Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Christ this thing's getting a bit North-centric...

This writing malarky isn't half an exercise in self-reflection.  For the first time I've started to really consider what my political beliefs are.  I've always been loathe to affiliate with any one party, as I find that I have a continual struggle between conflicting ideas / beliefs.

I guess that this can be attributed to my upbringing.

Growing up in an area strongly affected by the miner's strikes, it's been very difficult to branch out and form my own opinions. My family all seemed hugely conflicted, as they were able to step back and see the big picture, but at the same time were horrified to see the destruction of our local communities.

I was very young when the strikes occurred, but grew up in the aftermath.  'Thatcher' was a swear-word. People would speak of her with a sneer on their face.  Yet in private, older members of my family would concede that the old order was unsustainable, and that they actually admired her (just not her methods).  One day I'll be able to get them to elaborate on their opinions (both from back then, and now), but it's still tough 25+ years on as they have the traditional idea that one should never discuss politics or religion...  The conflict of public and private face of my family members was staggering, and confusing to a young child as I was  (no wonder I went on to have a deep interest in human communications).

Accepting this as forming my general confused outlook on UK politics, I still struggle to detach myself from the old emotions.  I feel that I *should* be a socialist, good working-class lass that I am.  But I clearly hold capitalist ideals, as I strongly believe that you get what you work for, money makes the world go round, and anyone who has ever wanted (not needed) a newer, shinier version of anything is buying into that ethos (whether they like it or not).  

I mourn a society I was too young to ever really know, but of which I have been told many tales. My parents pushed myself and my brother into further and then higher education and encouraged us into 'secure', white collar jobs.  I feel aggrieved that I can't really compare/contrast the way in which the country is run, as I am very much a person who cannot simply read about sociological matters in order to truly understand it - I have to live it.  Also, I was brought up to believe that it's not right have an opinion on things that you don't fully understand.  Ergo - politics being very muddy waters to me = I feel like a fraud for having any opinions whatsoever.

There's part of me which does feel like a traitor.  Not in the way that the ukuncut people generally bandy the term about, but in the sense that I got to a certain age, looked at where I was living treading water, and resolved to get the hell away from there, to a faster-paced, more directed way of life.  I live quite the lower middle-class existence now, and have pretty much turned my back on where I came from.

But there will always be a part of my soul in Yorkshire.  Watching Brassed Off reduces me to tears each time, as it really does sum up the loss of hope in that part of the country.  Anyone not from such an area can never truly understand how it feels to walk around and see person after person slumping along, shoulders sagging, the highlight of their day being the visit to the Wetherspoons (honestly, this chain opening a pub in my hometown was possibly the most exciting this to happen to the place for generations).  This sounds like hyperbole, I know (as I type even I am getting mental images of Skid Row from 'Little Shop of Horrors'), but it's true.  The loss of industry there has murdered the spirit. 
In a word, I can sum it up: Depressing.

Wild horses couldn't get me back there. But I do want it to get back on its feet. I just can't see a way in which it ever will.

The north needs to bloody rise up and find a marketable strength.  I just wish I could advise in what area.  Leeds and Manchester seem to be going after the luxury shoppers, with Harvey Nicks, Selfridges&Co, et al.  The coastal towns and villages on the moors will forever chase the tourist dollar.  But the ex-industrialised towns?  Christ knows.  Who will provide the start-up capital?  Erm, I'll have to get back to you on that...

And so the evolution of my outlook on life, death and the universe continues.  The issue seems to be accepting the fact that where I am from, and by whom I was raised, will forever affect the way I view the world.  And considering just how depressing the picture I painted earlier is, you can imagine just how pessimistic this makes me...

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