More thoughts on the election 2015 results from Tom Walsh.
In the early hours of 7th May 2015, I had the misfortune of being on a night shift in the Mental Health Rehab Unit that I work in. I found myself in this job because the previous mental health “charity” that I worked for had decided to slash the wages of their support workers (the ground troops in the war against mental health in the community) by two and a half grand, whilst maintaining the management’s wages at their previous level.
This was all as a direct result of the ConDem coalition presiding over the most draconian cuts to local councils that have ever come to pass. My local council Derby City had their finances crippled under the demented banner of austerity and were forced to pass on the savings – inevitably one of the largest outgoings for their budget was Adult Care, so it was not a complete surprise when the council announced that they would be reducing the Adult Care Budget by nearly two thirds. These cuts then came home to roost on the charity that I worked for, who in turn cut the wages of the support staff, whilst the management (fat people who sat in the upstairs offices and avoided contact with the mentally ill like they were 21st century lepers), received no cuts to their wages.
Naturally, being a hopelessly fervent believer in social justice I told my management to fuck off (after I’d taken my redundancy cheque of course – you gotta take what you can out of these situations). I didn’t get into mental health for the money but fuck me who in their right mind would be willing to do exactly the same job for significantly less, knowing that their greedy colleagues who earned a packet more than we did in the first place had not been affected by the cuts? In a CHARITY? Another victory for Dave’s Big Society.
Anyway, back to the present and the fact that I found myself red-eyed and wired out from sleep deprivation, staring at a succession of ex-public school fops joining together in an orgy of verbal wanking and self-congratulation over the success of their exit polls and swingometers and all sorts of other bullshit designed to justify and make light of the rotting, fetid sewer of an electoral system that makes this country the bastion of vested interests that it is today. As results were declared and the map became a sickening blue with various other pustules of colour dotted around, my mind wandered into a waking nightmare of morbid thoughts. What would the NHS look like in five years time? Will it survive? With what group of corporate fatcats would Murdoch be toasting this latest victory for fear and prejudice? Will Jeremy Clarkson actually fucking get back on TV now?
I was woken from my malaise of morbidity by blood-curdling screams from down the corridor of the rehab unit. Machine gun footsteps down the corridor and the voice of a terrified woman screaming random angst-ridden phrases. “I CAN’T BREATHE! I CAN’T BREATHE! MY BACK! I’VE GOT A NOSEBLEED! FUCK! I’VE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE FOR GOOD!” I took a final swig of my coffee and hauled myself to my feet as the source of shock and awe came barrelling in through the living room door and plonked herself in her designated living room chair. “MY FUCKING LEGS ARE FUCKED! I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT! I’M NOT GOING TO MAKE IT!” I was as casual as every other time this had happened – familiarity breeds nonchalance. “Morning ________. Do you want a coffee?” More screaming. “Please Tom. I’M NOT FUCKING GOING TO MAKE IT!” I wandered out of the room just as another Scottish seat fell to the SNP, shaking my head at the shitstorm on screen.
The lady I have just described to you does this same thing every morning. She will scream and shout, stamp around and occasionally smash pots. She will deliberately cough herself into stupidity and give herself a throat infection, or slam her finger up her nose repeatedly until it begins to haemorrhage blood. Can she help it? Maybe. But I ask myself who would choose to live this way? I made her standard coffee with two sugars and put it down on the coffee table next to her. The screaming stopped, followed by the hyperventilation. She took a swig of coffee and looked at me. “How’s your night been Tom?” “Okay thankyou _________.” “How’s your girlfriend?” “She’s really good thanks.” The conversation continued for an hour, we talked about her kids and her ex-husband, the things she was going to do that day and the plans she had for the future. As we chatted like nothing in the world was amiss the TV played away to itself in the background, Dimbleby presiding over more and more blue bruises appearing on the map. At 05:25am the screaming began again. “I’VE GOT TO GET OUT TOM, I’VE GOT TO FUCKING GET OUT!” The garage is the first shop to open in the town in which the rehab unit is situated. The lady I mention goes there every morning for opening at half five to get her shopping. The thought of going out sends her into hysterics. Every morning. “Go on then. See you in a bit”. And with that she was off, slamming and banging, screaming and struggling with the lock as she rampaged off into the pissing rain.
I watched as the Tories ticked over towards a majority. Ten minutes later she was back, a whirling dervish of anxiety. After the usual period of distress she said “Who’s won then?” “It’s looking like the tories at the minute _________.” “Oh. What are they like then? I don’t vote myself, they’re all as bad as each other.”
If only people realised how bad this lot really are. If only people voted with people like the one I’ve just described to you in mind, rather than their own selfish interests. If only we had a fair election system and an unbiased media. I could go on, but the fact is the damage has been done, and it’s not for myself I fear, but the people who just can’t help being fucked up – the vulnerable. They’re the ones who stand to lose the most.