The 2019 General Election

My Election Round Up

The last five weeks have been a blur. I quit my job and dived head first into Luciana Berger campaign. In my last post wrote that I hadn’t been happier in ages and the truth is that I have been elated for the last few weeks.  I know why, even though there was no fairy-tale ending to this campaign, I started to chase my dreams again.

I started to chase my dreams again

I learnt quite a few things about myself over the course of the last couple of weeks, that I seemed to have forgotten. The main thing is that I really cannot be motivated by money. It won’t ever motivate me because it’s just a means to end for myself. It doesn’t achieve what I want, being rich is nothing for me. I couldn’t care less. Not to say that money is unimportant, but I can’t imagine a boss offering me a bonus or wage increase that will motivate me to do more work. The second thing I have realised over the last few weeks and more honestly over the last few months is that I enjoy some form of leadership. Whether it be helping organise some leafleting rounds or, what I spent most of the campaign doing, leading canvassing sessions; the sense of responsibility and making sure that we were completing our goals as a team were more important than my personal stats (in the Liberal Democrats, you can review your stats on canvassing. Thus, we sometimes had some friendly competition who could knock on the most doors and convince people that they should vote for Luciana). I would say that when leading canvasing groups, it did feel as though I was a trying to herd cats at times. Especially when people had the audacity to be independent and not tell anyone about it! The final part of it all, is how much I miss politics in all it’s aspects. I love it, no doubt about it. I honestly could work in the field for the rest of my life and really be happy. I reminded me why I want to get a PhD in Political Science, why politics is important to the individual and why it’s important to stay true to myself.

What should have never existed [a Liberal Democratic chance] in Finchley & Golders Green became a reality with Luciana

I spent every day canvassing and I met so many incredible people through out the process, with small list of shout outs to Jake, Kobi, Ilana, Dora, James, Mark, Oli, Zach and so so many more people that I haven’t mentioned here, because otherwise the list would be seemly endless on a team that didn’t even exist two months ago. What should have never existed [a Liberal Democratic chance] in Finchley & Golders Green became a reality with Luciana. For the first time ever in a general election I was able to vote for someone that I liked and wanted to represent me. I must admit, putting a cross in a box with that feeling was nice for the second time in my life (I’ll get to the first time). Speaking of incredible people; I met several Lords, MEPs, former MPs, a couple of celebs, other parliamentary candidates, mayoral candidates, London Assembly candidates (and Member Caroline Pidgeon) and got spend so much time chatting to them over the days and evenings which has restored my faith in politicians. This is not just on the Lib Dems side, when speaking to other parties at the count (plus when I bumped into them out and about) that there are good people out there trying to make the country a better place. We might all disagree with what is best and how to get there, but I do not believe that there is an innate evil with others, even if the twitterverse would disagree. The reality speaking to people on the door steps was clear (this is for Finchley & Golders Green): people wanted the country to move on, people did not like Corbyn and some people are utter idiots who need to learn how to think. The last point may seem elitist and it is to a degree, but the most frustrating thing that I found were people who didn’t believe facts, in seat polling or did not want to engage with the records of the candidates; instead focusing on rhetoric. On all sides, including the Europhiles on mine. If people aren’t open to a different opinion or factual evidence, then it’s impossible to change one’s own behaviour. I think people should be ashamed of this attitude because it’s not just politics, but every decision that you make in life that is affected by this narrow thinking. It’s why I look back at my own education and while I studied a wide range of subjects, I look back at only really two that had significant impacts on the way I think, not what I know and understand or analyse. Critical Thinking at school and Analytical Philosophy during my Undergraduate. I don’t think this is the time or the place to go into why this is the case for myself, but feel free to ask me why in a message and I’ll get back to you, but I don’t believe that I would be in this position without my education in these subjects and that does mean that I am in a privileged position. I just don’t think it has to be a unique experience and that openness can be picked up at any point.

If people aren’t open to a different opinion or factual evidence, then it’s impossible to change one’s own behaviour. I think people should be ashamed of this attitude…

I feel that I should answer why I think that the results turned out the way it did.

Simply, the UK (well particularly England) has never been a left-wing country. It’s does not view itself as European, but still a global nation (whether this is true, is a different matter). Look at the local elections following the referendum: Conservatives votes went up, Labour down, Lib Dem share of the votes went up, but number of councillors went down. There have been some differences in the Scotland but look at UKIPs demise. Almost all their votes went to the Tories. In this election, the Brexit Parties disappearance in Tory held seats is similar. There was no split. So, it became almost impossible to split the Leave vote, but also meant that they spent less time being relevant for the majority of the public. That’s why Conservatives held many of their seats. The gains in the Labour heartlands? It’s tribalism. It’s part of the reason why people close their minds. They pick a team and it’s no longer just a team. It’s them. Their identity. Telling someone that their team is dumb, racist, lying, don’t care or what ever else: is saying that they are all of the above. Even if that has nothing to do with your intention. The left and even more sadly, the centre, can no longer say stories. I know that this doesn’t seem obvious solution to identity politics and tribalism, but it’s not the facts that people who wanted to stay in the European Union, the objective truth or the civility that will win over people. It’s a vision. That’s why Leave won, it’s why Scottish Independence nearly won (once Cameron decided to ditch stories for facts) and it’s why I think the Conservatives won this time (by just selling the same story from 2016). Yes, there were issues with the media, but there are enough sources of news to see lies and biases. It’s about being able to tell

Let me introduce to a not so hidden secret, my perceptions had changed. I used to support the England rugby team. I was a die-hard English nationalist.  I would sing the national anthem in front of the TV, watch the Queen speeches, berate Wales, run around pretending to be Beckham taking free-kicks against Greece, side step like Robinson with a ball in hand, scream for the British & Irish Lions. I wasn’t even ten and didn’t call myself British. I was English. Now? I’m British, I scream for the Boks, side step like JP Peterson with a ball in hand, take free kicks like Bale, berate Wales, I don’t watch/listen/read any Queen speeches & I cried when I saw Siya lift the trophy. What happened and what does this have to do with the elections (or politics)? I was young, open and more importantly new stories were introduced to me. The story of the South African rugby team final made sense, the importance Parliament instead of the Queen, how pointless Wales is as a country, heroes can change over time (I still love the England football team), I missed the Sharks players who I modelled a style that I could actually use on the pitch, I learnt more about my own history and how places like Jamaica where part of the Union for a longer time than the current house of the monarchy. I was told stories, ideas and allowed myself to be open to new ideas.

Storytelling

the scariest thing in my life is not death, but my mother with a velan (thin rolling pin)

Back to politics and storytelling. Scolding, as many modern parenting guides say, are not efficient. I say this as a child who used to be hit with every utensil in the kitchen. It just means that the scariest thing in my life is not death, but my mother with a velan (thin rolling pin). Something that is common in all the world cultures going back thousands of years are stories and the oral traditions. Now we don’t need stories to tell the other side to put on their hats before going out in the winter, rather we need a vision that people believe in. Before anyone tells me about the Labour manifesto being full of ideas and dreams. You’ve missed the point. It has never been about what you’ve been selling but how you’re selling it. Otherwise there wouldn’t a schmuck on this earth. But there are, because charlatans are good story tellers. We like stories as they can be fun, add some drama to hook us and with this new context we can analyse our positions without attacking our identity. It’s not a quick process. I didn’t start one evening and then changed by the next morning. It’s starts with being open, luckily, we’re all open to stories. In my mind, if you want to change the world, become a good story teller.

Now that I’ve solved politics and thus humanity, let me leave you with the first time that I ticked a box that I believed in: Leave. I am a Eurosceptic, leaning towards anti-European. The English nationalist is still apart of my identity, though I view myself more of a Londoner which is an international city because of our ties to Europe. I don’t care about the economic cost of Brexit. I want out of an institution that isn’t evil and full of bad people. Quite frankly, I don’t buy the European dream. Not for my beloved England. I don’t want to pool sovereignty or help French farmers. So, why did I campaign for Luciana Berger, the United to Remain candidate, the People’s Choice candidate, the Liberal Democrat candidate; given that this is the opposite view? Objectively, she was the best candidate for the job on the ballot paper. The Liberal Democrat manifesto is one I could support and there are many ideas that I wish to be implanted: mainly the penny tax. For Luciana I could put away my differences, tell people that a second referendum is a good idea (which it is, even if I would still vote leave), how revoke would be democratic is the Liberal Democrats got into power (which is would have been, as it is democratic for the Conservatives to pretend that they have the faintest idea of what they are doing) and argued for staying in the EU, because there are good reasons to be in the EU. At the end of the day, it’s just about being able to tell a story.

That was a bit more of a wall than I was expecting, but I feel indebted to this campaign that I gave everything up for: I was able to find myself again. A kid with a dream to chase.

I was able to find myself again. A kid with a dream to chase.

The One Who Wrote Destiny, by Nikesh Shukla

A book review, which lead to thoughts about representation in the media.

Having representation in the media. When most people think of such a topic, they think of having a TV personality, I would even say that online stars (be it, YouTube, Instagram, Podcasts) is an important part of being viewed as accepted. What never occurred to me, was the fact that I have not read a book until last night about having a Gujarati person as the lead character, even more specifically to be from an East African background. I have never been a great activist of having representation in the media, not that I am against it; it has never seemed to be part of the world I really care about. For me, I have always been able to see people like myself in the cinema, with Bollywood films, or television in South Africa with the classic show of Eastern Mosaic and Carte Blanche with Devi Sankaree-Govender doing some of the main reporting; heck even BBC World has loads of Asians, with Michelle Hussain & Yalda Hakim being some prime examples. I’ve always felt that I could find representation in the media. Then again, I have never found a Gujarati person in the media to latch onto as a role model; or anyone that comes to my mind right now.  

So how did this book impact me? I was entertained, made to laugh and in tears by the end. Laughter from the pure moments of joy and happiness and tears to the heartful realisation that I can see myself in the characters; that I recognise my own grandmothers. How my grandfather talks about his past. To me, this was scary; that generational divide that exists between those of us who have left India.

What is the point of having people to look up to, if none of them are like you; with their different life paths and opportunities. What control does anyone have, on where life is going to take us? What does this have to with the book I’m reviewing? Apparently at least.

For starters I’m now listening to “John Jaani Janarden”, from the classic film Naseeb, on repeat. Let’s just that I haven’t listened to classic Bollywood music in ages, at least on my own accord. Only because this book reminded that this song exists. Sometimes, it’s nice to go back to your roots (and yes that’s a reference to the song that my father loves to listen to).

The book itself is about an Indian origin family, from East Africa in the United Kingdom. Our main story is about Neha, who has contracted the same cancer that killed her mother, Nisha. We start in Keighley which is over 300km away from London; where Mukesh is sent by his friend Sailesh to spend some time before they both end up in London. This is where Mukesh meets and falls in love with Nisha; and we learn that is repeated by Mukesh to his children throughout their lives.

The story jumps in time, back and forth; starting with Mukesh and moving to Neha, then to Rakesh (Neha’s brother) and finally to Nisha’s mother (aka Ba). While the story fills the picture of this family’s situation [I’m trying to keep this a spoiler free review, everything said so far is from the blurb]. We learn about the circumstances that have shaped the way they are meant to be perceived by those around them, in the family and of course internally; where they are struggling with what they have become and what they will make of themselves.

It is a story about the weakness and fragility of being human. Nikesh’s male characters are shown to be weak and frail; which is the opposite to the trope of the Indian masala movie staple. The women are strong and brave, but still flawed in their own way. It’s refreshing to see this in characters that are meant to sound and look like myself; I do hope that more books, heck media, that show this sort of side to characters from India (or Indian origin). The book also mixes in mysticisms of Hinduism in here, which I loved. Normally, I see characters that are all super into Hinduism or totally no part of the character. Rarely in English, do you see the religion portrayed in a positive context or one that represents what is more prevalent in India; or at least in my experience in India. That prevalent nature that religion evolves and that while there are negatives, we can choose to bring the positive aspects forward. Essentially, it’s not a simply good or bad thing.

Through the lenses of the first person and even exploring a character purely through the second person; we not only see ourselves, but how a judgement of others effects the way they act. The novel is absorbing not just because the story itself is part of this strange family trying to figure out whether one can know the future. Are things pre-determine? It brings in the nuance, that is maybe different for a person of colour or an immigrant coming into the UK. Maybe our choices are just a façade. That is the crux of this book. It’s not a depressing book, even it made me cry and yearn to return to Africa. It’s real and reminded me of what being human is about. Being in love, opening yourself and allowing to hope for the best. That’s all we got, in this life at least.

Who are we to question the one who wrote destiny? Well it’s quite easy; first decide if you are in charge of your own destiny. Then worry about the writing.