Posts Tagged ‘activism’

My generation isn’t apathetic. Telling us we are is an insult to democracy

15/11/2013, 10:09:01 AM

by Sam Fowles

We keep getting told that we’re not interested in “politics”, the reality is we’re just doing it better.

Apparently I don’t give a shit. Or at least my generation doesn’t. The story is we hate “politics”. Or, to use the most popular parlance, we’ve “lost faith” in it. We think “all politicians are the same” so we don’t vote.

Our elders are turning to UKIP in droves. Apparently because Nigel Farage will say things that ordinary politicians, hamstrung by their own bland, focus grouped platitudes, simply can’t.

Well yes, he does. It’s called extremism.

My generation’s collective decision to go home and watch The Inbetweeners again rather than vote for UKIP is possibly the strongest argument there is for putting us in charge of the country as soon as possible.

More importantly though, to say we don’t care about politics is just wrong. My generation may just be the most political in history. With Twitter, Facebook and blogs we’re analysing and commenting on the world around us on a far greater scale than our parents.

We have marched in our thousands against the war in Iraq, tuition fees and for fairer alternatives to the coalition’s economic masochism. Student activism and politics is a growing, not a declining phenomenon. No More Page 3, possibly the most important socio-political movement of the decade, is the brainchild of 20-somethings spread through social media and receiving it’s most decisive support through student unions.

Even outside those activities more overtly labelled “political”, my generation are churning out videos, songs, stories, plays, flashmobs and slutwalks which challenge every cultural dictum, from gender norms to post modernist theory.

So why does the prevailing opinion seem to be that we’re apathetic? Perhaps because people keep telling us we are. This is a story that’s being pedaled primarily by print media, TV and, somewhat paradoxically, politicians themselves.

Why do those most obviously involved in politics seem so desperate to convince us “millenials” that they’re irrelevant to us? That we are not interested in listening to them, debating their ideas or voting for them?

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My good friend Tony Gardner

20/10/2011, 07:30:57 AM

by Peter Watt

My good friend Tony Gardner died this week, aged 84 years old. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years, but I kept in touch with how he was. He was the man who first really got me active in Labour politics and was a friend, mentor and supporter for many years. I know that I will miss his friendship. But I will always have fond memories of the pints of beer and conversation we enjoyed in The George and The Blue Boar.

We sat, supped, reviewed that evening’s canvassing and planned our assault on the political citadel of Poole borough council. His advice has stood me in good stead over the years, even if we never quite managed to take the borough chamber.

Tony was the Labour candidate in Wolverhampton South West in 1964, losing to Enoch Powell. He was elected to the House of Commons for the Rushcliffe constituency in 1966 and served for four years before losing to Ken Clarke in 1970. He stood again, unsuccessfully, in the two elections in 1974 in the Beeston constituency. He moved to Poole on the south coast and over the years he stood in countless local elections and then was Labour’s candidate at the 1994 European elections in the Dorset and East Devon Constituency. He once told me that he’d joined the Labour league of youth because its parties attracted the best girls. (more…)

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Rob Carr recommends a rest

18/05/2010, 09:47:01 AM

Now is a time for recovery for election activists.  Whether from dog-bites, worn feet or just our general levels of sanity.  There are no more major elections for a year.  Party conference isn’t until September.  Now is the time for us to get together in committee rooms, pubs, and around kitchen tables. To enjoy each other’s company.  To be refreshed.  A time to share our tales from the campaign.  Whether it’s stories of ever-larger dogs we have faced down in our mission to deliver leaflets.  Ever smaller letter boxes snapping on our fingertips.  Ever soggier leaflets falling apart in our rain-soaked hands.  

Or memories like the man who told me and a roomful of campaigners that he was going to break into his old house to retrieve his postal vote so he could cast it for Labour.  (We talked  him out of it, in case you’re wondering. He went to his polling station.)   There was the voter who answered his door naked while I was canvassing one evening.  An unpleasant experience, but a confirmed Labour vote all the same.  Or the moment when Labour Party nobility, Sir Jeremy Beecham, popped his head round the corner as I was canvassing and started miming at me.  Surreal then, but hilarious in the pub later. And – my personal favourite of the 2010 election – the Labour promise whom,  on election day,  I had to convince hadn’t cast her vote the previous week via Facebook.  I’ve no doubt we all have a good collection of similar stories and experiences to tell,  and now is the time to relax,  reflect,  and enjoy them.

But not for too long.  Just long enough to ready ourselves for the battles to be joined. Because once we’re done resting and reminiscing about the various characters, the incidents tragic and comic, and the madness of polling day, we have to start thinking about what comes next.  Gordon Brown has returned to the back benches for the first time in 20 years. With the loss of the election, we’ve come to a natural time to pause and review. Now is when we think about new direction, new policy, and new leaders.

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