This isn't about Brexit: Rejecting Tory Britain

This isn't about Brexit: Rejecting Tory Britain
Comment: It's time to pull the emergency brake on Tory Britain, writes Malia Bouattia.
5 min read
05 Nov, 2019
Voters in the UK general election go to the polls on 12 December [Getty]
The UK is heading to the polls again, as the Johnson government hopes to secure a popular mandate for its poorly worked out Brexit policies. 

Yet this election is only tangentially about Brexit and the future of the European Union. Instead, the choice in front of all British voters is about the future of our society and the nature of the society we want to build. 

More than anything, the election ahead of us is a referendum on nearly a decade of toxic Tory austerity and its consequences for working people, for the young, for the oppressed and the excluded. This election is about whether we are prepared to continue as usual, or whether we pull the emergency brake and take a fundamentally new direction.

This is not an abstract ideological choice.

Tory Britain leads to 39 people dying at the back of a refrigerated truck for trying to avoid stringent anti-migrant rules in the search for a better life. 

Tory Britain has meant a 165 percent increase in homelessness. 

Tory Britain's austerity means over half of children live in poverty in some working class areas. 

Tory Britain sacrificed over 130, 000 people's lives, through cuts and divestment from welfare services. 

This is a referendum on nearly a decade of toxic Tory austerity and its consequences for working people,  the young, the oppressed and the excluded

Tory Britain proclaimed proudly that it will launch a bonfire of construction regulations, and then 89 people were killed in the Grenfell fire because their lives were not worth the price of safety and security. 

Tory Britain means facing deportation - despite living in a country for over 50 years - because the government is using xenophobic quotas to discard black people in a desperate attempt to gain popularity among the population.

Tory Britain means having a PM who is prepared to sell off our NHS to the highest bidder, in order to seal a special relationship with Trump's USA. 

Tory Britain normalises racism and Islamophobia to such an extent, that far-right activists feel they can assault Muslim women with acid, attack mosques and call a national day of punishment against the entire Muslim community.

The list goes on, with more horrifying numbers of those killed by austerity measures, violent borders, institutional racism, as well as many more whose lives have been taken from them because of the multiple pressures of rising unemployment, an inaccessible education system, and criminalisation of the poor.

Read more: Stop holding Muslim women to impossible standards

Since 2010, this government has normalised the dehumanisation of the many. It has reinforced hierarchies in every aspect of our lives and intensified the rejection of all oppressed groups from society through its policies in education, employment, security, healthcare or travel. 

This election represents a potential for a fundamental transformation of our society. The current direction of travel can be flipped on its head. We could actually have a government that reinvests public funds into welfare and education. One that serves the poor to address inequality and injustice. Which taxes the rich to address growing poverty and homelessness and opposes war and oppression abroad, from Palestine to Saudi Arabia, from China to Yemen. 

Prime Minister Corbyn would of course have his flaws, but he certainly represents an alternative that could actually ensure a future for millions across the country, and one that will attempt to seriously reverse the impacts of brutal austerity measures.

When, in recent decades, has the strongest opposition to the Tories, been a party led on the principle that the government must defend, empower and service migrants, working class people, Muslims, disabled people, black communities and all those suffering, as opposed to blaming, attacking and even killing them?

Labour today could interrupt the cycle of destruction which fills the pockets of the richest. Taxing the wealthiest, scrapping universal credit, reinvesting in the NHS, nationalising transport companies, holding big corporate tax dodgers to account, addressing the UK's carbon footprint and the looming climate disaster, scrapping university tuition fees, grammar schools and all the barriers to free, liberated and equal education - these are but some of what has been proposed by the Corbyn leadership. 

Since 2010, this government has normalised the dehumanisation of the many

Time and time again the opposition, has been unapologetic and unwavering on ending austerity, providing employment, supporting workers with fair pay and safe conditions, and making sure people will not be working until the day they die.

Taken together, this is a broad programme for a new direction and a different - and better - vision of a future society. No longer would it be one directed by the rule of profit and the rich, but one based on basic rights, welfare, and opportunities for the vast majority.

Boris Johnson represents the far-right of the Tory party, and hard as it may be to believe, he promises a future far darker, harsher and more hopeless than his predecessors Cameron or May. Yet polls currently show a Conservative lead in the upcoming general election. 

Now is not the time to be complacent or think that others are doing the necessary work. Now is the time to deliver a Labour victory in the polls. Not as an end in itself, but as the basis from which we can all fight another day to transform our neighbourhoods, our workplaces and our lives. 

Malia Bouattia is an activist, a former president of the National Union of Students, and co-founder of the Students not Suspects/Educators not Informants Network.

Follow her on Twitter: @MaliaBouattia

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.