How would you describe your identity and beliefs in terms of religion?
Technically, I’m a Christian because I was baptised. My mother’s grandfather was a priest and her father was a headmaster in a school in South Africa… they’re not staunch Christians, that side of the family, but Christianity has always been prevalent. My dad’s side was never that religious as far as I know, but my immediate family are all very spiritual. One of my brothers calls himself a Buddhist, and another brother of mine, back home where I grew up in Wales, spends lots of time on spiritual retreats. So, the whole family… yes, it is funny. I don’t believe in a Christian God, a man with the white beard, but I believe that there is a big force, which you can call God, if you want to call it something. My father became ill when I was 12 and he started going to retreats in India. I didn’t know at the time what it was all about but as I grew older I came to understand what he was going through and learning and as a result, I now try to meditate as often as I can. I believe in the power of love and the universe, and I think this is fundamentally important. We get so swept up in all the goings on in the world but as soon as you remember that we are a part of something much bigger and can connect to it and receive it’s guidance, love and wisdom, a strange calm comes over you and you feel at peace. So, yes, that is my answer.
Is GB an equal and tolerant society, especially in relation to religion and belief?
Up until recently, I would have said for the most part yes. Of course it’s never been completely tolerant but right now, it’s the worst I’ve seen it. There are a lot of very confused and angry people out there and their fear is being fuelled by the controlled media and failed politicians. These bastards are literally cashing in on peoples fears, spreading lies and then leaving us all to deal with the aftermath. We used to pride ourselves on being a multi cultural/racial society. Well, I did anyway! There is a crisis going on right now. Because of a war, that we are part of and partly fund, people are fleeing their homes for their lives. According to papers like The Sun and The Daily Mail and politicians like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, these people want to invade our country and take our jobs but what’s really scary is how many people believe these reptiles. Making ourselves separate from Europe could potentially make it even worse. I was always under the impression that we’re stronger together. How can we unite and stop all the hate when we’re drifting away from everyone else and closing our doors? It’s fuelling intolerance at the moment.
Are there any challenges to living in accordance with your beliefs? If so, are they social, political or legal in nature?
In my industry, acting, I don’t come across many people who think the way I do. As I said, I am one of those spiritual persons, and in the acting industry there are not many. I don’t necessarily feel I can share completely who I am with people, because I’d rather not have to explain it to someone who’s just going to pull a face the minute I start talking about meditation or dreams… but then that is ridiculous isn’t it. I am a bit of a loner anyway. I like my own time. I wish I could express more, but it doesn’t bother me so much.
Are Human Rights positive for our society?
I think HRs are vital for British society. For all society. Without HRs the bad guys can run amock!
Do public bodies respect Human Rights?
I think some public bodies are much better than others. The Tory Government and parties like UKIP, as far as I am concerned, just doesn’t have the people’s interest at heart. They don’t have HRs at heart. With all that’s going on in the country in the wake of the referendum, now more than ever we need a leader of a party who counts HRs as vitally important. As far as I can see, the only person from a leading party who does this is Jeremy Corbyn.
Do public authorities get the level of intervention right when it comes to religion?
I don’t really know if public authorities intervene too much or too little. It would be nice to let people get on with their own things, but also, you want to know that the State cares about them. If a religious group is harming other people, then I don’t know how the State would intervene, but… no religion should ever preach harm to other people. I guess the fundamental message in every religion is being happy… so I don’t know how you would intervene, but if there is harm being caused, someone should.
How can we preserve freedom of expression? What role do the Arts have in this?
Arts and freedom of expression are one in the same. They defend each other. Without one, the other falls which is why it is so important to preserve both. You can reach thousands, millions of people through the Arts. Painting, film, theatre… your reaction to the play last night was so lovely. It is much more important than people realise, particularly music. Everyone has a favourite song, album. I don’t know anyone who never ever listens to music. Listening to music ten minutes a day decreases your stress level. It brings people together. I was in Glastonbury last year and all these people were together and they were so happy. All these people coming from different walks of life, all together in one place having an amazing time, surrounded by music and art and freedom of expression. Musicians use their art to evoke feelings and get messages out there. And when you’re doing that on the pyramid stage to 150,000 people, it’s pretty powerful stuff!
The arts have a monumental role in preserving freedom of expression but expanding people’s minds scares governments so Arts is really struggling at the moment… As an artist myself, I will never stop fighting for it.
Arts make you feel human…we are emotive creatures. When you see a play, or listen to an album which hits you or touches you, I don’t think anything else can make you feel like that
How do you feel about the increase in police powers over the last 15 years or so?
It is hard to say… of course, you don’t want people to do terrible things. So, you want to stop them, but banging into someone’s home, when he or she is innocent…. Police coming to your house… Shooting an innocent man just because of his skin colour….. We live in a world in which if you see the police you feel paranoid and not protected. That is not the way it should be, but I think most people feel that way nowadays even if you are the most innocent person in the world. If you see a policeman, you feel threatened, and that is so backwards…. But then, sadly, there are so many extremists at the moment so, I think a balance must be reached. I have no idea how this sort of balance can be reached, but it must come into place… where the police, if they genuinely feel that someone is a threat, maybe it is a necessary interference, but they must be careful with that power. Power can do crazy things to people. But I’m thankful to live in this country and not America! It’s a lot better here than there right now.
Are there any legal rules which you would like to see changed?
I have to admit, I don’t know much about rules and legalities. My mum in Wales would have something to say about not being able to walk the dog on the beach? You see places in the States making big changes…. The legalisation of marijuana, for example, where marijuana has been legalised and it has improved its economy and money has gone back to their schools… and crime has gone down… millions and millions… Drugs in this country should be addressed. I know the Green Party is looking into this and I think it is a positive thing. I know many people won’t agree with that, which I think it is understandable, but there is this huge criminal market going on… people getting killed drugs… if we took a different stance, it could be different. I’m not saying all drugs should be legal but this ‘war on drugs’ needs to be revisited.
Also, politicians lying to their people everyday. That should be illegal!
Do you think that living in a democracy is a positive thing?
Yes. But, I don’t think we really have a democratic society. I would like to live in one. At the moment I don’t feel the Government are listening to the population of the country. This current Government only cares about the top 1 or 2% and about selling off everything we have and our precious NHS. I don’t think that is democratic and it is absolutely ridiculous and stupid and bloody mean. You are not caring about the people! We will never be a democratic society with a Tory government. Or a monarchy.
Do your beliefs mean that you feel you have a duty to vote?
I absolutely have a responsibility to vote. This is one thing I don’t agree with Russell Brand. I think if every single man, woman and child in this country got together and said let’s not vote, then maybe that would be quite an exciting thing… people will still vote and so I think it is very important for me to vote and have my say. The other thing is whether we should vote with our heart or we should vote tactically to stop people getting in, and I think last time in 2010 people were so fed up with what Labour had done, they really wanted to get rid of them. I am 28 now. In my late teens or early 20s I didn’t know much about politics and it was only when I had a boyfriend who was very into politics and got me into it, I wondered why anybody had told me before, as politics are very important. People don’t really know what is going on and this has to change. A lot of people voted tactically last time and I am very sure I know who is going to get my vote this time, and although they will not win, if that helps them to get some influence on the party that gets in power, that would be great.
Should Parliament have the final say in making law? Would you like to see judges empowered to strike down laws?
I have never thought about it, but it seems bizarre that our law is made by a bunch of old Etonians, who know nothing about real life… I hope it is fair to say that… it seems crazy that they are the people who make the law. Maybe judges should be able to have those striking powers… maybe not to change law, but maybe they should be given more powers. I really don’t know, to be honest.
I think I have more faith in the judiciary than in politicians, if I think about it. I think we have a fairly good system in this country. It could be better, but generally we are very lucky.
Are there some groups in society who find it harder to participate in our democracy?
I think it is more difficult for some groups to participate in the democratic process. I am thinking of groups such as ethnic minorities and religious minorities…. There are British people who are stuck in some areas in Britain which don’t get any attention. All is concentrated in London, which I guess is understandable, but people need to feel included. So, it is difficult for some people.
Does it concern you that members of the House of Lords aren’t elected?
I don’t like the fact that members of the HofL are not elected by us. I think if you don’t let people have a say in who should be ruling them, you will get unhappy people. Well, you are always going to get unhappy people but you will get many more like this. I don’t think, especially when it is a Government that I didn’t vote for… I don’t want them to appoint people in the HofL who will decide what I can or can’t do in my life. I would prefer to see a wholly or partially elected second Chamber.
How do you feel about bishops in the House of Lords?
We shouldn’t just have representatives of the Church of England in Parliament. We live in a country where there are so many different religions and I am not sure they feel represented. I guess we are predominantly a Christian country… I don’t have anything against people wanting to be Christian or any religion, but you know, the Church is a huge power and to me that feels like having all these bishops sitting in… is too much power for the Church to have actually.
How should we hold people with power to account? What checks should we have?
People with power need to stop being allowed to get away with things. It’s happening more and more and people are starting to notice and get pissed off! It’s just not fair that a politician of a supposedly left wing party can send us in to a war that over a million people marched against, be responsible for countless, unnecessary deaths and get away with it. And be made a peace ambassador! It’s outrageous. He should be put on trial for war crimes. Politicians who lie about their policies and manifestos should have to answer for themselves. It shouldn’t be allowed, full stop!
It’s not just politicians though. So many people in power – bankers, corporate bosses etc think that they are above the rest of us and the law. I have no idea how to truly hold these people to account, but something has to be done.
Are our judiciary sufficiently independent?
I think our judges are independent, but they should be even more independent. I cannot say I know much about this matter, but that is my impression.
Have you campaigned on any issues?
I have demonstrated a few things for different reasons. Ive been on some great marches. People coming together and fighting for a cause is a very powerful message. The first one I ever did was the big anti-war march in 2003 and I was in school in Wales and I heard about this big march in London and I asked my mum if I could go on my own on the train (my cousin lived in London) and then she said ‘absolutely, you have to fight… this is important’. She took part in many marches herself, and I remember coming up, being part of this amazing thing which could potentially change things… I know we ended up going to war in the end, but it was an amazing experience. I liked the fact of joining thousands of people who felt passionate enough about it and who marched. I have joined other marches since.
I have never written to my MP because I have never been in a place long enough since I left home. I have lived in probably every borough in London…. So I have never felt I had to write my local MP. However, when I feel passionate about something, I do something about it. I think even talking about things is important, but we should probably do more.
Is there anything which you would like to add?
There’s a lot going on at the moment so it’s important for us all to see the bigger picture and focus on the things that truly matter. We need to concentrate on educating the next generations about humanity, love and not destroying our planet. We need to fight for our health care system. We need to keep seeking and spreading the truth via any means possible. But most of all, we need to stick together and show compassion to all.
Lillie Flynn has worked mostly in musical theatre, and juggles her career as an actor with one as a musician. Lillie trained at Webber Douglas and Central School of Speech and Drama. Theatre credits include: Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre, Hampstead Theatre); Wicked (Wicked London); Love Story (Duchess Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre); Quadrophenia (Q Theatre Productions); The Spirit Of Broadway (China Tour); The War Of The Worlds (Live Nation).