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If We Do Not Defeat Mrs May, Nigel Farage Will Dictate Our Future

08/05/2017 13:10 BST | Updated 08/05/2017 13:10 BST

Tory victories at the expense of UKIP are not accidental. Who needs UKIP when the Tories will deliver what UKIP supporters want? This is what happens when actors in the conservative central political field embrace populism. Instead of appealing to voters based on centrist tenets of liberal democracy, they can maintain and indeed improve their grip on power through demagoguery. It is also no accident that Mrs May hit out at the EU, alleging interference. Using a rhetoric that relies on invented enemies in order to secure votes is one of the commonest tools of populism. It is also much easier than delivering a policy that benefits the population.

The Tories are now the party of social injustice. Instead of their rhetoric, look at their track record. Both the NHS and the education system are on the brink of collapse, yet the current government is starving both sectors of funds. People with disabilities face further cuts and are humiliated, while private companies running disability assessments make millions of pounds. Promises such as the most recent one to reform mental health policies are utterly meaningless without massive financial investment; yet the official line already suggests no new investment will be forthcoming.

Without decent education, decent healthcare, and state-funded benefits, the chasm of social inequality opens even wider. Social inequality cannot be fully eliminated, but it can be alleviated. Society can provide rights to all and help those who start with significant disadvantages. Inequality in the UK has been rising, and that has disastrous effects on society. Social stability and the sentiment of contentment are linked to counteracting rather than exacerbating the unequal distribution of wealth, and with the loss of the NHS and good state education, the UK's standard of life will crumble.

Allowing the privileged few ever greater wealth, power and advantage, at the expense of an ever poorer section of society with no hope for the future, who are deprived of education, healthcare, decent jobs and wages is a recipe for disaster. Europe, despite its problems (and let us not forget that no system exists without problems), achieved lasting peace, high living standards and the protection of human rights. The government's Brexit rhetoric and actions on the distribution of funds indicates that we will leave all that behind. We can already see that preparing for Brexit negotiations, it is the EU that is standing up for human rights, even when it comes to British citizens living on the continent.

Mrs May's policies are damaging Britain and the British people. She is taking a leaf from the far-right's book. She has raised xenophobia to state policy; while refusing to consider Nigel Farage as UK ambassador to the USA, she is trying to cosy up to Donald Trump exactly as Farage had done. Liam Fox infamously referred to 'shared values' with Rodrigo Duterte, the murderous president of the Philippines who boasts he does not care about human rights.

These are not random individual blips; they demonstrate the government's priorities. The same trend is clear in forcing teachers to do the job of the police, sowing widespread distrust in society, and encouraging denunciation. A greater political majority will lead to even more discriminatory policies.

Democracies have been destroyed before. It was the conservative German right's embrace of Hitler in a misguided attempt to gain more power and seek dominance in Europe that led to the Nazi takeover of power. Elsewhere, existing regimes moved increasingly to the right, in some cases to ward off rivalry from the extreme right.

Young people may think it is unimportant to live in a liberal democracy. That is because they don't know what we have to lose. Sigmund Freud remarked in Civilization and its discontents that 'we can derive very little enjoyment from a state of things'; what we possess, we no longer value. Yet it is not so difficult to understand what is at stake. Just imagine that the state where you were born can easily deprive you of your rights and of your possessions, not because you committed a crime, but because you are a political opponent. If you dare to criticize the government's political ideas, the tax authority will investigate you for years or you will lose your job. You have to live in fear, maybe spend years in prison, unless you conform to the ideas of a Great Leader. You can be branded as an enemy because of your religion or poverty, or because you criticize corruption, or try to defend human rights.

Anyone who would experiment with living under an authoritarian regime will quickly see why liberal democracy is the best political system. The experiment, however, may not be reversible, or at least not quickly and without major sacrifices. A survivor of Auschwitz, Viktor Frankl remarked in his Man's Search for Meaning that decent people 'will always remain a minority. And yet I see therein the very challenge to join the minority.' A great achievement of Europe is that decency has become the expected standard in social relations. We are on the brink of losing that standard.

You might feel that it is 'a hopeless misjudgment of our country to believe a dictatorial regime could be forced upon it.' Think again; the quotation comes from the politics editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung, Benno Reifenberg, in 1933 after Hitler was appointed chancellor.

Have no illusions. The rhetoric and desire of 'uniting' the country behind one leader means giving more privileges to the few, and ripping up the social contract that includes rights and protections. A few will of course benefit from the hard Brexit nobody voted for; but most of us will be damaged by it.

People of Britain, wake up! Do you want to 'take back control' from a demonised Brussels in order to hand Theresa May the power to take away our humans rights?