Sunday, 15 December 2019

Protest and Survive




I, like most people I know now, am sick of talking about politics. In fact, I won’t do it in person any more, it’s too dreadful these days. I have fallen out with friends, family and followers too many times in the last three years and don’t want to lose anybody else.

Having said that, there are still things that need to be said (from the safety of my laptop, if you engage me in person on these issues I can and will hide in a fridge).

You lost, get over it. Words that were doubtless said to Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst, Alfred the Great and Jesus. And words that many of us have heard over and over again in the last few years. Time to take them to heart and get over it.

There's a certain element in British society at the moment who enjoy a military metaphor, so here's mine. After losing, you should get over it like the British Expeditionary Force did after the battles of Mons and Charleroi in 1914, or their comprehensive trouncing at Dunkirk in 1940. Regroup, re-strategise and get your shit together.

Brexit is going to happen, whether the ‘Stop Brexit’ man outside parliament likes it or not. The plus side of the massive Tory majority is that it should at least happen with a deal now, rather than the disastrous no-deal crashout that was beginning to look so likely.

So those of us against it need to organise (still) to mitigate the effects. Those of us who voted for it need to help. Whether or not you believe that the short-term (and we’re talking years, possibly decades, not just a month or two) pain of the break justifies the possible long-term benefits of leaving Europe it cannot be denied that those short-term problems are going to happen. So everybody needs to help.

The government should step in and help those suffering from poverty, homelessness and the proliferation of mental illness in this country. But they’re not going to, and a huge majority of less than a third of the electorate (first past the post really does have to go) have voted in favour of that. On the bright side, Boris Johnson rarely keeps to his word, so he might turn out to be a socialist in disguise before revoking Article 50.

If we are going to have to rely on old-fashioned Victorian Philanthropy to make sure people don’t die, then it’s time to get to work. I know this sounds dramatic, but actual people have already died as a direct result of austerity policies, and this looks likely to get worse. Donate to Shelter and the Trussell Trust, volunteer, organise, get out there. You may think the mega-wealthy should be doing it instead of you but they probably won't.


And keep protesting - not for more referendums, not for fresh elections, but on issues, for change, for the future. Because the people in charge are ignoring the single greatest issue facing humanity - climate change. The USA has a denier in charge, and we have just voted in a party with a firm policy of post-horse door bolting on the environment

BUT

If it weren’t for Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party they wouldn’t even be thinking about it. Protest works. If it weren’t for the Pride marches of the last 50 years would David Cameron have legalised Gay Marriage? If Emmeline Pankhurst and Martin Luther King had just accepted they were in the minority would Chi Onwurah, Dawn Butler and Diane Abbot be sitting in parliament? If Jesus had just stopped after the first Rabbi told him that he lost and should get over it would I have had to spend my formative years singing ‘Cross Over The Road My Friend’?

I’ve spoken to people on the supposedly compassionate side who think we need the collateral deaths that will surely happen to go ahead so people sit up and listen. I fundamentally disagree, when your government lets you down, don’t create unnecessary martyrs, rally together and do what your government won’t. This is the kind of thing that slides you along the sliding scale of socialism a little closer to Stalin and a little further from Jesus. (If you don’t think Jesus was a socialist you’re an idiot. He divided up the loaves and fishes to feed everyone, he was cool with the tax-collectors and totally fucked over the money-lenders. Also, he didn’t expect anybody but himself to die for his cause - a policy that failed spectacularly, but still.)

So let’s get our shit together, organise, help each other, get to the end of this awful project and make sure we all survive it. We lost, let’s get over it together.

Protest and Survive, and if all else fails, I'll see you on the barricades.


*I know I’ve gone on about Jesus a lot here, but I am still an atheist, you can appreciate the message without the magic-beard-in-the-sky parts. Also, it's very nearly his birthday.

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