It took me six days to find a bright side to the election result. It may take longer than that for me to find something else to write about, mind, but I have at last stopped wandering around saying “that election result…jeeeez…” to every man, woman, child and pigeon that happens to cross my path.
In that six days, I felt a genuine sense of despair. A grey cloud, the nagging fear that the UK just got a little more selfish, a little colder, a little more unforgiving as a nation. It’s been hard not to take the result incredibly personally – but maybe that’s always the case when the party you vote for doesn’t get in. I can’t tell you how many times I Googled “how to start a political party” and “emigrate to Sweden” last weekend – my internet history suggested I was writing the next Nordic noir sensation, with a political slant. I couldn’t keep away from the news, from Twitter, from the analysis, the think-pieces, the reaction articles. I positively wallowed in the doom and gloom.
In a way though, this could be the best thing that’s happened to the Left. (I hesitate when using the terms ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ because most people don’t think in those terms any more – at least not among the younger generations – but we don’t really have any other words yet.)
Best case scenario: this could be the thing that moves people from online activism to real action. Sharing articles and signing petitions is great, but it’s ignorable. You can’t ignore several thousand people marching in the streets (well, you can try, as was shown last Saturday, but it comes out eventually). At least one person I know has joined the Electoral Reform Society as a direct result of the election. A number of good friends are planning on going on the People’s Assembly End Austerity Now demo on 20th June (myself included). The test will be in maintaining that sense of urgency, that restlessness, that desire to bring about change, and sooner rather than later.
The ‘Left’ are perhaps always going to be at a slight disadvantage because real change involves stepping into the unknown. We can, in theory, go anywhere from here – it is, to quote Sara Bareilles, all uncharted.
I’ve said it before but it can withstand repeating – the people that have brought about real change in this world are the ones everyone else thought were mad to even try. The people who were, in short, way ahead of their time. I think the next two or three years might see a slightly angrier, more vociferous, more obviously politicized generation start to emerge. People will step out from behind their screens, having absorbed all the stories and information and other points of view that the internet has granted them access to, and will be all the more open-minded for it. And it will be them – well, us – who are the driving force for genuine change, fuelled by impatience, bored of waiting for the older generations to catch up.
It’s not that we were bad losers, you see. We’re just ahead of our time.
In the spirit of defiance and not backing down and whatnot, have this.
And I don’t know if I’ve completely missed the boat with this track – the fact that I keep hearing it in Dorothy Perkins suggests, yes, I have indeed – but I am obsessed with this dark, sexy, mildly-threatening-in-the-best-possible-way little number.