So here’s the thing. It’s New Year’s day 2020 and like many of us I struggle to think of much to be optimistic about for the year or even the decade ahead. Tory austerity will continue, most likely at an accelerated pace and even more people seem likely to fall into poverty with an ever shrinking social safety net to support them. I know I’m not the only one who worries about this today because I see my contacts on social media saying exactly the same. That’s the Facebook echo chamber at work, I imagine.
But let’s just take a breath. Pause for thought and see if we can’t make a little better use of our characteristic, socialist compassion.
I have long believed that the difference between the right and the left is this. The right looks after its own, be they defined through race, religion, nationality or social class whereas the left wants to make the world better and fairer for everyone. And that includes the people we might be angry with as the country embarks on another decade of Tory inequality.
Too many of us are promising never to befriend a Tory voter again. Too many of us are venting our anger, our sense of betrayal even on our working class neighbours who voted Tory, LibDem or worse. I understand that anger. I feel it too. But it’s not what we should be about and it certainly won’t help restore fairness and decency to the UK.
We’re all fallible, even us and so are our neighbours. In my view nothing demonstrates that fallibility more than the recent election result. Our friends and neighbours have just voted for austerity, privatisation of public services, greater inequality and the destruction it working class communities across the land. And we’re all going to suffer for it – including them.
If we are to survive the next few years with our rights intact and our people protected we have to come together. That’s not just an option, it’s a necessity. We need to heal our broken communities and quickly because the Tories aren’t hanging around. And we’ll never do that by ostracizing our neighbours because they made a mistake, a mistake fuelled by the concerted efforts of the mainstream media and a right wing network that wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit them!
Personally I’ve only ever disowned a single relative and that’s not because he’s a Tory. It’s because he wants to treat Muslims, refugees and asylum seekers as less than human. He even claimed to want to sit stop the white cliffs with a machine gun and execute desperate refugees. Him, I disowned years ago but I won’t be rejecting anyone for voting Tory, angry and disappointed that I am.
They’re part of our community and we need them!