What I wanted to highlight is the way the rich, and in particular (in this case) the Tory party have weaponised politeness and the trappings of what they consider to be good manners.
How they smile in your face, and they talk about our NHS, and they talk about fairness, and caring, and vulnerable people. All the while, finding new places to jam the knife.
And then when you say, “fuck the Tories” or “this is bollocks,” they act out a ridiculous panto of “I’ve been polite to you, why haven’t you been polite to me?” as if you can’t feel the knife they’re jamming in. As if you can’t see them using it against marginalised people of all stripes.
As if the Tory party haven’t knowingly carried on Universal Credit, sanctions, the grotesque assessment procedures for ESA and PIP – knowing full well how many people they’ve killed. As if they didn’t open a consultation about trans rights, promising to follow up the outcome with appropriate legislation, only to go back on that promise when the consultation didn’t have the desired result, and making it harder or impossible for trans youth to access appropriate care instead. As if we don’t remember Windrush, and Grenfell, and how they left the Roma and traveller communities to fend for themselves in impossible conditions during lockdown. I could go on, it feels like forever. Ten years of violence. But they’ve been so polite!
As if they haven’t pitted us all against each other this entire time, as if we don’t remember all the big and small ways they’ve harmed us.
And now, COVID. Lockdown, or the cheap version they could buy off a dodgy bloke with a flash car in an abandoned industrial estate. A furlough scheme that was never very sound, and left particularly the self-employed in a precarious position.
Those smiles. “Think about the vulnerable,” as they released people with positive, or no, COVID tests, into care homes. “Think about the NHS,” as they refused payrises for people who literally died for us all. People who had to go without seeing their families, or take incredible measures, work until their ears were bleeding from the masks. With inadequate PPE. As they’ve been chronically underfunding the NHS for a decade, with a view to privatising healthcare and leaving the poor and the disabled, again, to pay the price in blood.
Oh but we were saving the payrise for the MPs. Smiles. So polite! Let’s clap for Boris on a Thursday, he works so hard while he goes on holiday with his 4th or 5th or 6th or 7th baby. It would be impolite to mention all the kids who won’t speak to him any more because he’s such a shit dad – can’t be impolite! Like he’s not still stabbing. Like he’s not still draining us all of the lifeblood he’ll feed to his mates, the ones with the big pockets.
The problem absolutely isn’t that we’re under restrictions. The problem isn’t that you have to wear a mask, or that you’ll be expected to get a vaccine if one becomes available. The problem is not that businesses are having to shut down. The problem is that businesses (small businesses, you understand – the ones whose owners don’t have those big pockets) and individuals aren’t being supported, while incredible amounts of money are being spent on PPE that either doesn’t materialise, or isn’t fit for purpose. On a track and trace system that never turned up. On Project Gobshite, which countless experts said would never work. They tell you the money doesn’t exist, as if you won’t notice them handing over billions to their pals the next day.
The problem isn’t protecting the vulnerable and the NHS (because if it were, they would have been caring for the vulnerable and the NHS for the past decade). The problem is that the wealth distribution in this country is not merely unjust – it is so ridiculously, indefensibly unjust that it beggars belief that anyone is still placing the blame anywhere other than with the people who’ve been there for ten years, smiling.
Smiling so politely into our collective faces. Finding new places to stick the knife.
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