NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #1: PUT MY MENTAL AND PHYSICAL HEALTH FIRST
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #2: DEEPEN MY COMMITMENT TO ANTI-RACIST ACTIVISM
At this time of increasing racism in the UK at large, it’s been energising to work for LIT UP, WP’s Arts Council-funded mentoring and publishing programme for emerging poets of colour. I was incredibly proud to see the first two titles, Open Windows by Merrie Joy Williams and Black Cotton by Sea Sharp (which I edited) launched this autumn at the Poetry Cafe in London.
(Note, ‘reQuesting’ is a concrete poem that caused some difficulties with formatting on the website. After much wrestling and delay the solution was to scan it from the book. This means the spaces between stanzas are sometimes very large – keep scrolling til you get to the end!)
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION #3: READ MORE LOCAL AND SOCIALIST NEWSPAPERS
Since the election I’ve been furious with the Guardian. I expect the Tories to lie and cheat the public, and I can’t really blame people for believing sensationalist headlines if they’ve never been educated to detect media bias or follow long arguments and 80% of the media is saying the same thing. But I can’t forgive the Guardian for its smug laments about the election result, when it has for years now sustained a prolonged attack on Labour, mainly through its persistent misreporting of the supposed antisemitism crisis in the party. I wrote a Letter to the Editor before the election, pointing out that their journalism on the topic consists of misquotes, decontextualisation and blatant bias, all of which have led many sensible and progressive people to believe that Corbyn – a politician who has stood with Jewish people at events and in Early Day Motions over 50 times in his career – is a raging antisemite who has recast the whole party in his image. In rebuttal, I referred to Jewish Voice for Labour, whose website comprehensively counters such accusations against Labour – though reading the Guardian you would barely know JVL exist. I also said I had cancelled my membership to the paper and if the Tories got a majority I would lay a solid share of the blame at its door.
The Guardian didn’t publish my letter, of course! Instead they just keep on blaming Labour. Even on the day it was announced that Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of Universal Credit, responsible for untold misery and countless claimant deaths, was to be knighted, ffs, the Guardian print edition front page screamed of Labour’s ‘brutal and hostile’ environment. While it still publishes many good writers whose views I find interesting and important – Gary Younge, George Monbiot, Suzanne Jones – and I will keep on reading it online, I can no longer give the paper my loyalty or money. I will be reading the Independent more often, and a range of local and socialist papers, including the Liverpool Echo and the Morning Star. I may not always agree with the writers, but I hope to hoist myself out of my own complacent echo chamber!
NEW YEAR RESOLUTION #4: JOIN LABOUR
Okay, you saw that coming! I’ve tossed and turned about it though. I’m a Green Party member, and in a country with Proportional Representation that’s where I’d stay. But this election demonstrated to me that a) Labour can offer both a green and socialist manifesto; b) I enjoyed canvassing for Labour and c) in the UK only Labour has the potential to take power from the Tories. That is to say, it can only do so if it co-operates with other progressive parties, both in electioneering alliances, and in supporting electoral reform. As an outsider, though, I won’t have any influence on these decisions. So I am going to join and attend meetings and try and be part of this necessary change in the UK’s political culture.
As I say, I’ve hemmed and hawed about this. Due to my work load, even with my passionate commitment to Extinction Rebellion I found it hard to attend meetings this year. But then, on my return from Christmas in the North, who did I run into on the bus home from the station but my Labour MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle. We’d met once before, at a Campaign Against the Arms Trade panel discussion, and picked up our conversation about antisemitism, Israel and Palestine. I didn’t agree with everything he said, but when I got home, I thought, right – that’s a sign!