I’ve just come across the term ‘Overton’s Window’,
In an article by Owen Jones,
Also called the ‘Window of Discourse’:
The way ideas are viewed by the public,
In a spectrum of judgement that runs from
The Unacceptable, to the Radical, the Acceptable,
The Sensible, the Popular,
And finally: Policy.
It’s obvious that the way this window –
Or Zeitgeist –
Is now defined,
Has been revolutionised
By social media, activists and clicktivists,
While any notion of ‘the public’
Must now accommodate a whole new Generation Y:
The dispossessed millennials are taking the reins –
Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch and co.
Can still ride roughshod,
But only in their own heft now.
It’s a weird thing for me,
Someone who first read Marx nearly fifty years ago,
Someone who has been marginalised
By mainstream orthodoxy’s definition of common sense
For nearly half a century,
To see a 2017 Labour party political broadcast,
Where a voice demands the full fruits of her labour:
The revolution will be televised!
So this Saturday’s demonstration:
NOT ONE DAY MORE
#TORIES OUT NO MORE AUSTERITY,
Hosted by The People’s Assembly Against Austerity,
Feels as though the trip from Stroud to London,
Might, this time, look different from the carriage window:
A left wing journey to the centre of the capital,
Not through moderation, compromise and trimming –
But through redefining ‘common sense’,
Aka ‘the practical wisdom of the ruling class’ –
A journey through the Slough of Despond,
To Old Oak Common,
Past Paddington’s hidden Tyburn Tree,
To Portland Place and the BBC,
To Westminster Bridge, where,
‘Earth has nothing to show more fair’:
‘Rise like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number’:
‘From each according to their ability,
To each according to their needs.’
And when we got there … it was like something out of William Blake: we wandered through London’s chartered streets, with songs of innocence and experience, with anger and lament for Grenfell Tower, every step along the pavements and the reclaimed chartered streets, a step upon austerity’s mind-forged manacles, a step through a theatre of dreams, possibilities, and practicalities, a kaleidoscope of banners, flags and wit: a new Window of Discourse right there in Parliament Square, where Jeremy Corbyn spoke for nearly half an hour with all the command of the art of the rhetorician, but from the heart, too, with passion and with sincerity – as new spectrums of light danced around the windows of Westminster.
The flags, banners and balloons danced in the air near the chartered river too: Not One Day More; Tories Out; For Health Homes Education JC4PM; Austerity isn’t Working; Austerity Kills Justice for Grenfell; I’m So Fucking Angry; A Theresa May lookalike: We Cut 10,000 Fire-fighters Jobs Because Your Lives Are Worth Less; trade union banners and balloons; Strong and Stable?; Capitalism Kills; Thatcher in the Rye; Rise Like Lions after Slumber; LGBT Rights Human Rights; Kick the Tories Out; Defy Tory Rule; Workers of the World Unite; Austerity is the New Terror Your Country Needs You War on Austerity; Justice for Grenfell; Latinxs con Corbyn; Theresa DisMay; May DUPed the Country; Organise Strike Resist; Cut War not Welfare; No to Islamophobia No to War; Flags of love danced around Big Ben – as new spectrums of light danced around the Overton’s Windows of Westminster.
I carried my banner from Stroud to Westminster with pride, inviting conversations along the way, leaving a trail of old ladies in Stroud lamenting May in Middle Street, discussions of anger and frustration at privatisation and cancelled trains in the packed waiting room at Swindon, thumbs up and car beebs as I ran from Paddington to Oxford Street to march with my parents. As we heard the chants as Corbyn came on stage, I asked my 67 year old dad, have you ever heard another politician have their own song and he said “not in my lifetime” The collective energy on the march was tangible and it’s quite something to be part of this.