Image: © Guardian
How do I know that Britain’s heart is broken? I know it because I am living it and living with the grief of it moment by moment. I know it because my own heart is broken. I know it because I see who and what broke it. I’ve seen it since 2010, when the great betrayal manifested itself, a betrayal planned for long treacherous years and then was callously and brutally unleashed. I watched helplessly as it swept across Britain and people began to die. I watched austerity begin to brutalise people and I watched as people despaired, lost hope and took their own lives and I knew I had to do something.
I racked my brain, I searched my soul and desperately looked for what I could do, of my own volition, requiring no ones permission, that I had the ability to self sustain over time. I needed something that was more than a flash in the pan, a letter to the editor, a day of protest, none of which could deal with the vast anger I felt inside that demanded expression.
The government had turned on the people!
I understood it so poorly then, it was incredibly difficult to understand because the government wasn’t telling us anything, all their plans were hidden. But a turning point was reached with the 2012 Health and social Care Act, concrete proof began to emerge because once the government removed the gloves of secrecy and deception, the real time results of their actions became increasingly obvious. The first link  provides an insight into the efforts it took to begin to unravel the governments intent, the end of the NHS was nigh and the ball was rolling.
I watched this closely as, on 17th March 2012, I’d begun ‘A Letter a Day to Number 10’. With stumbling, uncertain steps, I began to scrutinise and write about what the hell was going on, daily, and over time, with increasing intimacy. I shared my insights and understanding for 4 1/2 years during which time the letters took over my life as I lived and breathed the corruption and betrayal of a government gone rogue, whose real ambition was to feed the nations assets, wealth and services to the private sector, selling us out for profit. And the shining jewel in their plans was the NHS which for over half a century had lifted the lives of everyone and the poorest and most vulnerable people in particular.
I was one of the first generation born in the NHS (the 1,638,033rd(ish) baby), growing up in poverty I did not know it then but my family was one of the boats rising on this national tide which otherwise might well have sunk. We wanted for many things, but health care was not one of them. We’re called ‘baby boomers’, which was a result of the homecoming of all those who survived WWII and the extended celebrations that took place under the sheets in Britain’s bedrooms, and doubtless elsewhere.
For this child, it was a wonderful time to grow up. There were kids everywhere, playing, full of life and energy, filling the streets and parks in a world transformed for us by the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents generations, and I’ve seen nothing like it since.
I grew up in the working class south and as I headed into my teens I was, unbeknownst to me, one of the generation that had never had it so good, as Harold Macmillan told us in 1957. I had no idea then of the privileges I was enjoying, like the brand new council house we moved into in which my sister still lives to this day. I remember the agony of my first life saving operation in Great Ormond Street Hospital when I was 8(ish) and, of all things, a daily nurse who came to my home to help me recover. Someone my mother would never have been able to afford prior to the NHS. My memory of it is dominated by the crystal clear images of the hospital preparations to take my stitches out, the doctor laying out the tablecloth, knives and forks, as he put it, and the leather belt between my teeth for the pain. Things, as they say, ain’t what they used to be, but I survived and flourished.
My life really began, on the course it’s still on to this day, with the release of The Beatles first single, ‘Love me do’, on 5 October 1962. I was 11. No one knew what was to come, but the world changed. For me, personally, that was the day the youth revolution started. It is hard to describe ‘Beatle mania’, the experience was all consuming. Time became measured in record releases that ignited the children of the world. Screaming, crying, half crazy with uncontainable and unrestrained adoration. When John Lennon said in 1966 the Beatles were “More popular than Jesus”, it sure looked that way from where I was grooving as the establishment, the straights and religious nuts waded in to crucify him. How we laughed at and mocked them.
Britain, and the world, had a heart of youth and we dominated everything. My own path took me into the Hippy movement, free concerts in Hyde Park and even my local park in London’s ever expanding suburbia. I wrote my first (terrible) protest song about the Vietnam war. I was introduced to smoking pot at 14 and gave out flowers on the streets. Once I was working, dropping out from a god awful job in electronics to mow grass verges and vast amounts of dog shit, based at a nearby park, my life revolved around trips to South Ken Market to buy loons, tee shirts, platform boots and an afghan coat, beads, bracelets and joss sticks, playing Beatles covers in a band at a local dance hall and at Saturday morning pictures for the kids coming along after us, growing my hair long and generally learning what hedonistic meant before I even knew the word existed. It was, in a word (or Two) – fAnTaStiC , mAn!
And then, along came Margaret Thatcher. She was the pivotal moment when Britain began to lose its heart and its soul. She’s best remembered for crushing the miners, the unions and British industry. Less well remembered, though still writ large for many of us, was her crushing the hippy movement and travellers with all the might of her militarised police at the Battle of the Beanfield . The Battle of Orgreave and the Battle of the Beanfield were the worst of many atrocities carried out by the Police under Thatchers orders including the suppression of civil liberties under merciless police baton charges on foot and on horseback. 
I was, at that time, living in county Durham, doing university placements whilst studying community and youth work, witnessing the miners strike on the ground and the daily clashes between police and miners and the unbelievable strength and power of the miners wives without whom the strike wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. The defeat of the miners was the beginning of the end and Britain’s heart was breaking by government diktat.
Modern Unions are enjoying the recovery of some of their strength, but they are still a shadow of their former selves. I wonder why, since 2010, there has been no word of a general strike other than as expressions of inner discontent and anger. I wonder at myself and why I’ve not been vocal with my union to demand action. Looking in my heart, I don’t believe unions have the teeth for it any more. Despite all the laws and rules that have been dumped on unions to suppress dissent and bedevil strike action, the fact is that we each have the human right and a body to walk/crutch/wheelchair out and which no law can prevent. In recent times, Disabled People Against the Cuts are ahead of the entire nation on militant action and protest and who, among many other things, shut down Westminster Bridge in protest against austerity and the ‘removal of support from disabled people that has caused worsening health, extreme hardship and deaths of disabled people’. 
I have spent the last week breaking into tears without warning, the kind of tears I identify with a nervous breakdown, but this isn’t a nervous breakdown, this is a broken heart and I know that is true because the tears are immediately falling and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. This is grief, like that experienced at the death of a loved one, this is unbearable sorrow that ambushes my life in a moment and the pain breaks over me again. And I am fine with that, that’s how I know it is not a breakdown, I am not beaten, I am still standing and by god I will continue to stand, but I am not ashamed to weep either. Oh I am bowed under this sorrow, and so I damned well should be, no government in living memory has dared to punish the nation as these Tory criminals are punishing us.
I am retired now and I have to look in the eyes of women who cannot retire and who have had years of their pensions stolen from them. I can no longer just get along with my own disabilities, I have to acknowledge them before my friends and loved ones, and before strangers, in common cause as the DWP attacks us and cuts our income over and over again. I fear for my home, my welfare and my life, as the Tories, like thieves in the night, rob us blind. I hear that we are many and they are few, but it isn’t a rallying cry, they are hollow words as we fight our battles in ones and twos and small groups, but the nation in general, the many, has no ones back. The Tories and their poodle media are too successful at sowing and spreading hate, dividing parents and children, sisters and brothers, brown and pink skins, homeowners and homeless. I saw a video this week in which a man took a flying jump on a homeless couple in a tent as his mate filmed him and then they ran off like the cowardly bastards they are.
I have lost count of the number of local young people who’ve committed suicide. I am no longer surprised when I am told. Angry, filled with incoherent rage, but not surprised any more. When I was writing the letters I represented the number of people dead by how many times my village of, then, some 6,500 souls, would have to be wiped out. On one occasion it was 28,000 deaths in a fortnight, over four times my village. Now, I wouldn’t know where to begin because the government no longer bothers to keep a tally. There are no remotely accurate figures for those being wiped out by this government and the government indifference to this national disaster is breathtaking.  
Where now I ask myself? This is far from over. I am filled with sorrow, frustration and rage. Despite my personal trials and tribulations under this government, I have to do something more than just keep myself alive. I guess I am back to a similar place to the one I was in leading up to a Letter a Day, except that the situation and my feelings are much more acute, things are many times worse than they were in 2012 and, unbelievably, the Tories are still hanging on to power by every trick and subterfuge at their disposal with Thatcher’s ‘child’, Theresa May, now in charge of the Tories wholesale assault on Britain. The lies and treachery are off the Richter scale and they have not a shred of conscience nor care. They assault us with false statistics and outright lies, telling us all is well in their mythical world of self delusion and self serving greed. What’s to be done?
Nothing I can say is going to galvanise the nation and nor do I think that’s how this is going to pan out. It is clear, despite our impatience, that this is going down the slow, but persistent, road and on that road, individual motivation is what is going to count. The people’s opposition is actually incisive, decisive and sustained and has grown massively since the first 2 years of Tory misrule and misanthropy. People coming in now already have an immense body of work to call on, the bulk of that body being outside the main stream media and in the hands of a growing independent media. The BBC, has made of itself a dinosaur that is going to struggle to survive its own betrayal of the people of Britain. It is unlikely to go extinct, but it is not going to survive without a radical reorganisation that must exclude government interference and planting pro government stooges in it’s upper echelons.
A part of me wishes we could have a violent uprising, but the reality is that would just mean more vulnerable people dying and we have far from exhausted all peaceful means. One obvious solution offers itself because of the vulnerability of modern cities and London in particular. The Tories have forgotten that what really runs a country is its people. Cities like London produce no food or very much of all that is vital for daily survival. Vast fleets of lorries feed our cities, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and although it is easy to take that for granted when all is running smoothly, a city like London can be completely shut down in the space of an hour and be starved into submission within 3 days. Looking to France there can be no doubt they could teach us a thing or two about the strategic importance of lorries and other commercial traffic to the well being, or not, of the entire nation.
A recent clean air initiative in Bath enraged private, residential, motorists and commercial drivers alike, with a proposal to impose a clean air charge of £9 a day for cars and £100 for commercial vehicles. Many local businesses know that they could not survive such a charge, so the issue then becomes about having a commercial vehicle strike and then seeing how long Bath can put up with the loss of the vital services they provide and, whether it happens or not, the answer is, not long. A city cannot feed itself and that’s much more meaningful than May’s trite, ‘Brexit means Brexit’. 
We don’t need to tear down the walls of Jericho, we can just stop feeding it. That’s where the real power lies and always has. The government have taken on the people in economic warfare, leading to untold numbers of deaths. We have the ability to impose the deprivation of the stuff that money buys, the likes of which the Tories have probably never even considered. When I think about the ignorance of Dominic Raab who, in his brief role as Brexit secretary, admitted he’d never understood the importance of the Dover to Calais crossing, the ignorance of the ruling elites about the real issues of work, what work achieves and their absolute dependence on the workers of Britain for their survival, I almost feel sorry for them (not really) . Can they possibly be that naive? The answer is obviously, yes. Being over privileged fools is nothing new, they need educating and we have the power to teach them that the days of abusing us and taking us for granted are over. If nothing is moving in London, that would do wonders for their ability to listen and pay attention. They can be as rich as Croesus, but all that wealth means nothing if they can’t buy a damned thing with it.
God damn every single one of these Tory criminals! We, the people, will prevail.
KOG. 14 December 2018.
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