Post #GE2015: Trying to find my way back to poetry

I feel devastated that the Tories have won an overall majority in the UK General Election, meaning that we are in for five more years of their callous, uncaring policies, cuts to the social welfare system, to the Arts and to public services.  Usually, when I’m feeling down, I try to pull myself together by telling myself there’s always someone worse off than me but, in this case, that’s the whole point, they’re the ones I’m most upset for: the poor, the ill, the disabled, carers, the unemployed.  These are the people who are going to be punished by a Government which is hell-bent on making a further £12bn of welfare cuts by 2018 even though so many thinkers, including  economists at the IMF , have written about Austerity policies not working.

Not 48 hours after the Tory election victory, there were strong shows of protest on the streets of London and Cardiff, played down or completely ignored by mainstream British media.  There have also been rumours of tweets and YouTube footage of the protests being mysteriously deleted.  It’s as if someone wants to hide the fact that all is not well in our land…..

On Friday, the day after the election, I made sandwiches for our church ‘soup and sandwich run’ for people in need.   It’s an initiative that all churches work on together in our town (as in many towns, I’m sure) taking turns and ensuring that soup and sandwiches are given out to anyone who needs them every night of the week.  Churches here also organise collections to our local food bank, of which there are now about 450 in the UK, used by over 500,000 people , and set to rise.

Doing something practical at least helped me feel less useless and helpless about the election result and it’s one of the suggestions in this excellent article by Rebecca Winson: ‘Five ways to deal with a full blown Conservative Government’.

As for poetry, well, since the election, it feels like a far away place.  Trying to write about how angry and upset I am would just result in a rant, something best left for my personal journal.  Reading and writing about sunsets, marriages, houses, memories, whatever, feels unimportant and frivolous when I consider the pain that’s going to be inflicted on people who’ve fallen on hard times or, through no fault of their own, are simply not rich enough.

Sorry if this post is a downer.  I know I will bounce back because I’m not one of the most vulnerable but knowing that sends me into a spiral of guilt and gloom.  Some time away from the news, away from the internet, and with books and pen and paper will help.  But, please, whatever you do, don’t feel sorry for me because I’m not the one who needs any help.



15 thoughts on “Post #GE2015: Trying to find my way back to poetry”

  1. I feel poets and other writers will be in greater need. That’s not to say we’ll just write. I joined a political party a while back before the election, as I felt they addressed people’s needs not merely my own. But I will look to see how I can do my tiny bit outside both those areas too.

    These are challenging times, and in great censorship, poets are greatly feared. Let’s be greatly feared. A poem can often say far more than a broadsheet as it’s carried in the head like a mantra.

    Like you say, it would be easy to rant in a poem for the next five years. The challenge will be to write something memorable, pertinent, hard-hitting with a distance from a rant, and something people will carry throughout this invasion, this occupation.

    warmest regards,
    Alan, With Words

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you, Alan. I am filled with hope to know there are many people who put others interests before their own when they voted in the election. Glad to know you and Carrie. – Josephine x


  2. I have been feeling very similar, Josephine. This result, for some reason, hit me even harder than when Thatcher won. Perhaps because we are so aware how much people are suffering already. Did you see George Szirtes’s post on May 8th? Talking about our country he says: ” It needs to be addressed patiently, with deadly honesty, with some appreciation of its intelligence, even with some affection, especially by those who want it to change, to move from acts of individual altruism (of which it has plenty) to one of socially cohesive altruism. It needs stop raising its eyebrows. It needs to see the greater good against the cost. It needs to say, now and then, fuck the cost. The gain is greater.
    Go on Labour! Address it!”
    If only….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think George is right, Jinny, but the individual acts of altruism are still so important – without them there is nothing. This from Ian Duhig has helped me enormously: “Marcus Aurelius said, ‘The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.’ I quote it here for people like Josephine Corcoran wondering what to do after the election. Be unlike the new government: be generous, hospitable to strangers, make art and friends not money.”

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I agree with cohesive altruism, and not just individual acts of kindness and action. I feel as if we will need to emulate the French Resistance during the Nazi Era. I too feel it’s even more serious than the Thatcher years. I’m worried that Labour will get too caught up in a leadership race, and will glad to be proved wrong.

      I joined the Green Party, they are campaigners and not just a political party, hence the leader needn’t be in Parliament. I also hope that Nicola Sturgeon does help us, we need more people of her grit. It looks like she’s protected Scotland which will become closer to neutral countries like Switzerland etc… during the times of Nazi Germany.

      I used to vote Tory as a youngster, have been on a course with Labour, admired the old Liberals, and hoped that Lib-Dems could do even more. I will never vote for a Tory party as long as there is breath in my body. This is a cruel and unusual act of violence against most of the British public.

      But I am hopeful that because of great evil some astounding positive movements will come out of this, and I am genuinely excited.

      Alan, With Words


  3. I know we’re meant to be the great satan in all this, but we (Yessers) all felt exactly as you’re describing on the 19th of September. The absolutely worst thing you can do as a part of progressive England is meekly and humbly accept that Dave and Gideon have got it right after all. Don’t give up, and feel down, because you must – but get mad. And get even. Even if that is with us whinging Jocks. I totally support George’s statement, especially the conclusion – the gain is greater.

    Through most of my writing career, the most succesful poetic exploits have probably been the least political. The world is changing. Don’t tell yourself there’s anything you can’t write about. You can, you will and you must.

    In peace,

    Christie Williamson

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Christie. I hold nothing against the Scottish. I think Nicola Sturgeon is a fantastic representative for Scotland. Scotland has been ignored for generations but most of all by the Tories. I hope that while Scotland is still part of the UK, SNP MPs in Westminster will make their voices heard and do their best to fight unfair Tory policies.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What bothers me is that most of us to some degree have to act in our own self-interest: we do the best we can for ourselves and our families. Conservative policies will make that even more imperative. For most people this means working long hours to pay for the things we need, and a feeling that it’s risky to cause trouble when life is so precarious. Those who can afford it will buy private healthcare, invest in rental properties, buy pensions with share holdings in oil companies, and myriad other things, because it will be a matter of survival. Some will do so at the same time as they are running food banks, collecting (and donating) money for charity, and protesting the ravaging of the environment. The destruction of the welfare state and its replacement with corporate alternatives not only removes a safety net for the vulnerable, but it sets our personal needs at odds with our political and moral convictions. It makes the Labour Party in its old form, and with its traditional objectives, almost impossible. That’s the Tory plan and I think five years is only the start. Poetry and art in general have to step up, and artists will have to be very brave If they are going to be part of building an alternative.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true that there are people (I know plenty and am related to some) who don’t seem to think through some of their lifestyle choices or who justify them by saying it’s because of “survival”. There are others, though, who endeavour to remain committed to values truly important to them. Those people give me hope and inspire me to try to live life with a clear conscience, as much as I can although I know I’m not perfect. I try to teach my children to do the same. As to the Labour Party and its old form, any political party has to take on a degree of adaptability in order to appeal to the electorate. There is a communication problem at the moment, not helped, of course, by the UK’s right wing press. These are hard times, Chris, but I’m heartened to know that people like you care enough to try to do something about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right of course. We have been divided expertly over the past thirty-odd years and Labour needs to work out how to bring us together again, with all of our disparate experiences and lives, in the face of a very hostile media. Even more difficult, it needs to work out how to persuade a lot of people to vote against their immediate self-interest. People who are even modestly well off could work out with some accuracy how much a Labour government was going to cost them personally, and how much they would “save” under the Tories. (Of course the wider benefits of a compassionate, humane society are not on the balance sheet). Persuading those voters, and people who would like to think they will be in that position one day, is a terrible problem for the party. I haven’t joined yet, but I’m wavering. I want to know what direction they are going to take.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You could join them, Chris, and put pressure on them to go in a direction which supports your beliefs. Something that has lifted my spirits in these dark Tory days is the knowledge that there ARE people prepared to put others interests before their own, to pay more tax if that’s what it takes to save hospitals, schools, public services. I think Labour has to find and grow these people not pander to those who cannot see beyond their own living rooms. Join us! x

        Liked by 1 person

  5. 20.000 people have joined the Labour party since the election and the Lib Dems and Greens are also having a surge in membership. As for the news – it’s all gone a bit samizdat. Thank goodness for the internet which prevents control of the news agenda. Although a facebook friend commented at the weekend that it is so easy for “protests” to be represented as “riots” depending on who is writing the headlines. Anyway, cultural hegemony and all that – we are the orators now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, thanks to the internet, I’ve been able to locate people who broadly share my values, even people living near to me who I hadn’t realised were fellow lefties. Knowing we’re not alone will help us to be less fearful, I hope, and more willing to stand up against the Tories. Glad to know you, Judi! x

      Liked by 1 person

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