I keep thinking about 2015.
It was the first General Election I followed properly – though I was still a little too young to vote – and for most of the campaign I’d assumed Ed Miliband would end up Prime Minister. Maybe that’d be as leader of a coalition, maybe not, but either way: Prime Minister Miliband. Enter the Miliverse. Join the Milifandom.
But, no. I remember watching his resignation speech the next day, hearing his voice crack, hearing him thank people, and I remember thinking it was sad.
And then I think about 2016. Nigel Farage, standing in front of a poster playing on Nazi imagery; Nigel Farage, declaring Brexit won without a single shot fired, just days after the politically motivated murder of a remain-supporting Labour MP by a white supremacist; Nigel Farage, a great big gurning grin on his face, victorious. 52-48, at the end of deeply ugly and bitter campaign we still haven’t properly reckoned with, and I’m starting to worry never will.
Same thing again a few months later when November rolled around. I’d woken up early to do some work – didn’t get it done, obviously, too focused on the news. Got the bus into school. It was raining. Huddled around Jerry’s laptop, watching the news. Everyone turned up already knowing the result – apart from one girl, who’d overslept and hadn’t caught the news. That’s what I remember about 2016: watching her find out Donald Trump was President of the United States. I suppose it’s a bit like those Japanese soldiers who didn’t realise the second world war had ended, except not actually anything like that at all.
2017 was a little better. A little happier. A loss, yes, but a caveated one, a qualified one, one that pointed to better things next time. Just if you held out a little longer.
Well, evidently fucking not.
This is shit. Absolutely, horribly, brutally shit. There’s time for post-mortem later, and I suppose we’ll be relitigating this campaign right up until the next one – and frankly, probably, afterwards – but for the moment, that doesn’t matter.
People are going to die because of the electoral choices made today. We already know that 130 000 deaths can be attributed to Conservative austerity measures; we already know that the UN deemed these policies a breach of human rights. Most of the past nine years, the Conservatives have been in coalition, or otherwise constrained. They now have a significant majority. They have a manifesto that you could open to any random page and find something that will kill people: a commitment to further austerity; a policy that amounts, essentially, to the ethnic cleaning of traveller communities; further privatisation of the NHS, however stealthily done, however disguised; the list goes on. The country is going to be shaped to the political will and imagination of people like Boris Johnson, Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Sajid Javid.
The time between now and May 2025 is going to be grim.
I donated to a couple of these charities last night, and shared the list below in a few different facebook groups.
- Crisis UK
- Trussell Trust
- Rape Crisis England and Wales
- Great Ormond Street Hospital
It’s not an exhaustive list, obviously, but they’re each charities that’ll help the people most likely to be affected by a Conservative majority. If you’re able to, it is probably worth chipping in a little bit to some of them, or sharing the list yourself. Obviously it shouldn’t fall to the individual to take care of those who would otherwise become the casualties of an underfunded state, but, well. Needs must? I dunno. It’s good to feel proactive, I guess. It made me feel a little better.
The next five years are going to be rough. They’re going to need direct action, and they’re going to need activism, and they’re going to need us to work together. And, you know, fuck, maybe that isn’t enough in the face of the concerted efforts of the entire right-wing press. But, well, we can’t give up. Gotta keep going.
It’s not just necessary – it’ll be worth it, too.