Hey you guys,
To say I’m concerned about tomorrow’s election would be an understatement. There are so many things I want to say. And I’ve tried to say. But I’m struggling to put everything into words because unfortunately, I haven’t been blessed with the art of articulating my views. This is problematic when I’m passionate about something. I get overwhelmed and flustered when conversing. And I vent my frustration at the TV by shouting random profanities during shows like Question Time. And occasionally throw a cushion across the room in moments of sheer rage. Is this productive? Not really. Do I enjoy myself? Yes, sometimes I give that TV a strong talking to. Do I have anger issues? Potentially…
I’m going to try and get a few things off my chest. Because it’s good to talk…
We live in a democracy. We all have the right to our own opinions and that’s wonderful and not to be taken for granted. I have friends who are Labour, Liberal, Conservative, Green… (haven’t got myself a UKIP chum to my knowledge though. They can all fuck off). We may not agree on everything, but we learn from one another and have a lot in common in other areas of our lives. My rambling point here being, is that my intent of this blog post is not to label anyone with opposing political beliefs to myself as a bad person. We all have our reasons for believing the things we do. Even though I’ll personally never understand some of those opinions, I can appreciate the different reasons we form these views. It’s what makes us who we are. And I understand that our roots have a lot to with how we think the way we do.
What I want to do is address some of the key stereotypes that exist. To ask you to consider the media’s role in forming our opinions. They are undoubtedly responsible in influencing us and fueling the misrepresentations that exist in our society. Whatever your political beliefs, the growing xenophobia; the divide between the classes; between the rich and poor, cannot be ignored. It’s really important that we address this in order to understand why some people are so willing to accept these stereotypes. Why do certain media outlets and politicians deem this growing divide as acceptable?
Exhibit A: Let’s get to know each other…
The BBC did a series of Election Blind Dates. It’s a great idea even though watching the below film resulted in me physically pulling my hair as I watched…
For the benefit of this blog post, our main area of interest starts at around 04.53, but please watch the whole thing if you can:
Finished? Did you enjoy? The current Tory government are doing well with their benefit cuts? Aren’t they jolly caring people? We ought to thank them. Cutting benefits for those in need. It’s ok though, because Toff watches ‘television programmes’. So obviously she’s an expert on the ‘lazy benefit cheats’. Who else would need benefits? The sick? The single parent? The Disabled? The poverty stricken? But look guys, the TV shows and publications such as the Daily Mail depict all those claiming benefits as money grabbing lazy bums. So they must be right. Right?
Exhibit B: People are going hungry….
The Tory candidate who is ‘glad there are food banks’. This woman’s a real peach…
‘Glad’. This lady is ‘glad’ that food banks exist. That many people are so poverty stricken, they have to rely on food donations for daily meals. To feed themselves and often their families. The UK is the fifth richest country in the world, yet food bank use continues to rise, with over one million three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in 2016/2017. The many cuts that the current government has enforced play a huge part in this. The cuts that ‘Toff’ (Exhibit A), believes have done tremendous ‘good’ for society. The cuts that have benefited the wealthiest in society, and irrecoverably damaged the less fortunate. Does this sound ‘strong and stable’ to you? Is this a positive reflection of a modern, wealthy society? I. Just. Can’t. Even… I’m leaving this reaction to Kristen Wiig…
This Tory MP also spouts May’s nonsense rhetoric of ‘Strong and Stable’ and the latest favourite go-to-argument of there being ‘no magic money tree’ (for some that is…). In the words of Andy Dufresne, how can you be so obtuse?
There is no substance to this argument whatsoever. For starters, May didn’t even have the nerve to turn up to the live debate to address these ‘Strong and Stable’ ideologies she speaks of. And in this ‘Strong and Stable’ society, are you happy to rate food banks as an acceptable way of life for fellow human beings? ‘Strong and Stable’ sounds punchy and everyone loves a bit of alliteration. In reality? It doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s a desperate attempt to get your vote. And terrifyingly, it might just work.
Exhibit C: What about the real life Daniel Blake’s?
“It was only then that I became really aware the ruling class had a face, and it was the faces of these gilded youths who inherited the world and who expected to rule it and did”
The wonderful Ken Loach, speaking about when he went to Oxford. (The Life and Films of Ken Loach BBC 2 30/7/16 )
In October this year, I went to the cinema to watch Ken Loach’s film, I, Daniel Blake. If you haven’t yet seen this film, please, please, please watch it.
The film is about a woodworker who suffered a severe heart attack. He has been instructed by his Doctor that he is not fit to work and must take a break from his manual labour role. As such, he should be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance as he is on the road to recovery. It transpires that this is not an easy process. In fact, it is made deliberately hard. Hard for those who are in genuine need and entitled to support.
It is the Doctor who has urged Blake not to work, but it is the ‘healthcare professional’ who decides what benefits he is fit for. This non-medically trained healthcare professional asks the unwell Blake (Dave Johns) a number of questions. It transpires that as he is able to walk 50 metres and ‘raise either arm as if to put something in your pocket’, he is in fact ineligible for employment support and allowance. With a scoring of 12 points rather than 15, he is forced to instead apply for job seeker’s allowance. He must attend CV workshops. And he must go about a long and arduous job search knowing fine well that he is not only wasting his own time, but the time of the employers. We already know that he can’t accept any of the jobs for the wellbeing of his health. It is, as Blake puts it in the film, ‘a monumental farce’.
I won’t go into further detail about the plot, but I urge you to watch it. It’s a truly eye opening insight into what is going on in our society right now.
With regards to the current criteria for claiming benefits, Loach has said he sees this as a ‘catch 22 situation designed to frustrate and humiliate the claimant to such an extent that they drop out of the system and stop pursuing their right to ask for support if necessary’.
Ken Loach’s films can be tough to watch to say the least. His focus is on socialist issues and his films depict the very harsh realities of the struggles that many people face across the UK. Poverty, homelessness, mental health, are a few of the themes that he has made a focal point. He doesn’t sugar coat, he doesn’t fabricate. He educates. And if his films are uncomfortable to watch, it’s because life in fact is that painful for many. And that’s an uncomfortable issue, don’t you think? Something that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet, I hope you’d agree?
As I sat in the cinema with the credits rolling during I, Daniel Blake, it was silent. Nobody moved for a considerable amount of time. Never has a film infuriated or devastated me more. Because this is now. This is the reality for far too many. It broke my heart.
To many, Daniel Blake’s character may not be someone you will have encountered before. But he will be someone who’s sheer frustration you will begin to share as you watch the film. To me, it was my dad. I kept thinking, ‘what if this was my dad?’ My dad, who is the hardest working person I know. My dad (who was in the building trade), who enjoyed his work, but whose body felt the effects as he got older. The man who is the reason I was able to go to university. A typical, salt of the earth Northumbrian lad who has worked hard all of his life. Who has supported his family. The kind of guy you’d want in your friendship group with his dry wit, or as your neighbour because he’d happily grit your path when it’s icy or sweep the leaves when autumn arrives. Who’d mumble a joke whilst doing it. The guy who has put in the long hours, paid his taxes like good honest folk do and been a general sound citizen. You’ll know people like this. Plenty of them, I hope. These are the ‘normal’ people this Tory government is going to continue to fuck over if they stay in power. Put your stereotypes aside. It could be anyone. And that enrages me.
Thankfully, my dad has now retired and never had to go on long term sick leave. Benefits have never been a part of our lives because we’re the lucky ones. But the fact is; if this was you or someone you knew, you’d feel differently, right? Who knows when you might be down on your luck? I come from a close family and a very fortunate one. But what about those who perhaps don’t have a supportive family around them? Or who lose their job through no fault of their own? What about those who are left to fend for themselves? The ones who are betrayed by the system. Do they not matter? Do you see them as irrelevant? Do you not have a heart?
The Government of Food banks/‘Life in austerity Britain is ‘consciously cruel’’
People are debating more than ever about politics, because the divide is greater than ever. You may not think it, because as the lucky ones we don’t see it in our day-to-day lives. You don’t read a lot about it, because the media keeps this information at bay. We need people like Ken Loach, to tell it as it is. We need politicians like Jeremy Corbyn, who have compassion and genuine care for people. All of the people, not just a select few. As Ken Loach himself said, ‘if you are not angry about how things are, what kind of person are you?’
If you watch this clip and don’t throw a cushion across the room in anger… then I suggest you take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror:
Kwasi Kwateng is funny isn’t he? So this guy (claims to) believe Loach’s depiction food banks in his film is just ‘creative’. He’s ‘telling a story’ not really based on fact. So the food banks in every city and the millions of people who have used them or have been sanctioned… what are they Kwasi, an optical illusion of humans?
Also, what an odd comparison. Should someone tell this guy that even though Dickens was telling stories, he wasn’t actually pretending or exaggerating that the poor were having a desperately awful time? In 1800s Britain, hardship wasn’t just a tale that existed when you opened a Dickensian novel. Jacob Marley might not have been floating around to warn you of your fate, but poverty still existed. And it still does. That’s not fiction, son!
Corbyn: Top Lad
It’s interesting when you consider people’s differing opinions. People can make valid arguments on either side of the spectrum, but sometimes you struggle to ‘get it’. In the BBC Election Blind Dates when Toff announced that she can’t imagine why anyone of our generation would consider voting Labour, I did an actual facepalm. When I heard her mutter these words or when I consider people setting off to cast their vote and sticking the cross in the Conservative box, all I think right now is:
I’ve lost count of the number of people who take pride in uttering the words, ‘but Corbyn’s not a strong leader is he?’ Yet they have nothing to back this argument. They overheard others use this same line or they read it in one of the many newspapers or heard someone saying it on the TV. Say something enough times and people will start to believe it…
I’m a big fan of Jonathan Pie. His sketches amuse me so I wanted to share one which you’ve probably already seen. But I enjoy his analysis of why Corbyn is anything but weak…
‘That’s not weak… it’s fucking hardcore!”
My friend recently wrote a blog about how you shouldn’t dismiss Corbyn as a leader and you can read it here: Why You Shouldn’t Dismiss Jeremy Corbyn As A Leader
‘After all, you can train someone to iron their shirt, you can’t train them to care.’ Perfectly said Tom McGivan 🙂
Corbyn genuinely cares. He’s always cared. He has dedicated his life to campaigning about good causes/human rights. He protested against the Apartheid in South Africa; he tackled Thatcher over homelessness in Britain in the 1990s; he was instrumental in the campaigning for LGBT rights; he was fiercely against the war in Iraq; he opposed New Labour’s introduction of increased tuition fees; he was the lowest expenses claiming MP during the expenses scandal in 2010. These are just a few facts.
Most of us had no idea who Jeremy Corbyn was when all of this was going on. He didn’t do any of these things to make himself look good to win points with the public. He did all of this because he cared, because he has always cared. Is the world such a mess that we’re too afraid to put our faith in an individual who wants to make a difference for the good of everyone?
The latest edition of the NME has Corbyn on the front page next to the word ‘Hope’ and that’s exactly what having him as our next Prime Minister would mean.
Hope for our NHS. Hope for our schools and the younger generation. Hope for our public services in general and hope for the people who are currently regarded as irrelevant and have been let down by the system. Another friend on Facebook recently posted this article Living with disabilities under austerity
Next it he wrote, ‘I know I’ll be fine whatever the outcome of this election, but not everyone is that lucky’.
Please remember this when you vote. Please consider voting for the many, not the few.
Now then, lets get cheesy and end this serious discussion with a bit of music from John, Paul, George and Ringo. If you don’t like the Beatles, I don’t think there’s any hope. If you do – remember this song as you vote tomorrow (and do the right thing 🙂 )
x Jess x