I’ve made a small promise to myself to stop having opinions on things the second I read about them. I honestly feel like one of our current biggest problems in society is a snap reaction that isn’t processed, dwelled on, and thought about carefully before we spew more vile into the endless sick puddle of the internet. It’s how we let people become (in)famous for being horrific human beings, because we all like to read what they say and shout our feelings without just sitting back and saying ‘well, they are clearly awful, let’s ignore them and they’ll go away.’ It’s all part of how the game works now. Everything’s reduced to animalistic instincts.
But to stand amongst the ever growing team of hypocrites swilling happily in that sick puddle, I’m going to react to the election results now. It feels impossible not to. Last night I was onstage at a satirical comedy show with an audience of 435 people. At 10pm someone read out the exit poll results to us and there was a tension in the room as though everyone in the giant upside down purple cow tent (yes, really) had been gut punched. Even the six people in the front row who admitted to voting Conservative looked uncertain as to what they’d done. And if the rest of the tent was going to lynch them. I think that ‘gut punch’ feeling was felt amongst many last night. But probably not that many.
They say voter turnout was 66%. It’s still not great, but it’s more than the last few elections. A large majority of those 66% voted for the Conservative. That’s what they decided and so it’s a democratic result. We can’t blame lack of votes anymore or say that no one really won. They did. As much as I may not like it, it’s fair. We could all say we didn’t see it coming either but really, with hindsight, it’s quite clear. For the last five years the country’s been told that Gordon Brown’s government ruined everything. That poor people are to blame. That it’s the public’s fault, not the banks, that there is a deficit crisis. That unemployment was falling when in fact the criteria for employment was just changed. Same for child poverty. That disabled people and people on benefits should look after themselves and that the NHS is a mess. The media mercilessly attacked the opposition, television put on shows like Benefit Street. We were told that Scotland being democratically elected would be ‘chaos’. SeeIn the little bubble of social media, it felt like people saw through that facade. But that was just a tiny bubble of people. A tiny bubble of people who have time to trawl through articles, opinion pieces, facts and polls. As Doug Stanhope said (and I’m probably misquoting, sorry), ‘once you see the bullshit, you can never stop seeing it everywhere.’
But a lot of people get up, go to work, come home from work, watch the TV, take in a headline, see Cameron as a capable man, saw Clegg as a promise breaker, Miliband as incompetent. Five years of that gives you a mindset that there is only one way to fix things and one party to do it. You don’t think about all the people that are suffering or you’re lead to believe it’s their own fault for being born into the wrong family or existing at the wrong time. It doesn’t affect them, so why care? To be fair, I’m ok too, I should, hopefully get through these next five years alright, if I’m not priced out of living in London in that time. But lots of people won’t be. They say ignorance is bliss and it’s times like this I’m tempted to escape social media, assume everything’s fine and dandy and just keep going till I’m affected by it. It’d be so easy.
So here we are again. A majority Conservative government. I want to let time pass and see what happens without getting over dramatic about possibilities. But there are already articles about privatising more of the NHS, and Theresa May bringing in the terrifying ‘nanny state’ Snooper’s charter policy. Fracking will be pushed forward excessively, climate change controls ignored. The housing market will get worse until a further crash. We’ll leave the European Court of Human Rights and worker’s rights will be eradicated. TTIP will be pushed forward until corporations own every institution and service in the UK and the people will have nothing left. But if it isn’t reported like that, no one will ever know and no one will ever complain until they’re hit by it. ‘What did Labour do wrong?’ everyone’s asked today. They didn’t fight properly. It should’ve been the easiest election on Earth for a party that was actually an opposition. But they also wanted cuts, just less so. Immigration controls, but less so. People start to see a party of uncommitted individuals that don’t know what they want and a man they were told time and time again wasn’t capable.
My brother said to me today that at least with the Conservatives getting in, we’re prepared for shit to hit the fan. If it had been a Labour government they’d still have pushed through privatisation and TTIP, but we’d have been less ready for it because we’d be expecting it less. I hope he’s right and this means over the next five years more people will see the bullshit and there might actually be an opposition to it, rather than a nation of people that sleep walk through their own oppression. So now there’s two options. Either accept defeat, say we’re wrong as we’re in the minority and the people have voted. Or we become louder and try harder to help others see the bullshit and not vote using instant reactions.
And if that doesn’t work then, there’s always the option of going to live in Reykjavik I guess. Now that’s something I’ve been thinking carefully about a lot. I should probably get a new rain coat….
On the plus side my stand-up show is now still (sadly) relevant. You can download it via www.tiernandouieb.co.uk