Saturday, 9 May 2015

Don't despair, do something

What a depressing night. I stayed up long enough to sense that the exit polls were right, but it was only in the morning that the full horror was apparent.

It would appear that the British  English electorate fear economic instability more than they fear the dismantling of the welfare state and the ruining of individual lives. They've put corporate before people.

How could they?

I feel a bit sick when I think about how much worse things could get now that the Tories are in with the kind of endorsement they've had in this election. It seems to me, that those of us who are strongly opposed to the cuts, the devastation of lives, and the threat to the environment by our current practices are going to have to work harder than ever.

I have not so far lived the life of an activist. My first peace protest was earlier this year. I sign on-line petitions, and I've been an active fundraiser for charity, but until relatively recently I've been fairly benign in a political sense. Anyway, family life keeps me busy enough...

Well, yesterday after seeing what had happened I was convinced that more and more people are going to need to be engaged in stitching together the holes in the safety net for society's most vulnerable. Food banks - which should be unnecessary in a country as wealthy as ours - are going to be relied upon more than ever. Charity will have to provide where the government fails to.

So, yesterday I became a woman on a mission. I decided that I would take my first action to make a difference. A small action, but a symbolic one.

I went to the local supermarket and shopped for the food bank. As I'd decided to cycle the goods over to our local food bank (at a guess 3 miles away), I didn't want to overload the basket with heavy items, but I bought everything highlighted in red on their proposed shopping list which for Milton Keynes can be found on-line here.

I hadn't reckoned on having to change a bike tyre along the way, but this made my determination even greater - frustration and disappointment turned into focus and action.

I was happy that this also became a sociable activity as Hannah joined me for the bike ride and also brought some items raided from her cupboard at home. 

And you know what? I felt so much better about having done something with my morning: doing something that will help someone in need, getting out on the bike, meeting up with a friend and having a sense of purpose.

So, my friends, please don't forget that the re-election of a Tory government is not the end, but a continuation. We need to find something, anything, to counteract the negativity, to protect what we believe in and to make a positive difference. I hope this doesn't sound trite or preachy, but I think even small actions can make a difference. Even something as simple as a smile.

So, let's not despair, let's do something. Let's get out there and smile again. x

Monday, 4 May 2015

Please vote for change (thank you Scots)

I started getting more politically engaged with the whole Scottish referendum thing last year. I was impressed by the passion of those debating. For the first time in a long time, it felt as though politicians were talking from the heart, putting their values first. The impact of voting one way or the other was real - votes counted and hearts and minds had to be won. Of course there was a bit of propaganda thrown in, but mostly the politicians were standing up for what they believed in because they truly believed it was in the best interests of their electorate.

It is hard to believe that all of our UK general election candidates have their electorate's best interests at heart.

The Conservatives said that with the scale of the deficit cuts were necessary and we were all in it together. In what way are the top 1% of earners in it together with the poorest in our society? They were given a tax cut on their earning, while vicious benefit cuts have been inflicted on the poorest on our society. The lowest earners, doing their best to make a decent living, have lost any safety net that was available to them.

You may not think that your vote will make a difference, but really, would any other party (save, perhaps UKIP) allowed such an expansion of the wealth of the elite at the same time dependency on Foodbanks has rocketed?

As for the promises they made about the NHS (no top-down reorganisation) and what happened subsequently... well, it beggars belief.

If you are asking the question 'who has the best policies for introducing the scale of change necessary to make a fairer, more equal society' I don't think the answer is Labour. If your question is simply how do we makes things a bit better and prevent another Tory government, then in this constituency, Labour is the answer.

In my opinion, Labour aren't taking a strong enough stance on TTIP, fracking and trident. They aren't radical enough about environmental, transport and welfare issues, and too recently they took us to war in Iraq. It won't surprise you that I think the Green Party most closely matches my values.

Some will say that a vote for the Green Party is wasted, but it will not be wasted to me because I know I will be voting for what I most closely believe in. Hopefully, there will be enough people in my constituency voting Labour as they are best placed to give the Tories a run for their money, but if they are unsuccessful I hope they will look more closely at some of their policies and campaign tactics. In particular, I disagree with the £bns proposed for Trident renewal, which could be so much better spent on things this country needs now.

Also, I was impressed with the women in the leaders' debates: strong, constructive, and supporting each other where their policies overlap. 
 In Scotland, the referendum engaged hearts and minds. It was a moment in history. I was excited about the prospect of a 'yes' because of the values the independent Scotland would have been trying to build its society on. I was fearful of a 'yes' because of the major upheaval and disruption to the whole UK, and the rift it could cause in communities on either side of the border. But I don't like the politics of fear.

Make a choice, make a choice for reasons you believe in and keep working towards a better society whatever the outcome. If you don't vote, you have no influence. Reducing the majority in a safe seat is still better than not turning out and allowing an even greater majority for someone you don't believe in. If you don't believe in any of them, keep voting for change until you get an MP who is voting the way you want on the issues that matter to you. Please.