Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Progression Has Ceased"

"Eddieareader" in the comments to this Martin Kettle boilerplate. Don't agree with it all, but I get his general point.

Labour has lost its way now for over a generation, certainly since the 1960s. It has become a party to promote the interests of homosexuals, the public sector unions (from where it now derives its funding) and ethnic minorities - giving its metropolitan elite a cosy feeling of being liberal whilst not actually having to live with the consequences.

I come from a mining family. Both my grandfathers were miners, one had his back broken down the pit. My family were virtual slaves a century after the official ones were freed. The 1926 General Strike ran through our (rented) house like a wide river. My mother had a brother born the second week of the strike with no food (literally) in the house. The (old) Labour Party provided food parcels so that they didn't starve. My dad lost his big toe nail after diving for coal from sunken barges and catching his foot in one. I was the first in my family (like Neil Kinnock) to go to university. My mother always voted Labour until Mrs Thatcher.

I was a died in the wool Labour on entering university (always proud that I share a birthday with Thomas Paine and nearly with the execution of Charles II). Seeking out the Socialist Society I soon found it full of the sons and daughters of the middle-class, in 1970 not many working class kids made university especially those from comprehensives! I soon found that my accent set me apart. It was obvious to me as a 19 year old that these socialists, and I guess a good many went on to be something in the movement, had nothing to offer me accept a diferent face to the same exploitation I could expect from the Tories. That changed my life.

Labour got lost in debating societies rather than failitating the ambitions of working-class people. That is why Margaret Thatcher was so effective. Labour simply had no answer to what Margaret Thatcher offered and still don't.
Mrs Thatcher got a great deal wrong (education, the EU) due to her prejudices but she knew people want to improve their lot.

Tony Blair managed Labour well to pursue his own fantasy. It was just a pity that he had the intellectually deficient Brown alongside. Brown has wrecked pension schemes, raised taxes on the low-paid (increasingly after this week's Budget) and wasted the money on an ineptly managed public-sector. Blair could have insisted on reform first and spending (Brown has even spun spending as investment) second. Brown is so dim that he doesn't even understand what drives effective management. His only trick is to pull in Harvard professors to advise on productivity and have a photo opportunity.
The NHS needs to be dismantled and replaced with an insurance-based system as in France.

Their reaction to out-Tory the Tories means wasting billions on Trident, a slavish attitude towards the City, a willingness to tax low-earners but not high-earners and schools that can teach anything as long as an exam is passed.

Whereas the Tories are very mindful of their base (privilege) Labour has ignored the white working class it came from. Stephen Byers, whose constituents have homes (the major source of inherited wealth) worth on average just over £100,000, being interested in the abolition of inheritance tax is one example. The way Labour dismantled the immigration controls on spouses from the sub-continent and has refused to outlaw arranged marriages is another.

When I was planning for university at the end of the sixties it seemed a natural progression that I was doing better and would do better still than my parents. As my son prepares to do the same during the noughties (how apt) I cannot see him doing the same. Progression has ceased.


dearieme said...

"My family were virtual slaves": what a very tittish remark.

Voyager said...

I am not sure it is and dearieme is wrong. Mining villages were owned in every sense by the pit, and if you haven't seen these pit villages it is hard to understand.

Maybe you should watch Sam with Mark McManus if your experience doesn't stretch that far.

All this palaver over Slavery ignores the fact that it took another 4 decades to limit children's working hours to 10 a day and 7 decades before it was illegal to employ children under-10.

I bet there won't be much media hoopla about Oastler and his work to end child labour in factories

Anonymous said...

dearieme: "what a very tittish remark."


Voyager: "Mining villages were owned in every sense by the pit,.."

Barely in living memory and not since the 1947.

Voyager: "if your experience doesn't stretch that far."

Actually worked underground?

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as the 'Working-Class' anymore. There is only the 'Underclass/poor' and the Middle-Class.

Nu Labour is

'Urban...Metrosexual..and Progessive'.

The rest is dross.

Anonymous said...

I think he's missed the point about Brown though. Brown is not dim. On the contrary, he's sneaky and devious. He, not Blair, has been behind much of Labour's domestic policy over the last ten years, yet he has made sure that Blair, not he, has taken most of the flak for its failures. All the while, Brown has continued to centralise power to himself, preparing the ground for his premiership.

Anonymous said...

I was brought up in a mining was hard but there was pride, respect and hope for better things.

"No lad of mine will go down the pit if it's 'owt to do with me" was often said....then the pits closed and half the lads in the village became layabouts and druggies. The village became a dump.

Now money is being spent in the village to bring back work, pride, respect and hope for the youth.

Dave said...

I don't agree with much he said, other than Labour have changed into something totally different to what it used to be.

It really annoys me when people claim privilege is the Tory base, I don't intend on voting for them now because Cameron is not a conservative, but my constituency is rural small town farming country and has returned a Conservative MP for a very long time. Recently the farming industry has taken a beating and house prices have shot up because for some reason a lot of people from the cities want to move out to this kind of area.. But historically this was not a 'rich' area at all.
Miners were far from the only poor people in this country 80 years ago and the old Labour party was far from the only organisation helping to feed people either. It seems that their supporters like to think they have a lock on this kind of behaviour as opposed to the nasty Tories, do they really believe this? or is it intentional lying for political reasons?

I dispute the notion that there was substantial progression in this country.
#1 a lot of the feeling of wealth is because most people have either 0 or 1 children to look after instead or 8-10+. Which also allows them to have a duel income. I don't think earning lots of money while not passing on your genes is what darwin would call progress, more like an evolutionary deadend.
#2 people often exaggerate how bad things used to be, sure life was tough but it wasn't all bad.

Its like the son who inherits his fathers business empire complaining throughout his childhood that his dad was too tight with the purse strings so now he's in charge he desides to let loose, within a few years he's wrecked the family business! Those intermediate years where he was living it up might have felt good at the time but they weren't 'progress'.

Anonymous said...

Given the choice would you rather work down a mine with a bunch of unionised blokes or in a modern telesales office? What would feel more opressive to you? Where I grew up there were lots of miners around. They seemed to like their job. Never heard of one having a nervous breakdown though one guy who is now a highly paid exec did admit to crying down there.

Blognor Regis said...

the execution of Charles II

Huh? So he was the first of his line to go to University? Didn't do history I assume.

Anonymous said...

Of course progression has ceased, if you mean economic progression.

Look around you: do you imagine for a moment that the upcoming semi-educated, over-taxed, over-regulated, state-obsessed, risk-averse generation will be more productive than the one now approaching retirement?

That, after all, is what drives economic progress.

Perhaps we'll be saved by the well-educated hard-working youngsters coming in from Poland or Lithuania. One can hope.