As the General Election looms, just eleven days from now, it’s blindingly clear that despite Corbyn’s efforts, campaigns and support, he probably won’t win this thing. The best we can hope for is a hung parliament. It isn’t because everyone is horrible, it isn’t because he’s an ‘antisemite’ (untrue), it isn’t because Johnson is a good leader (also untrue). It’s because we’ve learned to worship ourselves, our work and our “ours”. Neoliberalism has replaced every social concept that should exist, and it’s shattered our care for the wellbeing of others.
Over the last nine years under the Tories, the figures speak for themselves. Homelessness and food bank use have skyrocketed. Hate crime has risen. There are now over 4 million, yes, four MILLION children who live under the poverty line – one of the worst rates in the industrialised world. The NHS still exists, but barely hangs by a thread, threatening the collapse of one of the only truly great systems that still exists in the UK. Austerity has ravaged the poor, and spared the the rich of any real discomfort. You don’t need me to tell you this. Look at any trustworthy statistics and they will tell you the same; austerity has left this country divided, hungry and angry.
When a population is unanimously angry, but divided in their anger, shit happens, and boy has the shit hit the fan now. The Right in this country are united in their disdain for immigrants, in their white supremacy and in their protection of one another. In light of Johnson calling an election on the 12th December, the laughably named Brexit party, led by weasel-faced fascist Nigel Farage, announced they would not be standing in any Tory constituencies – an outright bid to unite the Right vote, rather than splitting it. This is very clever politics, but dangerous in all capacities; the Tories’ acceptance of Brexit Party’s withdrawal allies the parties together. I won’t go into all the awful things Farage has said and done, nor will I indulge in Boris Johnson’s long history of fascist and evil quotations. I’m not interested in he-said games, plus, we all know them by heart anyway. That’s the bottom line here – it doesn’t matter what Johnson or Farage have said and done. They will win anyway.
In Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, a year we all vividly remember as the time we all sat back and went, ‘What the fuck is happening to us?’, a soundbite was leaked from his microphone on Access Hollywood in 2005, in which he speaks about hot women he meets on his excursions around America. He says, ‘I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.’ He admitted he has assaulted women without consent, laughing about it with his good pal Billy Bush, and when this footage came out, we all thought, ‘Phew. This is awful, but at least nobody will elect him now.’ How wrong we were.
Now, in 2019 Great Britain, we are facing a similarly blonde-haired, similarly blob-faced, similarly evil leader in Boris Johnson. He’s said awful things, too, written in his novel 72 Virgins (the story of a blonde haired bumbler fighting Islamic evil – no, seriously), in his columns, in interviews, as Mayor of London, as Prime Minister… His whole life, he has said terrible things that prove him a racist, a sexist, a liar. He is a father to children he never cared about, and he is Prime Minister of people he doesn’t care about either. None of it matters. None of it matters because our society has cracked apart, with the importance of living among one another, as a whole people, out of the window long ago.
Let’s look at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. No, he is not a perfect man or a perfect leader, and I’ll spend no time idolising him. Let’s just look at his life and actions – it’s only fair – in comparison to Johnson’s. As a young man, Corbyn was arrested for protesting against Apartheid. He worked for associations fighting for equality for garment workers, housing and healthcare. He has, since his appointment as Leader of the Labour Party, been accused of ignoring antisemitism in the party – an issue which taints his reputation through his campaign for Prime Minister – but he himself has never been antisemitic. His slogan sums him up: For the Many, Not the Few. Corbyn’s election campaign has focused heavily on going after wealthy tax evaders like Amazon and Starbucks, and to saving the NHS, which after leaked documents were revealed just this week, we know is up for sale by the Tory party.
He won’t win. I support him, I will vote for him, I have urged friends, colleagues and neighbours to support him too, but he can’t win this. He can’t win because neoliberalism has drenched us of a social mindset – if we ever had one. Everything must be lucrative, in the system we have created, or it’s worthless, or it’s stealing money from hard working businessmen, or it’s giving handouts to the slobby masses. Mark Steel puts it better than I ever could: ‘The idea is that everything, everything has to have some sort of business justification. If something can’t be justified in terms of the fact that it rewards business people for profit, it doesn’t have the right to exist […]. I don’t go to the library, why should I pay for your book? I don’t have to read it. Why should I pay for the fire brigade? I’m not on fire, you pay for it if you want to be carried on someone’s shoulder.’
You don’t have to be a communist to adopt a social mindset. You don’t have to be a Marxist to believe that all people deserve healthcare, deserve to live, deserve to be warm and fed and educated. All people have the right to dream, to love, to laugh, to feel safe. And those who vote Tory might be lovely, empathetic people in their personal lives, but they also know the Tories don’t take on these ethics. They know that Johnson is a lying womaniser who will move us to insurance-based healthcare. They know that austerity has drenched the poorest people in this country of anything they had. They know that big business don’t pay tax. They know this, and they don’t care. That’s why you can’t convince them to vote Labour, that’s why no matter how many times you quote Johnson’s violent racism, or Corbyn’s fairness, you will fall on deaf ears. They know! Of course they know! But the Tory voter mindset stays true to itself, and looking after number one will take precedent, no matter how bad it gets. That’s why Corbyn’s plans are branded as a ‘fantasy’ by Tory voters, when similar systems function well all over the world. They don’t want that system, that system where children all get to eat and be kept safe, because it means they might have a little less. Tory voters exist in a circle jerk of individualism, and no amount of good intention, fair politics or upstanding behaviour from Corbyn can break it.
In order for society to function properly, one must sacrifice. Under late capitalism, though, we sacrifice too much already. All people, rich or poor, work too much. All working people sacrifice time with their family to be at a job they don’t enjoy, all people feel scared, feel sad, feel overwhelmed. Those at the top feel the heavy weight of capitalism on their backs, too, and so they think, ‘Why should I give more? I have sacrificed so much of myself to have my money, my house, my safety.’ The point this misses, though, is that we all have. Those who work sixty hour weeks cleaning toilets have sacrificed, just like you have, except they don’t own their home, they can’t afford private healthcare and they can’t work any more than they already do. They might have left family behind in another country, they might write home every week and send all the money they can spare, they might not see their children any more. They might have tried to do something else, and failed to. So if you’re a person who earns a lot and has sacrificed a lot to have what you have, you are not alone in that sacrifice. Capitalism has forced us all to give more than we have got, and it’s made us hardy and selfish and cruel.
Now there’s a choice. Give a little under Corbyn, this country will see more of what we all work for: prosperity, joy and peace. It might cost you something, when you feel like you’ve already been overcharged in life. It’ll cost us all something to be happy, to live somewhere that is fair, but I for one am willing to engage in further sacrifice. What do we work for? What do we get tired for, hurt our bodies for, get up early for, continue to try for? If it’s just for yourself, I feel sorry for you. It’s time to change that.