Sunday, 17 May 2015

A lot has happened since my last post

A lot has gone on since I last bothered to write my blog.It has largely been to do with the fact that I spent ten days in Northampton General hospital, my colon has become a semi-colon and I've been 'recuperating', or rather doing as little as possible and playing the wounded faun for as long as possible.
Why I've even had a chairlist installed to save me walking up and down the stairs.Sadly I've been sussed out and it goes in the next few days!
however my enforced idleness gave me a chance to think what is really important in this country of ours, and if I hear another bloody Labour politician bleat once more about the 'aspirational middle class' I will do serious damage to any aspirant labour politician that comes within my grasp,aas well as serious damage to the nearest bottle of single malt I can reach.
It seems to me that the most important example of aspirational politics was that achieved by my parents generation.
They had lived through the depression of the 1930's and all the horrors of unemployment,means tests,deprivation,poor health care and poor diet,lousy housing and premature death.They had seen poverty at first hand.
That generation also saw the rise of fascism in Europe and watched the ruling class cosy up to thefascists,why even the King who abdicated 'for the woman he loved' liked visiting Herr Hitler to be beguiled by the rhetoric of the master race.
Our parents generation more than any other had aspirations-not for big houses or fast cars or consumer goods coming out of every orifice.
They wanted jobs with security,decent housing,a pension, an education for their kids and a health service thatr worked for everyone.
They wanted a civilised for everyone, an altruistic society that had no losers.
Interestingly quite by accident the war radicalised many millions of men and women.
The ruling class had learnt one thing from WW1-that a bored and frustrated conscript army could create mischief bigtime.They were aware that armed soldiers could seriously fuck up a corrupt society.They had the lesson of Russia in 1917 and the Workers and Soldiers Soviets to remind them.
So in order to prevent boredom and disaffection setting in the barracks and the army camps they encouraged the creation of the Army Education Corps to engage the troops in 'purposeful activity.
I have no idea what they thought they were supposed to do-a bit of basket weaving,English folk dancing,pressing wild flowers?
My old man told me what went on.The tutors were frequently left wing teachers and lecturers and they initiated discussion groups with the men and women in the NAAFI, and they discussed the issues of the day.
They talked about the sort of world that they wanted after the war, they speculated on how things would be different, they examined the Beveridge Report that talked about a world without unemployment,povery,fear of want-they talked the language of aspiration and it was the language of socialism.
The L:abour party really couldn't lose in 1945.It's hard to beliecve now that there were even those in the leadership of the Labour party then who wanted to continue with the coalition with Churchill.
And there were those in the press who found it impossible to understand why soldiers threw out Churchill so decisively.
But then Churchill was part of the 'ancient regime' and the people of this country wanted hope not more of the same, they aspired  for something better,not more austerity and more poverty.
In 1945 the aspirational working class, and indeed much of the middle class wanted a comprehensive health service 'from cradle to grave' a housing programme that built decent homes for people,a public transport system and  those parts of the economy that were wealth creating in public ownership.
Whenever I think of that shopping list of aspirations I think of Brecht's poem:
"We don't want the patch,we want the whole overcoat"  
The SNP won convincingly in Scotland because they offered hope for a better future,not tinkering around the edges and a set of aspirational values for all the people-not simply the 'squeezed middle'.
I hope the next few months will see the coming together of a Progressive Alliance in these islands, the SNP,Plaid,The Greens, Left Unity and all the other progressive forces we can muster.I hope that the Trade Union movement can see where the future lies and I hope above hope that those sections of the Labour Party,who have been betrayed time without end will see for themselves what a hollowed out vessel their party has become.
For almost 40 years it was my party too,but frankly it is not fit for purpose, and any party that still contains Jim Murphy'even as tea boy,has no future.   

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