I voted early. I will wake up in Stockholm when the general election result comes through. I might seek asylum and send for my family.
The last few days of the election are usually a grotesque spectacle on the newsagent’s floor, as the press’s excessive spin and propaganda reveals why you can’t trust it any other time of year until you’ve done a few background checks on the information they splash about. Somehow, previously positive traits, tolerance, kindness, generosity, altruism, have been turned into delusions and facets to be ashamed of. These, we are told, are the aims of the foolish and molly coddled.
I can’t remember a time where the belief in the divine right of the wealthy has been so apparent.
The perks of the wealthy are richly deserved, aid to the poor, the ill and the old is a terrible burden.
It’s all your fault.
I am at the lower end of the wealthy.
I am all right.
I did it all myself.
With the added assistance of being from a comfortable middle class background and with the usefulness of being white and male.
I went to a public school.
The same one that the film director Lindsay Anderson went to. He returned to it to make If… , a powerful attack on the values and divisions Britain was built on.
The school allowed him to film there, and when they saw the result he was persona non grata for a couple of decades.
When I see Boris Johnson, I see the power of the public school narrative. Day in and day out, the pupils are told that they are the very best people in society. They are the leaders. They will know best. In an abject failing of critical thinking and scepticism, many come to believe that.
It is right that they should rule, they know their Latin and their wines.
We are told to build a better house, a higher wall, a wider loft conversion, but not to build a better culture and civilisation. That is too costly.
The right wing manifesto has been that we must sell our services to the corporations, the Omnicorps of today, and they’ll make it all better while charging more and creaming more off the top because they deserve it.
Does childhood poverty ever worry you as you are driven to your second home in Cornwall?
Why is it that this society can only be seen to function effectively if those at the top are paid so much more than used to be necessary in 1978?
A few years ago, I went to see a Dennis Potter double bill, Blade on the Feather and Traitor, at the BFI. It was introduced by his producer and friend, Kenith Trodd. Both plays dealt with men who had betrayed others, men of privilege who had consorted with Russia and caused the death of others. These were upper class men, men of privilege. Trodd said that Potter believed the upper class had no love of their country. It was to be found in the other classes, but what concerned many of the upper class, whether it was with Nazis or Communists, was how much would they get. As long as they were deserving in the eyes of the new regime, all was good.
This is what worries me about BREXIT. There is such talk of “control” and “sovereignty”, yet we sell our utilities across the world and we may well find ourselves increasingly bending our knees to even uglier regimes. Rather than gain our freedom, we may have made ourselves even more captive to others.
I do not believe any political party can fulfil our dreams. I do not believe any of them are populated by so many thinkers and activists of depth and understanding that we will build a Utopia, but I do believe there are some who are not as mean-spirited, as selfish and as intolerant as others. I believe some dare to imagine a better life for more people.
I voted Labour, though I would not have been ashamed to vote for the Green party or LibDems either.
After World War 2, there were a few decades of trying to improve society for the majority. The programme to dismantle this has now gone on for longer than the programme to build it, is it possible to slow this advance, to stop hating our neighbours, to understand others, to offer the embattled and broken the possibility of hope? Or have we reached the phase where kindness, tolerance and ambition for a better society for all will be buried beneath tribalism and narcissism?
For those at the top, I suppose the thought is either “I want more” or “I want more people to have the comforts I take for granted.” I should add this is all motivated by selfishness. I don’t want to feel miserable walking down the street and seeing increasing numbers of homeless people and reading about childhood poverty. I want to think, “this is a society trying to make it better for more people”, with me, it’s all me me me really.
FOOTNOTE – some of the things I want when I vote.
A decrease in preventable deaths and an NHS where those who work in it do not feel beaten and unacknowledged.
Better treatment for the elderly.
A strong and fair education system.
Effective action to deal with climate change.
Effective action against childhood poverty.
The list is long, I’ll stop there.
(and I am prepared to pay more tax for this. I have a good life, why shouldn’t more people have that. And before the normal snide “well, you can opt to contribute more income tax you know” comes my way, if a party of higher taxation does not win, I will pay the excess income tax I would have paid to a charity.)
I am off to the Edinburgh Fringe and gadding about the UK and Australia this Autumn, click for details – Barnard Castle to Folkestone and much in between.