It is often assumed by anonymous bloggers and the like that I am somehow anti-Labour.Having spent 40 odd years in the party,and thirty of them on the thankless task of being an unpaid municipal social worker,I think I've paid my dues to the social democratic shining vision on the hill!
I'm still very fond of many of the good folk I've known in Northampton Labour Party and remember withy pride and affection the battles we all fought together.
And there's the operative word, 'together'.
Whatever set back and misfortune we found ourselves in during the miserable eighties and nineties we were united in a spirit of comradeship.
There is a danger for us old fogies to wallow in a political nostalgia about our heroic struggles and unreconstructed class warriorship which you 'youngsters' know nothing about.
Of course there were bitter internal conflicts, we took Northampton South CLP to the brink of extinction because we as a party refused to allow SDP types to operate within the party.We refused them the right to stand as candidates and it took the mighty Eric Heffer MP to come up and read the NEC's edict to us-with I might add no effect whatsoever.
It was only the intervention of a General Election and the defections of a bunch of numpties that saved the party.
Defection to the right has been a frequent feature of Northampton's socialist tradition, but that was usually because we were behaving as a naughty left wing party and being cruel to those who preferred being Tories with slightly pink rosettes.
For much of the last thirty odd years we were red in tooth and claw ,we often made Militant look decidedly effete.
But times have changed and the party that I joined somewhat reluctantly in 1972 has become a hollowed out shell not really fit for purpose.
The party in Northampton was different, there were generations with different ideas and methodology.The Party we joined was still one of Reginald Paget, a right wing aristocrat with decidely odd views.He was sympathetic to some dubious right wing regimes and was a passionate fox hunter.
However Reggie had been a lawyer at the Nurenberg Trials and was the MP who seconded Sidney Silverman's bill to end capital punishment.
Reggie was a paradox who was a reactionary in foreign policy and a radical in domestic affairs.Possibly a classic Midlander!
His party reflected that, a mixture of old fashioned shoe union members,some pre-war 'Labour League of Youth' radicals mellowing with girth and bank balances and some devoted working class pavement sloggers who desperately wanted change and were prepared to make any compromise to reach the New Jerusalem.
As a bright eyed bushy tailed urban revolutionary it seemed unlikely that Marie and I would fit into the provincial traditionalism of the Labour Party.
But we did because of the generosity of spirit and tolerance of our noise that we found.In Castle ward our neighbour was a remarkable lady,Doll Pickering, a stalwart of the United Reform Church and a widow of an earlier Castle Ward Councillor,John Pickering.There was a whole host of older members like Doll, Bet Roberts in Semilong, the legendary Frank Tero from Semilong too and into that heady mix a handful of young turks.Graham Mason, Geoff Howes,Marie and me.
The older members gacve the youngsters encouragement,a gentle guidance and supported us even when we must have sounded like outrageous Bolsheviks storming the Winter Palace.
I note with sadness the report from some young observers to the Labour group complaining about the lack of support, the sulphurous nature of relationships within the group and party and the breakdown in trust.
This is echoed in John Palethorpes blog,what a chance to work with young people and let them experiment with ideas .
Opposition is the best place to let the young eagles fly!
What's happening, factionalism not over politics but personalities,jockeying for position and power and worst of all making a complete bollocks of opposing the Tories in any meaningful way.
When all you have is careerism and shallow opportunism with no ideological base other than 'campaigns' that revolve around knocking on doors and 'listening' then it's hardly surprising that you attract the feeble minded and politically shallow.
Can you be surprised that the battles are all personal and at the first sign of trouble the toys tumble out of the pram and they 'defect',to Tories or worse-UKIP!
Although in truth I see little difference between the Official wing of right wing politics and the Provisional wing.
I now doubt if the Northampton Labour Party can be saved for anything remotely like socialism so I say clearly to those who still believe a socialist alternative,even here in Northampton is possible, the the Left Unity project,initiated by Ken Loach and his moving film 'Spirit of 45' may be the solution.
'Those who don't learn by their mistakes are doomed to repeat them."