It won’t have escaped the notice of our eagle-eyed readers that Christmas is almost upon us. It also will not have escaped anybody that this is supposed to be a season characterised by peace, hope and joy. Nobody will revel in the Christmas spirit more than MPs who, let’s face it, can probably charge most of the spirit they consume to their expenses accounts.
Peace remains in short supply as we end yet another war-torn year. Almost every Tory MP who is interviewed by the mainstream media makes a point of telling us that nothing is their fault and everything is the fault of the evil Russians. In case you are confused, these are clearly not the same Russians who the Tory Party has happily taken millions in donations from.
We all know about the war in Ukraine. Do we all know that the UK Government has given £220 million in aid, supposedly for humanitarian purposes, to Ukraine? And that this money has been found by cutting aid budgets to other war zones, such as Syria, which the UK had a hand in bombing.
Peace for whom?
But at this time of year we are all looking for a bit of hope. One thing we hope for every year is that politicians could stop lying. But, not only do they carry on lying, they have no shame about doing so.
If Putin is the evil maniac responsible for price rises, as is claimed by almost every Tory MP when their appalling economic record is put to them, then is he becoming less evil as inflation comes down? Inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index – note the name, it is a measure of prices) fell from 11.1% in November to 10.7% in December. But why was it so high to start with? Putin, obviously. But also wages. Tory MPs trot out the same old line that the only causes of inflation are evil maniacs (well, you can’t do much about them can you?) and workers.
Government ministers tell us that giving inflation level pay rises to public sector workers will fuel inflation. Firstly, public sector workers’ wages are not a price of a consumer product, they have no relation to the rate of inflation. Indeed, you could safely give nurses a 100% pay rise without it affecting prices. Secondly, inflation has already happened. And it happened when wages were being kept below inflation levels. In other words, whatever caused the current round of inflation, it was prior to any wage demands that nurses, rail workers, postal workers or anybody else made. Their demands are simply that they should be able to maintain their standard of living, not even improve it, but just maintain it.
What of joy?
It is actually the protests against the inhumane treatment of refugees, the generosity of people who work to make desperate people feel welcome here that gives us joy. It is the collective endeavour seen on picket lines and at rallies up and down the country. Where ordinary people, so often denied a voice in their own lives, say enough is enough, we demand justice.
Joy, we have come to realise, is not to be found in material goods (though we are not opposed to a little material comfort) but in the comradeship to be found engaging in the, still, unfashionable exercise of our democratic rights of citizens. The Tories, and their Labour mirror images, tamper with our hard won rights at their peril. If they think that passing laws will hold back the tide of discontent that has been growing gradually throughout this country (and beyond), then they are in for the shock of their lives.
Ordinary people are not the ‘Red Wall’ stereotypes built up by the media and polling companies. Ordinary people are trade unionists who will take to picket lines. They are the ones who drive the ambulances and fire engines (and, yes, the police cars). They are the ones who pick up your rubbish, teach the next generation how to think for themselves and don’t roll over as easily as some people might think.
We hope that the only war waged is class war and our joy will be realised when that war is won.