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Ticking a box on a piece of paper is never enough

By Suzanne Williams, originally published at Elephant Journal

This morning I woke to a newsfeed full of despair.

Today—May 8 2015—marks the first full day after the UK voted for the government we’ll have for the next five years.

The results weren’t good news.

The Tories—the party that seems determined to dismantle our National Health Service and get everyone on benefits working in coal mines—is in power again. (At least, they would have people in coal mines if they hadn’t dismantled them as well during the 80s).

When I first heard, my heart sank just as much as everyone else’s. We’d all hoped that the lesser of two evils would have won the race. But once I’d gotten over the shock, a realisation began to form. Perhaps this wasn’t such bad news after all—in fact, it could be one of the most transformational moments in the history of this country.

I addressed the Facebook feed of doom with this post:

“People of the UK. Don’t be disheartened. If Labour had won we would have all sat back and relaxed and continued to believe in the illusion that these bunch of toffs— including Labour—have a clue about what they are doing. They are all bonkers! Whether red or blue.

So it’s up to us, the sane and powerful public to take charge of our communities.

Ticking a box on a piece of paper was never going to be enough.

(Most likely, Labour would have found legitimate a plausible reasons to do very same things that the Tories may do).

If they take away disability allowances then let’s kick up enough of a fuss enough that they don’t. And if they still let us be the ones visiting our disabled neighbors and helping them out instead. If they dismantle the NHS then lets strongly let them know that we don’t want that either…hint: signing a petition won’t be enough.

And if that doesn’t work, then simply refuse to pay or set up our own hospitals instead.

It’s up to us now. We’re on our own. But what a great chance to make some real changes.

This broadcast was brought to you from the I’m a human and I’m in charge of the welfare of my community, not some weirdos in some fancy building somewhere Party.”

An excited flame of hope grew in my heart. Could this be the moment in history that the British Public finally realize—en masse—that the political system is a totally unreliable entity, and that if we want really change in our communities then we need to do more than tick a box every five years?

From a radical activist point of view the lining couldn’t be more silver. We now have the chance to galvanize a despairing population and make real changes in how we view our roles in society. We can no longer rely on the government to protect our best interests so who else can we rely on but ourselves.

The messages of my friends on Facebook this morning were ones of powerlessness and hopelessness, but by the end of the day the words of activists such as myself and others had hit a chord and the mood was growing stronger.

We are the people of the UK and we will fight for the protection of the vulnerable.

Ultimately it is up to us now to create a kinder and fairer society and to design those systems ourselves and stop waiting for some potty posh people to do it for us.

Power to the people.