One of my favourite movies is Broadcast News – and one of its many, many beautifully written, witty exchanges that has always stuck with me is the one above. Super-smart, super-informed TV news producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) schooling not-as-smart, super-handsome TV news anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt). I think I’ve always remembered it because deep in my heart, I want to be Jane Craig – but somewhere even deeper in my heart, I have a terrible fear that I’m Tom Grunick (without the super-handsomeness). It resonates because my inner Tom fears that my inner Jane is right.
It’s a scene that came back to me recently in the run-up to the election. Like most people, I read news stories and political commentaries, and occasionally shake my head and sigh at the computer screen (in the absence of a TV). But, like Tom, how informed, how prepared, how qualified am I, really, about the issues I care about, about the things that make me shake my head at my computer screen? And more importantly: what do I do about them? Apart from sharing links and writing satirical pieces – the latter of which had a very powerful impact on the final election result, clearly – very little. My ‘taking part in the political process’ has, in practical terms, consisted of voting in elections. And that’s it.
But there was something about this election that galvanised me. It may have galvanised me at the very last minute – but it did galvanise me. Many polices of the Tory-led coalition – and the policies the Conservatives were proposing if they won – are things which I am opposed to. Austerity, and the ideology of austerity – which effectively punishes the most vulnerable in our society for something which they didn’t bring upon themselves – is something I am very strongly opposed to. Not only did I firmly not want the Conservatives to win – I firmly wanted Labour to win. And the closer the election got, the more important this became for me.
So while I have always sat left of centre (politically, not literally – it’s not some weird tic I have when choosing concert seats), I have never aligned myself fully and properly with a party. Until now.