My pronouns in English are he/him.

I don’t say this because I think someone will get it wrong, and I am not sure I would mind if they did – but since it has never happened, that’s also rather easy to say.

So what kind of woke virtue signalling makes me write it?

Margaret Thatcher said in 1987 that there was “no such thing as society”. These remarks have been much debated and perhaps misrepresented - but at their core is, I think, a denial of the concept of solidarity. We live individually and within our smallest bubbles; it is not for us to worry about those who live alongside us.

The way I describe myself politically changes, but at the core I believe in solidarity. I believe politics should embrace empathy, and not step out of the way.

An accusation of virtue signalling often feels, to me, the same kind of denial of solidarity as the old “if you think people should pay more tax, write a cheque to the Treasury yourself”. Individualising the social must be something the left resists the right in doing, for the left to have any real meaning. Yes, there are those who want to gotcha other people. I've been frustrated. But at the heart, I want society to change in ways I want: more empathy, more kindness, more inclusion, more plurality of voices. It is vital for me that it is not people like me who speak on behalf of the others. And it is vital that they do speak, that platforms are given where society currently excludes or restricts opportunity.

Some people find their pronouns are not always what people first reach for. They might be trans, or non-binary, or something else – I am not sure I even know every possibility, and I don’t think I need to.

I want to open space, and give room for voices. If a way to do that is by offering and using pronouns, so that doing so becomes mainstream and unremarkable (even among a group who may all be he/him and she/her and assumed to be so) – not to increase attention but to lessen it – solidarity asks me to listen to the voices encouraging it, and to put my hand up. And so I have.

My pronouns in English are he/him.

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