The TUC general secretary on "creepy" politicians, Thomas Piketty, and why she'd like to be buried with an iPhoneby Prospect Team / August 18, 2018 / Leave a comment
Published in September 2018 issue of Prospect Magazine
Yes, but have you read Piketty’s Capital? First news/historical event you can recall? England winning the World Cup in 1966. But the flour bombing of the 1970 Miss World contest left a more lasting impression. The book you are most embarrassed you never yet read? Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Inequality is rampant, but I need to understand more about how global capital drives it. One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self? When you first go out on your own into the world, you don’t have to experience everything all at once. Although, on reflection, I’m secretly proud of what was a valiant attempt! What is your favourite saying or quotation? “I subscribe to the divine right of discontent to see improvements and to have a better way of life.” Jack Jones (referencing his union movement forebear, Jim Larkin), the former General Secretary of the Transport & General Workers’ Union. Where do you want to be buried/have your ashes scattered? I like the idea of having my ashes scattered over the sea but I’m a wimp about cremation so it looks like a plot in the local cemetery for me. I seem to remember a JP Donleavy story in which the hero, fearful of accidentally being buried alive, takes the precaution of having a telephone installed in his final resting place—just in case he wakes up. I might take a fully charged iPhone. If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why? That’s easy—I’d spend it on union organisers to put the likes of Uber and Sports Direct under even more pressure. Either that or the best street party ever; we could all do with cheering up. The talent you wish you had? Playing electric guitar. Any woman of my age who’s read Viv Albertine’s memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys will share that dream. What have you changed your mind about? First-past-the-post voting—as politics has become more plural, it has represented voters less well. I still have reservations about proportional representation, but I’m more sympathetic than I was. However, one thing is for sure, winning back public trust in parliament will take more than an institutional fix. What is the biggest problem of all? Currently, the creepy occupants of the White House and the Kremlin. But the root of almost all of our problems is inequality. The last piece of music/play/novel/film that brought you to tears? Film of the Suite for Ma Dukes Orchestra performing “Fall in Love.” It’s a tender orchestral tribute to hip-hop legend J Dilla and there is something about that musical fusion that is all the more touching.