First they demonised the immigrants, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t an immigrant
Then they demonised disabled people, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t disabled
Then they demonised the unemployed, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t unemployed
Then they demonised people on benefits, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t on benefits
Then they went for people on minimum wage, but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t on the minimum wage
When they went for me, everyone else was too tired and desperate to speak out at all
Apologies to Martin Niemöller, and for the Godwin, but this does seem really apt in the current climate. Stage by stage this government is systematically demonising and hurting people. I haven’t even mentioned things like the demonisation of the teaching profession, of those working in the NHS, of academics – but it all seems to be part of the same game. Divide and rule is only part of it. The demonisation is on each occasion a prelude to something direct and painful, not just ‘name-calling’, and if we are to have any chance of stopping it we need to challenge it at every level – including the rhetoric. The ‘strivers vs scroungers’ rhetoric, the ‘hard-working-families’ rhetoric, the ‘there’s no money left’ rhetoric, the ‘oh, they can downsize’ rhetoric.
There’s not much sign of this challenge from the opposition – as I’ve ranted before – so we are going have to do it ourselves. I hope we’re not too late.