Yesterday, people took to the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the new government, as they are allowed to do in a democratic society which prides itself on freedom of speech. Aside from the weak news coverage, BBC only reporting it hours after the event, the focus was primarily on the arrests of 15 protesters and of the desecration of a women's WW2 memorial. The cry of many has been dismissed because of 15 supposedly rowdy people and one absolute idiot who sprayed one line of graffiti.The response from twitter and facebook was unbelievable. The Daily Mail branded it a "hate mob" and as a group of "hard line socialists", and the the top comment on their article read "Anarchists? Looks like a bunch of spoiled hipsters to me".
This attitude is why us "bloody lefties" were so upset by the result from Thursday's election. Because the voice of anyone who does not support the Conservatives is being muted. It's being dismissed as a cry of whiny socialists who don't believe in democracy.
I believe strongly in informed voting. I believe in people voting for the policies and ideas and people who can speak for them in parliament. I would encourage anyone to vote, even if they thought something that I didn't and couldn't ever agree with. If that was truly what they believed. But I find it hard to believe that 22,918 people agreed with the views of Julian Brazier, the Tory MP for our constituency.
He voted very strongly against equal gay rights. He voted very strongly against the fox hunting ban. He voted against laws to promote equality and human rights. He voted strongly for the rise in tuition fees. He voted strongly for the restriction of legal aid. He voted strongly against higher benefits for those unable to work long term due to disability or illness. He voted very strongly against increasing benefits at least in line with prices. He voted strongly against taxing high earners. He voted very strongly against the mansion tax.
Why would anyone vote in someone who is against equality, students, the disabled and the poor and only serves his own interests as a high earner?
If being a "bloody lefty" means that I look beyond myself and my privileged position as a middle class student and care about how the decisions made by the government affect real people, then so be it.
If being a "bloody lefty" means that I value peoples lives over the money that can be squeezed out of them, then fine, throw the insults my way.
If being a "bloody lefty" means that I won't stop "whining" about the policies and decisions that are made over the next five years that affect me and those around me, then be prepared to moan about me being a "bloody lefty" for the next five years. Because we do not have to be silent. We do not have to sit still and be good British citizens and worship our leader. We do not have to roll over.
Being politically engaged isn't a phase. It isn't something to care about for three weeks leading up to the election and then forget about once your "team" wins or loses. Because losing the election doesn't mean you lose your voice, doesn't mean you lose your opinion. It doesn't stop your views from counting. If you voted for reform, push for reform. If you voted for a compassionate government, push the government to compassion.
The government works for the people. And we are all the people. Those who voted left or right. And we all deserve to be heard and spoken for.