PMQs, Politicos and something about pots…

So today is Wednesday – for some people this is simply ‘Hump Day’ when you’ve passed the midweek hump and think you might actually survive the rest of the working week. However for the politically engaged Wednesday has a second meaning. It is the one day of the week when all the politicos tune in religiously to BBC at midday in a desperate attempt to get the most retweets about PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions).

If you’ve never seen this theatrical embarrassment before, you’re in for a treat of a largely white, upper class, 80% male audience roaring over speeches and pointing stubby fingers whilst John Bercow, the Speaker of the House tries to maintain some kind of “ORDER”.

At the weekend one of my dedicated canvassers had the misfortune of knocking on the door of a man who proclaimed that politicians all “piss in the same pot”. This man had apparently not realised that said candidate was just upstairs and when I responded, that actually “I prefer to piss in a toilet” – the shock on this individual’s face was striking.

It wasn’t my choice of language, it was shock that I actually responded like a real person. When I went to university, I immediately joined the hockey club. As a school leaver, I was keen to meet new people and keep up a sport I was passionate about. I neither joined the Labour Club, nor attended student council meetings or even voted.  The change happened when I got into an argument with someone in second year, who challenged me to do it better if I thought I could. The result was that I ran for a position on my student union council, ran a number of campaigns and progressed to a full time representative at my Students’ Union. This was the beginning of my journey which developed into Reclaiming the Night in Leeds with over 300 other women, leading anti-fascist demonstrations, celebrating Pride and starting up a Disabled Students’ Society. My approach to politics has always been one of action. To see something wrong with the world and try in any small way to put that right.

I think people are looking for a special something, a special quality which makes you able to ‘do politics’ but it’s not like that. It always starts with an issue, something you truly care about and will fight for and the opportunity to have your voice heard.

I’m not trying to defend all politicians, I am not even completely comfortable referring to myself as one but I do know a lot of decent candidates, who simply work hard and want the best for the people around them. To navigate the political class is more difficult for some than others but I do think it is too easy to write off anyone involved with politics and in some cases, to use that as an excuse for flirting with the right. Clearly, the political leaders of this country need to better reflect the people in it. This is not something we should ever compromise on and in actual fact will lead to better decisions and improved living standards for working people.

So this is my plea to you… politics has, is and will change your life. From the potholes which damage your car and the expansion of your local school, to the child support you get paid and whether you ever get to buy a house. The people who represent you have a lot of power to influence your lives. The next time we rock up to the door, remember that we made the effort when others might not but more importantly, challenge us. Make us work for your vote. Those career politicians and privileged politicos do exist but unless you get involved and alter the balance, they will continue to dictate your life and it’s about time you had it your way…

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