Social media platforms like TikTok have provided voice to teens and young people around the world on political issues. Social media can be a useful outlet for political opinions, especially if you’re still too young to vote.
But among young British social media users, a popular ‘eat the rich’ ideology is growing that is slowly contributing to terms such as ‘right’ and ‘far right’ being interchangeable.
Reddit threads and TikTok channels are booming and young people are expressing their disapproval of the current Conservative UK government. In all fairness, it would be difficult to expect anything different after the numerous mistakes this government has made about the COVID pandemic. These included blocking too late, introducing schemes like “Food to Help” that essentially subsidized rich, middle-class people to go out to the kind of restaurants that most young people can’t afford, anyway. without getting adequate personal protective equipment. (PPE) for health workers and an absolute failure to help or support students who found themselves unable to go to college for much of a year.
Not surprisingly, many young people, especially those who are part of Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012), do not feel that their needs are understood or represented by the ruling party. In their anger, many have resorted to the term “far right” to express their disapproval.
One of the users I met with TikTok recently stated in a video, “I really hate this thing we British do, in which we act like the United States is much worse than us, when we literally have a far right government “. The user was complaining about a pop star who had criticized the US.
Unfortunately, a lot of younger people in the UK seem to think so, but I don’t think many of them have any idea what it’s like to live under a really far-right regime.
It is true that in 2019, many members of Britain First (which is a far-right British political organization) joined the Conservative party after Boris Johnson canceled an investigation into Islamophobia within the party. The following year, just before the pandemic began, Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski was invited to speak at a nationalist conference in Rome, Italy, alongside Hungarian far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. But these incidents do not make the UK government far-right. It’s okay for them to generate concern, but frankly, calling the UK government on the far right may seem offensive to those who have had to live their lives in countries that are actually dominated by far-right politics. People like me.
I am 25 years old and I was born and raised in Poland. I left the country for good in 2016. The political landscape of that time, especially the attitudes towards migrants and the growing anti-LGBTQ feelings (which directly affects me on a daily basis) were one of my reasons for doing so. ho. By comparison, the UK is downright liberal and it makes me uncomfortable to think that anyone can consider the current UK government as far right.
This in no way means my approval for all Conservative Party policies. But in a country where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2014, where women have the right to terminate a pregnancy until week 23 and not have to resort to life-threatening abortions, on the street, where the laws anti-discrimination have been in place for years: the government is not “far right.” A month after Wales elected the first gender identification mayor, Owen Hurcum, in May this year, Hungary passed a law banning all LGBTQ content from schools and children’s television. That speaks volumes.
Hungary and Poland are places where we can see exactly what far-right politics can lead to. Orbán does not waste time in speech. Calling Immigrants “I will see(Which you may read in the Sun newspaper but you are unlikely to hear the lips of a British Prime Minister, even if Johnson has used degrading terms in his role as a newspaper columnist) to ban gender studies in the Hungarian universities The problem of nationalist populism in Hungary.
It is difficult to imagine a situation in which British universities are forbidden to offer students certain courses and degrees. British section 28 legislation banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools, but was repealed years ago, first in Scotland in 2000 and then in the rest of the country in 2003. And I can’t imagine a scenario in that the British government would criminalize lawyers and activists working to help asylum seekers, such as Hungary yes in 2018.
In Poland, late last year and amid a global pandemic, record crowds gathered on the streets of Polish cities to campaign against the tightening of the country’s abortion laws. It was reported that about 100,000 people gathered in Warsaw on October 30, 2020 in response to the ruling of the Polish Constitutional Court in October that abortions, even those performed in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, they were “unconstitutional.” This is how the far right really looks.
Boris Johnson could be the subject of mocking memes circulating on social media, but those created to mock Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s 72-year-old deputy prime minister and leader of the Law and Justice Party, are much more emotionally charged. Kaczynski is the real antihero of Polish anti-abortion protests. In a statement posted on his party’s Facebook page, after protesters refused to “return home,” Kaczynski said the protests were designed to “destroy Poland and end the history of his nation.” The fact that Kaczynski appeared in the video instead of President Duda or Prime Minister Morawiecki shows who is really pulling the strings of Polish politics.
When the Polish prime minister’s chief of staff’s email was hacked earlier this month, leaks revealed that Kaczynski had allegedly considered sending armed troops to confront women protesting abortion rights. in October last year. While this did not come to fruition, the protests were far from peaceful. Polish police used tear gas against the participants.
The mere fact that 90% of British police officers do not carry weapons, while 88% of Polish officers do, is another good example of the difference in attitudes towards the police of the citizens of each country.
Kaczynski describes the idea of granting LGBTQ people more rights in Poland as fundamental threat to society. He is a far cry from Conservative Catholic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who claims that he personally “completely opposes abortion.”
In a country where 33 million out of 38 million citizens declare themselves Catholics, it is easy to use religion as a tool in promoting a political agenda. Apparently, Polish ruling politicians can rule out homosexuals being “not equal to normal people,” all in the name of faith.
Even when they disagree on issues like gay marriage or adoption, British politicians tend to be much more respectful than this.
Archbishops of Poland have called LGBTQ communities “a rainbow plague“I”a great threat to our freedom“At the same time as thanking God”a gift that is Jaroslaw Kaczynski”. I can’t imagine the Archbishop of Canterbury speaking in these terms.
So no, the British establishment is not “far right”. Even in the wake of Brexit, the UK remains a diverse, liberal and generally welcoming place. Of course, we should look closely at incidents of interaction between far-right groups and the government. However, we must also thank how far the country has come in terms of the fight for equality.
Often your daily reality is someone else’s dream.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.