I think we can all safely agree that 2016 has been a tumultuous year and that it will be a long time before we recover from all of the heartache, shock, stress and confusion. Reading Caitlin Moran’s Moranifesto when the year has, painfully slowly, drawn to a close proves a soothing balm and provides the much-needed “kick up the arse” that is required for not collapsing into a never-ending state of grief and resignation that there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves.
In her introduction Moran states that she had felt herself to be ill-educated or, indeed, too “female” to put forward her views on politics and contribute to the discussion. For too long writing about politics has been seen to be the preserve of academics, economists or statisticians with a penis. As she did with her best-selling How to be a Woman in 2011 Moran has invited everyone to the political shindig and demonstrated that no matter how crafted, comical or controversial your vision of what politics should look like in the 21st Century, there is room for you.
Moranifesto is made up of Moran’s columns in The Times from the past few years as well as some new articles detailing her vision for the future. Moran’s views on the bedroom tax, Channel 4’s Benefits Street, adolescence, feminism, the privileged 1% and the plight of the working class are all given with equal measure of reason and humour. Her opinions are indeed well formed but there is also the sense that it would be brilliant to watch her orate them on a soap-box in the manner of Keir Hardy whilst pissed on gin.
There are, however, parts of Moranifesto which don’t sit too well. Her opinion of bacon and extreme fan-girling over Dr Who should have been the most obvious cut in the first edit. Also, there were whole chapters that I will admit to skipping because the exact same piece had appeared recently in her Saturday Times column. I think it would have been more beneficial to have injected some new insights that had time to germinate since the first write-up.
“The job of politics is to defend and uplift and represent and improve the people”
When it comes to the main essence of the book and her own manifesto for politics there is a mixture of proposals: some solid, that the very essence of the Westminster system should be reorganised, from the First-Past-The-Post system to the archaic House of Lords; hilarious, Andy Burnham to sing Hot Chocolate’s ‘Sexy Eyes’ at every Labour party conference; and narrowly avoided, Boris Johnson becoming a puppet prime minister. Fundamentally, it is a template that tells us that democracy is in our hands and we have the power to collectively make it anything we want it to be.
The book finishes with Moran’s poignant “Letter to my Daughter” whose existence has fuelled her desire to change the world with her pen. Moran tells her daughter to “think of yourself as a silver rocket – use loud music as your fuel; books like maps and co-ordinates for how to get there. Host extravagantly, love constantly, dance in comfortable shoes…” This heartfelt letter is the perfect combination of irony, wisdom and truth that even on the one hundredth read, still brings tears to the eyes.
Caitlin Moran is the Feminist Army Leader and Moranifesto is the work from which we should draw inspiration to contribute more to the political zeitgeist. As Moran argues in her book, we are all working together for the same reasons in this Feminist Quilt Club and we should build each other up, even when we don’t agree, and change the world for the better together, crucially, whilst sharing the deliciousness that is crisps.