Sunaks great britain is already broken we need more than a general election to fix it | george monbiot

Before we decide what needs to be changed, let's take stock of what we have lost. I would like to start with what happened last week. I do not mean the resignation of the prime minister. This is more important.

Almost all media outlets reported on a scripted comment by newly appointed Interior Secretary Suella Braverman about the "tofu-eating wokerati". Surprisingly, hardly any of them reported what they did at the time. It brought the most repressive legislation of modern times through the House of Commons.

Under the public order bill, anyone who has protested or encouraged others to protest in the past five years can be forced to "submit to the furnishing or installation of all necessary equipment" to monitor their movements. In other words, if you participate in or support a demonstration where there is "serious disruption to two or more people or an organization," you may be forced to wear an electronic badge. "Serious disturbance" has been redefined by the 2022 Police Act to include noise.

This is just one of a series of astonishing measures in the bill, which has received little public attention as it moves through the British legislature. What we see here are two losses in one moment: the final extinction of the right to protest and the mutation of political journalism from reporting on substance to reporting on spectacle. These are only the last of our losses.

Inequality has become so extreme and the combination of frozen wages, benefits in arrears, rising rents and mortgage repayments, rising bills and food inflation so dangerous that millions of people are being pushed into poverty. If nothing changes, many do will soon lose their homes. In the midst of this crisis, we have been given a prime minister who owns four luxurious "houses". One of them is an empty apartment in Kensington that he reserves for visiting relatives.

While Rishi Sunak was chancellor, the government repeatedly delayed its election promise to ban no-fault evictions. Landlords ruthlessly exploit this power to throw their tenants out on the street or use threats to force them into outrageous rent increases and miserable conditions. Had Sunak's Help to Buy mortgage scheme been successful (It was a dismal flop), it would have raised house prices, increased rents and made it harder to access property: the opposite of its stated aim. But that, as with all such plans, was surely the real purpose: to swell the fortunes of the existing owners, the base of the Conservative Party.

Public services are collapsing at a breathtaking rate. Principals warn that 90% of schools in England could run out of money next year. NHS dentistry is on the verge of total collapse. Countless people today live with constant pain and in some cases pull out their own teeth. The suspicion that the NHS is being deliberately dismembered, its core services left out so that we no longer defend it against privatization, is rising in the minds more and more.

But Sunak seems determined to keep hacking and hacking. Sitting on a family fortune of 730 million pounds, he seems unmoved by the plight of people so far from him that they seem to exist on another planet. He is the oligarch of the oligarch, who always responds to the demands of big business and the three plutocrats who own the largest newspapers in the country, who are not aware of the needs of the 67 million people who live here.

After 12 years of conservative austerity and chaos, the very rich have taken almost everything. They have even conquered virtue. They are now appropriating the outward signs of ethical living as they go along – despite or because of their organic cotton jackets and second homes, their electric cars and pastured meat, their carbon offsets and ayahuasca retreats, philanthropy and vacations in quiet resorts whose palm-thatched huts mimic the vernacular of the people who were displaced to make way for them – to grab the lion's share of everything.

Corruption is embedded in public life. Fraud is hardly pursued. Organized crime has been so largely facilitated, by destroying the state's ability to regulate anything money laundering to landfill, that one could almost believe it was intentional. Our rivers have become sewers, our soil is being washed off the land, the planning system is being dismantled and hundreds of environmental laws are now in jeopardy. We are hurtling toward oblivion of the Earth system while frenetically talking about everything else.

In other words, we need not just general elections, but a complete rethinking of who we are and where we stand. We need not only proportional representation, but radical decentralization to the lowest possible levels at which decisions can be made, accompanied by deliberative, participatory democracy. We don't just need new lobbying laws, we need a comprehensive program to get the money out of politics, end all private political donations, break up the billion-dollar press, and require full financial transparency for everyone in public life. We should not only seek the repeal of repressive laws, but – since civil disobedience is the foundation of democracy – positive protest rights.

All this feels far away now. Jeremy Corbyn offered some (though by no means all) of these reforms. Keir Starmer offers no. Although Labour MPs voted against the Public Order Bill, its only public comment so far has been to support its headline policy: longer prison sentences for people who stick to roads. But if the Labour Party or its future coalition partners can persuade him to agree to just one aspect of this program, proportional representation, we can begin work on the rest, building the political alliances that could change the life of this nation. Without PR we are stuck in a dysfunctional duopoly that gets in the way of the billionaire press and the millionaires it appoints to rule us. We can't go on like this.

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