A ‘patchwork quilt of voices’: Caitlin Moran review

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Recently, I attended the opening day of the Women of the World festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

As the evening crowds arrived for the launch of journalist Caitlin Moran’s latest book, Moranifesto, there was a considerable amount of energy in the centre, both in anticipation for the talk and also from those who had attended the events held during the day to launch the WOW festival itself.

Discussing her book, which is a collection of new and published articles, with Jude Kelly, the artistic director of the Southbank Centre and founder of the WOW festival, Moran talked about how her Moranifesto emphasised the need to engage with politics.

During the talk, she discussed an experience she’d had during her tour last year.

Asking the audience, “who voted last year?”, she was met with a huge response of hands. However, when she continued, “and who read the manifesto of the party they voted for?”, every hand went down.She said: “That’s the key – we need to start talking about manifestos. We need to start talking about them, and we need to start writing them.

“It’s about making people want to go into politics, and about making people feel like they could go into politics.

“The first way you do that is through cultural change, and you hope people will talk about the policies and ideas you’ve got.

“Hopefully, you can start a discussion about how we need to develop a system where ideas can filter from the bottom, or the populous, up, rather than the other way that we currently have at the moment.”

A particularly interesting point discussed followed Kelly’s questioning about the book’s emphasis on ‘the idea of including people who are not usually included.’

Elaborating on this concept, Moran discussed the need for embracing a ‘patchwork quilt’ of ideas and change, emphasising the need for intersectionality in politics and social theory.

Intersectional feminist groups, anti-FGM campaigners and care workers, and groups dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT individuals are communities which are beginning to contribute to the creation of this ‘patchwork quilt’ of voices.

However, as Moran emphasised at the launch of this book at WOW, there is always room for more, particularly given the sheer range of issues faced by those living under this political system.Even her Moranifesto – which only takes up a small portion of her new book – covers a hugely varied range of topics of discussion. It leaps from the serious - electoral reform and state-funding of political parties – to the farcical – the insulation of the House of Commons and Boris Johnson to be installed as ‘Store Front’ Prime Minister –and then to the seemingly ridiculous, but ultimately convincing – reassessing the phrase ‘hard working people’ and the restoration of the Victorian drinking fountain network.Moran’s use of humour doesn’t undermine her political points, but instead grounds her voice and reinforces her arguments. Whether you agree with her politics, social theory or outlook or not, her writing is engrossing and her passion is compelling.

Report and picture contributed by Emily Turner, a member of the editorial team at West Sussex Gazette

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