Talking to your neighbour

We all have at least one neighbour who has become despairing about the state and trajectory of the UK. And despair is not a basis for change.

This article suggests three simple and powerful messages that you can share with anyone open-minded enough to listen and which, once they are aware, might give them cause for hope. They are:

  1. You are not alone – most people share your concerns;
  2. Your problems are not inevitable – they are not happening (to the same extent) in other countries; they used not to happen here; they are the result of government policies;
  3. Your actions can help end them.

You are not alone

Many people are struggling right now with the cost-of-living crisis, and this is causing real stress to many households. At the same time, we are all aware of the enormous and increasing pressure that the NHS is under to meet the healthcare needs of the population. And the majority of people are extremely concerned about the climate emergency and find the government’s decision to “max-out” the oil and gas in the North Sea is extraordinary at a time when climate records are being broken daily.

If you are worried about these things, you are not alone: they are the top three concerns of British voters.

People may not all be talking about these issues – but they are at the top of most people’s list of concerns.

Your problems are not inevitable

It seems as though these problems are impossible to solve: certainly, the government tells us that they are the result of global factors like the Global Financial Crisis, COVID and the war in the Ukraine, and therefore outside its control.

But when we compare ourselves against the countries we used to consider our peers – prosperous Northern European countries or the USA – this is what we see.

From 2000-2007, we were gradually making our way up the pecking order and by 2007, only three of our peer group had higher average wages than we had. Since 2007, we have been steadily working our way back down the pecking order and now only two of the peer group have lower average wages than we do.

And average wages are a flattering measure: because of our high levels of inequality, average wages are a greater multiple of median wages (what the typical earner actually gets paid) in the UK than in most of our peers.

All these peer countries faced challenges from the Global Financial Crisis, COVID and the war in the Ukraine, but the UK’s performance stands out. Why? Because we have had a series of major policy blunders which the others did not share (at least not to the same extent): Austerity, Brexit, mishandling of COVID and now Declinism. An ABCD of economic mismanagement.

Without these policies, the typical wage earner would be around 30 per cent better-off today.

Similarly, the struggles of the NHS have been caused by sustained policy errors, and the government’s climate policies are clearly increasingly inadequate.

Your actions can help end them

This government has a clear philosophical framework – market fundamentalism – which ensures that it will not tackle any of these issues. Indeed many in the cabinet believe that it would be wrong to do so.

But recent by-elections have shown us something new: while our voting system means that voting for your preferred candidate is often just a wasted vote, voting against the candidate you most want to unseat can be a game changer. The three most recent by election results were in seats that would previously have been seen as rock-solid by the Conservatives, but they lost two of them and held onto the third only by a whisker.

It is clear that at the next election, if we vote tactically, we can expect to see a change in government and a change in policy.

And here are some simple steps the next government could take to ensure that we never again face a government so unconcerned about the concerns of its own citizens.

So, it could be worth talking to your neighbour.

If you think you might like to help, take a look at The 99% Organisation and join us.