‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on.’ (The Tempest. Act 4. Scene 1).
Shakespeare could never have known how this line would transmute into the throbbing heart of political dramas in the 21stcentury, connecting the people and the parasite; becoming both promise and betrayal. Voters dream of jobs and homes while politicians and their cronies dream of tax havens and luxury mansions.
The Parasites have taken over the treasury and Parasitic Politics is all the rage. A WhatsApp message from a pub landlord to his former neighbor, the Health Secretary, secures a multi-million pound contract for equipment he has no experience in producing. A small pest control company, with no background in making PPE and only sixteen staff, is awarded a humongous contract of £108 million, while experienced companies are excluded from bidding.
Dreams help people to hold on to hope as they strive and labour each day, yearning for a better future. In the hierarchy of dreams, winning the lottery isn’t top of the list for most people.
Top of the list is food, shelter and income. To have a regular job, a home to live in, and money to put food on the table. The Labour Party, and many on the left would do well to remember that. For thousands of people, this survivalist, basic dream seems as out of reach as a glittering Kardashian lifestyle. Weary, beleaguered people long for a genie to come, scatter some gold dust and transform struggling, precarious lives into security and dignity.
Genii can come in many shapes and sizes. In the UK the genii came as Boris Johnson and Brexit. But dreamers should beware, not all genii can be trusted.
The northern, English town of Hartlepool, is one of those where they don’t just have food banks, but a Baby Bank too. Providing nappies, wipes and equipment for families with under 2’s and to pregnant women. ‘It’s grim up north,’ is a popular phrase in England, often used jokingly by those in the wealthier south, blithely skimming over the impoverishment and destitution of those areas. It’s natural to assume a poverty stricken town like Hartlepool would elect politicians who understand their hardships and who’ll put their interests first. Actually, not so.
A few days ago on 6thMay 2021, the voters of Hartlepool queued up, cast their ballot and elected Jill Mortimer, a land-owner, and member of the governing Conservative Party. The first time a Conservative candidate had won that constituency since the 1960s. Forget the pundits who were left open-mouthed; Sir Edward Heath, a former Conservative prime minister who passed away in 2005, must be turning in his grave.
A journalist recounted Edward Heath’s own verdict on exactly who should be leading the north, when he was campaigning in a 1970’s election, against the Labour Party leader, Harold Wilson.
‘These people don’t need me or Wilson,’ Edward Heath had said.
‘Who do they need then?’ the journalist had asked.
‘Robespierre’. The architect of the French Revolution’s reign of terror.
Why did the people of Hartlepool elect a land-owning woman? On a broader note, why indeed did the working class northern towns of England vote for Conservative candidates in the 2019 election, bringing Boris Johnson to power with a huge majority?
By voting for Jill Mortimer, for Johnson and his ilk, people imagine they’re voting for their own dreams. Boris Johnson’s appeal emanates from his Etonian, upper-class background, in a country where the monarchy is still revered and the upper-class is perceived to be more intelligent and capable.
The tragedy doesn’t lie in voters’ dreams, but in being seduced, in failing to recognise the Parasites parading in Savile Row suits and silk ties. Dreams are natural and human, the engine of our desire to pursue happiness and fulfilment. Sadly, with Parasite Politics they come as a Trojan horse. The people fail to see, that for Johnson, his own, personal dreams matter far more than theirs, and he’s using their dreams to feed his own. To strengthen his power, enrich himself and his cronies. It’s not democracy, it’s parasitic corruption.
I’m not blaming the voters, I’m not calling them gullible. Parasite Politics has no morals, ethics, or compassion. It’s snake oil, working through lies, false promises, lack of transparency and accountability. The people and their dreams are the raw material, upon which the ruling class and their cliques have always materialised their own dreams and desires.
Britain’s greatest political problem is the entrenched, pervasive existence of class. Perhaps Edward Heath understood it better than many. Monarchy, courtiers, Dukes, Earls, politicians, and financiers, all vying for wealth and power. Believing in their divine right to rule, to occupy the seats of power and gather in the taxes. To enrich themselves, family and friends. Forever strengthening their spider-webs, their networks of patronage, obligations and favours. The interlocking of class and corruption.
Despite everything, I hope the people of Hartlepool and the millions like them, will hold on to their dreams of jobs with fair pay, homes of their own, and more comfortable lives. And that with the march of time will come realisation, comprehension of how the levers of power work, how they can change them to better fulfil their own needs. Vote out Parasite Politics and bring in responsible, accountable governance, centered on the needs of people.
Dreams can be manipulated, used against people’s own interests, but their greater legacy has been to gift us possibilities, the magic on which progress is built. Dreams have propelled us to pursue ideas; develop science, knowledge, the arts, space travel, and a myriad other transformative changes, from the technological to the social. Including the civilisational Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises ‘all humans as being “born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The people of Hartlepool have exercised their democratic rights, Parasite Politics may have taken advantage of them, but I profoundly hope they’ll continue to dream. After all, ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on.’