Voices: Call me Scrooge, but Christmas can f*** itself this year

The nation is in a state of disrepair. Westminster is broke – and so are we, staring down the barrel of a chilling recession that is expected to bulldoze the quality of our already underpaid, overworked lives to oblivion.

A multi-millionaire has set up shop in Downing Street, while an arse-grabbing, philandering former health secretary is writhing around with rats on the floor of an Australian jungle. Angry activists are scaling motorway gantries to sound the alarm on a climate crisis few are willing to face up to, while miserable motorists seethe through hours-long delays on the road below. Cancer patients are waiting months for life-saving treatment because the government refuses to give the healthcare workers they once ordered us to cheer for fair payment for the vital jobs they do. Stop the press and make it make sense.

It’s hard to feel festive when food banks are running out of food and two million innocent children depend on free school meals to quell the gnawing, clawing hunger in their bellies.

Call me crazy, but I don’t quite feel like decking the halls while the powers that be are shielding the super-rich from paying their fair share of tax, as low to middle-income earners are – as usual – shouldering the responsibility of getting Britain back on its feet.

Who can throw themselves into wreath-making as the likelihood of finding bread unaffordable looms larger and larger? Who thinks of tree shopping or treat baking when toddlers are dying from mouldy, neglected flats? Who feels like ice skating when thousands face brutal lay-offs, days before Christmas Eve? With absolute certainty I say: not me.

Since New Year tolled last January, my days have felt like one 10-car pile-up after another. My dad was diagnosed with, and later lost his life to, a particularly heinous form of cancer. I watched my mother struggle to keep her head above water, had a health scare myself and spent more nights sleeping on hospital corridors than I can count. I’ve had relationship troubles and professional upheaval, and still not even the worst hours of my annus horribilis come anywhere close to the utter misery felt by millions across the UK today.

Our “compassionate” Conservative government has plunged this once great country into such poverty and chaos, it’s hard to see a way out. I wish I could dive head first into the hedonistic escapism the festive season typically provides but, in the wake of Tory mistakes, I find myself doing something I never have before – empathising with bah, humbug-ers like Ebeneezer Scrooge.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment, sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

At least I’m in good company. New polling reveals that more than half of Britons blame the Conservatives for the cost of living crisis, more so than global factors such as Covid and war in Ukraine. Trust in Tory ability to rectify the carnage is dwindling, with 29 per cent of voters saying they now trust Labour to run the economy in the wake of Jeremy Hunt’s explosive autumn Budget.

Even former arch-Brexiteer, Next boss Simon Wolfson, recently complained that the government had not delivered the Brexit it had promised. Bet you didn’t have that on your 2022 bingo card.

It is my sincere hope that this Yuletide begrudgery is not felt by The Independent’s readers. But for those who share in my glowering cynicism, know you are not alone. You are not the only one who can’t muster the cheer for mince pies and mulled wine. You are not the only one who lies sleepless at night, worrying about how on earth you’ll pay for presents and a turkey. You are not the only one who might skip the tree this year, because you can’t afford to switch on the lights.

This season’s greetings have been brought to you by the Conservative government.