This Ain’t Churchill vs Stalin

Looking to negotiate an increase in the amount of pocket money she receives, my 9-year old drives a hard bargain.

“It’s not my fault I was born three years after my sister. So why should I get less pocket money than her?”

She’s got a point, but life is unfair, I say, “so get used to it.”

Not one to accept defeat, my daughter continues to offer a range of arguments for why she deserves a higher allowance.

“You’re quite the capitalist,” I say with a smile.

“I’m not a capitalist,” she protests and stamps her foot on the floor, “I’m a social democrat.” Deeply offended by my insult, she disappears into her room, slamming the door behind her.

Later, I try to make amends by pointing out that lots of people are capitalists (including members of her family) and very happy to be defined as such. My efforts to cast this -ism in a brighter light falls on deaf ears, however, for my daughter simply retorts,

“If Boris Johnson is a capitalist, then I’m not!”

She’s a primary school child, but that doesn’t stop her from seeing through the lies of the prime minister. If only more people would do the same, especially those old enough to vote on 12 December. For if polls are to be trusted, the Tories are on course to win a majority in the upcoming elections.

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How is it even possible for Johnson to be in the lead when there is growing evidence of a Tory plan to sell off the NHS, as part of a trade deal with the US; and years of Tory-led austerity measures has exacerbated inequality and poverty across Britain?

Listening to the radio while doing the school run, I’m flabbergasted by the number of people openly saying that even though they know Johnson is a liar and a cheat, they will still vote for him, “because nothing could be worse than a government led by Jeremy Corbyn.” Come on, people, let’s get real: Corbyn is no more the next Stalin than Johnson is the new Churchill.

Yet, as long as Johnson keeps large parts of the British media on his side, he effectively enjoys a carte blanche, allowing him to say and do whatever he likes without serious consequence. He will still get more favourable press than Corbyn whose character has been under constant assault ever since he was voted Labour leader. Only this week, media has had a field day casting the Labour leader and the party he represents as antisemitic, while conveniently ignoring evidence of antisemitism, islamophobia and racism in the Tory party.

I’m not a great fan of Jeremy Corbyn, but I am a passionate believer in the welfare state, a legacy of my largely social democratic Swedish childhood, I suppose. Health and education are basic human rights, enshrined in the UN Convention, not commodities to be traded on the market.

As I’ve said before, judge not society by the extent of its economic growth, but by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. In Britain, austerity measures have meant sizeable cuts in support for the elderly, disabled and ill, creating a society where ruthless competition is rewarded at the expense of compassion and solidarity.

While I’m not an economist, I’ve come to believe capitalism is part of the problem, not the solution, to inequality and poverty. What’s more, capitalism’s fundamental dependence on perpetual growth is wreaking havoc on the natural world whose resources are far from unlimited.

For all the reasons mentioned here, and many more, I believe another five years of Tory government would be far more disastrous for society and for the environment than would a Corbyn-led Socialist government. “Don’t make the same mistake we did,” my American friends warn me. Far from being the new Churchill, Johnson is at best a blander version of Trump.

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