I don’t normally let Facebook posts get to me. I know that the ones I find misinformed or offensive are usually there just to get a reaction; I know that even a well-argued comment won’t change someone’s deeply held viewpoint. I’ll debate in person, as long as it doesn’t get personal, but I won’t feed the trolls.
Lately, though, I’ve been seeing things that really frustrate me, and many of them coming from people I love.
Say NO to new Junior Doctors’ contracts. Nurses are awesome! Cuts will kill patients. #saveournhs. Share if you agree.
And the thing is, I do agree. For all its faults, I think the National Health Service is one of the UK’s greatest achievements and most important resources. I think the people who work within it are nothing short of champions, and I am proud to have many of them among my friends. I believe that the people of Britain deserve a well-funded healthcare system, and that healthcare workers deserve fair pay and reasonable hours. So why do I feel a fizzle of rage when I see these posts? It’s because I know that many of these people voted in May, and they voted for the same people who are cheerfully dismantling the NHS.
London Underground workers went on strike this summer over changes to their work schedules. Instantly my Facebook feed was flooded with angry Londoners reviling those who dared to stand up for their rights in the workplace. Tube drivers were spoiled, overpaid layabouts who had the audacity to disrupt everyone’s morning commute over something as petty as being asked to completely change their lifestyles in order to keep their jobs. The cheek of it all! Unions were trying to drag us back in time – there was no place for industrial action in 2015. BoJo had come for the Tube workers, and we did not only say nothing; we cheered. And now another one of our key services is under threat. The government is trying to tell us that working all hours of the day and night is a new norm, despite extensive evidence that it has a negative impact on both our health and productivity. We didn’t care about the people driving our trains and manning our stations. Now the people saving our lives are involved, it’s a different story. And that’s understandable – but the standards we allow to be set apply to the entire workforce. Either we support workers’ rights, or we don’t.
I shouldn’t be angry; this I know. Everyone has a right to their opinion and to vote as they see fit. Nobody’s views will perfectly line up with one party’s manifesto. Every political choice is a compromise, and we’re all hypocrites sometimes. And if these people are seeing the results of their choices, and changing their minds, that should be encouraged. I just hope that lessons are learned. That next time a posh white guy in a suit tries to make you scared of terrorists, or tells you he’ll stop those pesky immigrants from camping in your back garden, you wonder what else he has on the agenda. That when somebody waves a shiny new tax credit for married couples in front of you, you pause and consider where that money might be coming from. That next time our under-regulated banking system implodes, instead of staring at the guy at the benefits office in a grubby tracksuit that everyone keeps pointing at, you take a hard look at the people wandering casually away from the rubble with pockets full of money. And maybe ask if they’ve got a few bob to spare for some nurses? Ta.
Because all the posting and liking and sharing is great, but it won’t save the world, or even the NHS. In five years’ time, your vote might – let’s just hope it’s not too late.