory government the NHS has been cut to the point where there is just no room for mental health provision, and if the tories remain in power, it will only be cut further. Know also that ‘mental health’ doesn’t just mean depression or anxiety (although both of those are awful) it means the PTSD suffered by soldiers returning from war, and the Dementia suffered by the elderly.

Speaking of the NHS – the Tories openly plan to privatise large swathes of it in the next few years. In the past, privatisation has lead to those huge scandals where thousands of patient records (including mine, actually) were lost, delaying treatment on everything from potential severe sight loss to terminal illnesses. Basically, the contracted companies don’t care about your wellbeing – they care about making a profit. You know how rail travel has become extortionate? Well, imagine that, but with the medication you or your loved one needs to live.

If you know somebody who is disabled and in receipt of benefits, know that in the few years that they have been in power that the Tories have made changes to the benefit system that means thousands of severely disabled people have been declared ‘fit for work’ and cut off from the benefits they need to survive. Some of them die. Others just live in indignity. The Tory manifesto states that they plan to have ‘1 Million more disabled people in employment in the next ten years’. In practice, this means that 1 million disabled people will have to undergo embarrassing, intrusive means testing to determine whether they are disabled enough not to work. By the way, the criteria for being ‘disabled enough’ includes not being able to wash your own face or brush your own teeth. Apparently if you can do that, you can do anything.

Do you have children? Know that Tory cuts to education services mean that when they attend school they will do so in a class of up to 59 other children, overseen by a teacher who is underpaid and overworked. Since the Tories plan on introducing more Free Schools, which do not require their teachers to be qualified… well, that overworked and underpaid teacher is probably not qualified to teach your child, either.

If your child chooses to go to university, they’ll be paying £9000 a year in tuition fees, and the Tory government has no plans to abolish that. They will have no access to the maintenance grants that allow most university students from lower-income families to survive. If you’re not willing to pay their way through university (including the cost of renting a house, the cost of utilities, the cost of unregulated rental agency fees) they might have to work a zero hour contract, where they might not even make enough money to live – because the Tory government has no plans to regulate the businesses that exploit them.

Maybe you don’t want to vote Labour because you’ve heard that Corbyn ‘supports terror’ (by being arrested for anti-apartheid campaigning in his 20’s). Maybe you’ve heard about the attacks in Manchester in London and have realised that this country needs to be ‘strong and stable’. Well, under Theresa May, it won’t be. As Home Secretary, and now as Prime Minister, her cuts to police and security forces made the gaps in the shield that allowed those attacks to happen. Police funding is so ridiculously low that the Met have been forced to take on detective constables at entry level, without the years of training they usually undertake.

Maybe you don’t want to support labour because, after all, they are the party responsible for the Iraq war and all that came after it. I can’t defend that policy – all I can tell you is that today, Tony Blair is telling people to vote Tory. (source)

Also, if you hated what happened in Iraq, why are you supporting a party that is doing even worse things in Syria? The Tories plan on putting the £178 million they’re not spending on the NHS, education, or welfare for British People on bombing hospitals and cultivating our ‘special relationship’ with the US. Just like Blair did.

If you still want to vote Tory, I’m sure you have your reasons for doing so. But to be frank, if you are disabled, aging, working-class, seeking work, a pacifist, or concerned by terrorism, you are giving yourself a bad deal.

You don’t have to vote for Labour – literally every other party (except for UKIP, but… well…) opposes the harmful policies the Tories espouse.

Before you vote tomorrow, inform yourself of what you’re really voting for. If you’re really stuck, try this handy tool:

https://voteforpolicies.org.uk/survey/1/select-issues

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politics

We can smile in the face of extremism, and we are so lucky to be able to do so.

May 29, 2017

I attended a protest today against the LGBT concentration camps that have been established in Chechnya. I stood with students, politicians, and my fellow LGBTs as we decried the actions of the Chechen government and petitioned our leaders to act.

I went to another protest in February, against Theresa May’s tacit support of Donald Trump and his anti-woman, anti-muslim policies. I went to a protest and I held up a sign that compared Trump and May to Hitler and Chamberlain. (The other side read: ‘Veto the Cheeto’ in my very best handwriting.)

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At that protest, we were confronted by members of an ‘alt-right’ (fascist) group. They yelled at us, called us names, and threatened violence. We laughed them off and towards the end of the protest we noticed that their jeering was becoming less and less motivated. The entire time we were protected by a ring of policemen, in case things became more agitated.

Last week, we saw accidental activist Saffiyah Khan celebrated for her cheeky smile in response to an angry EDL member. “All I saw was an angry man having a bit of a rant.” She said later. The EDL faction later said ‘[Khan is] lucky she got [sic] any teeth left’. Twitter found it hilarious.

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In Britain, extremists like the EDL and other fascist groups talk a big game, but they are powerless. My good friend Rob was ‘threatened’ (if you can call this pissantry that) in the comment section of his article by a man going by the name ‘Pareto’: ‘Your life is about to change in ways you cannot possibly imagine… now you’re being investigated by some nasty people. Hope it was worth it.’ ‘Pareto’ turned out to be a white trash trailer dweller from the states. Rob feels very threatened. Not.

We’re very lucky in that respect – that when facing threats of violence to ourselves and our property, we’re able to go ‘yeah right mate’ and laugh it off. We feel protected – by the state, by our friends and family, and by the sheer force of our opinions. We have the backing of millions, and we call upon that feeling in every political social media post and every ‘punch a nazi’ badge.

We’re very lucky to have that privilege. The vast majority of us have never been truly threatened by extremism. We worry about walking in the bad part of town, we worry about the angry drunks on the way back from the club, but we very rarely worry about voicing our opinions. Why should we? We’ve never been made to feel afraid of doing so.

There are no protests in Chechnya. For the Chechen people, protest is not a right, but a risk. The president, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a dictator who routinely has the militia kidnap, torture, and murder his opponents for slights as simple as criticising him on Youtube. It is a mirror world, where fascists enjoy the same confidence in their opinions that we have in ours.

Places like that exist all over the world, and we must never forget that there are people in this country right now who would like a place like that to exist here. I saw a man on twitter today compare the horror of concentration camps to people telling him his fascist views were not welcome. I am so thankful that he was able to do so, because it served as a reminder that – luckily – even men like that never have to fear to voice their horrible opinions. And, luckily, there is nothing to stop me from telling him how awful and ignorant those opinions are.

We can smile in the face of extremism in every form – we can push it down and ridicule it and tell it to bog off, and we absolutely must continue to do so. We must continue to protest. We must continue to resist. And we must do so because even in this day and age, a great number of people cannot.

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