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The Bristol Cable

A letter to my daughter


In a letter to her daughter, Ilana reflects on the latest election results and the current state of politics, explores the issues affecting their daily lives, and envisions the next five years.


The world I wish for you is one of fairness, equality, kindness and love. Not one built on fear. The election results have highlighted how far away we are from this dream. With a conservative majority and UKIP as the third party, austerity, cuts, inequality and fear are the operators of the day and it’s not a kind country that votes for that. Of course, it could be worse: there is no genocide or civil war on our doorstep.

But there is the ongoing war against the poor. This is a war without guns but one that is deadly all the same. It sneaks in via media headlines and opinion pieces, riding high on talk of workshy skivers and planting its flag atop the image of the undeserving and shameless poor. A war that creeps in through the cracks in the floorboards and over the tops of window frames, poking gaping holes in the safety net of the welfare state.

Instead of chin-up, or the brush it under the carpet approach, I say take a sharp intake of breath. But don’t hold it for five years, breathe out slowly now and rebuild. There are things we can do, things we must do, to ensure the society you grow up in is one that will nurture you and those around you. We must work together to build a life raft in these rough seas where the rich get richer and the poor sink under the weight of scapegoating and labelling.

My love, we as a nation have failed you and your generation. But this won’t be forever. Change will come.

It is said that you should judge a society by how they treat their weakest members. Then what happened this week is damning and our society should be ashamed. Our weakest are ignored, trampled on, denied help, shunned, and scapegoated. The cuts are affecting those that need support the most, the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged, the mentally ill, the list goes on. The bankers that created the economic crisis are not the ones queuing outside food banks just to be able to feed their children. This government wants to dismantle the NHS, the wonderful service that helped you to be born in wonder in your own home, and replace it with a privatised model for the rich. If you can’t pay then you don’t deserve care. That’s the message and it’s a twisted view brought by the ongoing drive of capitalism.

I wish you a better world, my love. I wish you one where women are equally represented and not talked down to or judged by different standards. Strong women must get involved and bring progressive change. Not change of the sort Maggie Thatcher brought, but of the sort that speaks to other women. It must speak to you, my little love, and the strong woman you will grow into. I hope that when you are older and if you have a family you won’t have to think hard about returning to work after having a baby, unless you choose to. The economics and the implausibility of balancing your wage with childcare costs won’t come into it. And I hope by then no one will need to use a pink bus to entice women to get involved in politics!

I wish you could inherit a country where the concept of justice isn’t decided by a man who believes in capital punishment, and where the Human Rights Act is respected not axed. Where the weakest members are held close not trampled underfoot as others scramble to protect their gains. You will be six when this government comes to an end. You will have started school and this thought lights a fire in my belly. It is my sincere hope that you will go to an excellent state school, one that will nurture your creativity and individuality. Where the arts are as prized as maths and science. A school run by trained teachers who are passionate about what they do, not sucked dry by endless form-filling, hoop-jumping and bureaucracy.

I wish you a world where we celebrate difference and don’t demonise it. Where we see our shared humanity instead of using labels to divide.

I wish you the strength to get angry at inequality. To fight it. To stand up and be one to be counted. Vote. Use your voice. It is beautiful.

I wish you love and kindness. When you are grown please take the time to stop when someone needs help. To stand on the bus when an older person or pregnant woman gets on. To welcome those who have come in from the cold. To warm them with a hot meal or cup of tea. To use your strength wisely. To carry the bags of someone struggling. Together we can make the load lighter. Above all to be kind. I wish you a government that is kind too. One that supports picking up drowning refugees. One that opens its doors to those in need of asylum.

I hope this is a future you will inherit my love. I hope that we as a community will rise up against the Tory tide of cuts. That we will make our voices heard and save the precious NHS and the much-needed welfare state. That the UK will become a place of light and not one of darkness.

It will be a long struggle. At least five more years of austerity but let it not be five years in vain. If ever apathy and despondency should get me, I will think of you. I will think of the brightness in your eyes, the joy in your laugh and the hope that is wrapped up in your bones. I will think of the trust you place in me to make the world safe for you and I will do all I can to make it so. I will not rest quietly and wait for it to pass, like a storm that destroys all that grew before. I will stand up and shout loud. I will make my voice heard because I want so much more for you. I want a world you are proud of, and one that deserves you.

You have the blood of immigrants and survivors, my love. Of refugees and resistance fighters. Of idealists and home-grown believers in better. Remember this.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage rage against the dying of the light.


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