I have cried a lot this week. Some of the tears have been fleeting, others have been deep, prolonged, heartfelt sobs.
I have been angry a lot this week, full of rage, fury, confusion, loss and fear.
I have been hopeful (a little) this week, a hope born from the action of strangers.
When I was 16 there was a school walkout planned to protest the proposed war with Iraq. I can’t remember if it was national or London only, or how it was planned, or how I knew about it. I do remember that it happened during my art lesson. We were permitted by the teachers to walk out of class and then herded onto the crappy concrete tennis courts and told we could protest there until the next lesson. You can’t see the tennis courts from outside the school.
A friend of mine at the time was dating a boy at the local mixed school and she sent him a text. Minutes later a large group of kids from the other school came chanting down the school drive. They had come to get us.
Our head of year, in a move that at the time I thought was pretty amazing, and now realise could have cost him his job, quietly took a few of us aside and unlocked the gate. He let us out of school. Leaving was the opposite of who I was as a child, so shy and well behaved but I knew this mattered and I wanted to speak up. We hopped the barrier at the local tube station and joined a group of other kids our age at Parliament Square to protest. It wasn’t a huge protest, but for a time long before social media it was an impressive number of kids to have mobilised.
It made no difference. Neither did any of the other anti-war protests of the time. Tony Blairs New Labour government went to war anyway.
I lost my faith in Parliament that day.
I continued to vote in every election, but it was more out of respect for the women who fought and died so that I could than because I actually believed in Labour. Then Jeremy Corbyn came along and I felt excited about Labour for the first time. Excited enough that I joined the Labour Party, voted for him as leader twice, and voted proudly for the Labour manifesto in the snap general election. Corbyn isn’t perfect, not by any means, but he is the first political leader in my voting lifetime that makes sense to me on most of the issues I care about.
This week Parliament voted on Brexit three nights in a row: they voted down Theresa May’s mess of a deal for the second time, they voted down no deal as an option, and they voted to ask for an extension on leaving.
What they didn’t do was actually make a decision about how to move forward. May is simply going to ask MP’s to vote for her deal for a third time. Then who knows.
Leaving or remaining in the EU is a complex, incomprehensible mess that our elected officials appear to have no real understanding of. The future of our country, my future and yours, is in the hands of people who care more about their own agendas, party in-fighting and playing politics than they do about our lives. No one in Parliament can agree on what to do, or how to do it, or even what it is they are trying to do in the first place.
Brexit is a clusterfuck.
The entire shit show terrifies me down to my core, fills with me rage and floods me with tears.
What could possibly have brought me hope this week of all weeks?
Kids, hundreds of thousands of them.
Around the world on Friday 15th over 1.4 million children in more than 300 cities staged a school strike. Inspired by a 16 year old girl named Greta Thunberg they marched to try and save our planet. A recent UN report warned that we have 12 years to limit climate catastrophe. It is a stark warning and one these kids appear to have a far better understanding of than political leaders around the globe.
All day news of the strike filled my twitter feed, photos of kids peacefully protesting, banners, signs and bravery all around.