It’s Christmas Time
“It’s Christmas time, and there’s no need to be afraid.” So says the song.
This Christmas, like every year, millions in our country will be working. Emergency services, NHS staff, catering and hospitality workers, taxi drivers, people staffing petrol stations, to name just some.
And for many people who work, and many who can’t get reliable work, the money will run out. I think everyone I know has made a donation to a foodbank and toy donations. It’s both heartening that people care, and heart rending that we need to.
It’s simply unbelievable that in the 21st century, in one of the richest countries ever to exist, people are working for a living and their kids are still in poverty. There’s something seriously structurally wrong in the way our country works.
One of my favourite Xmas songs is Stop the Cavalry by Jona Lewie, whose birth name was, in a Christmas coincidence, John Lewis. Originally written as an anti-war song, it has become a Christmas classic.
Perhaps it’s near the top of my list because when it was first released I was growing up. US nuclear cruise missiles were being stationed in the UK at Greenham Common, and fear of nuclear war was palpable.
But I think it’s mainly because of the lyrics. Two lines stick out.
“I have had to fight almost every night, down throughout these centuries. That is when I say, oh yes yet again, can you stop the cavalry?”
For generations we’ve been led into wars, started by leaders who were not acting in our interest. They sent our brothers and fathers and sons off to war. It’s always the common soldiers who pay the price, and the civilians whose deaths are labelled as collateral damage.
I’m not a pacifist, but I’m struggling hard to think of a war that couldn’t have been avoided if we took diplomacy and economic pressure more seriously.
The other line that touches me even more is, “If I get home, live to tell the tale, I’ll run for all presidencies. If I get elected I’ll stop, I will stop the cavalry.”
It’s the simplicity and innocence of the line. At once so improbable and difficult against apolitical establishment, and yet so obvious and direct as a solution. The idea that the ability to bring about change requires only the political will to make change happen.
Now I find myself running for Mayor. Even if I win, I won’t have power over foreign policy. But if I get elected, I’ll work night and day to stop the poverty.