Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pointy Heads

The counterculture of the 60s and 70s, which started to go mainstream in the 80s and is now the culture of our ruling class, had three main strands, all to some extent intermingled.

At one end of the spectrum were the politicos, the Marxists - earnest, bookish types or streetfighting sorts, the Socialist Worker sellers, the meeting-goers, Militant, IMG, SLL and a dozen others. A masculine strand, dialectically materialistic and non-religious. Bomber jacket and beret. Polnts of order and secret meetings. At the other end - the proto-tree-huggers, the wholefood cookers, woollen-knitters, stripped pine, earth spirit types. A feminine strand - Earl Grey and barm-brack by the open fire, Joni Mitchell on the stereo. Very nice girls they were too. Indian print skirts, rainbow sweaters - and religious, or at least spiritual - Buddhism, spiritualism, animist. When feminism struck they talked aboout the Goddess within and went circle dancing.
Then there were the people who just wanted to get smashed, and could be found all over the spectrum, though at either end such behaviour was frowned on.

You can see these people, or their cultural descendants, thirty years on. Ken Livingstone is a classic type 1. Louise Casey sounds a bit of a type three.

What of our type twos ? Some married practical men, had babies and did a lot of home cooking. Fortunate indeed are those men. Many became social workers - an awful lot went into 'children's services'. Some write about emotional literacy, some write blogs. Some marry African healers and are beaten to death by them.

Some opened wholefood co-ops in hippy havens, before tragically becoming Calderdale Labour Council Leaders and finally deputy chairman of quango the Countryside Agency, a role for which she would appear to have few qualifications beyond knowing one end of a mung bean from the other, and doubtless a knowledge of the best magic mushroom fields in the Pennines. Oh - and being 'one of us' to Nu Labour.

Ms Pam Warhurst (for it is she) revealed on Radio 4 RealAudio) that the taxpayer is stumping up £1.5 million on a 'diversity review' of the countryside. Apparently there simply aren't enough minorities, inner ciy dwellers, and disabled people in the country.

We've been here before.

The agency's brief (they are based in the vibrant multicultural melting pot that is Cheltenham) is to "make the quality of life better for people in the countryside and the quality of the countryside better for everyone." Apparently the quality of life in the country would be improved if more inner-city dwellers went there.

In Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, at any rate, this is already happening.

Cheap motor travel enables inner-city dwellers from Bristol to take the A38 up to Cam and Dursley, there to relieve the inhabitants of their property, or hold up the local post office. The money raised is used to buy heroin, thus enriching poor Afghan farmers in a modern Triangular Trade.

Inner city dwellers of all races who can afford it also leave the chaos and violence of the inner city for the country, or as near to it as they can afford. The swathes of new housing around Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Cheltenham are full of ex-Brummies, Bristolians, Londoners.

Finally minorities play a bigger role in the countryside than is appreciated. Every modern farmer has a couple of caravans in the yard, housing Eastern European farm workers. And in market-gardening country, from Bromsgrove to the Vale of Evesham, the fields are a colourful sight, as workers from all over the world pick fruit and veg. This, of course, by destroying the jobs (and tied cottages) of the native agricultural workers, is turning the countryside into one great suburb, where only the rich can affford to live.

Pam's problem is that many of the people who move to the country do so in order to avoid people from inner cities. After all, it isn't the buildings which cause high crime rates. She appears to be saying to such people - 'you can run, but you can't hide'.

This will almost certainly turn out to be counterproductive from her perspective. The timing's not too good either, given recent events. I'm not sure the timing of this is too good either.

"The question is... there is a sense in which if you go on presenting the safe white, middle-class suburbia as a subject in the context of sitcoms, are you missing out other innovative, more exciting areas? "

Elsewhere in pointy head land, this really shows (again) how clueless our rulers are.

Steiner schools, which emphasise developing the "whole child", could hold lessons for mainstream state-funded education, a report says.

The first government-funded study of Steiner schools, by the University of the West of England, comes as one is seeking to become a city academy.

Now Steiner schools (hippy-dippy education) are fine for the kind of people who like Steiner schools. Who tend to be middle class, not poor, and white. My friend used to have the job of picking the flowers to decorate each classroom - should work well in Shildon or Aston. Other friends have children at the Gloucester school.

But they're not perfect. Bullying can be a problem if you don't fit in. Anyone called Wayne or Kyle is likely to be given a hard time. Most of the pupils are called Sky or Tree.

UPDATE - Children called Kyle are in danger in State schools too. Best read in conjunction with this.


Anonymous said...

A magisterial post.

Anonymous said...

Yes a good post. I feel I want to be of use fighting these gramscians monsters. I used to be a leftist though I was one of the 'its the workers whatll do it'bunch. Cameron was brilliant the way he discribed Livingstone the other day - the way he thinks of social groups as battering rams against his own culture. Livingstone was reeling in thepress I noticed. Rattled. Bells tolling.