It’s been a truly interesting few days – an election where the vote swung from too close to call to a Conservative majority, gained entirely unexpectedly, sending swathes of the country into mourning and others into victorious crowing.
We’ve lost giants of UK politics – regardless of where you stand on their political leanings – some will be missed, some not at all, some will be forgotten. The recriminations will go on for months if not years and, I believe, we will not see clearly how this landslide effects our nation until generations have past and we view this period as a faded memory.
I come from a liberal artistic northern stand point. I work, live and breath theatre and comedy. I believe in equality and have hopes and dreams that future generations will inherit a better society than the one we were passed and the one our parents were passed. Among my circle of friends and colleagues there is a sense of hopelessness, dismay, disbelief, mourning and anger.
I too feel this – however I also feel that with this earthquake, and it is such, there is also the possibility of great cleanse, and of opportunity.
The new Conservative government has inherited a cracked and divided country – London and the South East seems at odds with the rest of our nation – the poor struggle as they have before , the NHS is stretched, nuclear weapons our revenge in waiting and rhetoric about past failings of a now disbanded government at the root of every problem seems entrenched in the political voice.
Yet there are shoots, there are hopes, this election will newly politicize a new generation, a generation capable of breaking the status quo, a generation capable of building, listening, trusting and believing, a generation that wants change, wants to build a better society.
I experienced a theatrical game the other evening, Early Days (Of A Better Nation) by Coney, a show where an audience is split and divided into three conflicting regions. With limited resources they must seek a brighter future amid civil unrest, greed, rage, bitterness, disease and savage brutality.
The game is designed to end with a nation incapable of being repaired – tribal groups, regions, incapable of coming together, agitators among them, only willing to accept decisions on their own terms, terms that would, unknowingly lead to the downfall of their state. Yet a remarkable thing happened – in a game designed to find failure, to find conflict, engineered to find disruption, it found peace, harmony and resolution.
The conversation which started about what I need, what my region needs, turned, it morphed, it became about what the Nation needs. Resources were shared, generosity became abundant, those with gave to those without, selfishness was pushed aside for common purpose and a better nation emerged – and it started because of trust – trust created by honesty, apology and humility – trust that proved we are better than we give ourselves credit for and that trust, that hope, will be rewarded in the end.
I’ve been working on a stand up show about politics and democracy (see the opening here) – I’ve spoken to councillors, MPs, voters and agitators – and they all want the same thing, a better nation – we need to learn balance, to find common ground with each other, work together.
Politics is unforgiving. It is brutal. It turns perception of idealists from saints to sinners. Its very form puts candidates on a pedestal before pushing them in a situation where failure and personal destruction is the only way out. Tony Blair introduced a National Minimum Wage, new employment rights , constitutional reforms; new rights for gay people and took us to war. Saint or sinner, angel or devil? Perceptions of people as good or bad, right or wrong, good or evil, are, often, displayed as such, polar opposites, black or white rather than the shades of grey we really have.
The challenge for us now, for us all now is to change our national discourse, from them against us to we, from the North versus the South to together, we need to learn to listen, accept that life is full of grey areas, offer humility and respect and then inject our nation with heart, with love, with true compassion and learn to forgive – but it all comes from trust – that first, tantalizingly dangerous first step.
There will be those who’ll read this and get angry, who’ll be staggered in disbelief at my idealism and naievity, who’ll say that some people are just bad, some people don’t care, some people cannot be trusted.
You’re part of the problem.