Political slogans are always dangerous weapons, hostages to fortune, inclined to go off in the hands of those who wield them. But few can ever have proved so self-defeating as Theresa May’s “strong and stable”. In the shadow of Grenfell Tower, both adjectives are equally ironic, hollowed of their reassuring meaning. It was the ‘strong’ who allowed this horror to happen, unwinding red tape until nothing was left but the naked profit motive and the £2 per square metre saving that may have made the difference, for dozens of people, between life and death. And it was the ‘stable’ establishment which refused to listen to those people’s well-grounded concerns, though they did everything that as responsible citizens they could possibly have done to make their voices heard.
We have no strength now except in our shared sorrow. We have no stability except in supporting one another. And that support requires real solidarity and real change. Sentimental symbols and short-term sticking plasters will not be enough. By the morning of June 9th, as the election results came in, it was already clear that our politics was changing. Despite the almost universal derision of the media, people were voting for the kind of fair, equal, hopeful and far-sighted policies towards which Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party were returning, and for which the Green Party in Northern Ireland has always stood. By the morning of June 14th we understood its urgency.
Now, we know from our many histories, is the critical time. Emotions are raw, hopes and fears seem equally on the brink of fulfilment, and careers, fortunes and ideologies ready to be made or broken. Where are we going, and who is going with us?
On Tuesday evening in Belfast we at the Combination are hosting Election Breakdown, an opportunity to explore our situation and the future of progressive politics. We have invited five speakers from a range of perspectives: Brian Campfield (NIPSA), Geraint Ellis (QUB), Ellen Murray (GenderJam NI and Green Party NI), Liz Nelson (Belfast Feminist Network and Belfast Trades Council) and Robin Wilson (independent researcher and journalist). Join us on Tuesday 20 June, 7.30pm at the Crescent Arts Centre, Workshop Room 4.
And follow us at: https://www.facebook.com/combinationNI/ and @CombinationNI