People go on and on (actually most people don’t)….
People in politics and people who work in media, go on and on about the lack of engagement in British politics. Like quite a few people I’ve met in theatre, they tend to blame the audience.
Like many of the millions in this country who don’t show their political allegiances by attending rallies, or fundraisers, carrying cards or even WOWSER spending money on it…. I’ve always cared about politics. I just didn’t care that much for politicians or the ways in which politics was being sold to me.
Last year, as matters came to a head in the run up to the General Election, I was part of the Green surge. I’ve counted myself as a member of the Green movement for years. And last year it felt only decent and right to tell them so more formally by sending them £10 and signing up. I’m very glad I did, because I think each small individual act, helped other people do the same…. it helped the movers and shakers and doorstop campaigners in the Greens to have more confidence. And as every Green supporter became a member, it sent a message to the other parties. These private gestures from individuals have strengthened our politics just as much as the Corbyn phenomenon.
This year, I’ve joined the Women’s Equality Party as a founder member. It costs from £2 per month. The same spread out over a year (and here I’m mostly talking to my theatre/arts friends and allies) as a night out for two in a Fringe Theatre. (Ticket prices go up as well as down). 45,000 people women and men thought it was worth the price of the ticket too. Oh, and here’s the best bit – #WE is non-partisan meaning #WE work collaboratively and #WE members can also be a member of another political party or none. #WE work across the spectrum.
I’ve never been a great joiner of clubs or societies, religions – there is something in me that winces at the notion of “being whipped” (sorry terrible pun, totally unintended). I tend to want to look across the entire menu.
And that’s why the Women’s Equality Party is so appealing to people who are similar to me in their attitude to getting involved with politics. #WE lets me breathe and gives me space to continue to promote what’s important to me alongside the six #WE principles:
WE are pushing for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life. WE are pressing for equal pay and an equal opportunity to thrive. WE are campaigning for equal parenting and caregiving and shared responsibilities at home to give everyone equal opportunities both in family life and in the workplace. WE urge an education system that creates opportunities for all children and an understanding of why this matters. WE strive for equal treatment of women by and in the media. WE seek an end to violence against women.
And since I agreed to sign up to these six principles and put myself forward for selection to represent the #WE, I haven’t felt my identity diminished or swallowed up. On the contrary, it’s making me sharpen what I think and have the confidence to say it.
We are so fortunate in this country to enjoy the freedoms we take for granted. They were all campaigned and fought for. They didn’t come for free and they don’t exist in a vacuum. About 100 years ago a bunch of tough, brilliant, visionary women made it possible for me to be doing what I do today. And they were preceded by other people unafraid to challenge the status quo. And we haven’t really paid it forward, have we, we 20th century Britons? I honestly think that now is the time and #WE can take us forward.
JOIN NOW – it doesn’t hurt a bit
Rebecca Manson Jones is standing for selection to represent the Womens’ Equality Party in the London Assembly elections 2016. The deadline for voting in the selection is Thursday 28th January. The London Assembly election is in May 2016.
Find out why the London Assembly is important for every Londoner here