Georgina Guedes

UK voters governed by fear

2015-05-08 14:48

Georgina Guedes

So, the UK didn’t see that coming! Never mind that the polling information was wrong (how the heck did that happen?), it’s a big leap for Britain to know that the hearts and minds of its people have moved so resolutely into conservatism.

On the upside, at least the UKIP lunatics are also playing in the shallows of popular support, and Nigel Farage has stepped down in the wake of his party’s disastrous failure.

He’s joining Labour’s Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrats’ Nick Clegg as party leaders resigning in disgust or shame as they failed to secure victory or even significant opposition in Parliament.

A friend who lives in the UK now posted on Facebook this morning, “Look lively, Britain. Don't get ill, sick or poor in the next five years.” Which pretty much sums it up.

Voting for meanness

The Tories’ campaign promise has been to increase austerity, clamp down on the dole and privatise as much of the National Health Service (NHS) as they can, and tighten borders. The Independent has done a great job of summing up the policies that the landslide majority of voters just supported. It’s all just so mean!

The UK’s vote is expressing a global meanness. Things are tight, the future looks bleak, everything costs a lot, so people start to think of their own health, security and safety, rather than trying to look beyond their own needs to support societal health and uplift everyone.

And then, in five years’ time, they’ll be wondering where all the crime came from and why their economy didn’t recover.

The world is fearful

It’s sad that the people of the world feel this way. We’re expressing it in South Africa too, from the poorest of the poor engaging in xenophobic attacks to middle-class people terrified by crime, load shedding and the spiralling costs of living. The world isn’t a very nice place to be right now no matter where you are.

(Except the United States. Their economy is recovering, Hilary Clinton’s probably going to be their next president. And things are looking up. So let’s hope…)

The beauty of national health

The NHS and the dole were two of my favourite things about England. (OK, favourite social service things. In real terms, I am quite fond of Soho and the South Bank.) And I get that they’re not gone, but the current government is doing their best to weaken the very institutions that make their country great.

Meanwhile we’re trying to implement better social structures here so that less people will die in queues waiting for inadequate government healthcare.

And the United States was always ashamed not to have better national health services before Mr Obama came along (although the kicking and screaming about that reform was something to behold).

Cling to hope, even when there’s little left

The point that I’m trying to make, I guess, is that there are economic and political pressures that are making things difficult in the world right now. But that when the people are governed by fear, we’re only magnifying those pressures.

When things are feeling hopeless, hope is the one thing that we have to cling to. In South Africa, and the UK, and everywhere else, we have to be guided by a desire to do better for everyone, rather than a fearful grabbing of what little is left for ourselves.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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