I have become a a big fan of the Rest is Politics Podcast with Alistair Campbell and Rory Stewart. As they continually top the Podcast charts it appears I am not the only one.
Last week I was struck by the honesty from Alistair Campbell about the level of his latest depressive mood. It is important that people like Alistair talk openly about these issues and their own mental health.
But what also struck me was my own response to hearing this and set against the current state of British (and sometimes global) politics. What is my mood response to what has been happening in politics? As a normally positive individual I have found myself a bit down at the state of our country and politics in general.
Today we will have the 4th Conservative Prime Minister announced since 2016. There have been enough column inches written over the long summer leadership campaign. The idea of a Truss premiership does fill me with dread. So I am certainly in the fearful column for what it will mean for the country.
I had no time for the Johnson era. None at all. I find myself looking back at the Cameron and May premierships with a fresh perspective. Whilst I fundamentally disagreed with the Cameron/ Osborne austerity programme (aided by the Lib Dems) there was a sense of reasonably ‘normal’ political differences being fought out in public.
The May government was hamstrung from the start. A small majority (thrown away) and a very weak premiership that struggled to survive. But at least with May you felt she was someone who actually cared about public service and wanted to tackle some of the burning injustices. Her speech on arrival at No10 gave some hope that the worst and nastiest parts of the Tory philosophy (her words not mine) would be put on the back burner for a time. We had a premiership that recognised the role of the state in our industrial policy and tackling the inequalities the poorest faced.
I think the reason I am now depressed is the thought of a government to the far right of British politics, led by a group of ideologs that were not elected by anybody.
My anger in recent years has been heartfelt. After 12 years of Austerity the country is in a mess and millions of people are genuinely struggling to live a half decent life. My anger is for them. It pains me to see families working 3-4 jobs and still struggling with basic bills. And then it angers me even more that over the last few years the anglo-trumpism hides behind lies and culture wars to stoke division and misinformation. We all expend our energy fighting the lies. I find it utterly exhausting.
Sadly #Brexit was the turning point. And now we have the return of a government that promotes giving money to the rich on the false premise of trickle down economics. Or who still blame all their problems on Europe/ Brussels having destroyed our relationship with them and will wage economic war over the NI protocol THEY negotiated and told us was an oven ready deal!
So where in my mood does Hope come? At the moment quite a way out of sight. This latest iteration of a Tory government has 2 years to run. Our NHS is near collapse, the economy and inflation out of control, our public realm in desperate need of investment. Our politics needs reinvigorating and trust rebuilt. Our institutions needs modernising. Our Union is in danger of breaking up. The Labour party is on the way back but still doesn’t quite fully ready. In fact to overturn a massive 80 seat majority in one go would be a massive task. We therefore need to see a much stronger alliance of progressives working together to see of the Tories for a generation. I haven’t seen enough of this yet to have confidence that in 2 years time there will be a strong progressive government with a large workable majority to steer through the kind of change this country needs.
In one of my last blogs I admitted I had contemplated leaving the UK and its problems behind. It has become a nasty place, yet at the same time I see the hope and ambition of young people for a better country. So the little hope that I have come from the next generation stepping up and taking climate change, poverty and inequality seriously.