A disclaimer before I begin:
I’m a social worker and a member of the Labour party, which I first joined in 2005.
I grew up dirt poor on a council estate in a single parent household and lived in home conditions that are worse than ones I’ve seen children removed from for neglect.
My family were all coal miners and I was the first person in the family to go to university.
I have never voted Conservative and see firsthand the impact that a decade of austerity policies have had on the people I go to work for every single day.
But… I have a heart and can show compassion when people are unwell.
Because of that compassion, I posted three statuses on the Social Work Tutor Facebook page yesterday in response to a number of spiteful and hateful comments from some of my fellow professionals. These statuses were:
Anybody celebrating Boris Johnson being in hospital is a moron and should take a good look at their morals. Regardless of your political views, he is a human being with a family, an unborn child and a right to life.
(I was rightly called out on my use of the term ‘moron’ by the way, and educated as to its ablest history, so won’t be using it again)
Your political views are irrelevant right now so don’t make them. Boris is our Prime Minister and a man needed in this battle we are all fighting. I wish him well and hope he recovers as soon as possible. This is very sad news for us all.
Just a reminder that Boris is not only the Prime Minister of our country (even if you didn’t vote for him or disagree with his policies), he is also a father, a fiancé and someone with family and friends. He is a fellow human being and he is desperately ill. Just try to remember that before you speak.
Now you’d think that these statuses might be a bit of a clue as to how I felt about people using Boris Johnson’s hospitalisation to make political points or, even worse, outwardly celebrating his potential death. You’d also think that even if people felt these things, they would not decide to publicly double-down on their spiteful views by posting them under the very same updates where I was lambasting them for holding such views.
Yes, you would think that. But alas, you would be wrong.
Here are some of the responses received from our fellow social workers, in all their crass brutishness:
“Being sick and facing an illness will teach him an important lesson” NM
“He is vile so it’s karma” JS
“Should Boris Johnson die we’d likely be in a better place” MS
“Let this be a lesson to him” HQ
“It’s karma” KL
“This country doesn’t need this man” SM
“Oh, shut up u class scab lmao” PM
“I wish him dead” CG
“I will not listed to how you feel about Tories dying” CS
“Hoping Boris makes a Brexit himself tonight” RT
“I don’t feel empathy towards this man” MJ
“Looks like Boris is getting his wish by heading for that ditch he so famously wanted to be in” FM
“I shall give this man no respect or compassion” MP
“#fuckboris” (ironically posted from a page called ‘Social Justice Warriors’)
“He has caused the death of thousands of others so I’m glad” FL
“I will show him no compassion” MM
“You are a pompous moron for supporting Boris” SR
“He needs to die yesterday” TH
“It’s his fault he is unwell” MC
“He is garbage” IT
“Supporting him means that you are part of the problem” CG
“If he dies the NHS will be saved and Brexit won’t happen. That’s a win” MJN
I could go on, but reading those comments will be vile enough for you and I can’t face having to copy and paste many more of them.
In total I had to ban 56 social workers from the Social Work Tutor Facebook page and group yesterday, for sharing views where they actively celebrated Boris Johnson being unwell.
Not only did that leave me feeling really sad about these people’s lack of compassion, it also left me feeling really worried about their role as social workers.
I mean, if you can’t even bring yourself to show compassion for a man who is in hospital fighting for his life, than what does that say about your ethics and value base?
I get that people are really passionate about politics and social media has divided us along party lines more than ever before, but surely that doesn’t mean you should be overtly celebrating someone who is sick.
14 million people voted for the Conservatives in the 2019 General Election. So how do these social workers treat their service users who voted this way?
15 million people voted for Brexit in 2016. So how do these social workers treat their service users who were part of this majority?
I didn’t vote these ways either, but I don’t hate people who disagree with me or have a different outlook on the world. That’s no way to live your life, filled with bitterness and spite towards your fellow human beings.
One of the very first things I learned about on my social work masters course was unconditional positive regard- the basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what they say or do.
I’ve never voted Tory, and likely never will. I think there are lots of things Boris Johnson has said that have been highly offensive. I’ve seen people pushed into abject poverty and destitution by the policies he has supported down the years.
But I would never celebrate the fact he was sent to intensive care and is fighting for every breath he takes.
I would never wish that of anybody.
To see my fellow social workers- the very people who should have the highest standards of morality- reveling in a man fighting for his life has broken my heart.
God save anybody that these people are serving who dare disagree with them or show support for political views they deem to be beyond the pale.
I hope I never end up with someone as spiteful as these people as my social worker.