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Taking British Politics Into the Looking Glass

British politics has become gratuitously cruel in recent years, exposing the moral underbelly of the British people. Whether it is through immigration policy or liberty-curbing legislation - recent governments have done an excellent job at knocking the British people off their moral high horse.


It’s easy to be reactionary toward these changes, but our political culture does not exist in a vacuum. We have an elected democracy, politicians must appeal to voters, so surely these policies reflect what the British people desire? Do policies reveal just as much about the electorate as they do about politicians?


Look at one of our great offices of state: the Home Office. The Home Office is indispensable in creating the political culture, as it is responsible for law enforcement, immigration, and national security. These powers can shift what is seen as acceptable in political discourse - or move the ‘Overton Window’. 


The power to shift the Overton window should not be taken lightly. In recent governments, Home Secretaries have normalised cruelty and judgment. For instance, the Neo-Conservative Rwanda policy plans to ship asylum seekers over to Rwanda. And if sending migrants away isn’t possible, the UK government will just lock them up like prisoners. Since April 2023, the government have used a three-story barge in Dorset to house migrants - driving one to suicide.  This absolves the UK government of its duty of care and normalises the abandonment of some of the world’s most vulnerable people escaping persecution and poverty.  


It was this very Home Office that deemed it appropriate for drawings of children’s cartoons to be painted over in a unit designed for unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Is this not cruelty for cruelty’s sake? Our political culture is developing into one that is insensitive and irresponsible. 


Our politics now also deems the smashing of civil liberties acceptable. The 2022 Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act saw one-person protests banned and granted police the power to impose noise-based restrictions on protests. Not only has this new political culture created an atmosphere of hatred but it also halts the sentimental citizen from fighting back. The government seems to think it can rule by decree - propelling the UK into a frenzy of right-wing populism unchallenged. 


It is all well and good to sit and watch this descent into cold-hearted governance from afar, however, I would argue that the real act of revolution would be self-evaluation. What does this say about our morals as a nation if this is what our leaders think we will vote for? Do we come across as disconnected from our humanity and unable to put up a fight? The most effective way to combat this whirlpool of inhumanity and viciousness would be to curate a culture of kindness, rendering putting people onto barges, and stopping the right to protest electoral suicide. 


This is easier said than done, and to call on you to change British political culture singlehandedly without telling you how is redundant. 


Form a community - in any way that you can. When the government tries to say we are not connected and that this makes it okay to create a societal scapegoat or to isolate those who are different to you, your sense of community and comradery with your fellow humans should make this notion un-votable. In a popular culture that is all about YOU - your style, your thoughts, the products you own, creating a community is an act of civil resistance. Get to know your neighbours, have a spiritual or political community, or even start volunteering - do not fall victim to the lie that we are all individuals, in no way connected. 


Once you have your community arm in arm together, create a collective action! Again, when mainstream politics tells you that politics is an individual’s career choice or that direct action is redundant, - fight back. All of our well-loved modern rights and liberties were gained from the powerful action of protest - letter writing, rallies, and boycotts have pushed us forward.


If you are not ready to respond to the rallying cry yet, that’s alright! There is a simple lifestyle choice that you can make, and that is to be hospitable. Let a stranger in, don’t turn your back when you see someone in distress or simply smile at someone on the bus. The choice to love can be made every day, and when that choice becomes a habit a government which teaches us heartlessness seems out of the picture.


In a politics that teaches us to turn our back on the world, be countercultural and embrace it with open arms.


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Meg is a writer and activist from the UK, her interests include religion, history and domestic politics. When not thinking about any of these things, she is normally playing bass or making something crafty! 

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