Saturday, 7 June 2014

Any lessons from the Newark By election?

Over the next few days the pundits and soothsayers,and many of the naysayers will be casting the chicken bones and interpreting what happened last Thursday.
I'll save you the trouble of masticating the press and give it to you straight.
The Tories held a safe seat, UKIP came a mediocre second, labour came a tragic third in the seat they won in 1997- and the Lib-Dems- well they came a magnificent sixth! A record failure in a long line of magnificent failures since they joined the Tory coalition as bag carriers.

Of course the expectation all round was that UKIP would do well, that they may even have snatched the seat,but of course it would appear that it was all down to superior organisation.Farage claimed that therec were a thousand Tories on the streets on election day, but of course there might have been ten thousand or a million or a zillion!
Poor old Farage could only turn out a few dozen blimps and even he couldn't be arsed to knock a few doors-despite having, according to his candidate 'the wow factor'
The real issue however is the dismal performance of Her majesty's loyal Opposition and the inescapable reality that Her majesty's Loyal Junior Coalition Partner is now an ex-party.

It is no more, it is defunct,it matters not who leads the miserable corpse,Nick Clegg, Vince 
Cable or M.Mouse
The Green party put up a creditable performance, and once more humiliated the party of Government, even if only by a few votes.

There is a fairly universal view that the problem is 'connecting with the voters', which is just another way of saying that they are all saying the same thing with different nuanced phrases.
In saying that I include the obnoxious UKIP, because apart from their blood lust to leave Europe, thety carry the exact same baggage as the Tories, and increasingly hard to differentiate from the Lib-Dems and Labour.

In fact the only party competing on the national stage is the Green Party,they have a set of policies that do in fact present a radical alternative,but sadly they carry the baggage of their history and for most of their existance had a rather hazy left perspective and attracted some rather 'eccentric' followers.
That appears to be changing, but progress is slow and there is a rapid drift to right wing authoritarianism that will be difficult to stop, especially when you have a politically illiterate electorate who have lost the power to think creatively.

I watched a video interview of the late Ewan McColl who talked about his father,a foundry worker and his friends meeting in the Salford WM Club on a Friday evening for a pint and a discussuion.A group of working men, with little formal education, sitting in a smoky bar discussing the views of Hegel, the meaning of Darwinism, the nature of Capitalism and even the poetry of Shelley!

Of couse autoi didacts were not uncommon  amongst wo9rkers in the early 20c.In mining villages the Miners Welfare always had a library as well as a bar, and Mechanics Institutes were alive to arguement and debate.
It was always said that the most literate of workers were the shoemakers, who whiled away the days of monotonous labour by reading or being read to.No coincidence that the great revolutions in Europe, from Wat Tyler to the French Revolution had large contingents of showemakers!
Henry Ford knew what he was doing when he introduced the production line.

So what do we go now?
Our first task must to be to constantly expose the shallow thinking of the far right populists.UKIP may indeed want out of the EU, but what useful purpose does a UKIP  councillor serve on a local authority?
When you set up a rag bag bunch of misfits with a limited grasp of what needs to be done and how to do things, you tend to get the barmpots whose quotes have festooned the national press over the past few weeks.Remember how easy it was to dislodge the BNP councillors by posing them difficult questions-like how did they spell their names-or who wrote Charles Dickens 'Bleak House'?

But more than discrediting the mediocrities the left must be building bases in the communities where they live.They must be identified on a daily basis with the real problems that face people and break away from the arrogance of the elites.The left needs to use clear and unambiguous language.
UKIP and the other parties talk in sugary generalities,the left must avoid being too theoretical, too rhetorical and too censorious.
All my life left parties have behaved like religious sects, close shops that only the select could be part of, as long as they understood 'democratic centralism' and the vision that the General Strike would happen in three days time!

I'm still optimistic that the people can understand the need for dramatic change and will go along with it, in Scotland the Independence movement is wedded to an understanding that freedom comes with an increase in social justice and an ending of the grotesque inequalities that burden society.
And all over Europe left movements are getting organised.I have hopes that here in Britain Left Unity will become the catalyst for change.
I expect Barak Obama will rubbish us too! 

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