If the general election on May 7 is about anything it's about returning a semblance of decency to the country after five years of vicious Tory attacks against the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, and migrants. Since coming to power in 2010 David Cameron's government, propped up by the Lib Dems, has implemented cuts in public spending so savage and extreme that even Thatcher in her pomp would not have dared.
Tory austerity has proved a mass experiment in human despair, wherein people have been categorised solely on the basis on their economic status. Poverty is not a crime, yet the clear inference from a benefits sanctioning regime that is beyond cruel, delivering thousands of our fellow citizens into the arms of destitution and the indignity of having to rely on foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their children, is that the Tories view it as a badge of moral deficiency. Purifying the poor and unemployed with pain has been the prescribed medicine, accompanied by a campaign of demonisation of some of society's most vulnerable in the pages of a feral, right wing Tory-supporting press, which in a civilised country would qualify as hate speech.
Austerity is the antithesis of humanity. Not only must it be rejected on moral and human rounds, however, but also on economic grounds. The economic crisis caused the deficit, the deficit did not cause the economic crisis. Here the Tories have proved eminently successful in turning a recession caused by individual greed and recklessness on the part of the banks into one caused by profligate spending on welfare, the NHS, and public sector.
The result has been the structural adjustment of the state, an ideologically driven project attacking and dismantling the remaining frontiers of collectivism and collectivist ideas in society, ideas embodied in the ethos that underpins the NHS and welfare state.
Sucking aggregate demand out of the economy by driving down average incomes in the midst of a recession has proved an exercise in self harm, creating a greater gulf between the haves and have nots than at any time since the Second World War. It has ensured that we are yet to fully emerge from the economic tsunami that swept through the world in 2007/08, a tsunami as mentioned that traces its causes to a de and under-regulated global banking system. It exposed the fatal weaknesses of a sector that had been left more or less to its own devices, akin to leaving a drug addict alone in a house with a cupboard full of crack, existing outside effective political and regulatory oversight.
That political and regulatory oversight remains woefully inadequate seven years later, evidenced in the continuation of an obscene bonus culture and the fact that not one banking executive or chief has faced criminal charges or prosecution for their role in almost tanking the economy.
Instead the government's vengeance has been levelled against those who were not responsible, and with brutal consequences. How they managed to get away with what has amounted to unleashing a class war will undoubtedly baffle social historians in decades to come. It was almost as if they were inviting an eruption of social unrest, pushing an entire demographic to the brink and in the process confirming that this government was comprised of rich, privately educated sociopaths.
The rise and rise of the SNP in the wake of a referendum on Scottish independence that came close to ending the United Kingdom as we know it, has not been fueled by the grip on narrow nationalism. It has arrived as the culmination of years of social and economic injustice and the embrace of Thatcherite nostrums on the economy and role of the government by past Tory and Labour governments alike. The SNP under Nicola Sturgeon provides an electoral alternative to the rigid political consensus that has reduced politics in Britain to a choice akin to a window seat or an aisle seat on the same flight to a single destination.
What the nation desperately requires is a different destination, a new direction of travel with an emphasis on human need rather than greed. This is why the SNP's and Nicola Sturgeon's emergence and role in this election has been a progressive one. Just in posing the question of anti-austerity as a viable alternative to the status quo, introducing it into the mainstream political discourse, the leader of the SNP has done us all a huge service.
Despite the noise to the contrary the best outcome to this election is Ed Miliband as prime minister, supported by the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Greens. We know what five years of a right wing, pro austerity coalition has looked like; its social and human damage is all around us. A progressive alternative is therefore not only desirable it is absolutely necessary.
Solidarity with those who've been battered and bruised by the Tories since 2010 demands that we cast a vote for humanity on May 7.