If you’re a moderate, community-minded Tory, please think twice at the ballot box on Thursday

If you’re a moderate, community-minded Tory, please think twice at the ballot box on Thursday

I see you, quiet, generous ones. Hello there, people who like to do the right thing.

I see you, diligently working at your job, volunteering at weekends, stopping to chat to the lonely old chap at your local shop.

Because that’s what decent people do, right?

You have worked hard all your life. Raised a family. Played your part in the school PTA. Paid your financial dues to society.

Because that’s what decent people do.

You will put an x next to your Conservative candidate’s name on Thursday.

Because that’s what decent people do.

Maybe you have a few niggling doubts, though you don’t know where else to place your faith but in the blue box.

Maybe, like so many others, you are exasperated by the political landscape we find ourselves in, but your fear of a Labour government is ingrained like lead running through a pencil.

Maybe, you fear that if you don’t vote Conservative, we face economic collapse and a mushroom cloud of nationalisation.

Maybe, you are an actual real live person who isn’t Boris Johnson and who just wants to get Brexit done (although I’m yet to actually meet one, so ‘hello’ if you’re reading).

Maybe you earn over £80,000 and simply don’t want to pay more tax (and to you I say go right now and find one of the online calculators that will show you how little extra you will really pay).

Corbyn is your Cryptonite. I get it.

And here, I will let you into a little secret. I don’t love Corbyn either. And I am not naive enough to think that the only party to have dark forces within its depths is the Conservative party.

But as a parent of a disabled child who is stuck in the quagmire of a safe Tory seat I have to tell you it’s like inhabiting one of those existential nightmares where you scream and scream but no sound will come out. Like wading through quicksand, sinking a little further with each step. Or both. Like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time while reciting the alphabet backwards, but less fun.

I am at a total loss as to how, in a part of the country so inhabited by the generous of heart and the thin of pocket, an immense blue tide is expected to wash over us once again. Many of us here who long to see our little forgotten corner of Cornwall coloured in red, yellow or green are expecting to find ourselves in familiar discomforting territory, scraping our faces against the sea bed, engulfed beneath the wave.

So here I am instead, behind my laptop screen, doing my best Celine Dion inspired lyrical soprano and asking you to think twice before you vote Conservative on Thursday.

A thin, reedy but not yet despondent warble.

Are you thinking ’bout youuuu, or us?

Because this Conservative party has shown its true colours. And they are not the colours of morality, tradition, stability, responsibility or prudence that so many have chosen to vote Conservative for in the past.

We know this Conservative campaign has been littered with lies and deceit. That 88% of Tory campaign ads on Facebook contain misleading information (compared to Labour’s 0%).

We also know what Boris Johnson, and many of his colleagues think of sick, vulnerable and disabled people.

Only last week, we saw Sally Ann Hart, the Conservative candidate for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd’s old seat), say at a hustings event that disabled people and those with learning disabilities should be paid less because some “don’t understand money”. This is the same candidate who is under investigation for Islamophobia and for liking a Nazi phrase on social media.

In the summer, Nadine Dorres, was appointed by Boris Johnson as mental health minister, after having sparked outrage in the disability community when she publicly used the term ‘window lickers’.

The examples of hate speech and ableism are endless, and easy to find.

Most concerning, though, and eye opening to the future we may succumb to under this Tory party are the many questions coming to the surface about Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Just this week, as he was dispatched like a carrier pigeon on speed to put out a political fire oop North that began with an over-worked A&E department in Leeds and a small boy with flu, he managed to simultaneously stoke the fire and lay a smouldering pile of his own.

The Matt Hancock shaped mess started with a bare-faced falsehood about ‘hoards of Labour activists’ descending on Leeds General Infirmary, one of whom ‘threw a punch’ at a political aide. These falsehoods flew so far as to reach both BBC and ITV’s political editors before they had to retract and apologise. (It transpired from some on-the-ground video footage outside the hospital that in fact there were just a couple of people on bikes, and no fisticuffs.)

The mess then really started to give off a pungent stench when social media erupted with multiple posts claiming that the whole incident with the youngster in A&E had been staged, which were then quickly revealed to be trolls and bots spreading untruths that were shown up by the hospital’s own statement and apology for the boy’s standard of care. One such troll happens to be a personal friend of Matt Hancock.

And so is her son. Who, if you dig deeper, also happens to be a member of some highly questionable far-right, white supremacist groups. All there to see on social media, on his personal account. This is real life, not hearsay.

And so I ask, do we want government ministers who fraternise with far-right, white supremacists? Should we be concerned about that? Or let it brush over us, write it off, after all, this stuff always exists on the fringes of politics, right?

I mean, I’d quite like to sit back and just ignore all this political guff, and get on with raising my family in peace. And yet I cannot ignore the rumbling, unsettled feeling about the direction in which we are moving.

Because it isn’t on the fringes anymore, it’s right there in plain sight. And I am worried.

I am worried about a health minister who has far-right, white supremacist connections. Particularly one who also happens to be proposing full genetic sequencing for all babies at birth.

Because we know what that particular cauldron of far-right white supremacy and genetic medicine stirs up.

It begins with the far-right infiltration of government.

It is facilitated by advancements of medicine and apparent breakthroughs for people with disabilities. Offers of help and hope for diagnosis and treatment for families with disabled children.

Last time this particular sequence of events occurred in Western society, it ended in genocide.

And here in the UK, right now? The Deciphering Developmental Disorders and 100,000 Genomes projects are falling over themselves to gather genetic data from families just like mine who have a disabled child. Giving us hope for answers and access to help. We have been on one particular study for seven years, our entire family’s genetic information somewhere in a lab in Cambridge, with no answer in sight.

Forgive me if I’m more than a little sceptical of the parallel timing of the rise in genetic medicine alongside the swing to the right in our politics.

Forgive me if I’m more than a little bit frightened, of what a far-right, white supremacist sympathising government or society may end up doing with this information.

In America, we are already seeing the development of DNA based dating apps that are designed to eliminate genetic conditions. Surely that’s a good thing though, right?

Well, no. Actually. And for those in any doubt, a quick read of this academic paper “What is immoral about eugenics?” should clear up any questions.

The existence of difference in our human population is now very much at stake.

If you can get behind the paywall, actor Sally Philips has written an excellent piece in The Times about how raising her son (who has Down Syndrome) has shown her the importance of making every type of human feel valued.

If we cannot measure and appreciate our human value in spirit, soul and love and instead we create a world where humans are valued for their physical and mental aptitude or economic output alone, I fear very much for where we will be.

And so I hold on to hope that the decent people will think twice about the future we are creating when they choose which box to put an x in on Thursday.

The prospect of a modern day pre or post natal Aktion T4 programme happening right here in our country now doesn’t seem ridiculously far-fetched if we continue being blindly tugged further and further to the right.

To those not in our shoes this may seem like catastrophising, it may seem like adding 2+2 and getting 5. But we are living in unusual times where we have seen governments quite willing to break the law to push through an agenda. Where personal greed and the manipulations of wealth appear to come first in public life, before the primary duty to serve the needs of the people.

This is so much more than just a Brexit election. Behind the Brexit smokescreen, there is an ideological choice to make. We are truly at a fork in the road. But one that is easily missed amidst the fog.

And that’s why I’m asking you to think twice.



  1. Anne Sweet 11/12/2019 / 4:24 pm

    I don’t need to think twice. I’ve already posted my vote. This is a well informed and well-written post, I hope it helps some people think about what they are doing. Oh, and I actually like Jeremy Corbyn!

    • KatherineKowalski
      11/12/2019 / 7:40 pm

      Thank you, I found it hard to write something that hopefully won’t offend people. Politics is so difficult!

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