The path to enlightenment, or ‘self actualising for dummies’

It’s a long one – one sometimes not even achieved over a lifetime. A whole bloody lifetime of work and effort and thinking and actions.

I’m not particularly looking for full enlightenment. Not right now. Not here. I need to do more work on myself before I reach that, I know. But I like to record these little glimpses of Truth as I stumble across them. I like to have some proof that the Me then is not the Me now; that this is a human being very much in progress. I like to remind myself that it’s ok to not be perfect and it’s ok to make mistakes and question oneself and not really know what you’re doing. Because when you finally figure It out, it’s the sweetest victory you’ll ever feel.

Today I realised that I have been Doing It All Wrong. Doing what wrong? Errrm, well, you know. Life. The big stuff. The small stuff. Everything.

You see, when I woke up (I won’t even lie, it wasn’t ‘this morning’, it was very much this afternoon) the first thing I read was this piece on brainpickings.org about ‘how to avoid work‘. It’s weird because a) I don’t read much of the stuff that’s posted on facebook these days; b) the person who posted it is someone I’ve met twice, and I only added them to facebook a week ago. [This clearly proves my theory that every person you know, however long or short or terrible or great your relationship with them is, they teach you something about the world or about yourself.]

It’s really quite a long piece of writing and it took me a while to read it. I’ve read very similar things before, and I’ve always thought, ‘well, that’s quite nice but unrealistic’. But then I was watching a TV show a while later [Glee - you'll perhaps connect the dots on that one later] and it really hit me that it was Truth. Work (as in for money) needn’t be what we see as ‘work’ (as in something laborious) – it is entirely possible to earn money doing something you absolutely love. Very few people do it, because it takes time to get there, and it takes an investment – of commitment, perhaps money, maybe even a sacrifice of something else in order to get there. It’s not an easy route.

Stumbling along

My work life/career – call it what you want, it really makes no difference – has been really fraught in the last two years. Leaving uni was tough, as much as I desperately wanted to. Coming home was tough. Being jobless for nine months was really, really tough, and it almost broke me. I’m extremely lucky that I pretty much fell into what is now my Job. I won’t lie, it took me by surprise too. One minute I was doing work experience, the next I was working weekends, getting paid. Then along came the Olympics and before I knew what was happening, I was working five shifts a week and earning more money than I’d ever had before.

There’s a real problem though. I used to love it, but now I don’t love it. I do the same thing day in day out. As someone who has always been career-driven rather than driven by ambitions to have a husband and three kids, I am torn between how one should love one’s job. Should you love it as a means-to-an-end, or should you love it because you just love what you do, and you happen to get paid to do it? I want it to be the latter, so badly, but when I try to think of something else I’d rather do, I freeze up a little bit.

“I want to do business journalism. Business and finance. Or economics. Or something like that”
“I want to write about the Middle East”
“I’d quite like to just travel and write, actually”
“I’m quite good at talking to people and researching so ummm I’ll just do something along those lines, you know”

These are the answers I give people if I’m pressed on what I want to do… Well, clearly I don’t have a fucking clue. If I was so inclined, I would spend my spare time writing about the economy, or about the Middle East. Instead of just telling people how wonderful South-East Asia is, I’d be writing about how wonderful it is. Today I realised that the reason I don’t do something I love is because I don’t actually know what I truly, truly love. How can you aim for something when you don’t know what it is?

Finding your love and getting it wrong

So I need to figure out what makes me tick… I am a big believer in something that sounds extremely similar to the concept of ‘Fate’ but to me works slightly differently. I think it’s more that sometimes life throws you things because you’re supposed to learn from them, or you’re supposed to take it as a hint. Sometimes opportunities, or people, get dropped on you and it takes you a while to realise that this was probably Supposed To Happen. [In my experience, anyway.] Sometimes it can take you years to see that maybe something was your calling, or that you were supposed to learn something from that guy that totally broke your heart when you were 17.

It’s occurred to me that though I’ve been trying for months and months to get something in the business journalism industry, maybe the reason I haven’t got anything is because that’s not where I’m supposed to be. I basically picked business journalism out of a need to find a niche, because it’s the highest paid gig in journalism – business journalists are well respected, and I feel a sense of duty to know about economics and business. I know people who are, and I look up to them because of it. I take them seriously, and I guess I wanted to inspire that in other people. But those reasons are not genuine, or even good/convincing reasons to go into an industry that is entirely alien to me. I never studied economics, business or finance. I read the FT for important top-story economics stuff, but other than that most of it passes me by. I try to understand, but it’s never going to be something that I find ‘fun’ or instinctive to learn about. It’s never going to be easy for me to just jump into it. So perhaps life has been trying to tell me that this isn’t really my calling, and perhaps I was stupid for thinking it was.

Learning to truly listen to yourself

I actually think I know more what I want to do, when I really sit and just listen to myself, without judging. You’d think it’s quite easy, but it’s not. Over twenty years of self-hatred and criticism has clouded my thinking. When I think back to when I was a child, when I didn’t have societal pressure to be a certain way, when I didn’t feel like I should be ashamed to want to be something frivolous or ‘not important’ to society – that’s when I feel like I am closer to what I should be. Kids are smart. You get a feel for something you’re good at and if you aren’t affected by the bullshit around you, you can go for it.

I was good at English. I had a reading age of 14 at the age of 8 or 9. I loved reading stories, writing stories, reading and writing poetry… I wanted to be an author, while everyone else in my class wanted to be a pop star. I wanted to be an author and I wanted to teach, because my school life was an unhappy one, and I felt like I could be the person to change that for others. I wanted to be to children what some of the teachers in my school were to me: a safe haven, someone to go to when things were bad and I didn’t want to exist anymore.

I liked drama and writing. I liked dancing and singing. It’s often been said of me that I’m expressive, and I know for sure that I’m the kind of person who can change the mood of a room in an instant if I want to. I feel like that part of my personality got lost somewhere on the way to adulthood, because I haven’t realised any of my potential in that sense. I was called fat, so I stopped dancing. I was given hearing aids when I was finally diagnosed as deaf, so I stopped singing, and I stopped trying to communicate with others. It was frustrating, and I find that even now, sometimes I give up on talking to people. The only thing I ever honed and practised a lot was my writing, and even now I feel like I’ve lost touch with that too, because it’s an under-used skill. But it’s something I’m desperately clinging onto.

Lemons and lemonade

So… A bit of regression has helped me to try and realise my passion… Plus, that thing about life throwing things at you? Well, before I went to university, I got a temp job – one that I didn’t really want to go for, but that I actually eventually would have quit university to stay in. [I did ask if I could stay, and I did genuinely want to defer university to stay there.] I worked at a theatre, and I loved it. I wasn’t a performer – I was only doing admin – but I loved the environment, and the fact that theatre encourages expression and can be transgressive at times. I was given work experience kids to look after (I was 18!) and I loved seeing their transformation from really shy kids to people with confidence.

Then at university I worked at a magazine and….. guess what? After interviewing a few famous people for the magazine, I ended up editing the theatre section for a few months. And I actually really enjoyed it and missed my old job. The thing is, I have enjoyed doing other things, too. I quite enjoy and am fascinated by reading about events in the Middle East, and …. other things. But I have really struggled to figure out the difference between *appreciating* something, and actually wanting to *do* it yourself. I can like football, but I can also see that I wouldn’t be good at doing it myself. I need to sit and think about all the things I like and try and figure out if I like them as an observer, or if I like them enough to actually do myself. I fully respect war correspondents, and even though I briefly considered doing it myself, I know in my heart of hearts that I just couldn’t do it. I cry at photos of dead bodies. I mean, I just couldn’t deal with that. And I feel terrible, like it makes me less of a person, but I think it’s better to be honest about what I can not do, rather than waste my time trying to break into a field that doesn’t need or want me.

Ultimately… nothing is going to change just yet. But just knowing that I have other options feels nice. Just feeling like I have other opportunities and career paths is good. I feel like I’m on the cusp of fully realising my own potential and finding something I love. I just am not sure how things are going to unfold yet. I feel like when I dig deep, I already know what my strengths and my passions are. It’s just very, very cloudy and difficult to see through – like digging through a closet full of junk to find a shiny pound coin…

A time to recover, and a time to heal

Some of you who have known me for a while will know that – much to a lot of people’s dismay! – I learned the first level of Reiki last year. (See this post for background info)

Since then – very recently – my gran has passed away, as has my uncle (in fact just under a week later). When she was ill, she was under the ‘care’ of two community organisations – the hospice that they both were in at the end, and a cancer support centre that, thankfully, was very close to the both of them geographically.

I’d been thinking for a while-and I’d mentioned to my gran, actually – that I wanted to help out at the support centre. The hospice is too far away to go regularly, and frankly, from the memories of going there and seeing my gran, I don’t think I could reasonably be there and provide a service for others going through the same thing. I just couldn’t be there and not think of her and be upset.

It so happens that I had wanted to do Reiki level 2 anyway – level 2 qualifies you as a practitioner which means you can charge for sessions if you want, and you learn more complicated things. You are allowed to perform Reiki on others, basically, which is what I’d wanted to do: I have had a bit of experience with family members (all of which were positive experiences and actively helped) but I think sometimes with people who are close to you, emotions get in the way. I never did any on my gran because I didn’t feel it appropriate. But I did do some on my sister’s partner, and he felt it helped him sleep better and eased the pain he was having. From genuine, personal experience I think it absolutely helps. Whether it’s the Reiki, or the relaxing, or whatever… It works, without a doubt in my mind.

So – you see where I’m going with this… I feel so grateful to the hospice and the centre that they made my mum’s life easier by helping with paperwork and explaining the legal processes one goes through in illness and death. The woman who runs the centre has been a pillar of strength for her; on the end of the phone, helping out where she could – she even came to my uncle’s funeral last week. I have been trying to work myself up, actually, to do voluntary work because I think it’s a great thing to do, but I lost confidence and I was pretty busy with everything – first work, then my gran – and even now the dust hasn’t settled, though I feel better than I have been.

I mentioned volunteering somewhere last year, or months ago, before we even knew my gran was ill, and I couldn’t honestly think of somewhere I felt a connection with that I could reasonably help out with. For example, I would love to help out at a rape crisis centre: I think they provide an invaluable service – but I just couIdn’t do that right now. For me, it would be too much to handle. A bit wimpy, maybe, but I think rape survivors deserve someone who can be strong for them in their time of need, not someone who will hear their story and burst out crying in empathy (i’ve always been far too empathetic!)… But I really feel like this is the time and place. I’d like to give something back, in memory of and on behalf of my gran. Even if I can’t do Reiki (which is a possibility), I can do administrative work, or… I don’t know. Befriend people. Something. I need to give something back; to try and make something innately positive out of something so heartbreaking and negative; to give people comfort in their darkest moments, as I know first-hand how much it can help.

I don’t know if I am completely ready to close this chapter of my life – to move from recovering and healing, to helping and healing others – but I think I will be soon. Fingers crossed.

The Riots Revisited

It feels like so long ago the streets of London were afire, people smashed shop windows without fear of reprise, and for a day or two it looked as if it might never end. It was only a year ago. David Starkey hasn’t shut up about how it was ‘black culture’ that was to blame. So I’ll put in my two pennies.

The thing that frustrates me about Starkey is that as a historian, it’s his job to look deeper than the surface to find out the truth, yet when it comes to the riots he has no interest in any theories beyond skin colour. He point-blank refuses to go beyond the surface, choosing instead to let his prejudice take over rather than the analytical historian he is famed to be.

It doesn’t even take that much effort. The main three areas in London that I can think of that were affected were Croydon, Tottenham (in the borough of Haringey) and Enfield. Outside of London, it was Manchester. Firstly, take a look at this diagram of London wards and out-of-work benefit recipients, from 2009:

Out of work benefit recipients by ward from poverty.org

Croydon, at the bottom, isn’t so bad – or wasn’t, in 2009. But Enfield and Haringey quite clearly has had a ‘problem’ with benefit recipients who are out of work. If you don’t believe me, check this picture of London boroughs. This map is from Poverty.Org’s Poverty in London 2009 PDF.
So what does it show? Put simply, these are areas where a large percent of the population are unemployed. No government wants to rule over a population of largely unemployed people – it means they have spare time, they are at risk from mental health issues, and they have no money to spend and are therefore excluded from the economy at large. Bored poor people. In desperate times, people take desperate measures and I’m not sure I blame them.

Secondly: If – and this is a big if – the rioters were primarily of black ethnicity, it is not hard to see why. Over at the poverty site, someone has helpfully collated information regarding low income and ethnicity. They found that two fifths of people from ethnic minorities live in low-income households, and that the proportion of people who live in low-income households is fifty per cent for black people. Fifty percent! That’s a shocking amount, and much higher than the twenty per cent it is for white people.

What is really interesting is that this didn’t just happen overnight. London is the most concentrated place in the UK for inequality in income, and it’s been this way for many years – riots on this scale have not been seen for many years either. What I would propose is that the riots were borne out of something much more complex than simply ‘being poor’ or living in poor areas. I think it would have happened under a Labour government, too, actually. But why? I look to the opiate of the masses: Television – or the media at large. I’m not saying ‘the meeja’ is entirely to blame, but its one of a combination of factors. Never before have such large swathes of the ‘have-nots’ been painfully aware of the ‘haves’ and their lifestyles. The poor are told by the government that they must work harder to get what they want, yet every Saturday they see a new rags-to-riches story, achieved with minimal effort. Every year, some hapless nobody is propelled into the limelight to become a pop singer – they get a fast-track ticket to celebrity, fame, and all the trappings of that lifestyle. After around a decade of this, does anybody watch and think it could be them – or honestly believe that hard work brings true reward?

As a society, we make a show of having money, of being able to participate in the economy at a certain level – computers, iPhones and so on are all now necessities. We talk about youth learning responsibility as they grow up, yet the government cut the funding from youth centres whose purpose was pretty much that – give them something to do in their spare time, teach them skills and other things that aren’t taught in school.

It’s not, as some may think, absolute poverty. It’s relative poverty – relative to others in the UK these have-nots are poor. And relative to reality TV so often shoved down their throats, they work hard and they suffer poverty, just like the people on the TV do. Yet unlike those on TV, after years of this, they are still no closer to achieving their dreams. I hear so much (particularly from government quarters) about aspirational poverty – ‘the people’ are lacking in aspiration. They are lazy and feckless. They don’t want to do anything. I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as that. I think they have aspiration, energy, and drive – but no resources or resource-management to deal with it. They want to do things, but their options are dwindling evermore. Wouldn’t you be angry too?

What young people want…

Well, broadly, they want a future. They want to feel positive about their lives, that they will be able to achieve their dreams and do what they want and live good lives. Maybe they want to better their parents’ lives. Who knows. But every person wants to fulfill their dreams, right? And most of us have realistic ones.

They also want…

- Affordable education
- Jobs with liveable wages
- Housing – rentable, perhaps, that’s affordable on their wages…
- Respect
- To be listened to
- Intergenerational fairness. Why should my grandmother have access something I don’t have? We should be working towards good standards of life for everyone, not racing to the bottom.
- To feel safe and secure. No one wants to live in fear of being burgled or mugged, or racially or sexually abused. And no one ‘deserves’ it either, by virtue of simply being poor.
- To feel like they can do and be what they want (that their aspirations are achievable and not some far-off fantasy)
- To feel their contributions are valid and valuable
- To have the right and ability to congregate and meet likeminded people
- Entertainment, particularly in ‘deprived areas’ where they may not want to sit at home and play on an xbox because family relations are strained. They need youth centres and things to do that will keep them entertained and out of trouble…. dance classes, or I don’t know… sewing lessons. There’s a dearth of classes and the like for young people who are past scouts and guides but not into full work.

There are more, but a nice start I think. The funny thing is that this age group is routinely ignored and treated badly in society but actually they are the ones who have enough energy to really do great things. We should be helping them develop their skills and harness their energy in a positive way rather than allowing their creativity to rot into destructiveness… I honestly think this is a key reason the riots happened last year, and I’m not convinced we’ve seen the end. The real shame is that in a way, rioting is great for a right wing government wanting more control. Most people will happily give up their rights for a quiet life – in order to feel ‘safe’ from what will be/has been branded ‘domestic terrorism’… Riots are an amazing excuse to vilify young people, convince everybody else they are worthless, and instill greater authoritarian rule. Never mind the fact that we could easily avoid it in the first place if we actually considered young people, the impact policy has on them, and their utter powerlessness in the face of such policies.

Open letter to Chris Grayling

Dear Christopher Grayling,

I’ve just read this Telegraph article (can’t find strength to find the actual piece you wrote). Let me start by saying I disagree with the concept of unpaid work experience full stop. I would love to say that my work experience thus far has been paid, but it hasn’t. HMRC’s reluctance to sort this out – when they know which companies are doing it, when these companies are extremely easy to find out about, and when these companies don’t even pay expenses – is indicative of how very little consecutive governments over the last decade or so actually care about individuals. In fact, it’s telling that this neat little industry arrangement benefits huge corporations, and governments can retain their confidence.

I digress. I am against the “Workfare” scheme because it is not about improving the individual at all – it is about providing a source of free labour for organisations – at the expense of the taxpayer, no less! I am currently on Job Seeker’s Allowance and I have been tactfully informed that I “may as well” apply for any jobs going at the centre (ones with literally no connection to what I have done in the past, no connection to my degree, and of no use to me or my career) because I will be forced to take something that comes up in a few months, or I risk losing my benefits.

“Short term work experience placements lasting a few weeks are of immense value to young people looking to get a foothold on the job ladder”

They are rarely of value. I don’t see how working in Tesco stacking shelves – for which other members of staff are paid – is going to be of any use to me when I am looking for a job in journalism. Do you? Especially not when you consider that I have already worked for a large supermarket chain for over a year. I worked there when I was doing my A Levels. I later worked full-time for my local authority. I have worked. I have experience. I am the opposite of workshy, Mr Grayling, but having been to university – something all young people are now being funneled into regardless of suitability for their career needs or wishes – I have graduated and found the economy in a devastating state. I have worked for free in many, many places over the last 8 years, in pursuit of the career I want – but I just don’t think that working for Tesco in exchange for money which I already receive is reasonable or at all justifiable.

“The critics are job snobs. The Guardian newspaper publishes stories attacking big retailers for offering short-term unpaid work experience placements for young people. But that same Guardian newspaper advertises on its website – yes, you guessed it – short-term unpaid work experience placements for young people.”

It’s not snobbery. Nobody is against anyone working for Tesco – the issue is that they are unpaid, but also that they are mandatory and thousands of people nationwide are being forced into work experience schemes that are not relevant to their line of work. You must realise that these unpaid work experiences are hugely harmful:
a) these workfare people on JSA are performing a function that could be performed by another member of staff, therefore they are actively harming the job market and exacerbating already-dire unemployment rates by reducing the amount of paid work available.
b) in the time that these people are working unpaid, they cannot look for jobs that are actually in their line of work, so they are effectively breaking their own contract with the job centre to comply with what the job centre says.

The work experience you mentioned at the Guardian and BBC Newsnight is voluntary and undertaken on the basis that the individual knows from the start it is unpaid, but they will gain valuable experience that will help them in their career. The workfare scheme touted by the government is nothing of the sort. People are being forced into these situations because they have been told if they do not comply, then they will lose their benefits. Benefits that they have received because they need a subsidy to live as they cannot find work. Pulling the carpet out from under people and telling them that they chose to sit on the floor is hugely disingenuous and lying about it, or pretending to equate workfare with genuine work experience opportunities is an insult to any right-thinking person.

I am intrigued as to how you still feel, what with companies dropping out of the workfare scheme like flies, that this is still a reasonable situation to put unemployed people in – especially when the economy is in such an awful state. But please do let me know if you find someone else who agrees with you.

Yours faithfully,

@ThatSoph

The rise of fascism in the UK

There is a distinct change in the air of late. It is the anticipation that something big is around the corner. The last two years has brought about significant change in the world. The Arab Spring of 2011 and the continuation of the waves of protest across the world – to the UK, the US, Australia – these signs that ‘the people’ will not stand for it; that the proletariat will not be oppressed by the rich and the powerful anymore, are tangibly felt. Austerity packages are being handed out to unwilling populations across the western world – in Europe under the increasingly concerned watchful eye of the Germans, particularly. It is they, after all, who stand to lose the most.

Austerity, they say, will get us out of this mess. Tightening budgets will encourage economic growth. Trickle-down economics will redistribute wealth across the nation. Getting rid of health and safety ‘red tape’ is the solution to the problem of unemployment. It is assumed that the private sector will mop up the excess labour from the public sector – this has yet to happen.

Since when did giving more money to the rich ever have an effect on those very people it is supposed to help? It doesn’t.

Why would health and safety red tape be such a significant issue for employers when looking to employ people? A cynic would say this is a move to weaken the rights of employees, and give leeway to big business – to not only allow the status quo to continue unhampered, but to actively encourage the exploitation of the working classes.

We’re in a period of serious crisis. The Euro is wobbling and has an uncertain future. Capitalism seems to be on its last legs, as ‘the people’ demand that they come before profit. It is against this background of genuine crisis that change can – and will – happen. Revolutionary wannabes, who have waited for years for this moment, assume that the replacement to a failing capitalism is socialism, communism, or even perhaps just something “nicer”. This is naive and mistaken. While there is opportunity for change, the most likely outcome is fascism:

“The primary immediate effect of the crisis will not be the rise of a radical emancipatory politics, but rather the rise of racist populism, further wars, increased poverty in the poorest 3rd world countries, & greater divisions between the rich & the poor within all societies.” Slavoj Žižek, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce (2009)

The truth is, we all know that the things I outlined above are not effective problem-solvers – they won’t work, and they are likely, in fact, to lead to bigger problems. These solutions are not solutions, they are merely distractions from the real problems – puppet-show politics distracting us from the fact that we are slowly losing our rights. We are being distracted from the reality that we are heading somewhere much darker than we have been for a long, long time.

Diane Abbott was not wrong when she said that white people like to play ‘divide and rule’ – it may have been in reference to colonialist attitudes and tactics, but it is just as true, and just as relevant, today. We are being divided, sugary-rhetoric-coated austerity forced down our throats, and civil liberties eroded under our very noses.

Just look at the way that the disabled people in this country are being demonised – by both the supposed left and the right. That has had a measurable affect on public attitudes – the national charity Scope examined the rise in public abuse of disabled people last year. Look at the rhetoric around immigrants and jobs. No wonder we have seen a spate of racist attacks in recent times. On a tram, or in football matches. And those on JSA are being forced to work for free, under the ‘WorkFare’ scheme. This is only the beginning.

It is okay for us to support protests in other countries. This is noble. But when our own people revolt, we must criticise, suppress and use more extreme policing tactics. They are not so different after all, but the rhetoric changes when we are discussing issues in our own back yard. And we give ourselves permission to intervene in Libya – but not Bahrain or Syria, where similar or even worse atrocities are being committed. In years to come, Britain won’t be seen as the saviour of the world, but an active destroyer of it.

The ever-narrowing national political discourse is, obviously, exactly what Naomi Klein wrote about in her book Shock Doctrine. Where there is crisis, there is opportunity for positive change, but also a huge opportunity for the powerful to tighten the grip on those who are oppressed. The crisis is the shock, and the ‘medicine’ is the swallowing of austerity packages, the reduction of civil liberties in the name of ‘national security’ or ‘we are all in this together’ rhetoric, and the acceptance of extreme policies.

Historically, we know this happens. It is how Hitler came to power in Germany in the 30s. It is how anyone clever would seek to obtain and retain power. We know this. Why are we allowing it to happen again?

Capitalism is in crisis. Our collective response, spurred on by mainstream media and political rhetoric, is to shift further to the right. The US has already begun its transition, with the signing off of the NDAA. First it happens as tragedy. Then we allow it to happen again, and it is farce.

We are in the farcical stage. People are swallowing the bitter pill of injustice in the mistaken belief that “we’re all in it together”, that it is “necessary” and that it is a “worthwhile sacrifice”. With the people stunned into obedience, it is only a matter of time before fascism tightens its grip on the UK. I predict in the next year or two that we will see the following:

-       Removal of the right to protest, or more severe limitations to that right.

-       A rise in riots, similar to those across the UK in August 2010

-       More politically-motivated arrests

-       Removal of benefits unless working under WorkFare scheme

-       Crack-down on ‘benefit cheats’ to the extent where people are encouraged to grass up neighbours, family members etc

-       “Othering” of other strata of society. Divisions across class, particularly.

-       The loss of worker rights (‘red tape’ war)

-       National service for young people

We should keep in mind that this is an ongoing and slow process – fascism doesn’t take hold overnight. Perhaps not every move the coalition make is one worth shouting about. We need to pick and choose the ones that will lead to restrictions on personal freedoms. We need to shout about the Americans’ ability to detain anyone in the world for an indeterminable amount of time. We need to ask why we are trading our civil rights to ensure the survival of capitalism, because we shouldn’t allow this to happen.

The thing about the Lib Dems…

Is that they really don’t seem to have a point at all. They were voted in by younger generations, primarily on the basis of one policy. The tuition fee policy, where university tuition fees would be free. At best, economic illiteracy and at worst, a brazenly cynical ploy to get some claws into government – which they have so desperately wanted for years. In 2010 we saw what the real game was. The tuition fee policy was not only dropped in the coalition agreement (how long did that take them to figure out?) but the outcome was that tuition fees cap would in fact be tripled, to £9,000. The Lib Dems were the only political losers in this battle, as both Labour and the Conservatives refused to outline exactly what they would do with tuition fees… He set himself up for a fall, really. Ever since, Nick Clegg has served in the interests of the public as an unhappy human punching bag. Is anyone surprised?

Vince Cable, once someone who could be admired outside of the party; someone who seemed to know what he was doing, threw away most of that credibility when he unwittingly boasted to undercover reporters about his ability to bring Murdoch down. He said he could use the nuclear option and resign. Is this now the same over Cameron’s Europe veto? Cable commands a following within his own party, and I suppose that is where he is counting on having sway. Perhaps.

Both Clegg and Cable are reportedly furious that Cameron has left Britain isolated in the EU but I am really scratching my head about what they can do about it. They were supposedly going to bring Tory policies to the left. All that I have seen since May 2010 is more Tory policies going through. The DWP has been shaking up benefits to a ridiculous extent, demonising disabled people and the unemployed – and now want cancer patients to go through testing to prove they are unfit to work. I was going to go through more but I couldn’t even list them all – there are that many. Where have the Lib Dems been a balancing tool or even had any genuine influence over policies that are blue, through and through?

What does Nick Clegg even do, apart from whinge about being rightfully hated? What else does Cable do apart from secretly plot to bring empires crashing down, and the blurt it out to the nearest reporter, like a blundering old fool? They seem to have wasted a golden opportunity, and I really don’t think that the Lib Dems will survive the coalition as a unified party – nor do I think they stand a chance of ever being voted into government in the next 50 years. But do carry on, fellows. I’ll grab the popcorn.

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