It was very sadly predictable in that each of the other candidates said exactly what I expected and repeated mantras, jokes and family stories at each event as if newly telling; I know there is a practicality in this but for me it felt like each new audience was not being considered for the unique one that it was. On Friday night and Saturday morning, George Osborne shared hustings with us. To put this meeting into context... I have been despising and actively opposing the harms this man has done and continues to do, since joining the Occupy movement in 2011 and becoming part of the now huge anti-fracking movement. George Osborne's father-in-law is an ardent supporter of the shale gas industry and along with George and the government, is doing all possible to get this through - oiling the wheels of planning and legislation to ensure the public do not get in the way. When I knew we would be sharing a platform, I wondered how the hell I would react. I have slept in tents in freezing temperatures, watched treasured friends and fellow activists, brutally assaulted, read manipulated press stories whilst standing amidst truths that they in no way resembled; I've watched communities in fear, communities torn apart and divided and am currently in a court case demanding around 60,000 in costs from me. And so much more, from far more vulnerable people across the UK with sanctions, cuts to allowances for the disabled and cruel measures to punish those who don't fit the category 'HARD WORKING FAMILIES'... it was always going to be tense. But...
I do a thing when I meet people for the first time (particularly those I KNOW I have a pre-formed, bad opinion of) ..I remember that each of us was born a baby and therefore, at some brief stage... I could have loved them (before life scribbled a story all over them with circumstance, upbringing, education, abuse etc.).
This was harder with George than any other human I have met. I looked as deep as I could get and found that underneath the puppet of the party was a weak, insecure man. He worked to instruction and formula and seemed to experience huge discomfort when confronted with anything that was vaguely 'off script'. It felt like he was doing what he was told and if he wasn't told - he didn't know what he was doing. Deep, deep in me was a smidgen of empathy for the little boy who feared the bullies and came to serve them.
Tragically (literally for the many he affects by virtue of his position) - the system puts people like George into positions, where there is power passed through them. At no point in the process of this political campaign (my first ever involvement with politics) have I found it to be democratic, fair or just. From the way our electoral system works (it doesn't for us) that means for some of us, our vote is only worth a fraction (this is crazy), to the vile way the parties 'play' their campaigns; this peek into the strategies politicians use was shared by Boris Johnson in 2013 and is every bit in play right now:
The current system of government is not about you and me, is not about people, society, community or family. We have a lot to do but I am more determined now than ever, that we cannot stop until we seize back control of OUR democracy, from the 'system' of government operating it. For now, my activism IS politics and after 7th May, I'm not sure.