Singing, Acting and Listening across Generations
MUSE – Cincinnati’s Women’s Choir sing They’ll all Sing Bread & Roses
Please listen to this lovely song from a beautifully diverse choir as you read what follows.
Having been involved in leafletting and campaigning for Labour in Macclesfield over the last few weeks, I sensed that a Labour victory was becoming ever more elusive but the scale of the Tory victory has been a bitter pill to swallow. The amazing landslide by the Scottish National Party gave me (born in Scotland) some hope that it is possible to appeal to voters with policies that address social justice.
The day after the election, my Twitter stream was full of blaming that was, I have to say, mainly from white men – some employing threads that claimed their earlier predictions and solutions were ignored – all angry, of course. Of course, there were some great contributions, for example this thread
To people I quite like who are now busy blaming Jeremy Corbyn: short thread
Let me preface what I am going to say by noting that I’ve never stinted on criticism at expense of solidarity. But I also didn’t withhold solidarity in favour of criticism at this crunch time as you did.
— Priyamvada Gopal (@PriyamvadaGopal) December 13, 2019
I think we need better problem-solving approaches. In the Labour party this will occur at national and local levels and I’m keen to see how feminism can inform at both levels. Even before the results came out, I had already resolved to work on attracting younger women to our local branch – we need them.
And there was another pattern emerging of blaming the old that I first noticed in 2016 after the referendum. In contrast, the last verse of ‘They’ll all Sing Bread & Roses’ tells of learning from the past, and struggle linked through generations.
And ‘though each generation fears
That it will be the last,
Our presence here is witness
To the power of the past.
And just as we have drawn our strength
From those who now are gone,
Younger hands will take our work
And carry on.
(And they’ll all sing …) Lyrics (Si Kahn, 1989, 1991)
And I’m going to share a few cameos from my campaigning for this election. I am not drawing conclusions from them but just leaving them here for you to ponder.
In organising leafletting in our ward in Macclesfield, I was put in touch with an 87 year old who recently moved into the ward. We chose a round that was near her, and removed those on Buxton Road (long and steep). She delivered leaflets earlier this week, in wet and miserable weather, with no fuss.
As I was leafletting with Terry, I had trouble pushing the leaflet through a letterbox but eventually succeeded. As I walked away, the front door opened and a young woman opened the door. When I explained what had happened, she picked the leaflet and glanced at it. She then asked me to take away the leaflet, saying “Take it away, they’re too old for all that”.
I delivered a leaflet to a house where an elderly man sat in the window. I waved the leaflet at him to show I was delivering it and he came to the door to pick it up. As I walking away, I glanced back and he saw me. He held up the leaflet and smiled: it made my day.
On the morning after the election, the first message of commiseration I received was an email from a dear friend in her eighties, entitled “Sick as a Parrot”. Through her words, she managed to make me feel better and even smile.
I leave you with a few words from the chorus:
Solidarity forever … We shall all become together, one and all.
I thought of so many people as I wrote this post, including Kate Bowles, Richard Hall, Javiera Atenas, Catherine Cronin, Lorna Campbell, Lou Mycroft, Elisabeth Charles, Patricia Whaley, Helen Beetham, Fiona Wilson, Margaret Mills, Ellen Bell and of course the lovely people from #femedtech. I am blessed by you all. Let’s sing and love our way through this.