Full disclosure; I’m middle class. Horribly middle class. And I vote. And I’m young (ish) and I have a regular, if petite, income. If I’d only do the decent thing and breed I’d be a politicians wet dream.
When the campaign against library closures started late last year, I threw my energy behind it enthusiastically, I’ll admit. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, I’m a librarian (or will be once I can find three and a half grand so can actually qualify). I’d quite like a job in ten years. Does this make me selfish? Probably, but if I was a social worker, or worked for a charity, or was a nurse I’m pretty sure I’d also like to be in work. It’s just cos I’m a librarian, you know, that middle class profession for bored ladies who don’t have anything better to do, that I’m seen as selfish for wanting to campaign out of self-interest.
I also love libraries. When I was a teenager the library in Scarborough Town Centre was the only place I could go to work where I had space, and quiet. I know what libraries do for people, but there are so many examples of this online (go on Voices for the Library-another blog full of selfish librarians who would also like a job in ten years) for some.
So yes, I’ve campaigned against library closure, in a tiny tiny way. I’ve promoted them on here, on the Guardian Leeds Blog, I’ve got every person I’ve ever met since I was five to sign the e-petition that the WI (another load of bored middle class ladies looking out for their self-interests) set up. This is fuck all compared to some, but I’m proud of what I did, and hoped in a small way that it got libraries talked about on the public agenda.
And now I’m told that I’m a mentalist lefty who is personally responsible for cuts to social services and health care. Because I didn’t get Phillip Pullman to talk about that. Because I’m middle class, and therefore a secret Tory who doesn’t give a shit about anybody else but myself and my precious little library. Because I would rather have children reading than eating. Clearly.
I’m sorry, but that’s bollocks, and massively insulting. It is possible to be angry about more than one thing. No I’m not personally involved with a save social care campaign, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support one. I am angry about all the cuts to public services, it isn’t fair to say that because I’ve written about the cuts I know about I’m responsible for others.
I’m not an investigative journalist; I’m an apprentice librarian with a book blog. I do follow many bloggers and campaigners that campaign for several issues and I always offer support to them when appropriate. If I’ve ever come across as putting my interests above other’s I’m sorry.
As I said in the piece for the Guardian Leeds, “[This campaign] may have sidelined other incredibly important issues that have come about from the failure of successive governments to tackle the inequalities that result from the current economic systems, and legislation surrounding the distribution of wealth.” And I still believe that is true.
Being told that, by virtue of my being middle class and behaving in the way that us posho lefties do I’m personally responsible for turning the entire battle against the cuts into a ‘them and us’ issue really hurts. I don’t like being thought of as ‘them’, as I inevitably am being.
So what can I do? Stop campaigning altogether, just in case I offend someone, or come across as thinking that ‘my’ issue should sideline others? Or work harder, got to more meetings and speak to more people to try and join campaigns up, or at least learn more about how others are suffering and reassess my privilege accordingly.
I’m not sorry I campaigned for the libraries, but I am sorry if I’ve ever done anything to prevent other campaigns being successful. I’m not a “well heeled worthy”, or at least I don’t mean to be.
Own opinion, not representing views of others etc etc.