They were careless people … they smashed up things

by Rick Johansen

“They were careless people … they smashed up things … and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Wise words, I reckon, so obviously not mine. In fact, they hail back to the year of our lord 1925, appearing in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, a book I have never read. I remember the quote, though, only by having seen it on X this morning in a tweet by the Scottish hack Teddy Jamieson. F. Scott would not have had the 2024 UK General Election in mind when he wrote these words but they sum up perfectly how I feel about the last 14 years.

Things weren’t broken in 2010. Thanks to Gordon Brown, the UK avoided the worst of the worldwide financial crash and our battered economy was returning to some semblance of rude health. But the electorate had grown tired of an NHS with virtually no waiting lists, a mere 35 food banks (compared to over 2500 today), low inflation, 42,000 more teachers, £20 billion more spent on social housing projects and so much more and wanted to return to the good old days of Margaret Thatcher. With over eight million people on NHS waiting lists and other public services hollowed out by 14 grim years of austerity, I’d love to take a trip back to 2010 and announce to my fellow citizens, be careful what you wish for. But then, at the time, we did warn folk what would happen under a Tory government. The only thing we got wrong was just how bad things would become.

The four Conservative governments, and five prime ministers, since 2010 have smashed everything, including hope. Especially hope. These dark years of Tory corruption and culture wars have worn all of down. People have become inclined to believe all politicians are the same. The Conservatives currently want to make you think they are so there’s no point in voting for change. That’s how desperate they have become.

I used to work for the DWP which was the end of the line, society’s safety net. If all hope had gone, the DWP could help see you through to a better, brighter day. But the answer, Universal Credit (UC), was cut to ribbons by austerity chancellor George Osborne between 2010 and 2015 and that was where food banks stepped up to the plate. And ten years after leaving the DWP, guess where I am working now, earning only slightly less that I did back then? The food bank, the end of the line, the safety net.

I drive down the road, it’s full of pot holes. I drive down a local High Street. Much of it is boarded up. I want to see a doctor. I can’t. I want to call the police. There aren’t enough of them. I need help for my depression. Are you fucking kidding? Britain is broken, many of us are broken. It’s been smashed up and if the Tories are vanquished from office today – and I won’t believe it until I see it – the next government will have the biggest repair job in history to deal with. The losers, if the Tories do lose, will be able to spend more time with their money.

What of Rish! Sunak? Already worth over £700 million, will he return to his luxury pile in California and get his green card back? Jeremy Hunt can spend or time making money from his seven luxury apartments. Nadhim Zahawi will be able to spend more time with his horses, but now he won’t be able to claim the heating costs from the taxpayer. Oh, wait. He wasn’t allowed to do that in the first place. He claimed by mistake! Of course he did. Who hasn’t accidentally made a claim for work expenses for money to keep their horses warm? They will retreat back into their money while many have none. The former don’t care about the latter. They never did.

I repeat:

“They were careless people … they smashed up things … and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

It’s all I am thinking about today. I hate this government and hate is a strong word. But hate is the right word. I hate Rish! Sunak, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss – all of the little shits who have fucked us over since 2010. And I’ll go further. I only wish there was a hell for them to go to.

Finally, people fought and died for the right to vote. Don’t waste yours, unless you are intending to vote Conservative or Reform UK (PLC), that is.



You may also like