On the General Election

I’ve been keeping my gob shut on the politics front for the last few weeks, because I haven’t wanted to get into it with some of my friends, and because I haven’t decided how I’m going to vote yet. I don’t want to get into economics, or ideology, because I’m not 100% up to date on manifestos and platforms. But I do care, very, very deeply about the forthcoming election, so I thought I’d try and set out my position.

In doing so, I’m going to relate the following true story:

Two weeks ago Mr Babatunde Akingbade died at his home in Nigeria. His death was recorded as an accident – Mr Akingbade wasn’t a well-off man, but he was a reasonably skilled manual labourer, and rather than pay for an electrician to run a extra cable into his rooms, he decided he’d do the job himself. Sadly, Mr Akingbade’s skills weren’t up to the task, and he electrocuted himself in the process.

Mr Akingbade’s son, Kumolu Akingbade lives in London – he had a little trouble with immigration shortly after he first moved here – some misfiled paperwork, it turned out in the end, but it all got sorted out. He works as at a company that runs activity weeks for children with special needs – I’m sure you know the sort of thing – a small group of children, who don’t normally get the opportunity to do this sort of thing, are taken out of London, to somewhere in the countryside, to go pony trekking, hillwalking and similar. One took place last week, that Kumolu was supposed to be part of the supervision team for this trip, but of course, he now has to fly back to Nigeria at short notice, to sort out his father’s estate.

So Mrs Carol Gavercole, who works for the same organisation is drafted to go along. Mrs Gavercole is a manager for the organisation, and if she doesn’t help them out now, they’re going to have to cancel the trip, the arrangement of which has been weeks of work, and cost quite a lot of money.

Mrs Gavercole has a son, Philip, who has several different disabilities, thanks to a driver whose brakes failed, and who mounted the kerb by accident a few years ago.  Philip doesn’t need round-the-clock at-home care – he still goes to a mainstream school, although getting him there can be a trial on a bad morning – but he can’t be left alone in the house for long periods. But sod’s law – wouldn’t you just know it – his school’s half term is the same week as this trip. Now Mr Gavercole is also a teacher, a deputy head at a primary school, but he teaches in another borough, and their half term is the following week.

With a lot of fast talking, the Gavercoles manage to get Mr Gavercole a day off to look after Philip on the Monday. And they beg a favour off a family friend for the Thursday. But that still leaves three days. Happily, the Gavercoles have another son, Jason, who works freelance as a sub-editor for the local paper. So he tells them that he can’t come in to work on those days, and spends the time with his brother, instead.

Of course, that leaves Jason out about 180 quid, before tax. That’s over half Jason’s rent. And then it turns out that that local paper don’t need him for one week later that month. Suddenly, half his pay packet is gone, and he has to borrow money off his housemates in order to pay his bills this month.

If you’re thinking of voting Conservative at this election, you’re planning to vote to make life harder for every single person I’ve mentioned above.

We’re all on this lump of rock together. Every last one of us. Politically speaking, I’m an anarchist, in the accurate sense of the term – I want to believe that ultimately, we’re all capable of organising peacefully to help one another without leaders or people in charge. But we’ve got a long way – generations and generations – to go to get there, and in the mean time, I do not want a government that looks on the individual as more important than the collective, because it is simply indisputable that we’re all connected. And even if you can’t vote to help the Akingbades directly, you can vote to help the Gavercoles, and for a party that will take an internationalist approach to the rest of the world – that will recognise that in the 21st century, helping the Akingbades will help the Gavercoles, which will help you.

I have changed the names and some basic details of the story, to prevent identification, but it is a true story. This isn’t a made-up hypothetical – this really happened. Please bear that in mind, if you would like to explain what anyone involved in the situation should have done differently, in order to justify why you think it’s OK to make their lives harder.