Along with many others, my thoughts yesterday morning were about a nation of selfish property owning individuals demonstrating that Mrs Thatcher was right when she proclaimed that there was no such thing as society. I now realise that I was being unfair because, as my day went on, my own thoughts were entirely selfish along the lines of “What does this mean for me and the things I value?” The more I reflected, the worse the future looked to the point where I decided to stop thinking altogether.
As a selfish voter, I want a government that leads society in valuing the Arts. I don’t see the evidence for the argument that arts thrive on hard times. For me arts continue in spite of the obstacles. The arts make us more human and bring us fully alive in the moment. Being slightly dyspraxic, my own participation in creative expression is always laughably poor and perhaps that’s why I appreciate art all the more, as an individual, a teacher and a parent. My own interests would be classed as “low brow” starting with a love of guitar music but because I’m passionate about a few things I value all of it. As a teacher and parent, I want my children to have as many experiences, that impact positively, as possible on their identity and sense of self worth.
I want the student teachers with whom I work to influence schools so that all children have high quality education that broadens their horizons. I took my children to see the 23 year old Halle Orcestra Conductor in Birmingham recently and the only thing I know about him is that he went to a state primary school where the music co-ordinator was trained at my university. My own students have to put up with me going on about Evelyn Glennie who one day asked her teacher if she could be in an orchestra. The teacher’s response was not “I’m sorry you can’t do that because you’re deaf” but “let’s see what we can do”. I like to think that was a pivotal moment in the life of the world’s greatest living percussionist. It would not have mattered if she had not succeeded, she was given the opportunity.
As a selfish voter, I worry particularly about life in the city where I live. We have a library that recently sacked half the staff and one of the greatest symphony halls in the world which is under pressure to host more comedians rather than music because that is what sells. I enjoy comedy and I understand the argument that the market should reward popular art but I do not want to live in a country that values things only through consumerism. Therefore I vote selfishly in the hope that I can live in a society where arts are supported and where all children feel valued because their creative expression is valued.