We live in strange times. The old order seems to be breaking down around us. Those who in earlier times would have been treated as slightly loopy fringe politicians are now thrust into the mainstream, wearing their bigotry, hatred and malice like badges of honour. The establishment is a trapped in Amber, clinging to an old agenda while the world has moved on to other business.
What lies under all this seems to be a lack of empathy. In unstable times it is all to easy to blame the outsider, the foreigner, the poor, the unfortunate for the troubles that beset us. Especially when the media is content to peddle vicious victimisation as entertainment and blame the less well off instead of the corporate tax dodgers and billionaire bankers who actually caused this mess.
Misinformation and downright lies seem to be the order of the day. Blame the immigrant for stealing “British” jobs or sponging off the state. Ignore the fact that the vast majority of immigrant workers are tax payers and contribute upwards of £25 billion to the UK economy. Many of them are highly educated, multi-lingual.
We seem unable to see things from another point of view. Who knows why someone seeks a new life here? Persecution, whether political, religious or sexual may have driven them from their home country. Economic factors may play a part. Are we to begrudge someone trying to improve their life and that of their families? Many migrants send money home to help their families.
Too many of us believe the lies. It’s the legacy of the “Sod you Jack, I’m alright” attitude that has been the hallmark of neoliberalism since it came to be the new consensus back in the 80s. Except that it doesn’t work. Austerity was imposed as the only way out of the financial meltdown. But what it has in fact facilitated is the greatest shift of wealth from the poor to the wealthy since Victorian times. Public spending has been viciously cut while billions upon billions have been pumped into the banking system. Much of that money has ended up in the hands of a few billionaires. At the same time corporate tax dodging has become endemic. Billions in unpaid tax, yet the government does little to recover it, preferring, yet again, to victimise the less well off. In a third world country much of this behaviour would be called corruption.
All I’m saying is that a rush to judgement does no one any favours. Find the truth, dig a bit deeper and you may find the picture changes. Apathy and a lack of empathy. Don’t let those two things be our legacy. It’s less than 100 days to the general election. Register to vote. Look at the policies (www.voteforpolicies.org.uk is useful for that). Don’t just tow the party line. Above all, vote.