I’ll say one thing for the current Tory government; they have a greater level of self-awareness than the last two premierships.
BoJo never understood why people were upset when he broke his own Lockdown rules and then lied about it, when he knowingly appointed people with abuse claims against them and lied about knowing it. BoJo never understood that the people weren’t stupid and resented being treated as stupid.
Speaking of Stupid, Liz Truss didn’t understand why it was a bad idea to funnel all the money to rich people in the midst of a worsening cost-of-living crisis. I think her economic plan hinged on rich people tossing coins from their carriages as they passed groups of beggars (although there was no amount specified for tossing, and no real requirement that they toss any money at all). She did realise that everyone was mad at her, hence her resignation, but she still doesn’t think she did anything wrong. They just didn’t understand her.
Rishi Sunak does seem aware of the dire state of his party and of the country. He knows the country is in a dire state of uncertainty and unrest. He knows that at the next election, the Tories will be definitely lose power and will be lucky to retain any seats at all. What’s a Prime Minister to do?
He could make an effort to fix the damage caused by 12 years of Tory mismanagement; raise public sector pay in line with inflation, attempt to mitigate the disastrous aftermath of Brexit, clean house on the corruption within the Tory party, raise taxes on the 1%.
However, that would involve acknowledging the Tory Ideology is fatally flawed and he might piss off some rich people. It all seems like too much work. He’s not going to do any of that.
The country is restless. People are angry. The Tories have had a long plan to deal with this: limit the people’s right to protest, increase police powers to shut down marches or limit the time they are allowed to happen (think between 11:00 and 11:15 on February 29th). Because the best way to quiet the public is to gag them.
The Cost-of-living is out of control, particularly the cost of energy. The initial Tory strategy to combat this was ‘hope for a mild winter.’ It’s -5 celsius right now, so that plan clearly failed. Now they are recommending ‘Warm Banks’ like museums, galleries and libraries as places people can go to stay warm. Too bad the Tories closed so many Libraries during the Cameron years.
Every Union in the country is taking a vote on whether to strike, if they’re not striking already. And the strikes, inconvenient as they are, have received tremendous public support. We all realise the extent to which we’ve been screwed over the last 12 years and it’s good to see people striking back. This government plan to deal with the strikes is twofold; first is to refuse to negotiate over pay. When the Nursing Unions offer to delay the strikes as long as the government was willing to talk about pay, the Health Secretary gave them a flat-out refusal. Given that Nurses have suffered a 20% pay cut in real terms over the last 12 years, given that many Nurses are now having to use food banks, shutting down pay negotiations is not the way to win hearts and minds.
The second part of their plan to deal with strikes is Anti-Strike legislation. Police and military are already banned from striking and they want to extend that ban to Nurses. It’s easier than negotiating. They’re basically saying Nurses are too essential to strike, but not essential enough to pay fairly. It’s all part of their unstated goal to dismantle the NHS and force us all into private insurance (ie: the American model, which even the Americans are turning away from). It also makes me wonder who else could be deemed too essential to strike? At what point are all strikes illegal?
Surely, then, they will pay the price at the ballot box next election. They’ve got a plan for that: Voter ID laws. Touted as a method to combat voter fraud, they are the solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. In the last election, of the 48 million votes cast, there were 164 cases of voter fraud. even if they were all in one constituency and all going for one candidate, they would not have been enough to swing a result. So let’s not pretend that’s the reason for the laws.
It’s all about who is allowed to vote, and the government have not been subtle in their bias. Aside from Passport and Drivers licence, the list of acceptable IDs include: an older person’s bus pass, a 60+ oyster card, a freedom pass (available to pensioners), a senior smart pass, a Blue Badge (available to disabled people). Can you see the trend? Lots of free ID choices for the over 60’s, who are, coincidentally, more likely to vote conservative. Not on the list: student ID cards or 18+ oyster cards. The IDs for the 18+ crowd either need to be paid for or require a special application; an extra level of bureaucracy and hassle.
So they won’t let us protest, won’t let us strike, and are trying to make it difficult to vote. The Government approach to labour relations is to stick their fingers in their ears and go “LaLaLa” really loudly until everyone goes away.
But ignoring the problems doesn’t make them go away, and people’s situations are only getting worse. Food insecurity, home insecurity, unemployment, low wages, poverty, our grievances are only growing. In trying to restrict our legal options, all they are doing is opening people’s minds to the illegal ones; general strikes and riots. The strikes represent controlled chaos. Are they prepared to deal with real anarchy?
It’s going to be a longer, colder winter than any of us bargained for.