Friday, 8 May 2015

Five Years of Terror

Given my interest in politics the outcome of the election was less of a surprise to me than to some others.  I know that the 'conversion rate' of Conservative votes to seats has always been much higher than for Labour, so the supposed 'neck and neck' polling would mean more seats for the Conservatives; Labour needed a clear lead in terms of votes ever to stand a chance of gaining an equivalent number of seats; many commentators missed that fact.  There is also the issue of the 'shy Conservatives'.  Unlike with supporters of other parties, a percentage of Conservative voters, this time perhaps 5% of their voters on the day are unwilling to admit that they are going to vote for the Conservatives.  Unsurprisingly even Conservative literature reckoned they would win 303 seats rather than the 331 they attained.  Those howling for opinion polls to be banned should consider that fact.

The other thing is that elections in the UK are won by fear and myths.  This has been the case since 1992 if not longer and was boosted by the spin doctor era of the Blair governments.  In 1992 the myth was about the Labour taxation plans.  In 2015 the myth of the Labour 'over-spend' of 2005-10 causing the deficit, rather than the fact that it came from having to bail out reckless banks.  The myth of over-spend is now so well established that many people will not accept any other view and demand that Labour apologise.  They do not read the actual history, they simply absorb the myths spread by the right-wing newspaper.  Such approaches have actually been more successful than direct support for the Conservatives.  I anticipate comments here saying that I am lying because the myth has become the 'truth' no matter what history actually shows.

The fear this time was the SNP.  This seems to have been effective in increasing the turn-out sufficiently to win a lot of seats by a narrow margin that Labour could otherwise have taken.  This leaves Labour in a very difficult position.  In England they probably need to return to Blairite policies but in Scotland where there has been an abrupt shift in the opposite direction, to the left wing, they will need a completely different pitch, indeed possibly a separate centre-left party.  The Conservatives' scare tactics and myths rather than any policy are what secured them the win.  It is ironic that leading Conservatives have said the campaign was 'positive'.  As I have read commentators note, if this was a positive campaign then Heaven help us if anyone thinks of doing a negative one, perhaps George Galloway and the opponents of Esther McVey gave us a feel for the supposedly positive campaigns of the future.

How does this bring me to the terror I have been feeling today?  The reason is that I am a member of 'working poor'.  Despite having a full-time job, I do not earn enough to pay rent on a single room in a shared house and cover my bills in terms of my car, internet, food, etc.  Only my book sales keep me from going into further debt each month.  My salary is the same as it was in 2009 but obviously the cost of living has continued to rise.  My girlfriend who runs her own business and as a result is dependent on housing benefits to pay her rent.  Her efforts to get work in supermarkets has failed despite completing the third stages of recruitment processes.  As a result of being 'working poor' we are incredibly vulnerable.  I have been fortunate to have been in work since 2012 but know that with current employment law I can be terminated with a month's notice and my income dry up.  There is a good chance my employer will then try to block me receiving unemployment benefit as has happened before and according to Job Centre staff is common these days.  Seeing no sign of this alleged economic recovery benefiting anyone I know or encounter, there is a good chance my job will go as the economy continues to stutter.

What is more frightening is the promised £12 billion benefits cuts that Cameron has promised.  There has been no indication where these will fall, but it seems that child benefits will be cut.  It also seems likely that housing benefit will be cut as more money is taken away from local authorities.  It seems probable that my girlfriend will struggle to pay her rent.  Labour had promised controls on rent and increase the rights of tenants to stop what has happened to me in my life with landlords simply tossing us out with minimal notice when they feel a need to sell the house or it turns out they have been failing to pay his mortgage.  They promised freezes on utility bills which have continued to rocket leading to fuel poverty.  There are also no attempts to ban the locked-in contracts which on  two occasions has meant having to keep paying when the internet service has died or face a charge of £65 to have it fixed or £180 to have it removed.  

It is clear that poverty will increase; as the hare-brained school policies are liable to continue, then opportunities for ordinary young people will be closed off.  The next few years are going to be terrible for the bulk of the population.  In such a situation it seems that prejudice and exploitation will continue to rise.  I have tried suicide before and have failed but today's results and the era it ushers in is the one that that is encouraging me to consider it once more.  I have a good job and yet a bleak future is all that lies ahead of me.  For those who are disabled or dependent on benefits, it is going to be utterly horrendous.

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