As readers of this blog know, I’m likely to vote Green. Climate change: the defining problem of this century. One that is manageable and fixable – so long as we do something NOW. The longer we leave it, the harder and more costly that’s gonna be.
If I lived in a marginal constituency, this would be a harder call. To keep out Boris Johnson I would vote Labour or even Lib Dem, despite my deep suspicions of the latter.
But to keep out the Torres… yeah, I’d do it. And I figured I’d take this last minute moment to say why.
The evidence is overwhelming, and even if you doubt the science (which there is no reason to) we are already experiencing the effects for ourselves. Extreme weather events, more storms, deadly heatwaves, floods – they’re here, ruining lives, and they’re just the start. I want a government that acts. The Conservative Party has in its 9 years in power, abolished the Department for Energy and Climate Change, gutted the Environment Agency, ignored floods, blocked renewable energy projects, supported fracking in defiance of all evidence and community rebellion, put fossil fuels at the heart of their economic manifesto and are hiking VAT on solar and renewable energies to 20%, while coal remains at 5%. This is the action of a government entirely in bed with and protecting the fossil fuel industry, and is dangerous, short sighted and obscene. It’s not just a gross neglect – it is a refusal to engage with reality, and frankly I don’t want a government that ignores reality.
The Tories lie. Boris Johnson more than anyone. His claim of 60 new hospitals – a lie. His claim of 40000 new nurses – a lie. Wait times are up, morale is rock bottom, the doctors, nurses and front line staff of the NHS are rebelling and yes, there is some evidence that the NHS is up for grabs, continuing an already alarming theme of increased costs and privatisation under the Tory government. We have one of the most efficient and egalitarian health services in the world. We must protect it.
Since 2010, local authority funding has plunged by more than 50% across huge swathes of the country. This is funding for pupils in schools. For health services. For social care – the gutting of which has pushed people in crisis into the NHS, shifting the burden without addressing needs compassionately – and more effectively – in the community. It’s funding for crisis centres, for libraries, parks, care for the elderly. It’s a gutting of our local services, which can be disguised as not an attack on our healthcare, education, elderly and children by simply lumping it into one big category ‘local government’.
Wealth inequality in the UK has increased staggeringly in the last few decades. The rich are richer, the poor poorer. And what’s more, the rich aren’t just sitting in their cash – it is being used to control our politics and society. The media is owned by billionaires pushing an agenda that promotes their welfare. The Conservatives, who propose policies that benefit the wealthy, are receiving more funding than any other party. The privatisation of services only benefits the wealthy who profit from services that should serve the people, being re-tooled to profit shareholders. Asset stripping is rife. Thankfully, we have a tool to redress this – income tax. The argument that raising tax on the richest will damage the economy has been consistently disproved; and moreover the levels of increased taxation proposed by parties of the left is, in the grand scheme of things, a drop in the ocean. Johnson’s cabinet is two thirds from a private education background; privilege begets privilege, and is very, very reluctant to let it go. The idea that we value a teacher to the tune of £24k a year, but that a banker “deserves” bonuses of millions of pounds is a grotesque social imbalance. However, the Tories are not merely proposing a tax break for the wealthiest, they intend to raise Council Tax – the single most inequitable tax available after the already-hiked VAT rate. If money is power, then an untouchable elite is being created above us all.
Here’s the thing: yes, I think Brexit is a terrible, terrible idea. Yes, I think it’s going to hurt us all. I think the evidence is pretty good for that. But even if I did just want it all over with, Boris Johnson has already proven himself a liar, again. He has lied about a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. He lies about migration, he lies about economics, he lies when faced with evidence from his own government, he lies about proroguing parliament and was rebuked by the Courts for it. He spreads hate and misinformation, and when questioned on anything, makes it about Brexit. It is impossible to trust a word he says, or that he acts in anyone’s interest except his own.
On which theme, remember how he told the country that Parliament was undemocratic after they voted him down? Remember how he lied to the Queen, and went out of his way to (unsuccessfully) undermine democracy and debate in the UK?
Or how the Tories pretended to be fact-checkers during a debate? Or threatened to revoke Channel 4’s license after he refused to take part in the Climate Debate? Or goes after the BBC on those rare occassions when they call out his nonsense? Or refused to be interviewed by the BBC, unlike every other leader of every other party?
Or hey – how he refused to publish a report on Russian meddling in UK elections against the advice of his own government? Or refused to answer corruption charges from his time as Mayor of London? Or the endless counts of racism and snobbery at his back? Or the times he was fired for lying? Or Tory boundary changes that specifically benefit them? Or voter ID laws that have been condemned for disenfranchising hundreds – potentially thousands of people, generally identified as minority and low income people – to tackle a problem that again, the UK government says doesn’t exist?
The Tories are systematically attempting to undermine every independent, democratic, free and critical institution in this country. They are creating division and willfully, actively, spreading disinformation. A vote for Boris Johnson is a vote for bullying, lies, inequality and corruption.