Stereotypes

I also spent Saturday afternoon at an event for young people in London, at the British Film Institute on the South Bank. I’ve never been there before, despite the fact that my previous London flat was all of ten minutes walk away… very cool place, with the cafe/ bar full of people you think you might vaguely recognise. I sat at a table in the cafe for twenty minutes, totally ignored by the waitress, and then went to the bar and was ignored by the bar staff too.

Anyway, it turned out to be a great event, and if you only watch one of the TrueTube films we saw during the day, watch “Stereotyped”. It’s only a couple of minutes long.

To be frank, I wasn’t particularly pleased with my performance on the panel – some days you have it, some days you don’t – but there was a moment during the Q and A session where it started to work. Someone in the audience (not one of the 100+ young people there) said that the problem today was that 30% of kids today don’t have parents that are married, and that this is the cause of societal breakdown, etc. I responded by saying that my parents weren’t married and I didn’t meet my father till I was 27, and that what matters is not the family structures, but what your parents are like as role models. Which received a round of applause…

As I’ve said on here before, it’s always a dilemma knowing when to draw on personal experience, and when to talk in abstract terms. The former is far more powerful, but it means breaching that barrier between the personal and the political life, and that can be uncomfortable. But when you have an audience of kids, most of whom probably don’t come from nuclear families, then it’s important they know that there are plenty of other people out there who didn’t either, and survived. (I hesistate to say ‘succeeded’ – I ended up as a politician after all!)

P.S. On a related point, Paul Smith, the Labour candidate for Bristol West, has given this interview about being adopted and talking to his Italian birth father for the first time.

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