On Saturday I was one of 250 citizens who met at the Queens Street statue of Aneurin Bevan, to protest the Tories’ austerity measures, with the Cardiff People’s Assembly. Thankfully, it’s my democratic right to do so.
Whilst I was aware that my presence at the rally could attract the media, I’m sure that you’ll be shocked to hear that I didn’t do it for some self-aggrandising purpose. As I’ve stated in my previous piece, I have no wish to be trolled and abused. It would be much easier for me not to engage. I’m not promoting a record or a tv show. My only motivation for attending was to try to make a difference; to further political discourse in my community; to draw attention to a cause that is more than valid, it is vital.
Many people I know (myself included) received the news that the Tories had won a majority (and that UKIP got so many votes!) with bewilderment. It wasn’t at all what was expected, especially considering that the political conversation, that we’d seen on social media for the past 6 months, had been overwhelmingly in support of the left-wing parties. There can only be one conclusion: we’ve been preaching to the converted.
It’s all very well for me to sit in my cosy leftie bubble with my baja-sporting friends, spending our free time attending vegan popup barbecues and meeting in art centres to have a bit of a moan about UKIP; we missed the changing climate of British politics. We dismissed the growing support for the rightwing as just a few comedy racists, underestimated the momentum they were gaining, and thought that by retweeting the latest Owen Jones article, we were doing our bit. Wrong!
We need to take the action we should’ve taken before, now! Just because the piratical Conservative party now have a majority doesn’t mean that we’ve lost. On the contrary, it mean we’ve got to fight harder. Personally, I feel I haven’t done enough, and I’m going to change that.
For Andrew R.T Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, to describe my exercising of democratic freedom, as “unbecoming”, really says more than I ever could. Perhaps Andrew thinks I should get back to the ironing and stop babbling on about air-headed notions such as protecting the NHS (a system that Mr. Davies himself has been most mobile in attacking), fighting for a fairer society (a concept that entirely eludes his party), and championing the plight of those in society who are less privileged than me. Perhaps he wants to quiet me because I threaten his status as a wealthy, privately educated, white male.
As for him, and others, denigrating me as a “champagne socialist”, I have to say I’m more of a Prosecco girl, myself. I was born in a working-class family who have for generations been active in political protest. I was 9 years old when I was first taken to a demonstration by my mother, who at the time was working as a housing officer for Cardiff council. That was three years before my career as a singer began. I have earned a lot of money from creating music, but I’ve stayed in Cardiff, where my family are, where the people I grew up with are, where my roots are. I could have sacked them all off and moved to LA. I could have made a lot more money by investing in arms and oil, rather than ethically. I could have voted Tory.
Christopher Hart for the Daily Mail decried protestors as “enemies of democracy”. Democracy doesn’t just end because we’ve had an election. Trying to silence the dissenting voice is far more anti-democratic. Mr. Davies sees me carrying a placard as an insult to the electorate, “who have just spoken”. But while he spends his time criticising me, he ignores the fact that there are serious legitimacy issues with David Cameron’s government. Only 24% of those eligible to vote, voted Tory. That’s staggeringly low. And in my opinion it is completely unacceptable. I am no fan of UKIP, but if I had voted for them I’d be seriously pissed off.
The situation, though, is far from hopeless. If you feel at all like me, I beg you to get involved. Find out when a rally is happening in your area. Turn up. As it happens those who set up these marches are, in my experience, lovely people, who care about their communities; not hooligan, memorial desecrating, chodes. If we pull together then we can’t be ignored. We need to be organised, but most of all we need numbers.
There’s a march in London on 20th June outside the Bank of England. Here’s the link: http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/calendar
Hope to see you there.
Love and cyber-hugs,