Does a society devoid of genuine democratic representation and basic compassion for its most vulnerable constitute a dystopia? A daunting question, I know, and perhaps one best initially examined through the lens of October’s most notable parliamentary fumble.

Truss’ shock therapy backfires

There has been a deafening amount of noise about the ‘mini-budget,’ its contents and its inevitable reversal in the last few weeks. Kwasi Kwarteng, the engineer behind the not-so-masterful plan, became the second-shortest serving minister to hold the chancellorship after Iain Mcleod in 1970 — slain not by incompetency, but a fatal heart attack. But, what actually was the controversial budget?

To summarise, Truss wanted (for lack of a better term), to shock the economy back into working order. To do this, she laid out a £45 billion array of tax cuts. Why then did this result in, as Vanity Fair so eloquently called it, ‘a swift and bruising reaction’ whereby the pound plummeted 17 per cent, interest rates skyrocketed, and public reaction turned apoplectic? Well, rather like your maths teacher shooting a disapproving furrow of the brow at your lack of observable numeracy skills, how these policies were to be introduced, sustained and made successful was decidedly opaque. We know Truss wanted to ‘borrow’ and that this was to be done not, ‘by cutting public spending but by making sure we spend public money well.’ Unsurprisingly, vague verbs such as ‘cutting’ and ‘borrowing’ when unaccompanied by a reassuring estimate hardly inspire confidence in the global stock market.

I’m going back to the start …

As a learner driver, I sympathise with the difficulty of the ‘U-turn’. It can be dangerous and obstructive, and even panic-inducing for your passengers. The good news is that for those who are sufficiently prepared or have the rudimentary skills to set a helpful little virtual butler to their destination, all should be well. For Truss though, this wasn’t the case when she swiftly backtracked amidst the backlash.

The Guardian called Truss’ reactionary decision to raise corporation tax after promising to cut it ‘humiliating.’ What we have then, is a prime minister whose initial legislation would not have survived the wrath of a public ballot. A prime minister who despite infamously claiming to have the volition to see ‘unpopular’ decisions through, is in actuality devoid of making and executing any weighty decision. And that’s a precarious predicament to be in for the leader of a country. The resulting cacophony of ongoing mayhem is what results when the leader is elected undemocratically in a society that believes itself to be governed by due democratic process.

Some may insist that the U-turns and changing of personnel are evidence of a working democracy. Presently, like her predecessor, Ms Truss is clinging onto power by shifting blame and clumsily flailing at every turn. All this, while the cost-of-living crisis ensures that inflation remains above 7 per cent atleast until the first quarter of 2023. Meanwhile, a war raging in Easter Europe has the leader of the free world bandying about terms like ‘Armageddon.’ Those 2.1 million food parcels distributed by the Trussel Trust food bank network are unlikely to lessen anytime soon. With such immense division between people and their government, I must ask: Is this not dystopian?

 Human rights are everyone’s problem

It’s become quite clear that a ‘trickle’ will not suffice. The UK’s most vulnerable are being, more or less, abandoned by the state. What about those elsewhere who are helpless, destitute and desperate?

There has been an outcry, rightly, amongst the populous to provide shelter and compassion for migrants fleeing the war-torn streets of Ukraine. And the official response? Fairly positive. In fact, of the 223,800 applications received, 85 per cent have been approved. Despite Britain lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to taking in Ukrainian refugees, it can hardly be accused of inaction. But for how long will this goodwill last? These people are a product of war, and wars typically conclude sooner or later. This particular war has no clear end in sight, placing thousands of refugees at the mercy of individual governments for an indefinite period.

All the while, Priti Patel’s Rwanda deportation scheme (known to have a number of ‘Significant Human Rights Issues’) lurks insidiously in the background. The first planned flight in June was halted by ‘legal issues.’ In response, Truss has said she is:

‘determined to see the Rwanda policy through to full implementation as well as exploring other countries where we can work on similar partnerships.’

Whilst concerns over assimilation, depreciating resources and limited square footage are valid, seeing such legislation endorsed would come at, as Amnesty International put it: ‘great human … cost.’

We forget, but we humans are a species all made from the same basic components. A government that lacks clear traces of empathy and compassion for their fellow beings in their time of need is as detestable as it is dystopian.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that banishing the suffering to countries where they are likely to suffer more hardship is not a solution but a guarantee of more vitriolic and xenophobic hate amongst those who feel helpless over things they cannot control.

You might justifiably ask: what can any of us really do about all these issues? We can arrange a petition, protest, or if we’re lucky enough to have it in the first place, offer a spare room. But will it provoke real, tangible change? Probably not. And that’s dystopian. The feeling of frustrated powerlessness that seems inescapable, is Orwellian to its core. That sense that although the pieces change, those in power remain willfully ignorant of the need to mitigate innumerable catastrophes because it threatens their or their friend’s bottom line — all this is dystopian.

DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.