Someone, please tell me what to do now?

Posted on May 11, 2015 | 4 comments

Last Thursday, my husband and I skipped off to the polling station with my downstairs neighbours and our children. They played tag between the voting booths and we shushed them and giggled at the same time, delighted to be there and to vote.

For weeks leading up the event, I'd been obsessed. I hadn't just been reading articles in the Guardian, my usual read - but also my political opposites, the Telegraph and even sometimes even the Daily Mail. I wanted to know all sides.

And, I hadn't just read. I was writing myself. My post on the shocking truth behind Samantha Cameron's Daily Mail article went viral and had over 100,000 hits, crashing my little blog for several hours. I'd also written about what being disabled and on the housing registered looked like (Answer: not good) and posts about finding childcare and the challenges of returning to work when you have a disabled child. I'd even bared my soul and my desperation at NHS England for torturing me for six weeks on whether they would let me live or die - a circumstance brought on by a Tory-led push towards privatisation that was costing the NHS billions of pounds.

I wrote all these things and I thought, "Well, some people in the electorate are bound to listen. No one wants these circumstances brought upon themselves or their loved ones."

But, the truth is, people sympathised with my story (and other like mine) but they didn't relate.

They don't see how these cuts will hurt them or their children because it hasn't happened to them yet. 

£12 billion in cuts have to come from somewhere. And it isn't just going to be the cancer sufferers like me or the disabled children like my daughter - it is going to be everyone, Tory voters included.

(Photo by my 3-year old of rabbit poo we found. Seemed appropriate for this post.)

(Photo by my 3-year old of rabbit poo we found. Seemed appropriate for this post.)

The campaign was won on a rhetoric of fear. Fear of immigrants. Fear of welfare cheats draining resources. Fear of Europe. Fear of Scotland. (And now, we may get exactly what the Daily Mail and the Tories terrified the nation with: the SNP so strong they will be a major voice in Parliament, so strong they can rule themselves and leave.)

I didn't get any of it. I'm an immigrant. I collect benefits. I worked as a teacher in an inner-city school for 15 years. I'm not a scrounger. 

It was a lie perpetuated by a government that wanted to stay in office and now will. According to their own report, only 0.7 per cent of total benefit expenditure in 2012/13 was overpaid due to fraud.

0.7%. Not even 1%.

I am tired of reading about what a cheat my daughter and I are. But, I'm also tired of reading how selfish or self-serving or greedy Tory voters are.

I don't want to believe that. There is an elite element of the Tory party that is rich and out of touch with the rest of society (one of them is ruling the country now). But, my neighbours and friends and family who voted Tory - and I'm assuming some did - probably did so for obvious reasons.

Like that we live in a conservative country. Or, that David Cameron painted himself as compassionate and looked more "presidential" than Ed Miliband. That people like their local Tory MPs - and having met Robert Buckland MP, who led the inquiry into childcare for disabled children, I can see why. That people don't like change and the Tory campaign made theirs a campaign of fear based on exactly that. 

No one in the country believes my six-year old, severely disabled daughter should have her benefits taken away. 

No one in the country wants me to be denied a treatment to save my life so that more money can be spent privatising the NHS.

But, this is the circumstance we are all in now. I'm not sure what to do next. I don't believe social media campaigns work. On a minor scale, some of it helped my family personally, but they made no difference to the country. In fact, I think I lived in a little bubble of social media outrage that did not translate to votes at all.

Personally, I think there is only one thing that unites the country: the NHS. No one wants a privatised, Americanised system of insurance in this country. We might not be able to save social care - disability benefits and carers allowance among other things that will be destroyed under that £12 billion in austerity cuts - but we can save the NHS.

But, how? That's my question to you. What do we do next?

4 Comments

  1. I agree the NHS is in a mess in many respects, and blogged about it myself here http://musingssahm.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-gloves-are-off.html but New Labour were responsible for more privatisation that any Conservative government. I hope you get your treatment and the care you need and deserve, from our perspective it’s not the “cuts” but the reorganisation of the health service which has so damaged it in the short term.

    • I completely agree with you on New Labour. My concern is the continuation of it, expansion and – like you said – the reorganisation that has cost us so much. I’ll check out your post. Thanks!

  2. People seem to have forgotten the meaning of the word “Insurance” They say “Why should I pay for the disabled or the unemployed when I am neither of those?” But you never hear them say “I wish my house would burn down so I can get my money back” or “my neighbour’s car was stolen and he actually claimed his insurance – what a scrounger” Yet we seem to resent those to who do make a claim on their National Insurance rather than being thankful when we ourselves don’t have to.

    • I never thought about it this way – and you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, people don’t see it as insurance that they put into every month for the (quite likely) situation where they might need it some day, at the very least when they are older if not earlier. Personally, I wish the Tories would put up National Insurance. I’d pay more to have more security.

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