The alarm goes off and you drag yourself out of bed. Drudge, trudge, nursing a grudge against the alarm clock that rules you. You got through another sleepless night, tossing, turning, sitting upright at every sound at every creak at every voice in the distant night. The nightmare of fire burns in your mind. You open the blinds and the fire risk rubbish remains piled up against the side of your block. You’d reported it to the council and the woman in the housing office shrugged her austerity shoulders. We all have to tighten our belts said the Tory MP, as his party tightened its belt around the neck of the poor. We need to free up business he said, as he slashed through the regulations that keep us all safe. Chances for the rich to make more money are more important than the opportunity of the poor to rest easy in their beds. Austerity is paid for by the low paid, those struggling in poverty, the disabled and the disadvantaged. They pay for it in sleepless nights, in nightmare visions, they pay for it in the grief and death that come from a bonfire of red tape.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your compassion.
Up to labour away at a job that doesn’t pay. Crush your soul at a job you hate that barely puts food on the table. It will be okay you tell yourself. Things will be fine. Just work and work and don’t cause a fuss so you can keep that one pay cheque coming, the one that stands between you and homelessness because an unsafe home is better than no home at all. The paycheque that you juggle and stretch with the finesse of a circus act, one false move away from disaster. Avoiding disaster the only constant theme. The paycheque that just about allows you to buy a lottery ticket so you can fantasise of a better life, one where you can give the kids everything they want and need. But all you got was one odd number and no bonus. Defer the fantasy until next week, if you can afford to pay your two quid daydream tax.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your hope.
Waiting in the rain for the early morning bus to the warehouse where you work in the dark on a zero hours contract. You watch the expensive car go by, splashing the mud in the puddles. There might be a pension waiting for you in your late 70s if you live that long. That might even be before this damn bus arrives, with its fares that cost you an hour’s labour every day. Your kids might get to university if they do well enough at a school where the budget’s been slashed to the bone. They might even find jobs that let them pay down their debt. They might escape from the fate that consumes you, the never-ending slog, the hamster wheel, the knowledge that life is a exercise in lowering your expectations. The bus still hasn’t appeared. If you’re late again you might lose this job. Lose this job you lose your home. Lose your home you lose your dignity. That’s all you have left. There’s a price on dignity in this cold wet land where the only growth industries are foodbanks and tears.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your dreams.
The expensive car with its well upholstered seats is driven by a well upholstered man who voted for this, who helped it along, who’s happy with the way things are, who sneers at the idea that things could ever be different. He’ll be just fine. His upholstery protects him from the consequences of his vote. He’s got his magic money tree, it was planted by the bank of Mum and Dad and fertilised by their contacts then tended by networking. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got, he says as he drives to the job that he landed because he went to the same private school as the guy who owns the business. I’m a wealth creator, he says as he pays his staff the minimum wage and looks forward to his bonus. He doesn’t buy a lottery ticket. That’s for suckers. He’s already won the lottery of life.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your aspiration.
Brexit is an opportunity, says the Tory politician. It’s an opportunity like a famine is an opportunity for rats and a plague a chance for fleas. Brexit is a chance to make a leaner meaner Britain, to rip up labour laws so that the guy in the expensive car can ponder his chances to make a few more quid on the backs of his workers. Cutting rights, cutting pay, cutting dignity. Dignity costs. You’ll be leaner, the state will be meaner. Brexit is a chance to make a better Britain, better for well upholstered men in well upholstered cars. Brexit Britain is better to blame migrants for your problems. It’s better to blame Europe for bent bananas than to blame the real causes of British decline. Better not blame corporate greed. Better not blame Tory xenophobia. Better not blame a lying press that deceives and cheats. Better hide away in insular ignorance.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your internationalism.
Public services reel and crumble. Atomised and broken, trade unions destroyed, society’s ties that bind untied and loosened. The disabled thrown to the wolves. The gulf between rich and poor grows wider than the gap between the late bus and the well upholstered car. It races off into the distance and leave the bus queue spattered in mud from the puddle. If you’re born poor you’ll never catch up. If you’re disabled you’ll never take part in the race. Society shatters and breaks open. The chasms open up and we fall down the cracks never to crawl out again. Chewed up and swallowed. The ashes of your dreams rise in the sky.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your solidarity.
£4 billion for Westminster palace. £400 million for Buckingham palace. £7.6 million in government funding for Wentworth House, the palacial home of Jacob Ree Mogg’s wife’s family. £5 million for the survivors of Grenfell Tower, no palace. It’s not a question of there being no money, it’s a matter of priorities. There’s quantative easing for bankers, billions conjured out of thin air. There’s grants and assistance aplenty, but only if you’re rich enough not to need it to survive. There is a magic money tree, at least there is for the rich and the well connected. But it’s not really magic, it’s just a cheap trick.
Welcome to Tory Britain, you’ll have had your consideration.
If you voted Tory, you’ve no one to blame but yourself. You voted for this. You voted to deprive your children of the chances you had. You voted to kick away the crutches of the disabled. You voted to turn your back on the world. You voted to demonise the migrants. You voted away your human rights. You didn’t vote to give Scotland a voice in Westminster, you voted to give Westminster a voice in Scotland. You voted for austerity. You voted for uncertainty. You voted for private greed. You voted for nightmares and sleepless nights. You voted for a bonfire of regulations that ended in a bonfire, the wicker man for the greedy gods of Toryism looming over West London.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your say.
Scotland doesn’t want another divisive referendum, say the Tories as they build a wall between the haves and the have nots and make the poor pay for it. No more divisions, says the Conservative cant as it divides, destroys and dismays. Get back to the day job, the drudgery, the hard unrewarding slog. Get to the back of the queue. Be silent. Get back to your death trap and your sleepless nights. Do as you’re told. They crow, they trumpet triumphalism. They exhult in their gains. But they still lost. Their victories are hollow, full of sound and fury and resting on the backs of spineless politicians whose idea of standing up for Scotland is to stand to attention and obey when May barks an order. But they fought this campaign on one single issue, on saying no to another referendum. Yet Scotland still said no to the Tories. For all their strut and swagger, they lost.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your democracy.
Welcome to the story of Scotland. We didn’t vote Tory but we’ve got them anyway. Yet our hopes are still alive. Our dreams are still being dreamt. Our day will come, and it will come sooner than you might think. There’s no point in a Union that doesn’t serve the needs of one of the countries that form that union. Every cut that the Tories make, every life that the Tories shatter, brings the realisation closer that there is a better way. Tory Britain is the end of Britain, the pain we feel is the birth pains of a better Scotland. It’s coming yet. Unstoppable. Once you’ve learned how to hope it’s a lesson you can never unlearn. It’s within us. Disappointments have a beginning and an end, but hope is infinite. There is light and hope still, and there’s nothing Tory Britain can do to quench it. There’s a beacon of hope on the hill, a beacon of independence, and we’re heading towards it with our dignity intact. We are the tide. We cannot be stopped.
Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your United Kingdom.
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