Hope – Apply Liberally
Liberal Twitter is losing its shit. Middle class white women need their cleaners back pronto. Their husbands and sons are lazy twats and their daughters are in training to be middle class white women. Feminism is – understanding that their need to put working class women’s lives at risk, exists only because of the patriarchy.
The liberal blue ticks are leading the charge because us working class cleaners aren’t on Twitter giving that good, clean liberal woke. I say us, because domestic cleaning is how I earn a living when I’m not earning enough as a writer. Which has been a lot of the time. The prospect of scrubbing the shit off the side of someone’s toilet is a never far away for me.
This isn’t about the women who hire us. I stopped working for those types of families and found a niche in working class households who actually needed a cleaner. Old dears who just need a little help to stay in their own home. People with disabilities. People who appreciate what I do and don’t think I need to be elbow deep in their U-bend to feel ‘normal and useful.’ My aversion to these women is why I would choose to shove my hands in toilets rather than sit in an office all day. The last place I want to be is in their homes. But the problem I want to talk about is liberal hope.
It kept us going through 10 years of austerity. Made us believe that a system that’s bound the working class in servitude for hundreds of years, could one day produce the keys to our freedom. Liberal hope has seen our options whittled down to a never ending, two-horse race as we’re suspended in sufferance. Liberal hope contains our reactions, refines our outrage and moderates a response. A barrier between us and the oppressor but it only holds one way.
Liberals make a lot of noise when we feel pain. They square up quick. Ready to battle with their conservative counterparts but the battlefields are the Guardian or Twitter and their choice of weapon is a MacBook Air. It’s no longer about the cleaners. It’s about the middle-classes’ interpretation of the cleaner’s dilemma. “If you can afford to pay a cleaner you can afford to pay them to stay at home,” the liberals decree. Cool story bro. But I prefer the one where white, middle-class liberals and conservatives, equally benefit from the labour of working class communities and are equally responsible for their well-being in the pandemic.
And no, you can’t pay us in outrage. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the shit tonne we got delivered after a leaked internal report revealed, shock horror, that the Labour party is racist.
Throw the Whole Party Away!
Few Black women would have been surprised by the racism that Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler endured at the hands of their own party members. That doesn’t make it less painful. It was chilling to see behind the curtain that shields Becky and Karen in the workplace. Some Black women have spent decades being told that what’s happening to them isn’t happening. Rarely are they vindicated in this way. Seeing their plotting. Revelling in a Black woman’s pain, calling up a reporter so the public can join in. Doing all the things we know they’ve been doing without having proof.
As expected, the liberal outrage was strong, but not quite strong enough to blow the fairies off a dandelion clock. Those of us who are watching this in Black and white can see the historic references to the persecution of these women. Echoes of us being offered up as an examples to other ‘uppity negroes.’ Chimes of political leaders using our suffering as a pledge of loyalty to a white electorate. “We’ll fight this.” The chant of the liberal ally fades into the background as attention turns to Keir Starmer’s ‘forensic’ performances at PMQ’s. Slowly, they yield to his ability to quote statistics and ask simple questions. Black women fall back down the agenda and the right get the signal. Seeing them unprotected, conservative politicians line up to take them down a peg or two.
I’m pissed because I knew liberals were dangerous before I knew what a liberal was. Still I allowed myself to have hope in a magic granddad who’d spent his adult life on the right side of history. I hung in when the bastards used antisemitism to smear and degrade him. Knowing his detractors didn’t care about any ‘ism’. Knowing the Labour party is racist but understanding the human price of austerity and the need to unseat the Tories. It was a trap. Jeremy Corbyn was never going to be anything more than bait for the last working-class socialists standing.
Image: Vote Labour button
I was over Labour the second Corbyn was shafted again. I watched the party and the last hope for working class people go up in flames while liberals wrung their hands and promised to fight. It feels like we’re being told to wait in a burning tower block. If we try to leave, we’re reminded it would take a decade to build a force powerful enough to oppose the current opposition. But they’d never know our speed and efficiency because they’ve never let us lead. Our might is contained by middle class liberals who don’t know how to kick down doors and grab the oppressor by the throat. The biggest threat liberals pose are the limitations they place on us.
Early Liberal Encounters
Liberals dropped into my life from places that weren’t a million miles away but were at the same time. Social workers and psychologists who wore square toed shoes and colourful tights. No hard edges, flowing clothes, floppy bags and untamed hair. Kind eyes. They needed me to trust them. I couldn’t until I’d tested them. I’d already worked a future head of Social Services into such a state he accidentally trapped my head in a door.
I caught glimpses of liberal lives on their desks or in their bags if I got chance to rifle them. Photos of their fragile looking kids scuba diving. Weird snacks they ate pre-quinoa. Prescription pills. Sometimes they’d take me out in their VW Beetles, try to get me to ‘open up.’ Share their own frustrations with the system they were trying to fight from within. They claimed they were trying to help me, but it was me that was expected to do the work. Coaxing me to overcome adult sized obstacles when they could barely get through their own, comfortable lives. (Image description: An old orange VW Beetle)
I was a regular absconder and ended up being sent to a secure unit. My liberal guardians casually dropped me into a cesspool of abuse where the threat of solitary confinement in a luminous orange cell, kept order among girls who’d usually done nothing more than be traumatised by their home lives. There was no contact with the outside world for the first 12 weeks. After that, our only time beyond the walls was on the weekly trip to the cockroach infested water of the pool at the boy’s secure unit at Adel. Not even your period would get you out of it. They’d hand you a Tampax super. Everything about Westwood Grange was designed to make us uncomfortable.
The abuse at Westwood Grange was no secret. It was notorious throughout Leeds and I knew what to expect before I got there. I looked the place up recently and saw that there were solicitors representing victims of abuse cases going back to the sixties. Social Services knew what they were sending us to. By then all my social worker’s hard edges were exposed. Unable to solve the real problems, I became the problem. There was nothing she could do for me. Well there was but that would have meant a real fight.
The liberals in my life comforted themselves that they were doing their best in a bad situation. Told themselves that they were better on the inside of the machine, than on the outside. Sound familiar? I had them all worked out by my early teens. They weren’t trained to fight and if I waited around for them I’d be dead.
So, you see, liberals have been getting on my tits before I even had them. I’m not a liberal or a conservative, I’m just at their whim. The horse doesn’t belong to me, I just backed it a couple of times when I got a tip. I knew the race was rigged by centrists and the media but there was still enough liberal hope to get me down to the polling station. On December 13th 2019, the well ran dry.
A Clean Getaway
By midday I’d read half a dozen people express, on social media, that they wanted to die. About twice that number saying that they wouldn’t physically survive another Tory term. The right-wing brayed and the liberals promised weakly. We’ll fight. Some socialists tried to organise, to find a way to survive another Tory term. Overnight their voices were drowned out as Labour members invaded every space. Their need to dissect Corbyn’s leadership bid and predict the next leader, overwhelmed the efforts of those who understood we didn’t have five more years.
We knew we had little time. We didn’t know it had run out. Coronavirus was already infecting people in China. In just weeks, we’d be at the mercy of the Tories, facing a threat that would expose every consequence of austerity and right-wing ideology. We fall first. BAME communities. The disabled and the elderly. Underpaid carers and medics. Zero hours workers. Cleaners. Transport workers. Taxi drivers. Supermarket workers. “We’ll fight this.” The liberals say. All I hear is a distracting whine.
We need to hear ourselves think. Our liberal friends can’t think beyond a process designed to keep the working class exactly where they are. They’re asking us to wait in a burning building while they’re safe in their home offices. I think we can make it out if we go now. We’re already running this shit. They’re slow and cumbersome and more of a burden than an assistance. We fight for survival while they fight to retain power of a political party. We are not the same. They’re busy now. Arguing whether or not we should be cleaning their toilets. Let’s sneak out while they’re not looking.