This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
After months of opinion polls indicating a hung parliament and conjecture on who would be jumping into whose bed for a coalition, the Conservatives emerged with a slim majority in last week's British general election. In the process, the party decimated the Liberal Democrats, their former coalition partners, and the thorns in Tory sides when it came to implementing so many of the blues' diabolical schemes.
Now, with David Cameron back at Number 10 as prime minister, there's not much for the 65 percent of us that didn't vote for his party to do but bow our heads and wait for the axe to fall. Or, to be snide on the internet about what terrible fates might befall us under another five years of Tory rule.
Home secretary Theresa May has confirmed that she'll be looking to push through her much maligned "Snooper's Charter" without the Lib Dems holding it back. The communications bill in question is sold by those trying to bring it into effect as a way to give police and intelligence agencies more powers, but as it means telecommunications companies holding customer records covering phone and internet behavior for a full year, including emails and online gaming habits, liberal politicians were naturally opposed. The public weren't pleased with it either: 71 percent of the 1,800 adults polled in 2012 said they didn't trust the data to be kept secure.
Five years from now, we could find ourselves living in a Britain bearing remarkable similarities to the Orwellian nightmare of Half-Life 2's City 17, cameras snapping our every move albeit with Cameron's smirking swollen face plastered across the monitors instead of Dr. Breen. We'll be spared a Metro Cop with a stun-baton on every corner though: 17,000 frontline police officers have been removed from duty since 2010 and May has indicated that cuts to the police force over the next two years will be similar. No word on whether the budget will allow for the hulking, three-legged Striders at this stage, but if anything good was to come out of the next five years…
Related: Shooting the shit with the countryside alliance:
A horrific potential future, for sure—and, admittedly, one that almost certainly will not come to pass, given that we've no evidence (yet) that categorically reveals the true identity of your average Tory as a member of the Combine. Nevertheless, it's a starting point for the imagination to run riot with further scenarios where the policies of the leading political party in Great Britain can be compared to what we've seen before in the world of video games.
The Tories have promised the NHS an extra £8 billion [$12.5 billion] a year to shore things up, but their track record in the area is a little muddled, with some accusing them of creeping privatization. Add this to the planned benefit caps and a gutting of local services that could see children's centers and libraries taking the brunt, with councils warning that streetlights could be turned off as they attempt to tighten their belts and survive the cuts.
Bearing that in mind, it's easy to compare London to Bloodborne's Yharnam: a once decadent place, now ravaged by a mysterious plague and gripped by Victorian values. NHS cuts or a privatized system would be prime conditions for the outbreak of a mysterious plague, something not entirely dissimilar to one of the many superbugs we're already seeing in our hospitals. The recent right-wing discourse around immigration could explain the gangs roaming Yharnam's streets, violently attacking anyone they perceive to be different. Although, with the plans to make the unemployed engage in community work and no end in sight to zero-hour contracts, there's a good chance the unruly mobs will be too busy trying to keep their heads above water to patrol the darkened streets.
One of the greater concerns regarding a new Tory government the effect it will have on social mobility. It's not hard to see how that could be hampered: planned reduction of inheritance tax, another potential increase to tuition fees, and plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and various smaller cuts to education and social well-being. This suits the stereotypical—although, let's be honest now, accurate—view that, under the Conservatives, the rich get richer while the wealth doesn't "trickle down" to the rest of society. In the worst-case scenario we lurch closer to the American style of healthcare, where people are afraid to get sick because they can't afford the treatment, relying on ever-dwindling public services to try and make do.
For my money—before I catch a cold and spend all of it on private healthcare—the gaming hellscape we're most likely to see is Dishonored's Dunwall. Like Yharnam, a plague is ripping through the city's population; and as with City 17, Dunwall is using technological brutality to enforce social control. The sprawling settlement, bearing aesthetic similarities to Victorian London and Edinburgh, is characterized by its classism and xenophobia: the aristocrats belong to wealthy influential families and eat caviar, while the poor scramble in the slums for food and valuables. Survivors of the plague are downtrodden, and if you view medicine as analogous to basic services like healthcare and education, it's not a million miles away from where we may find ourselves in the Britain outside the window.
Following the assassination of an empress at the beginning of Dishonored's story, the lower classes riot in the streets. As I write, Downing Street and Whitehall are besieged by anti-austerity protests, and as desperation starts to set in, this unrest will only grow. A cynic could say that the lower classes don't matter to the Conservatives at all, that they're just generating profit.
Still, look on the bright side—we could have ended up in BioShock Infinite's Columbia if more people had voted for UKIP.
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