Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 05 Oct 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The liberal not-elite

I’d like to introduce myself as part of the liberal not-elite. You see, I’m as pink as they come, believing in a huge range of socialist causes and holding environmental concerns that place me firmly to the left, although I’m not politically active and think that Jeremy Corbyn is about as welcome to the Labour leadership as tertiary syphilis. But the thing is, I’m skint. For a few days each month, I work as a steward at a local football club for the minimum wage and, very, very occasionally, and I mean, very occasionally, doing writing work that makes me what I get paid there in about an hour. This is not ‘elite’ or anything like it.

So when I see May attacking the ‘liberal elite’ it’s like seeing someone enthusiastically attacking the wrong target. She can get as angry with them as she wants, she can fire bazookas at them, machine gun them and call for an airstrike, and all she will do is make Sun readers stop breathing through their mouths long enough to clap and jump on their leatherette sofas like excited chimpanzees watching another chimpanzee have a wank. The liberal elite presumably have too much money and influence to give a rat’s arse either way and will go on holding those views long after May has been gathered to rest and buried behind locked gates. For me, however, it’s another matter.

The assumption is that being well-off and liberal is easy. Which it might be. I don’t know. But in the unlikely event that May is reading this, I’d like to tell her that being liberal and skint is even easier still. Why? Because you’re suddenly faced with the terrible reality that your best efforts, alone, aren’t enough to insulate you from the outside world. While the ‘liberal elite’ or, more likely, the Tory elite get to look at the world from the driver’s seat of a BMW or a Merc, you’re one of the poor sods they’re driving past in the rain, wondering if you can really justify going into Costa for a coffee or should really go home and try not to spend money because you’re already two grand overdrawn and you don’t know the next time you’ll get paid.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing, makes you believe in a social safety net like having bugger all. And what’s worse, knowing that you’re entitled to bugger all because the state will turn around and say that your partner, who works all hours God sends, can support you. Or because, when you’re assessed for benefit, thinks the fact you can make eye contact with the person assessing you and are wearing socks means that you’re not really depressed and you get nothing or next to nothing, but are told to look for work you’re not well enough to do. When you’re faced with this level of official idiocy, believing that, just maybe, the Government has got it wrong with austerity and that they’d rather ten people with depression died than someone took the piss, it’s incredibly easy to see yourself as someone from whom better provision should have been made. And it’s also very easy to see people around you, in the same position or very much like it, and empathise.

When I worked as a Street Pastor, the reason I found it easy to empathise with people who were mentally ill and often homeless or vulnerably housed because, were it not for a very few things in my life going right, that’s exactly where I would be. You could almost hear the smiles on the faces of the other Street Pastors start to harden and their arses twitch when I talked to people on the streets about whatever problem it was that assailed them, from a position of some common knowledge. I am one of them, infinitely more than I’m one of the working well. A relation has a disabled friend who sometimes shouts ‘I’m not one of you!’ at other disabled people, which leaves me baffled. For anyone with depression and mental illness, then yes, I am one of them, no matter how severe their problem or desperate their need. And that, again, is why I’m a liberal. Some hardarsed free marketeer would see a bunch of useless eaters. I only see people like me who need help and some form of social justice that appeals to a much higher authority than the Government could ever dare to dream up.

Sitting across the top of this is the fact I’m a Christian, albeit not the kind who goes to C of E services and mouths pious homilies. Christ came for the broken, the beaten and the dispossessed. Examples of his ministry include him cocking a snook at the powerful and the rich, with whom he seems to have had a somewhat distant relationship, telling the poor that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This tells me, pinko that I am, that my emphasis is pretty much the right one. I’m on the same side as the Son of God and the people who don’t like my politics are going to have to deal with the fact that they really aren’t.

Of course, being part of the liberal not-elite that you only have power insofar as you’re part of a much larger group, and I really don’t know how large that group is. The things I believe in are that we should repair the social safety net, stop asking private companies to declaim on how ill we are, accommodate refugees and generally behave like a tolerant and humane society. Anyway. I’m one of the liberal not-elite. If you’re one as well, pleased to meet you.

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