Britain – this is what a dictatorship looks like

13_december_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,284

Sunday 13 December 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I have to say that the move in Britain from a putative liberal democracy to a dictatorship has been impressive. I grant you that, and the money and interests that you serve. After all what does a dictatorship look like? It looks just like us but we imagine it would look very different, visibly oppressive, long shopping queues, oppressed peasants and all the visual images we have been subjected to of oppressed societies under oppressive regimes.

But such images belie the reality of people living just as usual, no matter where they are. People still have to shop, eat, live. They watch television and ‘the news’. People still go to work, life in general looks ‘normal’ and people react and live in ‘normal’ ways. What they can’t see, don’t see, refuse to see, is that in a dictatorship we all become progressively less free, starting at the bottom but moving slowly, but progressively, upwards. Just like Britain right now.

The shrinking of the welfare state, bringing in forced labour for people seeking jobs and forcing people into onerous Claimant Commitment Contracts and the routine use of sanctions denying people the means of survival. Punishing people with the hideous bedroom tax instead of building houses. Attacking disabled people and denying them support and care, ending the Independent Living Fund. Creating a crisis in the NHS and forcing top down reorganisation (attacking junior doctors for work they already do) that increases health insecurity and creeping privatisation. Attacking the unions and the rights to strike and to peacefully protest. Attacking our social and employment rights and even planning to scrap the Human Rights Act. Cutting front line services and putting people’s lives at risk. Corporatising the state and, for example, pursuing fracking against the will of the people and communities. Manipulating voting and Gerrymandering to rig elections. Undermining democracy and fast tracking laws and now working to neuter the House of Lords. Engaging in wars of aggression. Putting military troops on our streets. And so much more.

Your latest bid to undermine working class communities by ending life time contracts in social housing, claiming it will increase social mobility, is right up there in the despicable stakes. It will not increase social mobility, it will increase social insecurity undermining family and community life and social identity. You do not create any meaningful social mobility by enforcing social insecurity. It doesn’t matter that right now existing tenancy agreements are secure, that is just a smokescreen for an inevitable future of insecurity for (but not exclusive to) working class people.

This is what a dictatorship looks like.


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