I usually try to avoid writing in the first person. Something about it makes me feel uncomfortable, but writing the following post in anything else just wouldn’t work.
My posts, in the past few weeks, have been infrequent. Part of that has been because of work, but most of all I’ve been struggling.
I’ve been struggling with politics. It’s a subject that consumes all of my energy and passion. Once I couldn’t get enough of it, but now I just want to get away. In all honesty it’s made me depressed.
At the beginning, I wrote on this blog as a way to make myself feel better. I felt like this was a way to have a voice and try, even if it was only read by a single person, to make someone think, or smile, or even – on a really good day – have a couple of people agree with me. Recently I’ve struggled to type anything or even consider that doing it might be fun, because right now it’s not – it reminds me of how happy politics used to make me, and how hopeless it makes me feel now.
Before May last year I was full of hope. I was so proud to be a member of the Labour Party. I loved who we were – I loved the people in it – and I felt like we were destined for government. I believed that until the exit poll, and even an hour afterwards, when I just couldn’t believe it could be true. Obviously I was wrong. And I know Ed wasn’t perfect, but I used to say, so proudly, that though I was to the left of him, I was proud of Ed as leader and I wouldn’t change a thing; Labour was my home and my family.
I really loved us – I was proud even in defeat – and I suppose that’s why it hurt so much.
Unfortunately I’ve learned that losing is the easy bit. What hurts most is seeing something that you care about become unwelcoming and hateful.
Being told, by people who don’t even know you, that you’re ‘scum’, ‘a red Tory’ and a ‘traitor’ probably shouldn’t hurt, but it does. At least it does me. They tell me this, not because I’m not a socialist (I am, and I’m proud), or because I don’t agree with Jeremy very much (because I do), but purely because I don’t think he can win.
I am sorry if that upsets you, but I’m not going to apologise for believing it. I only say it because I think it matters. Because my passion, my driving force, is the possibility of social justice: a society where the vulnerable are cared for and your background means jack all in relation to what you can achieve. And when we don’t win we fail in achieving that. We fail to help people who need us and we allow the progress of our past to unravel.
That’s why being told to ‘get out of the party’, that I love, really hurts – because I care.
On June the 7th I was shocked and I was ashamed by the EU referendum. My optimism and energy just fell away. That a campaign whipping up hatred against the other, based on deceptions, could receive the endorsement of 52% of people who voted changed me – it broke my faith in people.
Waking up on Wednesday, to Trump, I just felt sick. My girlfriend cried, distraught at the idea that 60 million people could vote for him.
Now society feels like a very dark place. My faith in the possibility of our progress has faltered. Last year you couldn’t persuade me that our future looked bleak. I had a faith in people. Not all, but enough of us. That we would care about each other enough to not buy into division and hatred but empathy and understanding.
Not anymore. I feel estranged by society and the institutions that I love.
I feel lost and depressed. I feel hopeless and sad.
But I am not going to give up.
Throwing in the towel and walking away could be so easy. I wouldn’t have to be told that I’m a traitor and scum. I wouldn’t have to be told that I’m not welcome in Labour. I wouldn’t have to worry about the next election and I wouldn’t have to feel so down.
But I will not walk away from my responsibility to help people.
I will never give up because no matter how much it’s hurts me to fail there is somebody out there who needs me to make a difference: there is a woman with learning disabilities that can’t get her services; there’s a child growing up in poverty that won’t be given a chance; there’s a man on a street corner begging for change; there’s a Indian nurse who’s told to “go home”; there’s woman that dies declared ‘fit to work’ – and I still care about them.
So yes, I feel down. And I’ve lost so much hope. But I will never give up, because there are people who need me to keep fighting – and I always will.
I hope you will too.