Now, more than ever, it is important to seize any opportunity to get rid of the current government – a decrepit bunch of dead-eyed capitalists currently holding court in parliament by the skin of their teeth. As legislation moves through the House of Lords today to bring about a general election to be held on 12 December, at gal-dem we’re gearing up to deliver the content you need to get through this election period to divert us all from the bleak midwinter of a re-elected Boris Johnson.
From where we’re sitting, it feels like the 2016 EU referendum fired a starting shot for a wacky race we never could have comprehended. One snap election (in 2017 – which led to the formation of the current minority government between the Conservatives and the Northern Irish DUP), and a whole lot of cabinet reshuffling later it feels like the goings-on amongst the gothic turrets and buttresses of Westminster are more disconnected from our everyday lives than ever before. Ten years of austerity (the current government policy of slashing funds for public services) have hit marginalised communities the hardest and plunged many into poverty, meaning that the casual £4bn set aside to make Brexit happen feels like a galling and colossal misuse of resources.
“We hope that over the next six weeks we can help fuel the fires of resistance. Together we can mobilise against a political status quo that does not serve our communities”
At gal-dem, we are firm supporters of a range of tactics to achieve social change, and recognise that representation across all sectors (including media and creative industries) is just one part of the puzzle. However, representation can never be an end goal. As a media platform, we aren’t interested in replicating what we see around us, because those very same organisations and institutions that show occasional interest in “platforming our voices” are rarely truly invested in our justice and liberation. As a team, we aren’t afraid to be clear about what we believe in. Our commitment to our readership extends to maintaining an editorial line that holds firm and united in our rejection of political parties with a track record of implementing racist, oppressive policies that marginalise our communities. We hope that over the next six weeks we can help fuel the fires of resistance and soothe frayed nerves in a time of instability. Together we can mobilise against a political status quo that does not serve our communities.
In a time of chaos, when the world’s imperial powerhouses are being fronted by slobbering bigots and perpetrators of a whole portfolio of abuses, it can feel difficult to dredge up enthusiasm for parliamentary politics. However, we cannot afford to be complacent. As much as it feels preferable to deride and dismiss politicians as nothing more than fodder for the next anti-establishment meme, their actions have real-life impacts.
The creation of a “hostile environment” by the Conservative party, through successive Immigration Acts which have created barriers to renting a house, opening a bank account, and accessing vital healthcare services, have had catastrophic effects on migrant communities. The government’s ramping up of immigration detention and deportation, ever more restrictive immigration and asylum processes, and plans to expand a prison estate that disproportionately incarcerates people of colour, show exactly who is (and who isn’t) vital to the Conservative party vision.
With this in mind, in full knowledge that parliament is not the best or only place to direct our energies (just last month, thanks to mass street protests, the Hong Kong government backtracked on a Bill that threatened the rights and safety of people across the country), we ask you to join gal-dem in having your voice heard on 12 December and beyond. There are many ways to help reverse the damage the government has done to this country – through voting if you can, and mobilising in your local area. Over the next six weeks, we’ll be looking at some of the ways you can get involved in change that lasts.
“One thing gal-dem has learnt over the past few years is that we have untold collective power; our potency as women of colour and non-binary people of colour is often underestimated”
It’s not unusual to experience a sense of disconnection from parliamentary politics and elections. The jargon and intricate details and histories of party politics are only really familiar to a small elite segment of society, meaning that the rest of us can be left feeling out of the loop. But this election, gal-dem will be carving our own path of commentary, by demonstrating that you don’t have to know everything about politics to speak about the election. Our opinions matter because the election result will impact us. As women of colour and non-binary people of colour, we won’t be waiting to be given permission to speak on topics we don’t feel fully clued up about. We will be seizing entitlement with our own hands, and demonstrating that we can be commentators on this election and still admit uncertainty, confusion, or gaps in our knowledge. In fact, it’s vital that we do this. The masculinist performance of “expertise” and being all-knowing is not a drumbeat we’re willing to dance to; our energy can be better spent disrupting the nonsensical systems and norms that are preventing our voices from being heard in the first place.
Feminist writer and activist Audre Lorde said: “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change”. This sentiment rings particularly true for a political process like voting, which isn’t even truly “democratic”, because lots of people can’t vote, including people in prison and people whose access needs can’t be met in polling stations. The houses of parliament were never built for us – in fact, many of the regal government buildings in the country’s capital were built by our ancestors, funded by the spoils of the colonial projects and the transatlantic slave trade. Knowing this, it would be misguided to place all of our faith in the hallowed halls of Westminster.
However, one thing gal-dem has learnt over the past few years is that we have untold collective power and that our potency as women of colour and non-binary people of colour is often underestimated. We can build a better tomorrow together through attempting to undo some of the damage done by a Conservative government, which places profit over people.
TL;DR: fuck the government, and fuck Boris.