Today is a big day.
My second book, I Can’t Find Me, has been released by Winter Goose Publishing, and I am also making the opening speech at a debate in Parliament on financial support for care experienced young people.
I have spoken in Parliament twice before, but only as a contributor to debates on fox hunting and student top-up fees back in the day. Parliament, despite all its failings, has always held a special place in my heart. Again, for all the horrors or the past and those still occurring, it is a seat of power that is known throughout the world. Although Iceland have the oldest Parliament, the Palace of Westminster in one form or another has stood since the middle ages. The stories that place has to tell, but my favourite is:
This plaque to Emily Wilding Davison was put up in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft by Tony Benn MP.
Tony Benn said in the House of Commons at the time: “I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum.”
That’s what I believe in. People who will commit to being both part of the process and trying to change things, and those who have to be on the outside or periphery of the process and fight to change things. If we lose either of those things, then we aren’t worth anything anymore.
In 2010 Vanity Fair did a feature on the Obama communications team, and at the time I’d just started my first proper job in London as part of a communications team. I was incredibly inspired by Obama’s director of speech writing, Jon Favreau. To be a mere four years older than me and writing the words of the man considered by many to be the most exciting politician of the last 100 years, that was quite something.
Favreau described this theory of political speech writing to Barak Obama as, “A speech can broaden the circle of people who care about this stuff. How do you say to the average person that’s been hurting: ‘I hear you, I’m there?’ Even though you’ve been so disappointed and cynical about politics in the past, and with good reason, we can move in the right direction.”
That’s what I try to do with my job, I try to broaden the circle of people who care about the stuff that I write about. It’s what I do with my poetry. It’s why I volunteer with children, and it’s why I try to engage others on topics like politics.
Favreau made me believe that anything was possible when you had confidence and belief in what you were trying to achieve. He was the voice behind the hope that a world united around.
Maybe I could go and write speeches for Jeremy Corbyn…
My book, well, I think, I hope, I believe, that it encompasses these values. It’s a work inspired by the world around me, and it’s one that I am very proud of.
If you wish to buy my book, you can do so here.