Friday, 8 May 2015

Wearing my heart upon my sleeve

You may be aware that the UK held a General Election yesterday - or as the US media called it a 'US Ally election'. You may also be aware that the result was a bit of a shock and left a of people feeling battered, bruised and disenfranchised - myself, my family and the vast majority of my real life and social media friends amongst them. Which I guess proves that we really do surround ourselves with like minded people!

One of the interesting things about politics is how many people feel it is a dirty word, that it shouldn't be talked about, that it's private. It wasn't always so; Anne Shirley famously said the a beau had to agree with a girl's father on politics and her mother on religion!

Obviously it's important that people feel free to vote the way they choose according to their own convictions but how can we grow, develop and learn without standing up for our choices and being open to debate and alternate points of view? After all, the choices we make at the Ballot Box have ramifications far beyond our own lives. And if debate is stifled whether through social mores or something more sinister then abuses of power become easier and easier as history shows over and over; my own great uncle spent his too short life in a concentration camp in Poland after distributing anti Nazi literature.

I have often seen other writers refuse to discuss politics in order not to alienate readers in an increasingly polarised political world - on both sides of the Atlantic, the Pacific and throughout Europe. I understand that; after all, as the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants I would be disappointed to find out one of my favourite authors belonged to a certain anti-immigrant party. And yet...

And yet our beliefs help shape us, help shape the worlds we write. My own politics would be seen by some as dangerously communist, by others as depressingly middle of the road.I believe in equality, in free education right through to advanced degree level, in free healthcare, free social care. I believe a child brought up in care should have equal life chances to the child of a Prime Minister. I believe education is more than facts and figures. I believe in social housing for all who need - or want - it. I believe that transport, energy, mail, water should all be run by the state and profits ploughed back in to make them better. I believe in overseas aid, equal marriage and I am a feminist. I believe climate change is real and we need to stop it. I also think we should have tennis courts in every green space and roving coaches so it is no longer the sport of the rich. That will be found in no manifesto, sadly but I still believe it.  I am proud of my beliefs.

My books are fantasies, romances. My heroines are not all me, thank goodness; tea drinking, time poor, introverted bookworms don't make interesting copy. They stand apart from my beliefs, my day job, my family. But I don't want to hide my beliefs in order to sell more books. My Twitter account will remain an eclectic mix of politics, writing and boring on about the dog/scandi drama/cake/what I am reading and my Tatty Devine collection. And just as my political friends and followers sometimes find something of interest in my writing chat so might readers or authors find something interesting in political chat. Or we could have a debate. Because that's democracy...

Now if you'll excuse me I am going to go and watch consecutive episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and gear up for five more years of opposition.