In one respect, I think there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to socio-political ideas. Underpinning political ideologies basically tend towards either an elitist, individualist, traditional, prescriptive and regressive narrative or a democratic, collectivist, divergent, responsive and progressive one. The latter is a relatively recent part of our history, evolving as a response to the harsh and oppressive social conditions imposed by the former.
And one of the themes throughout my writing this past two years is that we need to grasp the meanings offered by the learning opportunities of history in order to progress. But here we are, with a government that has undone 100 years of civil rights achievements in just 4 years. It’s a government that will scrap our Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) given the opportunity – another 5 years in office.
I’ve written at length on this site about how and why human rights arose and why we need them. To undo the progressive international laws that were developed in response to the atrocities of World War 2 and in response to fascism would be a terrible and historic tragedy with horrific ramifications for democracy. Human rights provide basic protection from corrupt and fascistic governments. The UN declaration of Human Rights is founded on the tenet that each and every human life has equal worth.
Human Rights are our means of protection from uncivilising forces, brutal regimes, fascism, totalitarianism, inequality, social injustices and genocide. The Coalition are currently in breach of the UN conventions of the rights of women, children and are under investigation for gross abuses of disabled people’s human rights. This is frankly terrifying. The government hasn’t simply betrayed us as a society, pushing at established moral and legal boundaries, it has betrayed each of us on an intimate level. The consequences of Coalition policies intrude on people’s lives, re-shaping experiences, causing damage and harm. Those who have, so far, escaped the consequences of this government’s draconian policies are reduced to either denial or bystander apathy and tainted by it. The harm being inflicted isn’t just on a material level because of the cuts: it’s damaging on a psychic level, too.
This is the time we live in. We have regressed so much as a society in such a short space of time. This past four years have been a political process of uncivilising, and have seen the wilful destruction of much of the gains made from our progressive post-war settlement.
One of my areas of interest is ideology and how that translates into policies. The Human Rights Act was a Labour legislation, and the last Labour government signed us up to the rights of disabled people’s convention. They also gave us the Equality Act, and the current government have been quietly editing that. But without those laws, we would not have won the handful of cases that we have against the current administration. Human rights are paramount – the very foundation of democracy and civilised society.
Ideology narrates and informs policies. It tells us something of what a government intends to do. Most of the people reading here are not surprised at what the Tories have done, though we are still shocked. I’ve lobbied Labour for the past few years, seeking clarity regarding their own intentions towards the most vulnerable citizens. They have responded steadily and positively. There are still some issues that need to be addressed, such as the legal aid bill. But I appreciate that review, evidence and costing have to happen before any policy repeal. That is how needs-led policy happens.
I have already said this many times, but will say it again because it’s crucially important. The electoral system is currently established as pretty much a two party competition. Other fringe parties have drawn some support away from the main two, but none of these have developed sufficiently to give us a credible, clear, coherent and viable alternative to the mainstreamed narratives.
The only way to see positive change and protect our citizens is a Labour vote as it stands. We don’t have an ideal situation, sure. But this is not the time to be protest voting or experimenting with radicalism, because our society as a whole is in peril, and many of us won’t survive another Tory term.
We must not risk another 5 years of uncivilising, regressive, punitive and damaging right-wing policies and I can’t condone the actions of those intent on splitting the left-wing vote. Besides, I’ve yet to see a set of policy proposals, costed and evidenced, that are as clearly stated and positive as Labour’s are, to date. If you value our NHS, public services, equality, education, welfare, human rights, democracy, freedom of speech, justice, animal welfare and rights and ecology, amongst other things, then the only way to preserve and enhance those is through a Labour government.
It was Sue Marsh who said something along the lines of “let’s get out of hell first, then we can work on building our utopia.”
She’s right. We will never make any progress if the Tories remain in power. Ever.
We must be vote them out. Labour is our safest and most viable option.
That is our only starting point, without a Labour victory in 2015, we cannot make progress and evolve as a society at all.
Stepping into 2015, I’m armed with hope that this year we will see a process begin again that will shape a world that is fair, safe, civilised and a comfortable place for all and not just a few.
Wishing everyone the very, very best for 2015.
Upwards and onwards.
Ed Miliband’s message is a statement of hope for the future – Ed Miliband’s New Year Message: “2015 is a year of possibility, the chance to change direction”.
Ed Miliband’s policy pledges at a glance
47 more good reasons to vote labour
Political parties – there are very BIG differences in their policies.