I must have lost my head. Or should that be “ma heid?” I’ve just signed an utterly preposterous petition – proposing that the North of England secedes to Scotland. Part of me said, “don’t be daft.” And then I reflected that there are a great many ideas that seemed daft when people first came up with them. Scottish Independence, for instance. Not in my lifetime.
The world is changing, very fast. I hardly feel I can keep up with it, and I’m only 56 years old. I have two young adult offspring who are already way ahead of me on political matters, who keep me in touch with reality. I don’t mean the reality that nothing can ever change, that the Tory press will always manage to pour their poison in people’s ears, that this little island of us will diminish on the world stage, not only in influence but in morality. That big business always wins.
I look at these 56 SNP MPs descending on stuffy Westminster like a Blackpool girls hen night, ruffling feathers, eating chips on the terrace, taking selfies, shaking things up. I look at UKIP imploding. I look at that circle of red, London, in a sea of blue, and I wonder if I really do want to retire to the South of England. I also wonder why people aren’t rioting on the streets of London now, and feel that if they have any plans to do so they’d better get out and bloody do it now before the Tories classify any form of protest as terrorism and make it illegal, and terrify the BBC into not mentioning demos until they are over and done with, and only mentioning the policemen that get hurt, and nobody else.
And I see an alternative. I see hope.
Not hope, realistically, that Britain will ever be divided by a line from the Dee to the Humber, and north of it will be a liberal paradise. But hope that it is still possible to want something better, and to think outside the box.
Thank you Scotland, for showing us the way. I am tired, it’s late, and I’m less coherent than I might be, so I will end with the words of my son, written on his Facebook page last Friday. I am so proud of both my kids. They have joined the Labour Party this week. I don’t feel able to follow suit at the moment, first we have to figure out what the Labour Party stands for. But if the SNP ever open a southern branch, I’ll be first in line to sign up.
I’ve seen many calls for the Left to organise today. And they are absolutely correct. But at times like this, just as important as organisation against our foes is solidarity with our friends.
Someone you know is already suffering as a result of Tory policy. Even more will feel the brunt of it soon. In hard times we have a tendency to retreat into ourselves, only expressing a communal spirit in collective anger – but just as important is being there for those close to you. For those with precarious or zero-hours employment, who don’t know where their next meal will come from. For those who have had their benefits cut off because the Jobcentre wouldn’t believe that they had a mental illness. For those who can’t afford to live in their own homes anymore because of rent increases and punitive disability taxes. For those who are facing right-wing racism and xenophobia. For those who can no longer afford legal aid or adequate healthcare.
For the next five years, we must address these injustices through both mass organisation and local aid. The Conservatives are fighting tooth and nail to abandon those who it is a state’s duty to support. We mustn’t let them do it. We must resist all that has been done already and all that lies down the line. And we must refuse to abandon or to be abandoned. Remember, many people you know are or will be fighting their own battles – don’t let them fight alone.