British actor Michael Sheen gave an emotional speech earlier this week in defense of the National Health Service, the United Kingdom’s publicly-funded health care system, which is currently under attack by the UK’s conservative party.
After discussing the austerity measures facing the NHS and the damage done by conservative politicians, Sheen then launched into a message to the country’s leaders — one that applies to the current state of American politics as well.
“At a time now,” said Sheen, “when people mistrust politicians as being too professional, too disconnected, no longer representing the voice of the people they have been elected to serve but more likely to represent the voice of wherever the money is. No longer standing for anything meaningful, or inspired by strongly held beliefs.”
“In today’s political climate, where politicians are careful, tentative, scared of saying what they feel for fear of alienating a part of the electorate; where under the excuse of trying to appear electable, all parties drift into a morass of bland neutrality; and the real deals, the real values we suspect, are kept behind closed doors – is it any wonder that people feel there is very little to choose between? [Founder of the NHS Aneurin Bevan] said, ‘We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.’
So when people are too scared to say what they really mean, when they’re too careful to speak from their hearts, when integrity is too much of a risk, it’s no surprise that people feel disengaged with politics. There is never an excuse to not speak up for what you think is right. You must stand up for what you believe. But first of all – by God, believe in something.”
Watch video of Sheen’s speech, and click here to read a full transcript.