By Sean Lewis
On the face of it, it’s a simple enough question, yet the actual answer eludes even their own supporters today it seems.
In my youth, yes ‘THAT’ far back, the time came for me to cast my very first vote in a general election. As a fresh-faced RAF serviceman very much in the ‘cold war’ era, I was reminded on a daily basis by those higher up the ranks than me that it was my duty to vote. Now whilst not once was I ‘told’ who to vote for, it was implied, on numerous occasions, that to vote conservative was to protect the country, and therefore our jobs. There was also my father, a staunch tory who would ‘suggest’ that was how I should vote.
So of course, I voted Labour instead …
That was the general election of 1979. The conservatives were swept to power over the head of an inept Jim Callaghan and his Labour colleagues. So, with the soon to be known as; ‘The Iron Lady’ in power, and the world, my father included, celebrating the UK electing a woman as PM life went on as before. The only difference was me not having a clue as to why Maggie had won, and Jim lost. I was to all intents and purposes, politically illiterate, and for the next 4 years was more than happy to be so.
In those 4 years, Britain had been to war, won a war, cosied up to the yanks and pissed off much of Europe and then called another general election. As for me? Well in 4 years, I had left the RAF, messed about at various jobs I never stuck at, had wild sex with many dubious women, and drunk a hell of a lot of beer and other fun stuff. The thing was, when the 1983 general election was called, I sort of sobered up and decided it was time I found out what this politics stuff was all about. So, I did. And looking back, I was of the opinion then, that I was not overly impressed with what I learnt.
For those of you who were either not here during the 80’s or were too young to really take notice, the 80s was a time of innovation, entrepreneurial get-up-and-go, opportunity and drive, but it was also, at least in the early to mid 80’s a time of conflict between those that did, and those that managed those who did. The 80’s saw the miners’ strike, the quelling of the unions, souring wages for management but rocketing prices too. The UK was turning from making things, to servicing things that others made. But mostly it was a time of the tory government taking what we the people, owned, water, electricity, gas, railways etc. and selling them to their friends, and then pocketing the proceeds. Privatisation, or as many called it, the selling of the family silver.
Many people got very rich very quickly, there were even a few millionaire bricklayers, new businesses springing up all over, people were doing well, a few were doing a lot better than well, but quite a few were not doing well at all. Those who were used to working with their hands, doing the dirty jobs, the outdated jobs in the new clean, new house, new town, new car every 3 years white collar world. Those who mined coal, made steel, built ships, brought home the daily catch of fish or those who ran a shop on the high street selling local produce. They did not fare too well at all. Gambling on a company’s future on the stock exchange earnt more than those in that company making the things that decided if its future was rosy or black as pitch. There were rumblings in the masses.
The tory poll tax started riots on the streets, the gap between those that had loads a money and those who had little widened year on year. But those who had it far outnumbered those who did not so, politically there was status quo for years until those without grew and grew in number. By 1990, Thatcher was out and John Major became leader of the conservatives and therefore the new prime minister. Grey, wet, ineffectual, John Major, the only man in history ever to run away from a circus to become an accountant. The man who when, like most Tories of the time, chose to have an extra-marital affair, chose the least attractive or sexy woman he could find, Edwina Curry, to take to his bed …
So, it was under these conditions that in the 80’s the United Kingdom lay. With a growing level of discontent, you would have thought the party that had since forever, represented the working classes would have flourished. Labour, the party of the people. Yet it took them until 1997 to take power from the conservatives. Did they do this with their grass roots supporters in the working classes? No, Labour instead pandered to the get rich quick merchants, to business managers not the shop floor. At the height of Blair’s reign, they out Toried the Tory’s, champagne socialism became the number 10 norm. Out went beer and sandwiches, in came bolly and canapés. The only real problem was that this New Labour had no idea how to fiscally run a country as well as line their own pockets. They borrowed well above our means to fund the idea that England was still a major player in the world. Blairites even took on the once, Tory only, mantle of American poodle and warmonger. Sending the prime of British youth into the meat grinder of the middle-east at the behest of the USA and their Israeli puppeteers. Supporting the rich, scalping the poor, making war with an ease and lack of morals that would have made the likes of Thatcher and Heath proud. Even in the later stages, when evidence of war crimes was levelled at him, the leader of Labour even cited the “Voice of god” as a reason he misled both the people and parliament on the subject of going to war.
Not surprising then that after 9 years, and two world financial crises, Labour crashed, taking the whole Kingdom with them. Replacing Blair with the totally inept architect of the UK financial collapse Gordon Brown in 2005, proved to be a disaster for the party. Lost, without a single idea what they stood for anymore Labour split into factions left and right. Even brothers falling out over which should lead the party. Gone were the ideals of being the party of the people, gone were the great orators giving voice to the man and woman in the street, in came the extremists. The red Tories on the one side and the loony left on the other. The victor from the bitter infighting, following a leader who no one can even remember, came one man. A man who promised much for the ordinary working people, yet one who once the flavour of leadership touched his lips, failed to rise to the task of actually leading. He was the perfect man to lead Labour in the 1960’s but he was 50 years too late and tried it in the 2010’s. Jeremy Corbyn. Leader of a divided party trying to take control of a divided country.
Divided by David Cameron, the driving force behind the clusterf**k of Brexit, thrown into the very fires of intransigent hell by Teresa May, the United Kingdom is now as united as oil and water. England is broken, Wales is broken, Northern Ireland is still as broken as it has been since the British occupied it in 1541, only Scotland has somehow managed to keep its collective head and rise above the turmoil. Party Politics is broken beyond repair, and the old ideals of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliament of the People have given way to corruption, self-interest and greed.
Labour are no longer a political party, they are a loose collection of lost individuals on a rudderless boat in a sea of confusion, self-hatred, anti-Semitism and lack of imagination. If you stand on the street today and ask 10 labour supporters what labour stands for the chances are you will get 10 differing answers. I have friends who both purport to be devout labour supporters, yet I thank the gods they are 800 miles apart as they differ in views, opinions and beliefs about their common party as they are of the tories and the rest. I can think of nothing they would agree on bar the party name.
My late father has a very silly nonsense joke he used to trot out with regularity. It goes
“Why is a duck?”
The answer being
“Because one foot, is both the same” …
This, brings me (Finally) to the question with which I started this post;
“Who are Labour?”
A question that, like my late fathers joke, has no sensible answer.
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