Tags: #GE2015, #VoteGreen2015, Every Vote Counts, Hope is possible, Politics of Hope
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And the song in my heart?
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and shame,
My hand will save…
That’s the version in my head, anyway. In the official version, that third line ends with the word “sin” but as I’ve approached this General Election, it’s not sin that’s been bothering me: it’s shame. The shame imposed on so many people by the Tory government whose reign of abject terror for the poor, the weak and the vulnerable is about, I hope, to come to and end.
I’m thinking of people like my friend Ros Bayes, whose Open letter to George Osborne posted back in April has had more than 800 facebook shares, more than 150 tweets and whose petition to Jeremy Hunt to stop asking families of disabled young people to discuss Do Not Resuscitate directives has attracted almost 1,000 signatures — but neither has received any response from its intended recipient.
I’m thinking of people like my friend Kimmie who writes at Stuck in Scared of the fear she feels for herself, her family and so many of her friends who dread the next WCA (Work Capability Assessment) coming around:
Many disabled people have had their lives turned upside down over the past five years – some have not survived the onslaught.
Vulnerable people, who (and I should know) are desperately afraid – deeply affected by right wing ‘scrounger’ propaganda, and increasingly concerned about their future.
People who’s symptoms of illness/disability (in many cases, including my own) have been greatly exacerbated by an overwhelming fear of the next WCA (Work capability Assessment)
An assessment interrogation that often ignores their own doctors opinion in a deliberate attempt to strip them of benefits.
Mentally ill people who are terrified by even the idea of having to expose themselves (face to face) at a ten minute (tick box) assessment (to a complete stranger) who is unlikely to be qualified to assess Mental Illness, and even less likely to empathise.
People who are despairingly aware, that even if they are lucky enough to pass the assessment, it won’t be long before the process begins again.
Many are self-harming, some feel/or have felt that suicide may be a better option than continuing to battle both debilitating mental illness/disability, and the ‘powers that be’.
I’m thinking of the people who find themselves depending on food banks, people hit by the bedroom tax who find themselves unable to pay their rent, who find themselves homeless and out on the streets, people who find themselves forced into underpaid part-time or zero-hours jobs. I’m thinking of some of my former supermarket colleagues recently made redundant with their livelihoods stolen by bosses who keep themselves on with multi-million-pound packages. I’m thinking of the mentally ill people who ask, desperately, for help from 5 Quid for Life as they’re hit by benefit sanctions that are supposed to motivate them into work but instead drive them into even deeper despair.
This is the reality behind the spin the Tories put out about their so-called “Welfare Reforms” and their much-vaunted support for “hard working people” — ordinary people, hard-working people doing their best to take care of themselves and their families, having the support they need stripped away, layer by layer, until nothing is left except desolation, despair and the possibility of a shame-filled death at their own hands.
So I went out this morning and I cast my vote. I voted Green because I believe in Britain, because I believe in the British people, because I believe in the politics of hope rather than the politics of despair, because I believe that a society in which proper care and support for the poor, the weak, the vulnerable is possible, because I believe that it’s possible to live in harmony with the world rather than rip it apart for selfish gain — because I believe in sharing and in the common good.
As I approach the end of this post, there’s another song playing in the background, this one from Coldplay via my iPad:
My song is love
Love to the loveless shown
And it goes up
You don’t have to be alone…
It gets to the heart of what this post is about, the message that I’d like to see our nation sending out to its most vulnerable people: you don’t have to be alone. The shame this government tries to impose upon you is a lie: hope is possible.
Whether that message gets home to the people who need to hear it is, of course, is down to you and me, the voters, as we cast our votes today. Please don’t waste the opportunity you have today by not voting. Get out and vote for what you believe in too; and when you do, I hope that afterwards, like me, you’ll feel a lightness in your step and a song in your heart — because every vote counts before the God who hears our cry.