Being the change

I haven’t posted for a while, mainly because I’ve been feeling rather depressed. This blog wasn’t meant to be political, but I make no secret of the fact that I am very definitely on the left of the political spectrum. What that means for me is the belief that the better-off should pay fair taxes in order that the most vulnerable can be supported. Who do I mean by vulnerable? Well, actually, it could be any one of us. Some people are affected by something such as a long-term disability which means that they will probably need ongoing support for their entire lives. Others may be sailing along quite happily until the unexpected happens – a shock redundancy, a cancer diagnosis, a child born with special needs, a sudden and dramatic rent increase. None of us are immune from circumstances occurring which would mean we needed support or care from the welfare system, from the NHS, from social services. Despite the best efforts of right-wing parties to paint it so, people who claim benefits are not ‘them’, they can very easily be ‘us’.

I also believe in equality. No one should be unable to fulfil their potential because of the financial or social circumstances they are born into. For me, the best chance of achieving equality comes through education in its many forms – nurseries, schools, universities, FE colleges, libraries, children’s centres, the BBC. Even if you can’t support free and fair education altruistically, think of this. The child may easily have been born who has the brains, flair, imagination, call it what you will, to find a cure for dementia, or to discover a truly sustainable form of energy. What a tragedy, not just for them but for the world, if they are prevented from achieving this because they happened to be born to asylum seekers, or into a third-generation unemployed household where the level of debt now required to obtain a university education is too terrifying to be contemplated.

Holding these beliefs as strongly as I do, I found the General Election result profoundly depressing. The decisions which are being made by the current Government create a country in which I don’t want to bring up my girls. My first response when it became clear that the exit polls were accurate was to tell my husband to start looking for jobs in Scotland. He declined robustly, pointing out that running away never solves anything. And, of course, he is right. It is easy to become demoralised, though, and to feel that you can’t make a difference as one individual against the system.

I have spent the last four weeks pondering whether it is possible to do anything constructive, and what I come back to time and again are the words of Mahatma Gandhi – “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”. I have joined the Labour Party, not because I believe it is perfect, but because I do believe it is our best chance of an effective opposition to the abolition of the Human Rights Act, the BBC, our membership of the EU, a fair and equitable welfare system and the privatisation by stealth of the education system and the NHS. I will support food banks and other organisations which endeavour to fill the gaps left, indeed created, by the Government. Without turning my blog into a political rant (honest!) I will use my writing wherever possible to try and raise awareness of the serious issues facing the country. And I will continue to look out for other ways I can ‘be the change’ as opposed to just moaning. Let me know if you have any ideas!