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Opinion

Tories want you to think the poor, disabled people and Carol Vorderman are the enemy. They're lying

Now more than ever we must stand together, prove disinformation wrong and, most importantly, look out for each other – says disabled activist and journalist Rachel Charlton-Dailey

Prime minister Rishi Sunak visits Wren Academy in Finchley, North London, where he met staff and pupils.

Image: Number 10/Flickr

As the Tories try desperately to cling to power, they are increasingly trying to turn the general public against anyone living on the margins. As we hurtle closer to the election announcement, the Tories are appealing to the nastiest parts of society and instead of telling us how they’re going to fix what they broke, they’re aiming to divide us.

According to the Tories, there are two types of people. There’s hardworking, tax-paying, good British people and then there’s the benefit-shirking, disability-faking, unsafe-to-our-kids, ruining-our-country types.

The Tories are trying to convince us all that disabled people, poor people on benefits, trans people, migrants and even smart women like Carol Vorderman (who dared to have an opinion while having boobs) are the enemy of hardworking voters. They’re the reason life is so hard – it’s absolutely not that the government has driven this country into the ground.

While we all want to know how they’ll help us survive a harsh winter amid rising bills and food prices, with an NHS on its knees and schools that are still crumbling, the Tories aren’t in a hurry to actually help working people. Instead, they’re pointing the finger at anyone who they see as less than them – and who they think is an easy target.

But we need to remember who the real enemy is – and it’s not minorities.

Disabled people and those on benefits aren’t the enemy here. This idea that kicking us all off benefits will save millions in taxes is insulting at best and baldfaced lies attempting to demonise disabled people at worst. Depriving millions of the financial support they need to survive will kill disabled people and it would only be a drop in the ocean compared to the £42bn a year that’s lost in unpaid taxes anyway.

Sunak told Laura Kuennsberg that he didn’t believe three times the amount of people were sicker since 2010, it was actually that there’d been no welfare system reform. This is despite it getting harder to claim benefits under the cruel Tory government and countless numbers of deaths after disabled people were deemed fit for work. That’s without mentioning the mass disabling pandemic we’re still in. And now while their pals benefit from private contracts and tax cuts, they’re attempting to turn the poor on themselves. But don’t focus too much on the fact he said those who work will be rewarded with tax cuts, yeah?

Migrants, as much as Sunak and the Tory party want to make it so, aren’t the enemy here either. The ‘migrants stealing your jobs narrative’ is old and tired and just not true. Migrants also aren’t the reason the NHS is under pressure. That’s the fault of a government who’ve allowed it to be underfunded, then hacked it to pieces and sold it off to their rich mates.

Trans kids being allowed to use their correct pronouns is not affecting your kids’ education. That’s down to inadequate schools and academies that don’t have to answer to local authorities. The Tories literally advocating for the bullying of children who want to express themselves freely will kill trans kids. Focusing more on attendance records than the well-being of students is also much more of a danger to kids.

Because Tories hate anyone disagreeing with them, any time someone smart and in the public eye speaks against them, they have to resort to dirty tactics such as personal insults about their bodies, as is the case with Carol Vorderman. I was reflecting yesterday on the absurdity of this one, for many people aged around 25-40, Carol raised us. Every day she’d be there on Countdown and How 2, being our smart cool aunty. Then when she used her wealth of knowledge to expose them we were suddenly supposed to turn against her.

And this happens to so many smart women with a platform. I get it myself constantly on Twitter, being told I’m ruining the country and to get a real job – while I’m doing my job. Women have always been an easy target for a party who has more than one member accused of assault and when the home secretary makes rape jokes about his own wife.

“New year new nonsense. Every week he stands here and tells the country they should be thanking him, not questioning him. Point out that the view on the ground is very different from that on his private jet and he says you’re talking the country down,” said Keir Starmer during PMQs.

This sums it up entirely, we’re not the ones trying to divide the country – the Tories are.

But luckily, many of the public have had enough and are fighting back. We’re banding together to call them out on their lies and hold them to account. 2024’s hottest new trend is absolutely showing the Tories up with one thing they don’t have – the facts to back up their lies.

It is truly beautiful to see everyone from DWP secretary Mel Stride to the actual prime minister get community notes added to their tweets pointing out that what they’re saying is proven to be false. Imagine running a whole country and getting roasted on Twitter because we won’t stand for your lies anymore. There’s now an attempt to get community notes to be “fairer” to Tories, but maybe instead they should try telling the truth.

More than anything though, even though this election preamble is feeling scary, there’s an undercurrent of hope. These are clearly the death knells for the Tories and they know that. Now we have to hammer the final nail in the coffin. Don’t allow them to divide us, keep shouting back as much as you can, prove the disinformation wrong and most importantly look out for each other.

When the Tories want to turn us against each other the most radical thing you can do is care for and protect others. And hopefully, in a few months, we can really show them how much we hate them, by voting them out.

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