I’ve just returned from my week long sojourn at Glastonbury working for the charity Children’s World by helping with the accreditation in the Theatre & Circus fields. It was muddy; very muddy; immovably, miserably muddy. My eldest daughter loved it, but she was more prepared than I was to trudge to find those special moments that makes Glasto so rare. Nevertheless, there were highlights: Muse, the Phillip Glass Heroes Symphony, a bizarre and fabulous Japanese post-punk orchestra, Will Young in a dress. In the immediate aftermath, I said never again, now I’m not so sure.
I returned to an email telling me that one of my short stories had been shortlisted for the Momaya Press competition, which is nice. I hear at the end of July whether this shortlisting will turn into further success.
A few days later, I received quite the nicest rejection from Philip Elliott, the editor of ‘Into the Void’ magazine who said, “We want you to know that we really did like your work, particularly ‘The Anomalous…’ but the way themes emerged and how the pieces fit together yours didn’t quite have a place in this particular issue. Please also realise that we received over a thousand submissions and were only able to publish less than 40 in total this time around, so that is also a factor. We hope you will submit to us again because we’d love to see more of your work and as far as we’re concerned you’re connected to us as an artist and we hope it’s a connection that remains.”
Otherwise, life is tinged with anger and depression at the Brexit vote and the disintegration of the Labour Party. I knew that the vote would be close, but I had hoped that we would remain. I underestimated the anger of the industrial fringes who stood up and said, ‘it can’t get any worse’. I don’t believe that the vast majority of out-voters are inherently racist. Immigration is a concern, but a minor one compared to the underlying despair in towns and cities whose industries have been destroyed and aspirations impoverished. They have been crushed by neo-capitalist dogma.
The Labour Party have lost their ability to represent the workers and their self-serving attempt to bypass democracy and force Corbyn into resigning was contemptible. I’m glad they failed. But, in doing so they have hastened the split of the party, with a majority of MPs veering towards a social-democratic position and a majority of the members returning to socialism. Everyone refers to historical precedent, but the line has shifted. The centre ground of politics is now conservative and if the Labour Party MPs wish to dig that furrow then they should leave, because they cannot in all good conscience represent the workers or call themselves socialists. Corbyn is not a good leader, but he’s the only one they’ve got and so deserves the party’s support.
My over-riding concern, however, is the fracturing of democracy. We vote in governments and decide in referendums based on the decision of the minority of the electorate. 52% decided to leave the EU, but that was only 17m people. The battleground now needs to be a drive towards more inclusive democracy: proportional representation, reducing the voting age to 16, making online voting a standard, making voting an obligation not a choice.