A little piece in The Guardian Review on 9 May about the reading habits of the leaders of the political parties can form a pendant to my previous post on the general election itself. You might expect the Green's former leader, Caroline Lucas, to be the most interesting figure here, since she studied English Literature at Exeter University and has a PhD for a feminist account of Elizabethan romance. I once asked Caroline, in the Kelmscott Coach House, whether she felt there were connections between her early Eng Lit studies and her later Green convictions, and rather to my surprise she didn’t have a very ready or clear answer on this. I know what the answer is in my own case – romantic anti-capitalism is the common term – but whether that would work for her I'm not sure.
So the clear winner, from this blog’s perspective, is Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, who ‘says she was inspired by Marge Piercy’s feminist sci-fi novel Woman on the Edge of Time (1976), in which the heroine – a woman detained and drugged in a New York psychiatric hospital – is visited by a time-traveller from a utopian future world, but fears what could unfold instead is a dystopia where systematic use of mind-control secures the elite’s power’ (p.5). That latter formulation is quite a good account of what we have just witnessed, with those relentless Tory invocations of the Labour-SNP ‘nightmare’ securing our elite's power, so it is good to know that at least one party leader also harbours Piercyian aspirations towards utopia in these dark moments. Perhaps we can persuade her to read News from Nowhere next.