George Orwell wrote some good stuff in his time. Two of his best known works are Animal Farm and 1984. Both books dealt with the human condition and political ideologies that humans follow and in the case of Animal Farm, both were seized on by proponents of both the Left and Right wing totalitarian thinking as complete vindication of their own systems of control. Which is weird when you think about it, unless of course you believe that Communism and Fascism are exactly the same thing, which is kind of what Orwell was arguing. Furthermore, in 1984 Orwell examined the concept of doublethink. Doublethink is basically where someone holds completely contradictory ideas and values and believes them to be true, a bit like those from the Left and Right who believe in the messages they think Animal Farm is purporting. In 1984, the ‘Party’ uses doublethink as an essential component of their success, supporting the state’s imposed practice of language control, which Orwell calls newspeak. Confused yet? That’s the idea.
Well it looks like we, in the UK, are now in full doublethink mode given the actions and words being used by our politicians, most notably our prime minister, Mr Johnson. On Thursday the 12th of December, the UK will go to the polls again, to vote in a general election. This is an election only two and a half years since the last general election, which was supposed to settle the thorny old question of how the UK leaves the EU, or in other words, how to ‘get Brexit done‘. This was an election that the prime minister, Mr Johnson, always said categorically that he did not want, but because ‘Parliament blocked Brexit‘, he had no choice but to call it. Mr Johnson conveniently forgets that he and most of his cabinet actually voted against the previous prime minister, Mrs May’s Brexit deal, effectively blocking Brexit. The same Mrs May who called an election she said did not want, but was forced to in order to ‘strengthen her hand’ in the negotiations with the EU and deliver a ‘strong and stable government’. That strong and stable approach delivered the Parliament that ‘blocked Brexit‘. Have you ever thought, ‘wow, this really is complicated’ or maybe ‘why can’t these people get what we want done’? Do you ever get frustrated, angry even?
So consider now the current prime minister, Mr Johnson, telling anyone who will listen, that his ‘new Conservative government‘ will reverse the negative effects of the policies of austerity, by investing massive amounts of money into the NHS, police, prisons, infrastructure, schools and all the other public services. The same public services that have had massive funding cuts of 40% since 2010. 2010 being the year that the Conservatives led a coalition government and implemented these spending cuts. Mr Johnson says because his party has got the national debt ‘under control’, he can now spend again, and spend big. Given that the national debt has risen by approximately 75% since 2010, this again feels a bit doublethink, but maybe that’s just me being logical again, I really don’t know.
Remember, the people of the UK were asked a very simple question by referendum back in 2016, by this same Conservative party in government, namely ‘do you want to remain or leave the EU’? A simple question which has not been that simple to deliver, as it turns out. That Conservative government made no plans whatsoever for the answer to the question given being ‘leave’. The prime minister at the time, Mr Cameron resigned shortly after the result and Mrs May took back control and we know what happened next. Many, many people are confused, angry and generally disillusioned at the politicians’ inability to deliver the result of that referendum.
So now we are here. We have a Conservative government who have inflicted unprecedented cuts to public services since 2010. Those cuts have effected everyone and made people’s lives harder and more miserable. The Conservatives then offered us a referendum and made no plans to deal with one of the outcomes, i.e. leaving the EU. The Conservatives then called another election in 2017. The Conservatives squandered the last three and a half years arguing with themselves about how the UK will leave the EU. The Conservative government’s own analysis of the economic and security outcomes said there were problems with leaving and the country was going to be worse off but they ignored their own advice and pressed on. All the while, the Conservatives carried on with their austerity and cuts, making people’s lives harder and more miserable. And now the same Conservatives are asking us to vote them back into power on the back of promises to end austerity and ‘get Brexit done‘, promises to fix the NHS by hiring the nurses they already have, but want to stop leaving, invest in schools and teachers who are leaving the profession in droves, to put back the police officers and prison officers they sacked to tackle knife crime, and to stop us being ‘held back as a nation’. Its as if we, the people, are being treated by the Conservatives like a beaten partner, someone who will return to misery because they are all too frightened to seek an alternative for a better life. If you really want to leave this toxic relationship and take back control of your own lives, do you really think the Conservatives with their rancid record of government and constant doublethink policies deserve your vote?
Voting is a democratic choice, one that has had to be fought for down the years. Voting was a right that wasn’t given to everyone over 18 automatically. Long live voting. Long live democracy. Long live the truth.