Gladstone, Gladstone, Gladstone

June 1, 2017

It is so easy to get pulled down with things that feel completely out of our control in the world isn’t it?

I have struggled with this volunteering and working in environmental protection since I was 16 years old. It has been my guiding force on my path for personal and spiritual development, as I work through the deep sadness I feel when I see the destruction humanity is impaling itself on.

Two summers ago I was in despair about our political situation and felt so powerless. A feeling I am sure that I share with many of you reading this, and I want to tell you about an experience I had which gave me hope. Hope I am seeing more and more as each day passes in this current election campaign.


The Summer of 2015

It was during the shadow of the last election two years ago and I was really low.

Our country was just embarking on the second term of a Conservative government. Everything I had once believed in politics had slowly been shattered over the previous six years.

Jason and I were on holiday camping in the Yorkshire Dales, and it was our first break away for a year. It had been a big year of change, so I was really looking forward to a rest. Then the day before we left, the government issued fracking licenses for the majority of Lancashire, including the West Pennine Moor area where we live. This is our heartland, so when I heard that fracking was coming right to my doorstep, it was as though I felt those drills go into my veins, and that toxic concoction go into my blood, and pump around my body.

As we lay up on the limestone pavements and in the wildflower meadows, my mind was swirling with what we needed to do to stop this. Woven into to my anxiety, I was also exhausted. I had just come out from a fifteen year stint in the corporations, trying to change from within, and my activist energy was dwindling. I needed a rest from the fight, to take a back seat for a while and recuperate, but it was seeming that there wasn’t going to be a chance for this. During my time on holiday I was disillusioned with pretty much everything about politics, society and the battle to protect our Earth.

I just couldn’t switch off and cheer myself up. I felt to the core of me really concerning times under a Right Wing government. Along with the aggressive pro-fracking stance, our elected leaders were also busy reversing all the work that had been done around climate change during the 2000’s, and were hell bent at implementing what they called austerity measures – basically a fancy term for continuing what they have always done, looking after the interests of the rich, and exploiting everyone else.

I was on holiday, but I most definitely was not on holiday!


Guided by a dream

Then I had a dream. It was something random like, I don’t know, bunny rabbits running around a gym, or cooking a meal using a frizby, or something like that. It wasn’t the content of the dream that was important. It was what I was shouting when I woke up, out loud.

“Gladstone, Gladstone, Gladstone”

So I looked up Gladstone straight away, and it led me to the Liberal Prime Minister of the 19th Century. William Gladstone  held four terms in total, not all on succession, with his last when he was in his eighties. Nicknamed The Peoples William, he is widely regarded as the greatest Prime Minister of all time, and brought about huge reform for the people.

Reading about Gladstone restored my faith in politics. It taught me that with the right person post, things can be drastically different and for the good. It taught me that in the course history there have been good Prime Minsters in office.

Then, a week later Jeremy Corbyn was voted in as the leader of the Labour Party. I hadn’t heard of him either, but when I read about him, I put him firmly in the camp of Gladstone. For me the two men were from the same pod. Just a few centuries separated them, but they were of the same values.

I felt suddenly optimistic. For the first time in a long time. All we had to do was get through the next five years of the Conservative government, and in that time they would have made enough blunders for enough people to wake up and vote differently next time.


Needing the reassurance

So then came Piggate, then the money laundering, then the battle bus revelation, where there were no less than 20 police investigations underway into the illegal funding of local campaigns in marginal seats. The austerity measures, the government back-tracking and doing the opposite of what they said they would. The crippling of the NHS. The lies told through the referendum campaign. The publishing of the Chilcot report exposing that we went to war illegally with Iraq.

There are days when I feel dread, and days when I feel elation. Days when I find myself shouting at my facebook page after reading an article about how the government and the media are in it together. Days when tears fill my eyes when I watch Tony Benn’s speech on the eve of the Iraq war. Days when I laugh out loud like when Nigel Farage resigned, or the Theresa May ‘She’s a Liar’ pop video made it into the Top 10 charts.

Days when I feel empowered, when I joined the Labour Party, wrote to my MP to ask him to support Jeremy Corbyn, joined the Electoral Reform Society to support the reform of the political sham, and donated to the Labour campaign.

Days I am filled with fear, when I read that the North and South hemisphere thermal sheets have joined together. When I read we have reached one degree Celsius global temperature increase.

Days of sadness when I hear how my friends and family are struggling with the Euro referendum outcome, and how it might mean that they need to move home.


Gladstone and my ancestors

The Dali Lama was asked once what the most important meditation is that we can do right now in these troubled times. He said,

“Critical thinking followed by action. Discern what your world is. Know the plot, the scenario of this human drama. And then figure out where your talents might fit in to make a better world”.

A few months after researching into Gladstone, I was reading a book on the plight of the Irish immigrants in Victorian Britain during the potato famine. It was a book I had bought as through my fathers line I descend from Irish ancestry. My grandfather’s great grandfather came over escaping death by starvation and lived in the east end of London.

I found all this out by researching initially on, and then following my curiosity, leading me ultimately to a series of three ancestral healing sessions with my shamanic teacher Jayne Johnson.

A few things really struck me from reading that book. The first was how similar the media was back then to now, with a headline from a newspaper in the 19th Century which read “swarms of immigrants take our jobs”. The second was a whole chapter on Galdstone. He brought about reform for the Irish in Ireland and the Irish immigrants who came to live in England. Gladstone helped my ancestors. The author of the book commented on how historians cannot fathom his motives, as he had nothing to gain from his actions.

Also, it wasn’t just the Irish he helped. Educated at Eaton and Oxford University, he started his political career as a Conservative MP, and left that party to join the Liberals, where amongst many other achievements he successfully worked to bring about the vote to an increasing number of working class men. It seems on the whole he was one of the good guys in politics.


Finding the calm

Looking at what has happened in the past so often helps me understand what is unfolding before me now.

My Gladstone dream brought about a realization for me that not all politicians are the same. That now, today, there is a good person who by a bizarre twist has been elected leader of the Labour Party.

Finally, I had a major political party I could believe in again. I was a Green Party member, and wholeheartedly support them and their policies, but they are a minority party at the moment, and I feel what we need is a real opposition to the Conservatives, and I saw it in Jeremy Corbyn.

Since then I have watched as the media work together to pull him down, and for a while it seemed to be working. But this morning I was heartened to hear that he has radically closed in on the Conservatives in the election polls.

This link in with my Gladstone dream, the knowledge of what has happened historically in politics during another period of great change during the Industrial Revolution, brings me back to my inner calmness. The calm in the centre of the storm.

I loved seeing these two pictures which were posted together on Facebook. A photo of Jeremy Corbyn on the night bus after a hard days campaigning, and a painting of Gladstone taking public transport.

Photo source: Mirror 1st August 2015


Picture source: Les Mots en couleurs

It spoke to me because the original cause of me getting disillusioned with politics was at the time of the MP expenses scandal in 2009. At this time when politicians are using our money to pay for their alcohol and second homes, horse manure, duck pond houses and private jets, Jeremy Corbyn is catching the night bus and paying for the ticket himself.

Another message for me from the Universe that all may just be well in the grand scheme of things, and all going to plan.

I am not saying I agree with everything Jeremy stands for. For example I wish that he would join forces with the other Left Wing parties and form a coalition against the Conservatives, and a new form of politics, but he has his reasons I am sure, and I trust him as a person with sound morals. Who knows what might just be around the corner for us all…


Living in the transition

What is certain is nothing is the same any more. Back in the late 1990’s the old political news I remember seemed to be Tony Blair hanging out with Oasis and getting patted on the bottom by Noel Gallagher, and the only political issue the media were really fixated with was as to where President Clinton lied abut having an affair. It seems such small fry in comparison.

Things are very different now. Things are ramping up. The crisis is happening, and we can choose how much we get caught up in the drama, and it’s very easy to get picked up in the whirlwind.

My job is to find my role in it all, stay sane and be the best I can possibly be. Oh, and have fun too. That’s really important. We mustn’t forget to have fun.

So find your own place in the story and follow your curiosities as they arise. Carry on learning how to tune into guidance outside of your conscious minds, be it through shamanic journeying, dream work, nature connection, meditation or whatever other practice works for you. Find your calm centre in the eye of the storm, as the world that we knew falls away and a new one emerges.

If you don’t have an interest in any of this, or feel that ’you don’t do politics’ then I really encourage you to reconsider. These are critical times and we are lucky enough, because of the fight in our ancestors, to live in a democracy and do have a say.

After all we are the sons and daughters of Robin Hood.


Footnote: Tactical voting

Here is a great website to inform people which party they should vote for if their objective is to get the Conservative government out. As I am sure you know, sadly it’s not always best to vote for the party whose policies you most agree with if you want an immediate change in government.  Here is the link.


About the Author


Nicola Smalley is an edge-dweller, shamanic practitioner and writer living in Anglezarke on the edge of the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England.
Following a career in corporate sustainability, she now runs The Way of the Buzzard with her husband Jason. Her passion is anything connected to nature and the mysteries of the Earth.

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing all this -so much that I can relate to. I’ve felt so desperate about the current political situation, so much I worked for and believed in just thrown away. I need to open my dreams to my own Gladstone moment – and be glad there still are people like Corbyn!

  2. I feel exactly the same myself Nicola. You couldn’t have put it better. I have big faith that the universe will deliver us Jeremy Corbyn and I’m thrilled to hear about your Gladstone dream- and that there has been good men before- and there will be again very soon. There is a lot of light going into getting him there. thankyou xx

  3. Go girl go!!!!! Loved the clarity and freefflow of your writing.These are surely hard times as almost on a daily basis we are confronted with some of the darker sides of our human nature. For me it’s important to remember and honour the compassion,creativity and kindness of folk too . I so agree with you Nicole in that political and humanitarian action both towards our earth and each other is called for.This is a time where clean anger and clear speaking is called for to be channelled into action.
    I’m looking to my spirits and guides to see best where my creativity is to help myself ,the earth and others that dwell in these scarry and unpredictable times!
    Respect,love and hope

  4. Here here Tracey 🙂 bob on ! Now is the time to really look to our inner guidance on the steps we need to take – channeling our creativity where it is most effective as you say 🙂 x

  5. A wonderful genuine piece of writing Nicola I cringe at the thought of another term under this Government and its lack of thought for humanity. For me Jeremy Corbyn is a genuine person the words Faith, hope and charity come to mind. Keep the faith everyone.

  6. What a fantastic blog I identify so much with it. I am hoping for the best at the general election knowing that if weak and wobbly May remains as Prime Minister everything will get so much worse. Last night Trump announced he is pulling out of the Paris acord which was scary. It feels like we are coming to a critical point in history.

    1. We are Paul, I really feel that too. I have known this with the climate change projections for quite a few years – I just hope we elect a government who can deal with the changes ahead, and that we can unite enough under them. Thank you so much for your comment 🙂 No to Weak and Wobbly!!

  7. Thank you Nicola, I have never voted Labour before in my life but I will this time, I can’t vote for Fox Hunting, demolition of the NHS, or anything the conservative party stand for. Why do we vote a Prime Minister,so that they can make the tough informed decisions that we can’t, so why did Cameron get to PM then let confused people vote on something so important as Berxit for crying out loud.

    1. I agree completely. Brexit was far too a complicated thing to ask the public to make a straight forward decision on, plus they lied in their campaigns. Really pleased you liked the blog Christine 🙂

  8. With the electin rushing towards us thankyou for this. It is not only a reflection of what many of us might be feeling but is also well constructed!

  9. Very interesting blog. Yes I feel the uncertainties around us. Hopefully we will get the best person for the job. Scary times but if we keep pulling together in thoughts and deeds, more positive responses will happen. ??

  10. Brilliant post – so timely and reflective of the current situation for so many of us. Thank you for sharing x

  11. Thanks for that Nicola, my feelings are the same. The whole corrupt political scenario; the lies that people have believed because it was reported in the media-refusing to accept that the media was running the show for the material gains of the few; the xenophobia and bigotry appals me too.
    I have faith in Jeremy Corbyn-having heard him speak a few times, no-one can doubt his sincerity and honesty. The constant besmirching of his character is so wrong, this man who was given the Gandhi Peace Award!
    Writing this, after yet another atrocity last night, I am deeply saddened, but refuse to lose my faith in an eventual positive future.

    1. I had forgotten he was awarded that prize – thank you for reminding me. It is so encouraging that we have hope in these disturbing times. Thank you for your comment Megan, lovely to read 🙂

  12. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights, Nicola. Great timing and helpful as i have been struggling to decide how to vote given the biased first past the post system we currently have.And how refreshing to read your honest opinions with such compassionate intention. If only our leaders showed some heart. Let’s hope the future will!

    1. Thanks for your comment Peggy. I am so pleased my musings have been of some help – and rather humbled! I wish we had a fairer voting system than our current one – I give a monthly donation to the electoral reform society as they are campaigning to change it. it was all I could think I could do to help change what is a really unfair system. Yes lets hope we will get the right Leader – all appendages crossed 🙂

  13. Great article, loved its history, honesty and intelligent magical path. Around 1998 I lost faith in politics and took no notice for 20 years. Saw the rise of UKIP and the snide conservatives destroying the infrastructure of the countries services with that snake Cameron.
    So decided to take notice again an vote to try to remove the conservatives. However the Blairites and Labour party were like watered down conservatives, so what was the real choice. Like many to me governments and MP’s felt like a manufactured illusion of democracy and did not start to look good until Jeremy Corbyn appeared as the outsider in a leadership race.
    Now it seems to me that he is a good man, not a saviour but a catalyst that if in power will enable real change. If labour got in to power the activism I do now would be used making the world a better place, without having to fight the conservative agendas. Rather than fighting an oppressive dark conservative dictatorship. Dramatic I know but David Cameron and Theresa May seem to have very dark souls and intent to line the pockets of the rich whiles socially cleansing the poor, destroying the land and water.

    1. Thanks Pete for your comment. It was the expenses scandal which turned me off politics for a while – and seeing that New Labour as you say were too close to Conservative politics. Oh and Tony being a war criminal. Over the last week I have been thinking about a hung parliament as an outcome. If this would motivate the three left wing parties Labour, Lib Dem and Green to unite, the media wouldn’t be able to target Jeremy any more.

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