(image via The Guardian)
I woke up to the same Britain as everyone else this morning, one I’d hardly expected. A Conservative majority had overturned predictions of a minority Labour government.
The people of Britain had voted to dismantle their lives.
The government’s arts budget – reduced by 36% since 2010 – is likely be cut by the same again during the next parliament, in order to achieve the £12bn departmental savings the Conservatives promise. The number of arts teachers in English schools has fallen by 11% since 2010. But Conservative cuts will hit us not only as artists, but as parents, as children, as workers, as benefit claimants. They will hit us in our hearts and minds, in our friendships and love affairs, in our family relationships. If we’re sick, or poor or disabled, they will hit us right where it hurts. They will be body blows. These changes will feel personal – as though we made the wrong decisions, as if we weren’t clever, or careful, or strong enough – but they will be political.
What can we do today? Very little, it seems. As we are writers, we can at least let our voices be heard.
All day I’ll be publishing pieces of prose, poetry and opinion, written on this day by UK authors.
3:AM says ‘Whatever it is, we’re against it’; perhaps, especially, this.
– Joanna Walsh – Fiction Editor, 3:AM
The redoubtable, multi award-winning poet and translator George Szirtes says:
“A bigger loss than anticipated.
You ask yourself where you live. It is a country of raised eyebrows, deep scepticism, and of keeping things as they are in case they get worse. It is a country that believes in the NHS but will risk its future because it is sceptical about threats to demolish it. It is a country with a fragmented working class base with a fragmented sense of identity. It has no great opinion of itself but will not be told by others that it should have a low opinion of itself. Fuck you, it replies. It is several countries not one. Its sleep too is fragmented. In the morning it raises its eyebrows while one part then another breaks off. It needs to be addressed patiently, with deadly honesty, with some appreciation of its intelligence, even with some affection, especially by those who want it to change, to move from acts of individual altruism (of which it has plenty) to one of socially cohesive altruism. It needs stop raising its eyebrows. It needs to see the greater good against the cost. It needs to say, now and then, fuck the cost. The gain is greater.
Go on Labour! Address it!”
First posted: Friday, May 8th, 2015.