And so my recounting of the Brighton Festival begins. Day one was a marvellous mix of politics and poetry, not exactly all at once.
Zoe Williams – ‘Get it Together’
Zoe, journalist and author, was speaking about the mobilisation of the left/situation of left-wing politics.
I consider myself an ill-educated lefty, in that I am left-wing but don’t delve into the politics of it. I suppose I was the target audience, as Zoe was encouraging the left to group together to make a change. With my limited knowledge of politics and my interesting note taking (I can’t read some of it), please be aware that this write-up will not be 100% accurate reflection of what Zoe was saying.
Zoe argued that we are at a point were the two main political parties are almost indistinguishable and were no longer representative of the people.
She went on to discuss why people hated politicians, and that one reason is because they offer no real change. Academics recently released statistics (that they had to get from the EU, Cameron’s government refused to disclose) that 49% of people cannot afford an unexpected cost, such as a parking ticket. This was shocking, and all at once recognisable. I’m not sure how many of my friends could cope with an unexpected cost, but half feels about right. Zoe argued that the government block the space where we can fix problems like these.
She went on to discuss how we can change things, covering joining parties, but that this does not always work. Labour, Zoe explained, do not listen to their members but concentrate on the people who would never join their party. Miliband is the most liberal leader Labour have had since the 80s, but the party is a half and half mix of left and right politics. Tristram Hunt’s education policies, for example, are not dissimilar from his opponent.
The topic then moved to wages, benefits, housing… Housing benefit was only meant to be a stop-gap when it was created in the 80s, the assumption being everyone would be able to buy their council houses and thus it wouldn’t be needed long. Housing benefit is now a significant cost. Governments are often fixing the mess the previous government’s implemented.
In terms of left-leaning parties, Zoe explained that until recently the SNP were not so left wing but were dragged further left by their members. While Labour have said they will not work with the SNP, Zoe thinks an understanding could be reached between the two. If the right returns to power, it would be a very bad state of affairs for British politics.
This was about the point where I decided to stop noting, in fear of not understanding my notes when I returned to them. Zoe was a fascinating and engaging speaker, one I’ve probably not done justice to in attempting to reiterate her points.
Luke Wright – ‘Stay-at-Home Dandy’
Luke is a spoken word poet, think Mark Grist or Sarah Kay.
His performance was brilliant, a rather hilarious blend of life observation and political topics. There isn’t much I can say about Luke that his poetry can’t, so I suggest watching the following video:
My favourite line of the night: ‘She’s a doll’s house Faust’ – perfect.
Thank you to Mathew, Literary & Spoken Word Producer, who allowed me back to volunteer again this year.