How to Vote in Hope

It’s polling day in the local elections. In a month it will be the general and I wanted to say something about hope.

There are many things in the world which are natural. Trees, rocks, the sea, the earth, the air. And then there are all the things that aren’t – things we call constructs. Constructs are things which humans built out of language and story-telling – often political story telling.

Countries are constructs. There is nothing inherently Welsh or English, Irish or Scottish, about the ground your house is built on. It’s a collection of rocks and earth and tiny, wriggling worms just like the foundations of all the houses in Mosul and Georgia and Bangkok. All countries are a collective fantasy, a history of myths and icons which have been advantageous for those who want to rule us in making us feel we ‘belong’ somewhere.

Do you know what else is a construct? Money. Financial systems. There is no poverty in nature – natural disaster yes, but not poverty. To quote Nelson Mandela: “Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

Which brings us on to race. Another construct. Race isn’t natural. Skin pigmentation is no more meaningful than the fact that some humans can roll their tongues and others can’t. Most of us recognise this. We know that racism is a by-product of colonialism and that through our efforts it can now be undone. It’s our duty – as clever and compassionate humans – to undo what we made in error. 

So today May 4th and next month on June 8th ask yourself: am I ready to start undoing that which we made in error? Am I going to go to war on poverty, inequality, nationalism, xenophobia and racism? Am I going to be cowed and mistaught by the past or am I going forward in hope?

For me the answer is hope. I will vote hopefully and progressively on May 4th and June 8th. I’ll be voting Labour but I know that I stand alongside Greens, Lib Dems, SNP and Plaid Cymru voters in knowing there’s a better country – a truly shared country – which we can create together.