Today, hundreds of people took to the streets in London protesting our newly-elected Tory government. Commenters are dismissing this as a ‘pathetic’ reaction to a democratic vote not going our way. But we will not ‘get over it’. Because our voices are legitimate and the people of this country cannot take another five years of Conservative leadership.
First, we are not sore losers. We are the 60% who didn’t vote for this government. And we are living in a country where 80% of mainstream media is controlled by five right wing billionaires.The UK population has been bombarded with messages telling them to fear each other and that looking out for Number One is the only way to survive. I’ve been yelled over by Tory voters saying precisely the words ‘what about me?’ and the only way I can explain such apparent selfishness is fear. After all, it can only be a very scared population that would make UKIP a serious candidate for the second opposition party, and otherwise I’d have to accept that the British public really are so intolerant and self serving.
But even if you believe that this election, with its First Past The Post voting system and constant, petty media campaign against Ed Miliband, produced a sufficiently democratic result, it is our right to protest. Democracy and free speech isn’t just about being able to vote for who you want to: it’s about having a voice outside of the ballot box too. Democracy does not end with a General Election.
So do not dismiss our protests as tantrums. We’re not upset because we didn’t get our way: we’re terrified for what the next five years will bring. With Bullingdon Boys in charge, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. And don’t kid yourself that top down economics actually works. Austerity kills. You might be fine under a Tory government- you might even be better off. But if you could just look past your own nose and see the rising poverty, homelessness and hopelessness, you’d realise why we’re so very angry.
Of course, we should try and take some positives from this election. At the time of writing, all the major UK parties, bar the Conservatives, are led by a woman. The proportion of female MPs has gone up to 1 in 3 while the number of BME MPs has increased by 51% – though these victories for representation still fall short of reflecting the population at large. More than a million people voted Green, increasing the legitimacy of further left parties. Plus, frustrations at the results seem to be leading to popular demand for electoral reform. And maybe people will start to realise that you don’t just have to sit there and take it- you can fight.
People make fun of the left for being peace-obsessed hippies, but get angry when it turns out we’re prepared to use force. The truth is, no one listens if you just ask nicely. So don’t mourn, organise. You are not ‘pathetic’ for fighting for what’s right.
Want to get involved in the issues you care about? Here are some links to get you started.