When it comes to issues of politics I will openly admit that I have always been largely indifferent. I know who the ‘main players’ are and I know a little about the things that affect me directly. Other than that, I confess I have never quite grasped the concepts of left and right-wing or the difference between the House of Lords and the House of Commons (I suspect the clue is in the name). It just seems like a lot of talking to me and not very many decisions being made.
However, I am coming to realise that I really do need to care more about what is said when parties sit across from each other and shout seemingly senseless nonsense. It turns out that there are often decisions made and issues raised during these sessions that affect all of us here in the UK and people all over the world. This realisation has left me a little embarrassed that I have waited so long to take an interest in what the government says and (more importantly) does.
That is why I am making a concerted effort to begin engaging with politics that matters. I am not proposing to sit and watch BBC Parliament for hours on end. Frankly, I would rather eat toothpaste. Instead, getting behind campaigns such as ‘Protect Point 7‘ forces me to learn more about what the government is doing in terms of their commitment to international aid, something I really do care about. It is evident the majority of the general public have no idea what the government spends on international aid. I love this video put together by the ONE Campaign. Were you surprised to hear that the UK government spends less than 0.7% of GNI on international aid? A few months ago, I was. This is why I am so committed to telling people about the issues surrounding extreme poverty. Perceptions need to change. People need to hear how spending on global aid is working and how it is changing and saving lives.
So, this week I am going to write a letter to my local MP, Justine Greening, asking her what she is doing to protect the 0.7% commitment in the budget. Long term, I am committing to learn something politically relevant each week. It is too important to remain ignorant any longer. And who knows, perhaps next week I might even be able to tell you whether I am right-wing or left. Maybe.