Friday, 27 July 2012

We're all professionals now!
Time to return to the blog now the book is finished.
You can still read my now monthly column in the now weekly Chronicle & Echo,but its time again to put on my despairing hat and further depress myself.
In the current edition of the London Review of Books,the historian Ross McKibbin casts jaundiced eye over modern British politics,and shares a miserablist view similar to Jones in 'Chavs',a much more polemical  but no less gloomy prognosis.There was a time when I felt part of the 'half full tendency-but not for much longer.
McKibbin says,not totally originally that a factor that needs to be taken into account for the current state of affairs is:
"The first one,now a clich√©,is the extreme professionalism of politics.Politics today is now dominated by a comparatively young elite for whom politics is all of life.And politics is less a matter of legislative achievement-though that still matters-than of electoral success,and that is won by those who are part of the system,even if it means flying to Queensland9as Blair did)to impress the arch mediaman himself.
Social-Democratic political parties are particularly vulnerable-and not only in Britain.As they abandoned socialism,however defined,and moved to a vague progressivism,a vacuum was created which has been partly validated by electoral success.Although the revelations of the last year have most embarrassed Cameron,himself very much a product of the system,it was the last Labour government that brought that system to perfection."
I grew up in a family and a generation where we never talked about 'politics'-that was an abstraction, a bourgeois notion that belonged to a different world.I grew up thinking about socialism- the creation of a new world order,a world of equality,justice,without poverty or great wealth.
Silly old ,or rather little,egalitarian me! I was taken to concerts by Paul Robeson, listened to records of Woody Guthrie,read the' Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' and 'How the Steel was Tempered', joined the YCL and CND  and argued long into the night about the British Road to Socialism.
We never talked about politics!
Growing up I had contempt for the careerists in the Labour Party,but at least recognised that many of them were working people trying to get out of their overalls and into a suit.
I'm not a prolecult dinosaur, I have always recognised that the creation of a socialist movement requires everyone to participate(with the possible exception of the Saxe-Coberg dynasty who had a special place reserved for them) and that we needed the workers,the middle class,the intelligentsia-there was even a place for lawyers!(Remember the Russian revolution nearly floundered because nobody could work the telephone exchange )
But the history of the Labour Party has shown that many of the representatives of the working class,once elected to parliament or even council were more reactionary than anyone else.
And even in parliament today those remnants of the working class have been seduced by the comforts of the surroundings.Even an old lefty warhorse like Dennis Skinner,who now has spent far longer on the green benches than down the pit,has become a pet of thye house.
And when did Alan Johnston last deliver a letter/Or John Prescott serve a drink?
But at least those parliamentarians had a vestage of some sort of ideology that was once class based.
Now the 'profession ' is politics, and they could go anywhere-Blair joined the Labour Party not out of socialist conviction but because a moribund party was a good place for an apolitical young barrister to start out.
New Labour destroyed any socialist ideology that remained and in the hollowed out shell that remains all that exists is young careerists with employment paths not dissimilar to those in the other two parties.
And please, if anyone tries to tell me that Gordon Brown was in any way left wing or a socialist-he was the bloody chancellor who kept New Labour on the Thatcherite flight plan.
The only argument that my old comrades have is that labour is better than the others!
hardly a ringing endorsement of a socialist alternative.

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