It’s late. The house is asleep. But my mind won’t let me rest. So, I’m writing. Sometimes it helps to get the words out.
Yesterday, I had no words. Today, I have too many.
There is no sugar-coated way to say this, so I’m just going to say it because as one of my Facebook followers reminded me, I’m ‘one feisty lady’, and that’s definitely a label I can be proud of. Unhappily, the label I’m about to give the Tory voting public isn’t.
If in Thursday’s General Election, you voted Tory, then I’m afraid you voted for a racist and a homophobe. By enabling Boris Johnson, you too are a racist and a homophobe.
There, I said it. It’s not nice, is it? But there it is.
In the very same way that those who voted for the Nazi Party in Germany were Nazi enablers, those that voted for the Tory Party have enabled racism and homophobia. I guess there are plenty of people who feel proud to wear that label. I’m guessing that many more are not.
Sadly, Brexit dominated this election and a huge proportion of working-class, traditional Labour voters, were utterly blinded by their desire to ‘Get Brexit Done’ that they totally missed how five more years of Tory rule (this time with a majority in the House of Commons), would affect the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in our society, many of them amongst them.
They’ve bought into the lie that somehow Brexit will be the answer to all of their prayers without realising that years of cuts and Tory austerity is what has left them struggling and those things could have been fixed by changing domestic policy, not leaving the European Union with all of the benefits membership brings.
I don’t feel anger towards these people, I just feel pity. They don’t seem to grasp just how difficult life is about to get.
On Thursday evening, I walked through Dewsbury town centre past an outdoor soup kitchen that was feeding a bunch of homeless people. That same night, the constituency of Dewsbury went from red to blue. I still can’t understand it. Such poverty and deprivation on your doorstep and this, for the voters of Dewsbury, is apparently the answer?
Since the election result, I’ve made a point of engaging with people on social media with opposing views to mine and I’ve shared much of the above.
One gentleman I encountered typically sneered and jeered at me but when he realised that actually I haven’t always been a Labour voter, he seemed to soften.
You see, for years I was a Conservative voter (like my parents). Something I always felt a little awkward and embarrassed about admitting but there it is.
It is only in the last nine years that I changed allegiance, having felt the effects of Tory austerity policy first hand via a humiliating and degrading PIP interview.
As some of you know, I have congenital rotary nystagmus and I’m registered as partially sighted. I had been in receipt of disability living allowance prior to its changing to PIP.
During the interview, I was made to undergo a crude eye test by an unqualified interviewer, despite him having documentary evidence from an expert ophthalmologist in front of him as to the state of my eyesight.
Of course, I wasn’t awarded PIP and I honestly couldn’t bear to put myself through the appeals process – my depression and anxiety were already in overdrive.
Nowadays, I usually vote for the Green Party but there was no candidate standing in my constituency this time. They had stood aside to allow Labour a free run and therefore, I voted for common human decency.
Once the gentleman was told this, he backed off because his daughter had been through a PIP interview too. It beggars belief then why he would vote Tory; I guess the bright shiny lights of Brexit were just too strong.
The Labour Party isn’t perfect, it has been dogged by anti-Semitism, but in what was essentially a binary choice, I chose not to throw my fellow citizens under a bus. Do I think Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic? No, I think he has been unfairly demonised by certain aspects of the media simply for recognising that there are two sides to every disagreement, of course, I refer to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Do I think he is a terrorist sympathiser? No, I think he recognises that in order to bring an end to conflict, at some point you must be willing to sit around a table with all sides in order to reach a compromise.
Undoubtedly, Labour would have performed better with a more centrist leader that could appeal to a wider portion of the electorate but there is little point in going over the what-ifs. It’s done and now we all must suffer our collective fate.
As a journalist, I would advise everyone to read broadly and watch widely when it comes to news consumption and then apply your common sense to take a balanced view. Never rely on a single publication – far too many do and it is poisonous.
So, where do we go from here? On Friday, I reserved a place at a Crisis shelter for someone this Christmas. It isn’t much but it felt like a starting point. It seems to me that we need to look out for the poor, the sick, the disabled, the vulnerable, the LGBTQ+ community and BIPOC/BAME more than ever before. We need to look out for one another and look after each other because now that the far right is emboldened, these are dark days. Hold the ones you love close and remember that the journey through life is not about what other people can do for you but what you can do for others.