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Interview: The General Election with Swim Deep, Squid, Matt Maltese and Holly Whitaker

2019’s festive cheer has been soured by televised debate and caused family unrest during what could be the most important election of our times. Branded the ‘Brexit’ election by almost every news outlet, we’ve been reaching out to bands, artists and creatives to see what this vote means to them. 

As we reach the third part of this series, we’ve already spoken with the likes of Fat White Family and Goat Girl in Part 1 as well as Shame and Sports Team in part 2. This time around, we speak to Swim Deep (Birmingham/London), Squid (Brighton/London), Photographer, Holly Whitaker (London) and Matt Maltese (London). We sent each artist 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?

Ozzy Williams, Swim Deep: Yes, I think so. But also I guess no, it’s being presented as a Brexit election which is frustrating on many levels. There’s so many levels to the amount of spin we’re getting fed and it’s all designed to confuse us so we don’t care enough and lose interest. If Politics feels engaging then it means they must be doing something right because we need to feel heard and engaged.

Louis Borlase, Squid: Having lied to the public and attempted to bypass constitutional law despite being defeated in parliament on numerous occasions, the tories have continued to defy our democratic right. Right now definitely feels like the right time for a general election. Boris Johnson hasn’t even won a first term but yet there was a big worry that he would succeed in allowing us to crash out of the EU without a deal on October 31st.

Holly Whitaker: I think definitely, it’s time to have a prime minister who we’ve actually voted for.

Matt Maltese: I think the sooner we readdress the political crisis we’re in at the moment the better, so yes.

 

How would you describe the state of the British politics?

Ozzy: Indisputably frustrating. It’s literally a shit show, Boris is the worst and he’s the perfect representation of the Tory party, he’s like a fucking cartoon characterisation of the Tory party. Bumbling, confusing, arrogant, holier than now, ugly, posh, Eton, above the law, horrible. The list could go on. However there’s also a lot of hope in politics, look at the kids! When I was that young I didn’t know shit about it, it’s so inspiring to know that these young kids are actually bothered about how our world is being turned upside down in front of their eyes, good on them. I just hope they get chance to also be kids. Maybe that’s what being a kid is in 2019, sorting out the mess.

Louis: Us and the generations before us are still living in an era whereby British politics have repeatedly let down the people due to austerity, a lack of protection of human rights and an obsession with selling public services to private investors. The political class do not represent the public and time has told us that right-wing leaders do not have the ability to resolve the state of inequality.

Holly: The last 9 years have been a mess, not only the complete disgrace that was the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition, but then the terrifying reign the Conservatives have held since, including their deal with the DUP, who openly oppose abortion and LGBT rights (the Tories are just sneakier about it). I’m hoping this election will take them out of power. There are millions more people are living in poverty, endless cuts to public services, and with Rees-Mogg mocking the victims of Grenfell, I don’t see how anyone can vote for them in good conscience. They are so aggressively disengaged with society, and they’re purely for the few. I’m angry!!!

Matt: I think it’s become more and more polarised by the minute, no thanks to Brexit. Not only do we currently have a coalition based on a bribe and an unelected leader that was brought about by Brexit, but we also have all the other parties sucked into the bloodbath it’s created – and suffering their own wars because of it.

 

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

Ozzy: Just as I turned 18 I think. When I was living in Worcester with my dad. He’s voted labour since he was 18, much to my grandparents demise, he told me he used to tell my grandma to vote labour when my grandpa wasn’t listening and she would bless her. Haha. Anyway, I wanted to rebel against my dad just like he did but I knew nothing about politics, it was never an issue or a subject we thought we could get involved in, I’m not sure why to be honest. But anyway, I took one listen to Cameron and knew my dad was right. It was mainly about the war stuff, I hated that he seemed to be into war. It was only when I was a bit older I realised how much they were fucking the working class, over and over again, and then persuading everyone to vote for it.

Louis: The first time I voted was in the European Parliament election in 2014. After leaving home and moving to Brighton, politics had become a much bigger interest for the first time – it was also the first time we became fully aware of Toadman Farage’s UKIP party. It was pretty frightening to see his rise to power and entry into the public eye.

Holly: The 2015 elections, as soon as I could. I found it exciting that I could finally make my voice heard. I remember it was after seeing the protests when Clegg went back on his promise of free tuition fees in 2010, my sister and her friends went and it was the first time i’d really been engaged in politics, I remember feeling inspired and couldn’t wait ’til I could vote.

Matt: The first time I voted was for Labour in the last election. I thought Corbyn, for all his faults, offered a real political version of empathy that seemed to ignite something special amongst young people. I also wasn’t a fan of May, for obvious reasons

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Our NHS is drowning and there’s only one way to save it this general election. To be completely honest I’ve struggled with my support of the Labour Party of late for various reasons, a key one being the worries of anti-Semitism within the party. They should be a genuine concern and it is shameful how it’s been dealt with. But at the end of the day this is what it comes down for for me, the NHS is the backbone of the UK and our proudest asset , on a personal level it’s been so vital for me and the people I love this past year. We cannot survive under another Tory rule. If you care about the NHS and other public services let’s get the #toriesout and vote labour on December 12th ?❤️ thanks to @polyesterzine and @pollynor for getting me involved in @creativity4change #wantchangevotelabour #savethenhs

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This election has been described as a Brexit Election, How do you feel about this and what is it about for you?

Ozzy: It’s about standing up for what you believe in in the face of evil. Sounds cliche but it’s truer than ever let’s be frank. It’s evil we’re up against. It’s about coming together as one and proving that that prevails every single time.

Louis: Brexit remains the issue at the forefront of the 2019 general election but is a direct result of a division that has emerged over the past 40 years of predominant tory rule. People that voted to leave the EU were directly misled in 2016 and the vote needs to be put back to the people, allowing us to focus on the devastating issues that face the UK such as the millions of people living in poverty and the conditions that allow corporations to disregard workers’ basic rights.

Matt: On the surface, of course it kind of circumstantially is. But just like any election, it is a chance to significantly alter the direction we go in as a country. It is important to deal with Brexit, but our membership in the European Union is essentially a poster child for the real challenges we face… it’s become really tribal and I think this election is about trying to look behind Brexit.

 

How often do you speak about politics and who with?

Ozzy: Not often, my head starts to ring when there’s a heated debate about something, it’s like someone’s bashing a pan over my head. And you can’t blame it for getting heated because it’s heated issues, but I just prefer to chat alone to someone that I don’t know or just my girlfriend about it, less intense that way. The best discussions are the calm and collected ones you have with someone with opposing views, you come away feeling like you might have actually got through to someone. It’s easy to scream, harder to talk.

Holly: I speak about politics daily really. It frustrates me when people say they’re not political, but I understand that people have become disillusioned with it, the past years have been so tiring. But it’s impossible not to be, it affects every aspect of our lives. I talk with my friends constantly about it, but I’m aware that it becomes a bubble when you’ve all got the same views.

Matt: It’s hot and cold if I’m honest. It’s hard not to feel in a bubble in today’s climate – no one on either side wants to compromise and talk, and so I can discuss and criticise with people who have my beliefs, but often I think what’s the point in that. I think there needs to be more of an open dialogue somehow. People with different political beliefs having a discussion is the only useful thing

Who will you be voting for this General Election?

Ozzy: Labour. I’d be really interested if anyone says Tory to this answer, be a great PR stunt.

Louis: We are all from different areas of the UK and will be voting for different parties (apart from 3). Tactical voting can play an important role in the decision making process in this election, for example, in Bristol I feel it is important to vote for labour and in Norwich Anton will be voting Green.

Holly: Labour!

Matt: I’ll be voting for Labour

 

Is there one specific policy which really sways it?

Ozzy: I think the student fees always helps, it’s just that they’ve been fed so many lies that it’s hard to know if they’ll actually follow through. But I think Corbyn shows vigour when he says something, he doesn’t seem to back down or meet in the middle, from what I know anyway, and that can be a frustrating thing at times but it also gives me belief that he’ll stick to his policies. It’s actually mad that we just can’t take a politicians word for anything anymore. It’s like when someone promises you they’ll open up a bar in Miami with you at 5am at an after party. You actually believe it in the moment, but after the 267th after party, it gets a bit old.

Louis: The climate crisis is undoubtedly the most pressing issue that we are faced with in modern times. If the conservatives don’t care about anything other than covering the tracks of their stinking rich mates, then how are they going to ensure we can go about living sustainably? The progressive parties have the answers and it’s time we use our votes wisely on December 12.

Holly: The promises to fund youth, women’s, and health services etc, closing detention centres, and improving the standards of income support and JSA to name a few. I think it’s important to watch the 60-second policy challenge video that Jeremy Corbyn posted a few days ago to see the gist of what they’re promising.

Matt: More affordable housing, ending in-work poverty. And renationalising the trains so we are less London-centric as a country/economy.

 

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

Ozzy: No not at all, it annoys me when people don’t vote, it’s like you’re admitting defeat. I’m sure there’s many reasons not to, and possibly some id find fair. But it does just feel like admitting defeat a bit. I feel like this has been a fairly downbeat interview though so I want to add how proud it makes me feel to see everyone smashing it. I do actually believe if we all stick to our guns and go and help people vote, we can win. My girlfriend was out canvassing in Golders Green and she noted how many people that she got to register to vote that didn’t even know there was an election on. Boris has made it sound like it’s a vote on Brexit, which clearly goes in his favour for the votes he wants, it’s bollocks. It’s a vote to stop poverty in one of the richest countries in the world. It’s a vote to stop families having to use food banks. It’s a vote to save this country.

Holly: Absolutely nothing at all, it’s more vital than ever.

Matt: Of course like everyone, I’m tired of the sort of twisted manipulative battlefield it’s all become. But no, I think it’s more important than ever.