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Interview: The General Election with Shame, Slow Dance, Sports Team and Hotel Lux

With the manifesto’s launched, British politics is in a frantic state. On December 12th, the public will decide who governs the country for the next five years (if lucky), and in a series of interviews with bands, creatives and artists, we’ve tried to gauge the mood amongst the community and dig into what really matters to the people on the ground. 

In the second of this series, we catch up with Eddie Green of Shame (London), Maddy O’Keefe of Slow Dance (London), Alex Rice of Sports Team (Surrey) and Lewis Duffin of Hotel Lux (Portsmouth). Each band has been sent the same questions with the invitation to be as thorough or short as they felt. Rants were as welcome as a blank space. Here’s the election according to them.

 

Is now the right time for a General Election?

Eddie Green, Shame: I think it’s been the right time for a general election for a while now. It’s common knowledge that brexit, with or without a deal is just unattainable and will ultimately shaft the majority of the electorate, regardless of how they voted and why.

Maddy O’Keefe, Slow Dance: Ish – it’s important to get the Tories out as quickly as possible and to stop Brexit from happening but it does feel very sudden. It’s so, so important that we’re given a second referendum – It’s shocking that it’s not in all of the parties’ manifestos.

Alex Rice, Sports Team: Yes

Lewis Duffin, Hotel Lux: It’s probably about time the country had a prime minister that we actually elected, to be fair.

 

How would you describe the state of the British politics?

Eddie: British politics is more confused, disorganised and alarmingly conservative than its ever been in my lifetime. Under the likes of Rees-Mogg and Boris, ideas, mindsets and methods that would have been laughed at in years gone by, are now not only accepted but held by those in positions of power.

Maddy: World politics are near apocalyptic (as is the climate) and British politics are a joke – when young people are given a proper political education and allowed to vote at 16 maybe we can start making progress. People are educated by the biased, corporate sponsored media (and social media) and tricked into making decisions based on what they’re exposed to rather than what is in their best interests. Brexit is cripplingly humiliating and people’s lives are in danger under tory cuts and NHS privatisation. There are more billionaires than ever – I don’t think it should be legal for someone to own that much wealth when others have nothing.

Alex: It’s clearly polarised but I think it’s too easy a line just trot out ‘the country’s fucked’, ‘Boris is Trump’. The left have won a lot of battles, it would’ve been unthinkable 20 years ago to have a Tory party that wants to increase NHS spending, that legalised gay marriage. Tony Benn always said it though, you’ve got to keep fighting the same battles every generation. 

In general I think parties on the left and right haven’t really found a new narrative for how people live now. 80% of the economy is service sector, globalisation has taken place, people are only just starting to understand the impact of the internet and social media, that was never the case when Marx was writing. 

You’ve got the right, using this strange glorious Britain narrative with lots of Empire undertones and it’s resonating with people who feel like they’ve got the least stake in the country, but none of it offers real solutions. I used to do a lot with a think tank called Compass that’s worth a look for a few solutions. They did so much of the groundwork on the progressive alliance you’re seeing now as well.

Lewis: Can’t really be described as anything other than a fucking mess, can it?

When was the first time you voted and what made you want to do it?

Eddie: The first time I voted was in the 2015 general election. I was 18 and in my second year of sixth form, still kind of hoping to attend university (lol). A big drive behind voting was seeing how much labour policies had galvanised my contemporaries, with comprehensive, transparent pledges to serve my generation and people like me. I’ve always lived in the left wing London bubble, where we pretend everything’s fine because we all think the same way.

Maddy: When I was 18, as soon as I could because I could.

Alex: First chance I got, at the 2015 election. I was actually the Labour delegate for Tunbridge Wells at Conference, sat on stage behind Ed. 

I think I’ve always been motivated to get involved out of anger, genuinely feel furious at how cheap a lot of politics has become when you’ve got the most engaged generation of young people in history.

Lewis: The first election I voted in was the Labour leadership vote in 2016. I’d only been 18 for a few months and having the chance to vote for a leader of the Labour party that conveys the level of hope that Corbyn does was a pleasure.

 

This election has been described as the ‘Brexit Election’, How do you feel about this and What is it about for you?

Eddie: There wouldn’t be a general election called if it wasn’t for brexit so I don’t think that’s entirely inaccurate, however I don’t think simply because it’s the most contentious issue surrounding this vote, that it should be the only one that’s given attention. The right wing have continually weaponised brexit fears in order to gain at the ballot box. Any campaign that focuses solely on brexit for this election, is revealing the fact that they have nothing else to offer.

Maddy: This election has definitely come about as a direct result of the Brexit crisis, and it could be one of our last opportunities to repair the damage already done. Once that’s sorted out (and I really hope we can remain in the EU), there’s the opportunity to start some real changes within our society.

Alex: Tough isn’t it. Not sure everyone in the band would agree with me but I back a lot of what Lisa Nandy is saying (hopefully a future leader), I didn’t vote for it, but I do think Brexit needs to happen after the result of the referendum, just not in a way that sells people out to privatisation and a race to the bottom on working standards. 

Also very unsure it will be entirely a Brexit election. Like at the last one social and economic issues are going to come to the fore.

Lewis:Of course the fact that whoever is elected will have to progress with the how/when/if of Brexit plays a huge part but there’s so so much more to it than that.

 

How often do you speak about politics and who with?

Eddie: I honestly feel like I’ve spoken about politics less than ever in the last 18 months. The general population feel so exhausted with how disastrous Brexit has been, which I think in turn has, worryingly, caused genuine disinterest. I speak about politics regularly with my folks, but when I’m out with friends there’s nothing worse than being the guy who starts a Brexit row in the pub.

Maddy: Semi often with my family and friends, occasionally with uber drivers (sometimes with upsetting discoveries on their outlooks). Probably not as often as I should, usually because it’s so depressing and I never feel like I know enough about anything. It can be a bit of an echo chamber amongst the people I spend most time with – if you feel that way it’s important to go canvassing and hear some other thoughts, especially of those who aren’t incredibly passionate either way.

Alex: All the time, with the band, family, with fans – said it before but this group of 16/17 year olds really are so engaged – they don’t need the patronising stuff from Matty Healy. 

Lewis: It’s a frequent topic of conversation obviously, you can’t really ignore it…unless with you’re with your grandparents. In which case, avoid the topic like the plague.

Who will you be voting for this General Election?

Eddie: I will be voting for Jeremy Corbyn and I urge everyone to do the same. Especially if you’re a self-proclaimed lefty who “doesn’t think he’s the right guy for the job”

Maddy:Labour – I don’t know how anyone can think any of the other manifestos are more progressive and better for everyone overall. Obviously there are some places where tactical voting to avoid a tory seat is important, and the main thing is to get them out.

Alex: Labour. We’ll be knocking doors before a lot of the tour shows if anyone wants to join.

Lewis:I’ll be voting for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

 

Is there one specific policy which really sways it?

Eddie: There is no one labour policy that has swayed me this election. There are plenty of appealing ones but truly they are the only party to reverse some of the damage these last few years of Tory rule have done.

Maddy: It’s not a specific thing, but the necessity of another referendum on Brexit is paramount. The policies on stuff that help the most vulnerable and protect the NHS, make education systems fairer and attack the obscenely rich are the main things that appeal to me. Also the world is literally melting so would be good not to have Trump Lite as prime minister.

Alex: I don’t feel particularly aligned with the leadership at the moment – a lot of it peddles solutions from the late 20th century that I don’t think necessarily reflect how people live now. I just think the way you get enduring progressive change is to have democratic structures in your party, mass membership, policy made at conference etc. The structures the Labour Party have got in place make it the only viable way of changing the country and so it’s worth supporting as an institution just on that basis, whether you agree entirely with this manifesto or not. 

Some of the stuff around a 4 day working week though I think is brilliant. Been reading a lot of Lord Layard on ‘happiness economics’ (sounds a bit trite but isn’t) and I think policies like that start to get us towards an economic narrative on wellbeing, life satisfaction – very hard to campaign on though because it’s tough to convey it in a tangible way. Ultimately though the economy should serve the people that are a part of it.

Lewis: Implementing stricter policies on taxing massive corporations is definitely one. The reality is, in a world where human beings literally die becuase they don’t have food or shelter whilst another has billions of pound is pure fucking madness. A lot of the big issues in this country and globally stem from that 1%.

Has anything come close to putting you off voting this time around?

Eddie: Not even close, it’s never been more important.

Maddy: No. If anything, I’m freaking out about how inactive I’ve been and am noticing more and more how loud silence on politics is, and how much apathy there is. Not voting doesn’t solve anything and everyone who hasn’t registered should do ASAP.

Alex: No