So we had an election and for those of us living precarious, vulnerable lives while others profit of our sweat, blood and labour, nothing has changed. From resolving the injustice of the Windrush Scandal and the Grenfell Massacre, to taking the national emergency of youth violence serious. From the lack of action to reverse the decimation of the NHS and Climate Change to the refusal to implement socialist measures to reduce poverty, homelessness and job precarity. The existing status quo has presided over a marked increase in Islamophobia, Afriphobia and various other forms of racism and discriminations. Sadly after the recent election, it is almost inevitable that as the UK fully adopts its little Englander persona, everything is likely to get worse, much worse. Now I know it is instinctive to be angry at those people who voted for a lying, racist party using ‘fear of the other’ to get a mandate for some fantasy Empire Mk2 to spread “essential” inequality exploiting the “spiritually worthless cornflakes” across the world, but please pause for one moment. We are better than that, they made a bad… no… ignorant choice, but they are not the real problem.
Like many of you, we knew the odds were against us. Despite the so-called ‘unarguable’ majority the Tory’s have claimed, during this election campaign we also saw there are millions of good people who despite all odds, broke cover to champion the politics of hope and the possibility of change. For a moment it felt good, anything was possible. Sadly it wasn’t yet time and we learned the hard way that nothing has changed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not letting those who voted for this dystopian nightmare of the hook, I mean even after it became clear that the Conservative party was working with Farage’s Brexit party to prevent a Labour party victory, people, including those whose future would be harmed by a no deal Brexit, took a reckless, selfish gamble and voted for the racists and bigots, the exploiters and oppressors. Ok, cool, that’s their choice, we live in a mob rules democracy, winner-takes-all. I played the game, voted and lost, it’s now time to go back to becoming ungovernable, disrupting the system and educating as many people who are interested on how to force change through as Malcolm once said, “any means necessary”.
Now some of you may ask, why do I say we must not become angry at the people who voted Tory and focus our ire elsewhere. Well, I believe our problem was that the Brexit vote triggered a rise in English Nationalism which has seen the UK join an emboldened white supremacist movement spreading across the world. Following the trajectory of Trump in the US, racism has officially been mainstreamed in the UK, this election just as the American one and many others, have reaffirmed that to the masses, racism is to no longer be regarded an evil. Let’s look at the figures. Yesterday, almost 13.9 million people voted for the Conservatives, 10.2 million for Labour and over 3.6 million for the Lib Dems. It was an election that drew upon the same people who voted 17 million to leave and 16 million to remain in the EU referendum. Now, if the UK had a proportional representation voting system like most of the other countries around the world then I would have gone to sleep last night with a smile. Labour might not have won the majority it deserved but in coalition with the SNP and other sensible parties much good could have been achieved. But the UK doesn’t, it has an unfit for purpose first past the post system. This is not by accident, and until that system is scrapped, the UK (and France) stand alone in Europe of having electoral systems that do not truly represent the views of all the electorate.
But while I am blaming the toxic Brexit climate and the existing electoral system for the result, we must admit there were other factors. The irrational dislike many had for Corbyn was emotional, not logical. Boris Johnson and the Tories were not more competent than Jeremy Corbyn and Labour. Politically more canny, ruthless, immoral and effective, hell yes, but on a fiscal and moral basis, absolutely not. But many, many people attacked Corbyn on a personal level for things he did not do, for who he could not be, rather than what he had done, was, and the values he stood for. They didn’t trust the people who knew him, who have witnessed his consistent decision to do the right thing even when difficult, they didn’t trust people like me and some of you. That’s a huge problem and its making me once again doubt the utility of being involved in social media platforms where carefully programmed algorithms favour baseless opinion over fact, distracting gossip over relevant news, vacuous ‘likes’ over enriching dialogue and lies over truth and real debate with education value.
Today as some of us lick our wounds, we must admit and recognise that the attacks on Corbyn came not only from a toxic mass media financed by ruthless billionaires and consumed by us, the masses (for we are not separate from any politically illiterate horde), but also from careerist pseudo-liberals inside and outside the Labour party who loathed Corbyn for being decent, caring and daring to prefer socialism over capitalism, for being a compassionate leader rather than aspiring to be a presidential pugilist. Tragically, I suspect, the Labour party may return to a civil war fuelled by well off journalists, and media presenters who pretend to be neutral or on our side but for whom this has all been a game where they continuously used dirty tricks to snipe at Corbyn while hiding their bias against him. Although Corbyn's leadership style wasn’t perfect and the manifesto was over-ambitious in parts, he clearly isn’t an anti-Semite or terrorist sympathiser. Some people just hated the fact that Corbyn's wife, friends and supporters included people who were not English, not european and not racist.
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Liars, Racist Apologists and Political Cowardice
Let’s examine the evidence, since the election results, there has been a deluge of explanations shared on online and in the mainstream media (including those written in the Guardian). Those articles and posts by writers and politicians now seeking to solely blame Corbyn for what occurred and failing to discuss the true impact and importance of racism, immigration and an antiquated political system not fit for purpose in this election are written by liars, racists or publications and institutions guilty of extreme political cowardice. So many were fearful of calling out blatant racism they colluded with it by being silent apologists, which in turn as Dr Martin Luther King often reminded us, supported and emboldened it.
The facts are clear. The Tories hostile environment which has led to hardship and deaths for African people is real. The Conservative government DID state the families of the Grenfell massacre died because they were too stupid to leave. The Prime Minister of this country did say inequality is essential, that he would stop people treating the UK as if it's their home, or part of their own country. It is an unequivocal statement of fact that the Conservative Party is racist, and as a government is actively normalising far right ideology where one nation means ‘white nation’.
What the Tory's and mainstream media successfully did, was offer many racist voters and those opposed to the EU, human rights and socialism (including some labour MP's) a 'Corbyn Card'. By neutralising one of the most powerful campaigning assets Corbyn had (his moral credentials) they could fight dirty, and they did. Those 'labour' voters who turned blue could now repeat the lie that "I really don’t want to vote for the Conservatives brand of racism, but Corbyn's antisemitism and terrorism meant I just cant make him Prime Minister". This is a lie. They could have voted Green or Lib Dem if they truly believed in antiracism they had other options. But they didn't, instead they lied, voted racist and played the 'Corbyn Card' where we now told there is a hierarchy of discrimination where some racisms are more unacceptable than others, where the only human rights that matter are ‘white’.
The good thing is that as a result of this campaign many of us now know, where we stand. Out of the 66 million of us on this island, while 15 million of them voted for a racist government that is NOT the majority of the British public, especially when we know that if you count the number of votes for those opposed to Brexit their 16 million-plus votes outnumber those who were 'first past the post'. Without a proportional representation system and a true plurality of political voices offering genuine representation from minority communities present in the UK, the system remains rigged. What this election has revealed is that there are still too many of us with friends and colleagues who have failed to educate the racists within their families and friendship circles. However, on the positive side, we also know who are the optimists and who are the pessimists, we know who waxes lyrical in public but does absolutely nothing to help bring about change, and those who even though shy or silent work behind the scenes, strategically making decisions to help influence the electorate, one person, at a time. We’ve witnessed a seismic movement from influential cultural icons, a privileged sect of people normally quiet about their political beliefs from fear of losing revenue, break cover to do the right thing lending us their voice even if they would face more taxes.
This election I dared to dream that my children, their friends and the next generation would live a better life than I did, have prospects for a better future than I did, face less straight out discrimination, Afriphobia and state-sponsored violence than myself and those that went before me. Sadly the British public put me straight on that and it’s now time for all of us to reap what they have sown. But as I said at the start, nothing has really changed. The status quo is still intact, as is the persistence of our resistance. So I want to thank all of you out there for giving me and so many of us hope, even if it was for a few weeks. I’m not sure what’s next, the fight is not over and we have much work to do, but I smile in the knowledge that when it comes to desiring and working towards a world where access to social justice is a reality for all people, irrespective of their heritage, status or identity... we are not alone.
May the Ancestors continue to guide and protect us. Ase.
Toyin Agbetu is a community educator, artist-activist-anthropologist, independent film maker and Pan African community worker of Yoruba heritage, Ogun spirit. He was born in Hackney, London UK
External LinksElection 2019: Boris Johnson vows end to migrants treating Britain as their ownBoris Johnson: Economic equality not possibleChased into self-deportation: the most disturbing Windrush case so farAfter Grenfell, a Tory MP for Kensington is a bitter pillNational emergency of youth violence exacerbated by Tory budget cuts, MPs find
Some of Toyins reasons to vote Labour in GE2019 - Page 2
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