Went to a hustings on Wednesday night about the NHS. Five Parliamentary candidates were there, Labour, Tory, Lib-Dem, Green and UKIP.
Questions were asked by the audience and taken by the panel, with time to read them first.
I sat next to a guy who was clearly a rabid right-wing Tory. Every time equality, or tax, or narrowing the gap between rich and poor, was mentioned, he tutted loudly or groaned aloud (along with a sizeable portion of the rest of the audience). At one point somebody else, while making a point, said he was a member of the union UNISON. And this guy next to me muttered “There’s a surprise”. I couldn’t hold back any longer. Up to that point I had managed to contain myself, and clap loudly the Labour or Green candidates, and ostentatiously *not* clap the Tory/UKIP candidates. But this was a step too far. So I turned to him and said “That’s a Bad Thing, is it?” and he had no response.
How can people openly be scornful of equality? what is wrong with equality? How is it a Bad Thing? I suppose if you’re very rich you just don’t want to share your goodies with the very poor. The attitude seems to be that rich people are rich because they’re better, somehow, innately superior, and poor people are poor because they’re just stupid or inferior in some way. I have actually heard this said. There seems to be a selfish meanness among many middle-class people. Resentful of the poor, who are portrayed as taking away their “hard-earned” money, and resentful of the rich, who are what they aspire to be.
It’s just mean, mean-spirited, nasty and selfish. I’d happily pay more tax if it would make a fairer society, or help the NHS. It would make hardly any difference to me, and so much difference to those less fortunate.
What is bad about being in a trade union? I suppose if you’re a boss of a company you see the union as a barrier to exploiting the workforce even more than they’re already exploited. But if you’re an employee, being in a union is absolutely essential to make sure you aren’t taken advantage of (to put it mildly), summarily sacked, employed with unfair or unreasonable terms and conditions, bullied – the list goes on.
Is tax a bad thing? If you’re really rich you can maybe afford your own security guards, private health and private education. So you wouldn’t, like normal people, like me, need state-provided health care, education or police. In Scandinavia the taxes are much higher, but then the state-provided services are much better. And it’s a much fairer, more equal, society.
How do rich people manage in a recession? they sell a house abroad, or possibly a field, or maybe a horse or two.
How do poor people manage in a recession? they decide whether to eat or heat the house (for which they may be paying extortionate rent). They go to food banks and eat what they’re given.
Take a look at this page. It explains in detail how benefits are dished out. You can clearly see that a very large proportion is on pensions, but the right-wing would have us believe most of the money is spent on “skivers” rather than “strivers”. Why are the poor demonised? let’s have a go at the bankers, who caused, let’s not forget, a global recession, not just one in this country. And they’re still laughing all the way to the, erm, bank.
I saw one stupid rich woman post on the internet that the way for poor people to eat better is to “plant a small orchard”. What planet does she live on? where does she think they will plant one tree, never mind several? how does she think they can afford to buy a tree? how long do trees take to bear fruit? Honestly. And I can’t remember which politician said that poor people don’t know how to cook, and when she was called on it, her excuse was “oh I was speaking unscripted.” That means she meant it, and wasn’t following the autocue. That’s not ok.
There is a sharply defined class system in this country. There is a forelock-tugging sycophancy to anybody remotely royal/rich/upper class. Why? I was delighted to hear Andy Murray’s wedding today described as “Scotland’s Royal Wedding”. At least he’s done something to deserve the adoration and fuss. Go you, Andy Murray.
During the French Revolution, there was undisguised panic by the upper classes in this country. What if the masses decided to revolt like those across the Channel? I don’t understand, I really don’t, why there isn’t a “Peasants’ Revolt” brewing now. Maybe there is, and the media just aren’t covering it, because the media know on which side their bread is buttered, and by whom.
Social media helps. Stuff that isn’t broadcast by the press is often on facebook. There are lobbying groups like sumofus.org and 38degrees.com. Owen Jones is a very interesting, articulate guy. Go and see him if you can. He’s on TV a lot and very good.
Think I’m done now. But I’m still quite cross.