Saturday, 9 May 2015

Five Ways In Which You Can Resist

I woke up this morning and thought for just a second that the past 24 hours had been an awful dream. No such luck. It turns out that the politics of selfishness, fear and austerity really did appeal to a majority in the UK.

I am desperately worried about the next five years. Worried for women, for mothers, for children. For teachers and doctors and nurses. Terrified for anyone who becomes unwell or loses their job, and for people with disabilities. Concerned about young people trying to get an education, find jobs and affordable places to live. There can be no doubt that with inequality having soared under the Coalition, with the families of half a million children relying on foodbanks in one of the world's richest countries, with the wealthiest citizens seeing that wealth increase while they dodge tax, the future looks bleak.

Right now, resistance is not futile: it's essential.

1. Don't just complain: do something
I'm massively guilty of this, thinking that having a right good moan on Twitter is somehow 'doing my bit' for the cause. Instead, engage with local politics and community issues. Seek out local charities which work with refugees, or volunteer at a foodbank. That old hippy saying, "Be the change you want to see in the world?" Never more true than now.

2. Get to know your MP.
Your MP is there to represent their constituents, which is you. Regardless of their (and your) political affiliation, you need to make sure they know your views on the issues that concern you, be that the NHS, the Human Rights Act or a possible EU referendum. Make a nuisance of yourself. Write, email, phone, visit their offices. With the Tory majority in parliament being slim, pressure on your local MP can contribute to key debates and votes going against the government.

3. Protest, protest, protest
Now, more than ever, we need to get out onto the streets and make our voices heard. I will be joining the march against austerity in London on June 20th, organised by the People's Assembly. Sisters Uncut campaign against the affects of austerity on women, specifically cuts to domestic violence services. People's March For The NHS have spread their campaign across England after first focusing on marches in London (and while London protests and marches are obviously useful in terms of political and media visibility, they aren't always easy for those of use who don't live close to the capital). And UK Uncut stage UK-wide acts of 'creative civil disobedience' to protest against austerity. So get involved: donate what you can to resistance groups, get involved with organising on a local level, show your support by turning up to their protests and events.

4. Join a political party and/or a trade union
We are much stronger collectively than individually, and this has never been more true than now. Unless the Labour Party undergoes a socialist revolution, I personally don't feel any political party represents my own views enough to join, but I'm an active member of my trade union. And thanks to Gwen, who reminded me about the Electoral Reform Society. If there's one thing this election has shown, it's that the our electoral system is broken: the ERS campaign for changes to the current First Past The Post system.

5. Use social media as a tool of solidarity
Finally, seek support and advice from the voices of those with whom you have solidarity. It's been pointed out frequently in the past day that Twitter and Facebook tend to act as echo chambers, in which our own views are repeated back to us, because we of course we generally choose to follow those with whom we share political views. However, while there is clearly a desperate need for those of us on the Left in the UK to engage with people who voted Tory, we also need to engage in some self-care. And for me, in the desperate sadness of the past 24 hours, that has included using Twitter as a tool of support, taking comfort from the fact that other people are feeling the same as me, and using that to mobilise and begin taking action.