Five ways to deal with a full blown Conservative Government
So that exit poll appears last night and the sound of left-wing jaws hitting the floor is deafening. That sick, clenched feeling in your stomach appears, your heart’s going a mile-a-minute and it’s all the worse because you know so many people are feeling the same. In your mind’s eye, you see the queues for food banks, the packed GP waiting rooms, those made homeless by the bedroom tax. You despair at this country, at all those voters blithely turning the graphics that awful, snooty shade of blue, and you cry. You Google “left-wing country, somewhere warm”. Your Scottish mates invite you to move up. You think about it, seriously.
When I realised this morning that even the exit polls had underestimated just how crap it all was, I was passing St Pancras Church. There was a man there, sat with all his possessions next to him in wet boxes, eating sandwiches out of a bin bag.
Now I don’t know about you, but I think as long as that man and millions like him are eating leftovers out of the rubbish, talking about fleeing the country and leaving him to it is almost as bad as voting Tory. It might seem hopeless at the moment, but there are some basic things we can all do to work through this. Wallowing in political pity or booking the next flight out of here is not going to feed the hungry.
1. If you're in work - or maybe even if you’re not - join a trade union.
The more union members, the more chance we have of fighting zero hours, low wages and other shit. It’s a pernicious right-wing lie that unions died the moment Thatcher closed the mines. There are six million union members in this country - more than membership of all political parties combined - and the movement is alive and well. They need members to keep them going, they need you to get behind their aims, and you need them to fight for your right not to become legally classed as little more than a worker ant.
Find out which union to join here.
2. Get involved in community activism too. Housing groups, food banks, local strikes, local progressive parties. Work for the vulnerable.
If council tenants are occupying homes they’re about to be evicted from, join them. If your food bank needs volunteers and donations, then get on it. If local workers are stood outside their office, or factory, or depot, or fire station waving placards, then don’t just take a photo and tweet about it, stand there next to them. If you save one person from eviction, one job from redundancy, if you feed one family with your donation, you are stopping the Tories.
If there’s not community activism going on, START IT.
3. Soz, but we're going to have to be tireless.
Fighting the cuts is going to be hard. But we have to do it. So get ready for a long fight. We’ve got a fixed-term Parliament on our hands, so we’ve got at least five years of long, hard slog. Don’t expect miracles, don’t expect to overthrow Cameron by Christmas. Believe in your ideals firmly enough to fight for them for a long time. And make sure you’ve got a good supply of coffee to get you through it.
4. Don't be tied by party lines.
For the movement who invented solidarity, the left wing doesn’t practice it that often outside of it’s gangs. Labour, Green, TUSC and even Lib Dem progressives must work together to oppose what's going to happen. We’re all on the same side now. Arguing over Clause 4, making jibes at the Greens being muesli munchers or carping on and on about tuition fee promises won’t solve anything. If you need to bite your tongue at a slight difference in politics to get something done, then bite it right off.
5. Find a way to preach to the unconverted. We need them on our side.
How many of us woke up this morning baffled that the country wasn’t voting the same way as the people we choose to be friends with and the people we carefully follow on Twitter? Solidarity creates silos as well as strength. We have to actively seek out those we disagree with, and talk to them, to explain what we’re fighting for and against. We cannot be arrogant enough to assume support.
Finally, through all of this - be kind. Be so, so kind. Be kind to your comrades, who'll get as tired and as angry as you. If you can, be kind to those you argue with, because compassion changes more minds than anger, even though it's harder to muster. Be kind to the poor. The disabled. To immigrants. To workers. To anyone who's a bit different. The government won't be you see.
Join Class for a post-election public debate in central London on Tuesday 19 May.
Class is holding a post-election public debate with leading commentators, politicians and trade unionists at the NUT's central London offices. This event will feature in-depth discussion on what’s next for the Left, Labour and the union movement following the election. Speakers will react and respond to the election and what the result means for working people, for trade unionists and the wider left. The event has participation at its heart and there will be an opportunity for an extensive audience Q&A with the panel.