I'm exhausted. As someone who has become increasingly politically active in recent years, I don't mind admitting that I am somewhat battle-fatigued. I use the word 'battle' with full cognizance of its dramatic effect.
This government is engaged in full-blown warfare against the people of this country. Arranged in a wedge formation along with their allies from the City of London and the boards of multinational corporations, they have spent the past six years forcing us 'plebs' into a defensive testudo position. I, for one, have had enough.
The latest in an excruciatingly long line of attacks on the citizens of the UK has been sprung in the form of cuts to the Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Having been rejected by the House of Lords twice - you know we're truly in dire straits when 'the other place' seeks to rein in the Tories' worst excesses - and despite the warnings of scores of charities that the payment is already too low, the government is doggedly moving to slash ESA by £30 per week for new claimants. A survey of 500 affected people carried out by the Disability Benefits Consortium found that 28 per cent of people had been unable to afford to eat while in receipt of the payment, while 38 per cent of respondents reported being unable to heat their homes. 'We're all in this together', right?
In typical style, IDS and co have flatly refused to carry out an impact assessment on the proposed changes. Their claim that the cut will 'incentivise' work only adds to the stigma already rampant thanks to a government that has persistently defamed disabled people as work-shy since 2010. Depression, suicide and homelessness have risen sharply, alongside physical and online abuse against disabled people. What price 'deficit reduction'? A government that views victims of its pernicious policies as collateral damage is unfit to hold office.
There are alternatives. We could, for example, scrap Trident and divert the funds to where t's needed most. We could stop allowing super-rich individuals and huge corporations to portray themselves as 'benevolent' for paying a fraction of the tax they owe. No chance. The Tories are no better than the average school bully, identifying the most vulnerable potential victims and looking after number one by constantly cozying up to the 'big boys'.
We face a crisis in our health and education systems, directly caused by intransigent government ministers blinded by ideology. In addition to a recruitment and retention crisis in the teaching profession, brought on by excessive workload, rapidly deteroriating working conditions and near-daily denigration by the DfE, the Health Secretary is embroiled in a trade dispute with junior doctors of a kind not seen in 40 years.
Nothing symbolises this government's animosity towards the people it purports to represent like the Lobbying Act and the Trade Union Bill, both designed to silence dissent and disenfranchise workers, both policies born of spite and hatred. The same can be said for the Bedroom Tax, the cruelty of which has literally made global headlines.
I genuinely believe that history will look back on this period in our history and assess it in damning terms. Cameron and associates will be remembered as the politicians that persecuted the people to preserve their own privileged positions and that of their cronies. Despite, or perhaps because of, everything thrown at us, we are increasingly at risk of casually allowing that to be the case through our collective gradual desensitisation. When Johnson and Gove urge people to take to the streets to 'clean for the Queen' - the epitome of salt in very open wounds - we should instead be demanding redress for those forced out of their neighbourhoods through the vindictive actions of the DWP. When Osborne tells us there is 'no money' to support the most vulnerable, we should demand that he justify that assertion in light of his preoccupation with defending the interests of his rich pals.
So, what can the people do when ideological warfare is waged against them by their own government? First, those who voted Tory at the last general election should dispassionately analyse the realities of Conservative policies and ask themselves if you want to be directly responsible for their outcomes; the broken lives, the chaos, the despair. Most importantly, even though we may be feeling ground down by the machinations of an Establishment hell-bent on destroying our public services so that they may be sold off to the highest bidder, we must regather and refocus. Be outraged; lobby your MP; join a picket line; become an active trade unionist; talk to family and friends about the wholesale persecution of disabled people; demand a Robin Hood Tax; shout for public services; demand welfare, not warfare.
This government claims it can't afford its people. Switch that around. The people of this country can no longer afford this government. It's time to get angry and to fight back.