At the beginning of this year, I didn’t really think much about politics. At best, I had a basic grasp of the situation – who was leading which party… Vaguely what they stood for… Beyond that, it wasn’t something that concerned me.
And yet, yesterday, I woke up still excited about the Women’s Equality Party policies that I saw launched yesterday. I’m currently a paid up member of two political parties, have contributed to policy forming for one and, with my vote, to a fairly large swing to the left in the other. What happened??
First, the election happened. There was something different about the election this year. Something felt important. It felt like possibilities had been opened up. It was no longer a two horse race. I felt compelled to make a fully informed choice, rather than one based on second hand ideas, gleaned from other peoples conversations. I read all the manifestos, watched all the debates, was glued to the news coverage, until I proudly marked a cross in the Labour box on polling day. I remember the unsettling feeling of mild dread, when I woke the next morning to an outright Conservative victory and five years of austerity looming ahead, with no Lib Dems to counteract it.
In the following month or so, two things happened that called me to action. First, Jeremy Corbyn joined the Labour leadership race and I finally saw somebody I could get really excited about voting for. I joined Labour to vote for him and give myself that option at the next election. You’d have to be living in a small white room underground to not have seen the dramatic effect his win has had on the political landscape since then.
Meanwhile, my mum had told me about the Women’s Equality Party, which had just been announced. After a bit of bellyaching about the gender exclusive name (I still have my reservations, but have made peace with it, as the general concept is awesome), I joined. Actually, I didn’t just join, I got involved. I turned up to all the working party meetings, put myself forward for the comms team, took on bits of work, helped to form policy, met some awesome people and became more and more excited about what this party could achieve.
It was that excitement that woke me up yesterday morning, still buzzing from the launch, the brilliant speeches given by Sophie Walker and some very impressive teenagers (Honor Barber! Wow! Future PM?), the fantastically practical yet revolutionary policies that had me beaming the whole way through…
Most of all though, the feeling that this may really change something. That WE can actually do this: create a society that values men and women equally, sees women taking an equal role in running the country, values fathers as equal parents to mothers, sees men and women represented fairly and diversely in the media, boys and girls doing what they enjoy and excel in, regardless of gender…
It’s still very early days, but this feels SIGNIFICANT. For the first time in my life I’m really bloody excited about politics. If you want to get excited with me, here’s the policy launch. It’s about an hour, so grab yourself a drink and settle in. It’s a great watch.