So Teresa May has announced a general election on 8th June!
Innes, my support worker, announced this on the bus half an hour ago as we were on our way back from a hospital appointment.
The news surprised, confused, excited, terrified and depressed me all at once. And I know I won’t be alone in having conflicting emotions.
Back in May 2015 I was so eager to vote: after five years of watching austerity policies rip the heart out of my community, seeing equalising measures like the Independent Living Fund and the Disability Living Allowance dismantled, and seeing the NHS and the social care system on their knees, I cast my vote full of determined optimism.
So when the Conservative Government, with their vindictive ideology and destructive policies, were granted another term I felt utterly crushed.
The results of the last election and of the EU referendum show a country divided. This makes me deeply sad. I can’t believe that as a population we don’t want the same things from and for each other – to be safe, to be healthy, to have somewhere to live, somewhere to learn, and to feel valued.
So often in the last seven years I’ve felt powerless, looking on as things I care about are destroyed. Politics has felt like something that’s being done to me, to my community, and to our society – and it shouldn’t be this way.
Politics should be a process that helps us imagine and create the society we all want to live in together. Collectively we have to reclaim this process and not leave it to our current cohort of career politicians. Now more than ever we must talk and listen to each other, resist stereotypes, and be open to new ways of thinking.
The next seven weeks are going to be hard. We’ll be inundated with sound bites and slogans, some sounding like they make sense, but many spiked with fearmongering and self-interest.
We must look out for each other, engage openly, communicate thoughtfully, question, fact-check and reflect on what we are being told.
Let’s not allow this election be done to us. Let’s reclaim the process and use it as an opportunity to talk to each other and make the decisions for ourselves.
As you’d expect, my tics have some suggestions to get us started:
“Let’s talk about putting fat cats on a diet.”
“Let’s talk about cleaning up after capital letters.”
“Let’s talk about giggly sheepdogs and over-inflated lion balloons.”
We can go from there!