‘A matter of life or death

IMG_3725I said that this election was a matter of life and death to someone the other day. I was accused of being over dramatic.

I thought for a moment am I? Am I making everything more important that it really is?

Then I thought of the NHS. There already are signs of privatisation. Posters inviting you to pay £30 to see a GP and letting us know who they are now managed by. The underfunding which is being used to say we can’t cope with the budget of the NHS. Demoralising staff with derisory pay rises and leaving EU citizens who support our medical services unsure if they will be able to stay.  I thought of the ten minute appointments I have at my GP, the lack of mental health care, cutting back on diabetic test strips because government subsidy has been removed.

I then thought of ESA and PIP payments.  I thought of all those people who have died after being declared fit for work.  I thought of the mental anguish of those who have to go through assessments. Like me.

I thought of the terror attacks we have seen in the past few weeks. I thought about the cause of these attacks. The complete mess that has been the military action in the Middle East and the illegality of such action. I thought of the young Muslim men and women who feel alienated from our society. I thought of Saudi Arabia and selling them arms whilst preventing publication of a report on their links to terror. I thought of the cuts to essential services such as the police and fire-brigade.

I thought of the concept of using your house to pay for social care which basically results in those who want to give something to their children thinking a better option for them is to die rather than have the social care.

I thought of the cutting of winter fuel allowance and the deaths from hypothermia this would result in.

The free school meals which for some are the best meal they get.

I thought of the rising homeless population and the lack of good cheap housing to keep people safe.

I thought of those scared by childhood abuse by those in the files that were lost.

I thought of the death of the Duke of Westminster and all the steps he had legally  taken to avoid his son and heir paying billions in inheritance tax. Enough to nearly clear the NHS deficit.

I thought of Trident failing tests but this being hidden and the weapon which  cannot be used as a first strike as it is a deterrent. The millions that would die in a nuclear exchange which no one would win. That reminded me of the instant “yes” from the Prime Minister and the cheer she got for that and it made my blood run cold.

So yeah, basically I am not being over dramatic.

That is  why I am going to #votelabour on Thursday. If you are registered to vote please use your vote as well. Every one will count in this election and there has never been such an important one before.



The social constructions of national values

A interesting comment from John McTernan on his Twitter account. Interesting but in my opinion indicative not only of the power of words but also either the lack of understanding or perhaps acute understanding of the social change that is behind the popularity of  Jeremy Corbyn.

Our nations values is the key term I will look at here.  I will not dissect  the term traitor because the use of that word  warrants a complete blog of its own.

Let’s start with a concept. The concept that everything around us is not as real as we think it is. That all of the rules and roles structures and belief systems we follow are created by society. So we follow rules created by society which is in turn created by us. Therefore if you look in this way at  society it is not the all constricting , set in stone reality we deem it to be. And whilst we may have a understanding of a word or concept  it does not mean that everyone else has the same understanding as you. Words carry more than simple meaning . They carry cultural weight which we may not even be aware we are expressing. 

With this view you can see how we can change society. Looking at history we can see how society has changed. I do not think the world is flat, that blood is an unimportant liquid which need to be let or that by feeling the bumps on my head you can decipher my character. In more recent times we have seen other areas of social change , brought about by the individuals affected by and oppressed by society. From votes to women to gay rights, from abolishing apartheid to civil rights. Things can change. 

Change however brings with it uncertainty and fear.  It brings with it passionate arguments for and against. It brings into question if the fabric of society can change what about me, what about my identity, what about what I believe in?

So let’s go back to the statement we are discussing, our national values. For me this is such a problematic phrase. Firstly what exactly are these unifying national values? Is there any such thing?  Is there a agreement on what this nation stands for and what it’s values truly are.  It would of course depend on who you spoke to, from which perspective they were viewing them and also if you believed in such a concept in the first place.

Let’s look at how they are being used in this tweet.  The use of traitor prior to the phrase implies that British values are intrinsic to being a true citizen of this country with citizenship reliant on adherence to them. So are these national values in some way a collective of ideas about the safety and the well being of the nation if being a traitor to them means you cannot be prime minister?   The tweet is in response to an anti war stance by Jeremy Corbyn so with this knowledge we can see that he is being labelled a traitor because he refuses to stand by the national values which can be deducted as being in favour of leaping into warfare which is seen as how to protecting the nation. 

This interpretation will be implicit without any added information through our internalised understanding of the words but also from a sense of what another socially constructed concept , the British identity,  is. Bulldog spirit, we fear no foe, we stand for what is right in the world , we ruled an Empire.  We don’t want any namby pamby let’s talk about things to negotiate  we want action kind of leaders. 

With a simple sentence it portrays Jeremy Corbyn as the antithesis of all that is good and proud of this nation. He is a danger to all we stand for and more importantly is a danger to our safety and wellbeing.  It relies on our common sense understanding built from our experiences of teaching , shared understandings and the  enforcement of a collection of ideas by the media about what was right in society and what was not. In this case if you are not going to bomb a country or leap to the defence of another without first exhausting every over avenue then you do not stand for national values and cannot lead us. 

So our national values are clear. The constant aggression and warfare against those who do not stand for what we see as right. Because obviously we are right all the time and everyone else who is not with us is an enemy.  In using national values in this tweet the writer is saying they know what these values implicitly are and that the nation agrees with him and this is his reason to attack Jeremy Corbyn. Those who read this tweet and agree with it believe these national values are central to our society and are indicative of your right to belong here and of your right to govern. 

 And the understanding of all these nuisances and meanings come from those few words, an understanding of the concept they are in and our internalised common sense view of society. We did not even have to decipher it to understand all of this. This is how powerful words are and how powerful social constructions are in our world. When you start to think about things in this way it can be very unnerving  but it also can me liberating. 

Because for some of us hiding behind these words , these so called national values of ensuring democracy and fighting oppression through aggression are the methods by which this is done. By bombing countries into oblivion having sold arms to those we are apparently freeing people from and those with appalling human rights record. Of using the label terrorist as a short hand for our enemies instead of using it correctly and labelling the behaviours of the Israeli government. In perpetuating the myth of danger terror and enemies in order to spend on a deterrent and remove our rights to privacy. However because we see these we ourselves become part of the problem, part of a cult , traitors Trostsky and even Nazis. 

I don’t really think any of the recent acts of aggression undertaken by different UK governments have been justified, have solved anything, and in fact been illegal in some cases.  I don’t think I am the only one who thinks this. I seem to recall some of the biggest demonstrations in recent history have been against war and the bombing of other countries or regime changes. I think an awful lot of people would see having such national values are contrary how they see our national values. A large number of people see the term national values itself as decisive alienating and totally foolhardy. They would also say that if we are to have a set of national values are the ones being portrayed here really the ones we want?

I personally believe that this nation is actually in need of a complete rethink of its national values because the country itself is in the midst of an identity crisis. Events have occurred which have caused people to question such concepts as national values and question the make up of other social institutions such as government. After the referendum we have seen many ugly aspects of this nation arise and we have seen the magnificence of this nation also rally. Because the magnificence of this nation is to be found in those who take the concept of politics take the ideas of what we want for everyone in this country and they are fighting to speak with that magnificent unified voice that enough is enough. We have through the centuries made, constructed , destroyed, upheld various constructions of this nations values. And it is the people of this country who have upheld the decent and  true values of justice freedom and equality. We just forgot for a while that society does not need to be one way or the other. We forgot that we don’t have to bow down to such concepts as national values which represent the few and not the many. But like riding a bike it is coming back to us now and we will not allow the undemocratic and oppressive control that these concepts have held over us for so long to remain unchanged. 

We are on the path to creating a new set of values which represent more people and more voices and that is why the use of such concepts to vilify one person and those who support him are coming out in force. We need to express to others that society is not just the way it is but rather an ever changing ever progressing entity we have full control of despite being told otherwise by the media by those in power and by those who have most to loose should we actually change ow these constructs benefit them. 

So this tweet is either from a person who believes strongly in a socially constructed concept or is frightened because they are realising that many are waking up to the possibility of changing such ideals. I feel it is the latter and the people he represents are fighting because they are scared. They are fighting because they know we are on a winner and they are fighting because we are going to take the power out of the words they use to oppress us and change them to reflect  a fairer society. 

So national values to me are standing up for the underdog, determination in the face of difficulty, community when faced with hatred and everyone having an opportunity to make the most of their talents and contribute to society and to feel they are truly part of this nation. 

It is about admitting past mistakes and rectifying them, about standing against aggression through refusal to continue to perpetuate it. It’s about allowing free speech , giving all the same access to justice and ensuring that wealth and influence do not allow some to escape  it. 

And it is realising that what we look like is not the issue, but rather what we stand for and people of principal and honesty are placed in positions of power and we encourage more of the same.  That we no longer stand for the self serving in public office and remove the ability for a person elected to stand for the people betray those people through service of the ones who pay them money. 

These are the national values I believe in and what’s more they are the ones I know this country can achieve. We just need to ensure that those who are adverse to this change are not vilified or abused but rather are engaged and supported and helped to understand that change is not something to be afraid of but rather the nature of the world and society.  It a tricky one as it is going to be an uphill struggle but it is what we need to do if we are to achieve a nation that leads the way in social justice and freedom. 

And as for Jeremy Corbyn , if I am right in my interpretation of the meaning of national values in that tweet then yes he is a traitor to those. However he is the creator of national values that mean much much more to many more people than those afraid of him. That makes him in my eyes possibly one of the greatest prime ministers that this country could ever have. And it is our job to be the  constructors of a society where that will happen and where all will benefit. 


Nobody left behind 

I am not a person to be writing a blog about the issue of BAME involvement within politics. I am not expert enough in this particular area nor can I talk of experiences or belief and understanding as whilst I am from an ethnic minority with its own issues I am white . I am writing this from a white perspective to a white reader as this is the only authentic experience I can write from.

I was disappointed at the level of support that a recent BAME rally received recently where Jeremy Corbyn was a key speaker and I felt that I wanted to write about this.

You may or may not be aware but the number of people eligible to vote from Black and Minority Ethnic groups is estimated at 4 million but 30% are not registered to vote.

That is over a million voters.

These are not people who are not going to the polls these are people who have no vote. And to be totally honest I can see why. The last general election the turn out was low. Very low. I voted as I do in every election voting for labour out of loyalty and a deep rooted distrust and possibly hatred (a strong word but think it is right) for all that the Tory party stands for. I was not happy with the Labour Party as I really felt that the middle ground politics, the stereotypical leader, the general lack of real opposition they offered was not screaming to me that a labour government would really be that different. In the minds of so many the legacy of Tony Blair is not what he did that was good but his taking us into an illegal war. And in the minds of many there is no point to voting at all.

The fact that the turnout was so low should worry us. Why are people not involved or engaged? What can we do about it? Just using common sense sociology a quick survey of people around us at work , in our families and community it won’t be long before you will hear the phrase “ I don’t do politics” . My response to you is normally well it is certainly doing you right up the …… But I digress. A look on Facebook can tell you with the I don’t want to see any more political view memes and the I’m sick of politics comments would confirm a body of people who are totally disengaged and remote from anything that goes on in politics.

So what are the political parties doing to engage us?. Well very little. Those who turnout are those who are set in their ideas about their political stance. Those who are not are the disenfranchised and those who really have too much going on in their lives to worry themselves about voting. Those who are not voting are the ones who think that their voice is silent anyway. Those who feel they do not belong. They are the masses and its best they don’t get their say. We can continue to ignore them because they will not have an impact on us getting into power anyway.

Then along comes the referendum. And the turnout on that is huge. Why?

Again our common sense sociology comes into play. Firstly it was a first past the post yes or no vote about an issues that a lot of people felt passionate about. Secondly it was something where people felt that they could actually tell the government exactly what they wanted. It was a voice for those who felt voiceless. And they spoke. And for some reason it shocked the government it shocked the press and it shocked those who voted for change.

And it was a vote based for many on misinformation , misunderstandings , rhetoric , personality and lies. It has released the cork of those who kept their racism bottled up as we see the rise xenophobia and racism. It has left people in limbo as to their rights to stay here. It cause the resignation of one prime minister and the creation of Maggie 2. It caused people to question democracy because the result did not go their way. And it highlighted that given the right circumstances people will engage and will vote.

Now what has this got to do with BAME? Like I said earlier imagine another million votes in this referendum. Imagine another million votes in the general election. Imagine another million voices speaking for a very underrepresented community within politics?

Imagine if it was seen that the voices of the BAME communities in this country counted and meant something to the politicians of this country and that they would be listened to and not ignored? Then we would see issues properly addressed, a more representative government, a movement for change.

Now before you say that the same is true of the voices of every community neglected by successive governments I will say this. There are times in life when you have to narrow down a big problem in order to address what it actually means for each group involved. In society sometimes the reality of existence within it of issues and problems that affect all in different measure has to be highlighted as a separate campaign because to lump it into one group will mean that the problem will be solved to the agenda of one group over another. And in most cases of social issues it is the white issue that is focussed on and is seen as dominant. Solving the white issues however means that a lot of people continue to feel disenfranchised and the issues become their problems, the root cause of issues their behaviour and their attitudes. It ignores the background, the affect, the problems unique to their community which are unseen and unfelt by those outside. Then the very forces who think they are helping all are actually reinforcing the oppressions which they think they are lifting. Hence black lives matter is not saying only black lives matter but highlighting the very real experiences of the feeling, endorsed by society and condoned by law enforcement of the life of black males especially being of no worth. Saying all lives matter in answer to this hides this issues and again we ignore what is ongoing turning the issue onto the very community in fear of the police and loosing their men.

As I stated before I am not the person to speak on behalf of the BAME community. The people to do this are those who organise the rallies who run the campaigns and who understand what particular issues affect people’s engagement with politics. What we can do however is listen to them. Understand what we can do to help by becoming involved in theses causes but not to try and take them over. By advertising their existence and sharing their information. And most importantly we stand beside them. We fight with them. We use the privileges we have to make their voices heard.

My children are mixed ethnicity. I’m white Irish their father Black British. I have argued with them about racism I have disagreed with them about racism until finally I listened to them about racism. I have understood that through institutionalised racism and white privilege everyday behaviour , the things we take for granted, and the things we look at and think what’s your problem here are not imaginations or complaints and excuses. They are real and oppressing and at times very disturbing. It is hard to hear this when you yourself are not racist in your opinions and you hope your actions. But in order to change this we need to accept that there is a different world out there for BAME communities. They are the ones experiencing it every day and they are the ones we need to stand next to, listen to, support to ensure that every person has a voice they feel is valid.

So the next time you see something organised by BAME labour or the next time there is a petition regarding a BAME issue get involved. Stand and talk to people attending them to discover why we need these organisations and groups. Prepare to hear things that will be alien to you beliefs and even shakes your own identity but listen and understand. And show that you want everyone in this country to have a say, to feel empowered, to feel they belong.

And do your bit on social media. Share positive stories about the BAME communities as they get short shrift in the media. Highlight discrimination and stand against it. Learn about the true causes of poverty, homelessness, deprivation in this country and spread these to people you know so the blame is lifted from the immigrant to the feet of those it belongs to, the people who the lowest turnout in a very long time elected into power , possibly illegally.

Work against Islamaphobia, xenophobia, racism in every aspect of your life and do it not because it makes you look a better person but because it is what you want from your soul, the right of every human on this planet to be treated as such. Look inward before you look out and let’s make sure we are all working for each other in every community.

And we can all unite now behind a massive movement, that of supporting Jeremy Corbyn who stands for everyone In every community. To change landscape of politics so everyone can see that they have something to vote for. Someone who speaks at rallies who has supported the causes of those standing against racism who understand the politics of the oppressed and the oppressors and has done so all his life. We can reclaim the Labour Party so that it becomes the party who stands up for all who need support rather than those who pay the most money. Those fighting Jeremy are unaware of the social shift that has been brought about by the awakening of the masses to politics. Those who are are frightened as this will mean the end of their privilege. These masses need to include members of the BAME community who for so long have given so much and received so little. Their unique experiences need to be part of our new society and we need to stand beside them to ensure they are.

BAME Labour

Operation Black Vote 
Jeremy for Labour

Money money money 

I was up late last night.  I normally am.  At around three there was a ping from my partners I pad.  He has BBC news alerts on there.

Like most people if you get a phone call at three ( or a text message thanks very much Owen Smith ) you think “it’s bad news” and it’s the same with the ping – what is happening in the world should we be hiding under the bed?

So I looked at the alert and it was telling me that someone and won something at the Olympics.

After the sigh of relief that we were not about to be annilated I through what the…… Ok it’s interesting and important but really?

So I looked at the BBC news website today and it’s full of olympics stuff.  Again I love sport but there is a sports section on the website so why so much on the news.

The other day when the action of the NEC was deemed unlawful in the courts I looked on the website.  Headline news is some one holding a medal looking happy .

So today in my mind , which when it comes to the media is a little cynical I will admit, I thought what don’t they want us to know? So I began my usual look through the Internet for any interesting news.

I found within a couple of seconds a Mirror article explaining how a pet project of Iain Duncan Smith ( you remember him the guy who cried on telly about a single mother whilst fighting to hide documentation about how many deaths changes and cuts to disability benefit has caused ) in which those on job seekers allowance were made to go to an office for 35 hours a week and under supervision look for work has been scrapped.

It did not work basically.  And it cost £1.4 million pounds.

Mirror – Tories quietly cut IDS pet project
I then found another article in The Guardian about another scheme aimed at helping turn around families lives by support and intervention.  This has also failed due to how it was instigated and ran.

That one cost £1.3 billion pounds.

Guardian – failure go government scheme
So in the matter of a few minutes of looking at the newspapers on line I read how the government wasted £1.7 billion pounds.

What could that money have been spent on?

Well £1.5 billion is the bill for student maintenance grants which go to university students from the poorest backgrounds

BBC – scrapping grants
It could pay for the PFI payments for ten of the NHS trusts with the highest debts . At nearly £600 million it could pay it for a couple of years.  Of course it could go toward paying off the debts completely which would save the tax payer money and give the NHS money  to be spent on medical care.

Telegraph – the true cost of PFI
To put it another in another light £ 1.7 billion is actually higher than the amount of money lost in benefit fraud, with estimates based on government figures as being £1.3 billion .  However it is nowhere near the £34 billion in taxes which are not paid , a figure some say is conservative ( no pun intended) and it is more like £120 billion.

The week – which cost more benefit fraud or tax evasion
It is also a drop in the ocean when you consider that it is estimated between £13 billion and £24 billion in unclaimed benefits per year.

Blog – unclaimed benefits
Gov report – take up of benfits
Turn2us – unclaimed benefit
Mirror – unpaid benefits
We all know what has been happening to welfare under this government.  We all know the word austerity. We all know who voted for and against welfare cuts.  However we are told every day of the cheats and the frauds who are robbing the tax payer.  those on benefits who are too lazy to work.  We are told of the drain on resources this is.

The media and the government do not want you to know the truth so they hide the release of reports, ensure that the media do not give these stories the blanket coverage they deserve.  They wait for good days to bury bad news.

And most importantly they label those rare politicians who know about this, want more money spent on fighting tax evasion , want to ensure that money goes to people who need it are foolish, talk nonsense economics, are unelectable.  They want to make sure that those who support them and his plans are seen as easily fooled , Trotskies , out of touch cult followers living in a dream land.

And this is coming from those who claim to be for the people.  Claim they stand for true Labour Values. From the Deputy Leader.

Theresa May said the other day that we should not think of austerity as a bad thing but rather that people live within their means.  How is it Theresa that the people have to live within their means but the government can waste a substancial amount of money ? Can misinform us about what really costs us the most ? Can de humanise people so that someone actually thought it was right to treat them  in a contemptible and humiliating manner. Forcing them to be supervised in an office to look for jobs and which failed.

It is because we keep watching the news and accepting what they say and present without question. Because most people do not spend any time looking at political news as they don’t do politics.  They may know the people in suits and shirt sleeves are not working in their best interest but nothing will change.

I would say watch the coverage of plucky Team GB tonight by all means . But then take a few minutes to look elsewhere.  Because there is going to be a change, and it would be wonderful if you were a part of it.

Since writing this and after the sad death of the Duke of Westminster , have read his heir will not pay inheritance tax on their fortune.  The full article is here.

Guardian – Duke of Westminster will not pay inheritance tax

The late Duke did give to charity and said that he was not happy he was born rich.  If this were the case then why take steps to avoid paying tax ? This one payment alone would equal the entire revenue collected by HMRC for  inheritance tax from the UK last year.  I think his title is rather apt , don’t you ?


Hear my voice

So we have today a lovely piece in the guardian today from Tom Watson.

Let’s just take a few moments here to digest the headline.  The article here.

Tom Watson guardian article
I thoughts about how to respond and I though how unfair it is that he gets to express himself in this national newspaper which I think to be honest is also having an existential crisis if that is possible for a newspaper.

And I thought about the response to and the events happened because of a recent blog I posted.

What’s the deal with this guy
My words inspired someone to write a comment which inspired many.  This then lead to the responder amongst other things giving a speech and my being asked to write for a website.

What would happen if that voice had larger audience?

Also today I read another post by someone like me.  Trying to calmly explain that we are not idiot or fools, we are not the ones hell bent of the distraction of a political movement that we love nor are we all coerced into blindly following one man like a brainwashed cult.

So I shared it on here as it made me think two voices are better than one.

But we have 500,000 voices.  Not all of them will sing with us but the majority would.

So here I will post Sarah’s response again to my blog and I am asking you to do something .  It is one small thing but we can make it massive.

Take a few seconds to like and then reply.  It can be a long or short reply .  I want to hear how you feel , why you support Jeremy, why you became interested in politics even why you joined.  No insults or derision , no personal attacks or hate.  Just why you want Jeremy as leader.

Let’s have a central collection of voices . Share blog posts and links so that all of this information can be put together so all our single voices become one and this can then be shared even more to show people who we truly are.

We have been demeaned and vilified for too long – we need to respond with a united voice.

Please share and post and reblog and Twitter and print and do whatever it takes for this to get off the ground and start running .

Thank you #wearehismedia

Sarah says:

July 31, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Hi there! Erm… I’m the woman in the photo! Someone recognised me and sent me your article (very surreal experience). I just thought I’d write a bit to expand on what you’ve said, to give a bit more insight to why I was so lit up.
Growing up, I used to ask questions about what I saw when my dad watched the news. My dad would say “shush I’m watching the news” and my mum would say “I don’t know, I don’t bother with that stuff anymore.” Any mention of something political and she would shut off with a look of faint disgust. As a kid I didn’t really put two and two together, but it made sense later on. That my mum had difficulties with mental health, that she had been prevented from being able to be employed by that and was placed under the additional crushing weight of poverty, trying to get together enough food to keep me and my brother well. That she had no access to any support and at the same time was labelled one of those council estate scroungers… what would that do to your faith in politics? What was the point? They would come along with their promises, rarely aimed at you in any case as you’re below the level they’re pitching at, and would break any designed to shatter poverty/inequality and improve mental health anyway. That’s the thing, even Labour had stopped aiming at families like ours. The rhetoric across all parties became increasingly aimed at those lucky enough to dream of buying a house, not those who struggled to buy bread.
Jump forward to me being a teenager, brought up to treat others nicely, as you never, ever know how bad a day someone is having, so you should try to behave like they might be sad. Because there’s no way of knowing. To have a deep knowledge of how bad things can happen that nobody expects or would will on their worst enemies and that those things can make life hard enough that basic functioning can be a major struggle. Knowing my mum was bitter about politics but that she was proud of having a daughter who cared about stuff, even if she wasn’t sure it would ever end up helping anything. I ended up with my own mental health difficulties, also Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Was knocked flat out of education. Got a middle class boyfriend. Had to explain to him that he couldn’t just say I could help myself to anything in the fridge, that the idea terrified me (anyone who has been in a similar situation might understand that). Hearing his parents talking about politics and feeling hurt for not growing up in a house where politics was something to be discussed, not given up on, and feeling so very, painfully stupid. Relearned that I was different and didn’t truly have a space at the table.
Early twenties, and I’ve have been cajoled into trying university, discover I like it. Study sociology, as it seems to look closest at the things I find fascinating but don’t understand. Hierarchies. Intersections of oppression. Why I have always felt in some vital, essential way different and lower than my middle class counterparts, to those without illness. I learn about inequalities. I learn about micro-aggressions. I learn about it not being all my fault no matter how much my subconscious screams that I’m stupid in spite of my grades. Not that it made much difference, I felt no connection with Labour as much as I wanted to, as it wasn’t fighting for those who desperately needed fighting for, and I felt there was nowhere realistically to turn.
I manage to get a scholarship for a post-grad I could never have afforded otherwise, eventually decide academia is not for me for various reasons, then what happens? The world starts to feel like it’s turning on its head as it looks like someone that’s actually loudly talking about poverty, about mental health, about the benefits of immigration might get into a position of power. Can you imagine? I watch a video and here’s someone talking about how they always, even in times of great stress make sure they *make* time to do nice and relaxing things – promoting self-care for mental health. I see someone suggesting that they aren’t sure about a plan for single gender train carriages and that they need to look at more evidence and *speak to women* to find out if it would really be appreciated. I see someone saying they refuse to be involved in slanging matches, that vociferously campaigned against apartheid, that supported numerous campaigns in spite of them not necessarily being the best for his career. Helping those at the very very bottom is never good for your career. They don’t seem to have the power to immediately make it worth your while. They’re often disenfranchised and bitter about politics and don’t see the point in bothering.
I called my mum to ask her if she’d think about joining as an affiliate (if I sent her a bit of money to cover it) to vote for Corbyn as I felt he could actually do something. She laughed angrily and said “I don’t think so.” She had only recently written to Cameron to explain that the bedroom tax meant she couldn’t afford a winter coat. That there wasn’t a smaller council house for her to move to with her son. He explained in his cookie cutter letter that we all have to make sacrifices and tighten our belts. Can you imagine? Can you? Still, she realised how important it was to me and asked me to explain what I thought was so different.
My mum watches the news now. She watched newsnight even. She calls me to ask me to explain political stuff. She is engaged. She calls Corbyn “our Jeremy, bless ‘im.” But it’s not about just one person, it’s about someone trying to turn the oil tanker that is the Labour Party, trying to get it back on the course we need it to be, when we don’t have any access to the steering wheel. I feel like there might be space for me in the Labour Party now, and my mum. There might be more people who care as deeply and will let us in, not just tell us we’re naive, not tell us we’re stupid, not tell us we’re fanatics, not crow over bits of news reveling in difficulties the campaign has, not rubbing salt in that open wound. There might be a way to feel empowered. To allow my mum to feel empowered. I won’t have been the only one with a story like that either – I can’t tell you how it feels, but “unrestrained joy” comes pretty close.
That’s what was running through my head as I stood there smiling.
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