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Opinion

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Armed with a majority of 82, the Conservative party have been given the power to make some controversial decisions, from cutting the international aid budget to giving the police powers to prevent peaceful protests. Editor Paul McNamee argues that now is the time to stand up and show them they are making the wrong decisions.

The answer is 82. Not necessarily to life, the universe and everything. That remains at 42, unless there has been a major revision of Douglas Adams’ conclusion.

But to the state we’re in.

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To every question about how particular things have come to pass, it’s 82. That’s the size of the Conservative majority in Parliament. There are wriggles around this number. Sinn Fein will never take their seats, so in effect that working majority rises. But 82 was the overall majority secured in the last general election. It explains why so many head-scratching, and increasingly punitive plans, are casually sailing through Westminster.

How do you see that there are people dying in nations across the globe who could be saved with some income from Britain, yet still insist on slashing the international aid budget? 82.

What about the plan to give the police powers to disrupt peaceful protest and limit the rights of the population to make their voice heard? 82.

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And that £20 Universal Credit rise that has been saving so many in Britain during lockdown, how do you confidently announce its removal when campaigners from right across politics, social care and the charity sector have made clear the damage that will be done to the poorest in society? 42.

Just kidding, it’s 82, of course.

One interesting thing about this government is that they can be convinced to change their tune

Making the announcement, Boris Johnson said: “We have to have a different emphasis, and the emphasis has to be on getting people into work and getting people into jobs.” Which is all very well, but where are these jobs? And how quickly can that plan be realistically achieved? The argument for maintaining the extra £20 a week is so clear that even Iain Duncan Smith, the man who created Universal Credit who is not known for being part of a caring, compassionate Conservatism, says the rise should be permanent.

But still, 82. There is room for some dissent with that size of wedge.

One interesting thing about this government is that despite the 82, they can be convinced to change their tune. They do it when they fear their 82 is under threat. Look at the issue around taking the knee. At the start of the Euros, senior MPs and their outriders were saying it’s fine to boo black footballers for taking the knee. The nonsense that this was a comment on Marxism and the threat that Marxism posed to the structural wellbeing of Britain was allowed space to grow. History will not judge this well.

But as England progressed in the Euros and the population in England, and some beyond, were increasingly supportive of a young, diverse, noble team, the same politicians were falling over themselves to pull England shirts over work suits and have some junior researcher photograph them cheering at apposite moments. We don’t know yet how this story ends. But as it progresses, one thing is clear. If the government calculates a cost to their actions, they will change them.

And so now we all need to show them they are misjudging things.

As we make clear in this special edition, there is a looming homelessness crisis. It will impact people who have never been impacted by homelessness before.

There are nine changes we see as necessary to avert the crisis. To make them, we need to enlist an activist army. You can make the difference.

We must all make change.

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