I feel as though I have lost England.
All my life long I have loved England, really and deeply, as though England were a person as well as a place. The sheep and cows on the hillsides, the woods and heaths, the fields of barley and beans, the rivers and ocean bounds, the craggy moors. And I have loved the stolid English people, cautious and quiet, their dry humour and conservative ways.
I have loved our Queen, sustaining and championing the work of so many artists and artisans, growing her beautiful organic garden with its bees, right in the heart of London, speaking out for the Christian faith and the importance of family life. I have loved Prince Charles, advocating for tribal peoples, for wilderness, for traditional crafts and architecture, and Earth-friendly farming.
But something has changed in me since our Prime Minister Theresa May came to power.
For a long time, I have felt growing dismay at the socio-political development of our national life. It began for me with the Iraq War. With such hope and joy I listened to Tony Blair’s speech when he was elected Prime Minister – he was a compelling orator. I felt horrified and ashamed when, despite thousands and thousands of people protesting all over Europe, he bullied through his alliance with US powers and took Britain into that doomed, inadvisable and unjust conflict. Its bloody outworking and legacy are to our lasting shame.
When David Cameron was elected Prime Minister, I felt deeply disappointed. Mine has always been a Labour vote – not for myself, because my own values are similar to traditional Conservative ways, but for the poor and vulnerable in our society. To my mind, the work of government should be directed towards creating and maintaining peace and stability; you cannot do that without lifting people out of poverty, offering permanent help to the frail, caring for the sick and aged and the little children in their families.
Cameron’s time in office took my disappointment down into something altogether darker and deeper – not so much because of him, because I perceive him as a weak and malleable individual, but because of George Osborne his chancellor. Under Osborne’s financial leadership, Britain was run not as a nation but as a business. Those in power (the rich, and central political figures) were its shareholders creaming off the profits, while the people and the land were its human resources and stock of commodities. That administration did not love Great Britain. They were there to take what they could while they could, and they did not care who suffered as a result.
When Cameron’s government secured the vote to bomb poor, battered Aleppo – the jets waiting on the runway as the vote was taken – and George Osborne chortled “Britain’s got its mojo back,” as the bombs fell on the children who play in the rubble, I thought we had surely reached our nadir.
Then, on the back of a campaign distinguished by nothing more worthwhile than blatant, transparent lying, we had the Brexit vote. And then we got Theresa May.
With Amber Rudd watching over environmental affairs, we can expect our precious and ancient hills and hollows to be fracked mercilessly, the waters poisoned and the bones of the land broken. We can expect the badgers to be slaughtered without pity. We are seeing our newly rising sustainable energy industries down-graded and disregarded, and a colossal nuclear installation agreed for our coast, despite the increasing turbulence and rising sea levels coming as the climate changes. Japan also has nuclear installations on their coastline (as we do already, too) and every day shows why that’s a bad idea.
The UN is calling UK treatment of its sick and disabled a humanitarian crisis under Theresa May’s watch. The health service is being systematically dismantled. Regulations are in place to deport all overseas nationals who earn less than £35K pa – so that would be all the chefs and staff of the little Italian and Turkish and Indian restaurants, all the Polish builders and plumbers, many of the care assistants in our nursing homes, much of our staff in hospitals – and so many other areas of work. It will tear up our beautifully diverse society by the roots, creating mayhem.
Meanwhile, under the savage and relentless cuts in government support to the poor, disabled, chronically sick and vulnerable, homelessness and poverty are steadily increasing, family life is de-stabilising, and wealth is transferring away from the increasing numbers in poverty to the rich élite. The trickle-up approach to economics.
And what can we yet find money to buy? Nuclear missiles.
And what can we yet find money to buy? Nuclear missiles.
This morning, I noticed something in myself that has been happening for a while without my really being aware. I have stopped loving our monarchy.
I have always delighted in the monarchy – its dignity and gravitas, the splendour of state occasions, the standards of excellence, the focus of national life. I loved our Queen and felt so proud of her.
But, it’s one thing to love pomp and ceremony while the people are fed and housed, the children cared for, the refugee welcomed, the vulnerable supported and the sick treated – it’s quite another when all that is tossed aside. Wealth and status become ugly and shameful when homeless people die of cold in the streets and old people die on trolleys in hospital corridors. Monarchy is no longer something lovely when the land is sold to be poisoned and destroyed for comparatively worthless money. There is no amount of money can sustain and nurture us better than the living Earth – and to think it can is not even an illusion, it’s just stupid.
Theresa May and the rapacious cabal around her have done this for me: they have taken my Queen and turned her into a rich old woman in a hat. They have stamped on my England. They have taken the land of the free and turned it into a stock cupboard. And to whom do they look for their next fix of money, money, money? Donald Trump. May God in his mercy defend us from our government. Whatever can we do?