This weekend members of the More United community gathered in Grosvenor Square to join the Women’s March on London. We marched in solidarity with more than 5 million people in the USA and across the world to take a stand against the intolerance and prejudice that is becoming more common in our politics worldwide.
All around the globe these marches were peaceful, inclusive and open to anyone who wanted to be there, meaning that identity politics was put on the back-burner as we marched for equality and love. There were people waving rainbow flags and others waving EU flags; signs condemning dangerous attitudes towards sexual assault as well as the demonisation of minorities; chants proclaiming how we should build bridges not walls, tackle climate change not women’s rights and that we all deserve equal opportunities no matter what our skin colour.
The demonstrators were gathered in unity, recognising that all of these issues are connected, and that all are threatened by the rise of isolationism, xenophobia and intolerance. This is not about one individual issue - or one individual person - but about the protection of progressive values as a whole.
For us to fight for positive change we must build bridges in our politics - between different groups, ethnicities, parts of the country, between nations - celebrating our differences rather than letting them stand between us. As Michelle Obama has said, and as countless signs on Saturday read, “our diversity of faiths, and colours, and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are. It makes us who we are.”
Let's be honest - a lot of people were happy to see the back of 2016, myself included. What with the election of Donald Trump, a rise in political extremism the world over and the death of David Bowie, I’m pretty inclined to draw a line under the whole year.
But it wasn’t all bad.
In December More United’s first crowdfund closed, having smashed through three targets to raise an incredible £274,164!
This means we’re heading into 2017 armed with a huge amount of money with which to start backing progressive political candidates who will fight for our values and change British politics for the better. We’ve already got the show on the road by getting our first MU-backed candidate elected in the Richmond by-election. We are going to continue using these resources to push for all those issues that we were marching for on Saturday - for democracy, tolerance, opportunity, the environment and openness in our politics and our attitudes.
Since the crowdfund closed, the More United team has been extremely busy. In the coming weeks More United’s members will be voting on which political candidates we should back and what specific policies we want them to sign up to. We’ll also publish details on our rules so that there can be complete transparency in the way the movement runs.
The March has left many of us feeling uplifted and a lot more positive about the year ahead. 2016 was marred by negativity and division but 2017 is going to be different - it won’t be easy, and it definitely won’t be simple, but together we can bring about change.