There have been some huge progressive successes around the world this past month - none of them, unfortunately, happened in the United Kingdom. Just last week it emerged that David Cameron planned to lower the threshold for what constitutes child poverty in Great Britain, while a US treasury official revealed that the UK had actually been hampering progress on tackling global tax avoidance. Such flagrant opposition to progress has not been uncommon of late; in the worldwide race to the future, Britain appears - following a brief pause on May 7th - to have begun actively running backwards.
Since the surprise Conservative majority win at last month's election, proposals for radical change have come thick and fast. Just as the results of Portugal's drugs programme show what a wild success decriminalisation can be, the UK bans legal highs (a characteristically ill-thought-out Cameron government policy that also technically makes tea illegal). As the United States opts to forego extending the NSA's spying powers, the UK elects to expand its own. As Finland revolutionises education and embarks on a basic income experiment, the UK embraces 'academisation' and cuts welfare to the bone.
None of these proposed actions will be particularly helpful - poverty is set to rise as a result of George Osborne's latest welfare cuts, while banning legal highs only ensures those who continue to buy will seek out more dangerous alternatives - but none are quite as damaging or backwards-thinking as the government's attitude towards climate change. No longer held back by Liberals, the full-fat, frack-the-North, anti-green Tory machine is powering up to warm some globe. So now, as a court in The Hague orders the Dutch government to protect its citizens by reducing carbon emissions, David "cut the green crap" Cameron has decided his government will no longer subsidise onshore wind farms.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise. The current Cabinet is so cartoonishly evil, its team of all-stars includes a Chancellor of the Exchequer who sells off government assets to his best man, a Home Secretary that wants government to censor TV shows, and a Justice Secretary that's keen to bring back hanging. But news of the wind farm decision came on the same day that Pope Francis called for swift action in tackling man-made climate change, in his 180-page encyclical on the environment. When, out of the pope and the British government, the man who once labelled same-sex marriage "a destructive attack on God's plan" is the one talking sense on climate change, something has gone drastically wrong.
Many of us knew a majority Conservative government would mean tough times ahead, but probably nobody expected Cameron's Tories to be quite so anti-progressive. Could it be that the people running this country are so out of touch with the real world that they genuinely believe a return to the old ways is best for their constituents? Or is it that the old establishment's financial stranglehold leaves any government no option but to serve their archaic interests? Whatever the case, it feels like a helpless time for British progressives. As Podemos gains traction in Spain, as Bernie Sanders whips up support in the US, as the Pirate Party (look it up) bothers the polls in Iceland, UK residents have to simply watch, and wait out the half-decade before they can vote again. As forward-thinking nations sail on towards more utopian ideals, it now seems as though the UK is doomed to five years of miserable stagnation.
Or maybe not. In 2015, only 24% of the electorate voted Conservative, while many of those that plumped for the Tories undoubtedly did so based on party lies. The big fib of the Conservative election campaign - that Labour crashed the economy - has been dissected and disproved so many times that it doesn't need going over again here, but what about the flimsy promise of the 'Northern Powerhouse' that's already started to crumble? What about the rumoured £12 billion welfare cuts that were denied by Ian Duncan Smith pre-election, and that are now powering through? What about the enduring Tory austerity narrative that economists the world over have outright dismissed as bunkum?
Unsurprisingly, the backlash to such arrogant deceit has already begun in earnest. Just a day after the election result was confirmed, protesters in London and Cardiff marched in opposition to Conservative policy; last weekend, tens, possibly hundreds of thousands attended an anti-austerity rally in London; while only last week, protesters campaigning against the discontinuation of the Independent Living Fund attempted to enter the House of Commons during PMQs. These people are angry that their government is setting their country back years, as neighbouring nations meanwhile continue to strive for progress.
They're right to be angry and, despite what some might say, they're absolutely right to show their dissatisfaction. Otherwise, what are they to do for the next five years? The 76 percenters - those who didn't vote for further poverty, economic recklessness or environmental irresponsibility on 7th May - will likely continue to show their disapproval with the way things are heading. In this rapidly evolving world, five years is a long time to remain in stasis. If the people of the UK have to teach their own government that, then so be it.