… what the fighting all was for
Well I’m sorry but I can’t help it – there’s always a song in my head when it’s noisy around me, and this was the one my back-brain chose this morning.
It is noisy out there. Watching the traffic build up again is like watching the lifetime’s degradation of the environment that I’ve seen replayed over a couple of weeks. The return of traffic seems to be making the pedestrians ratty, too. Today, a man who was standing in the queue for the bank that was blocking the pavement had a go at me for walking in the road and inconveniencing traffic as I tried to keep to the 2m distance rule.
Trying to be alert, I stood and watched my street for a while when I got home and sure enough, now the traffic’s building up, people have given up stepping into the street to maintain the safe distance when passing each other.
Meanwhile, being alert, I noticed that the hand sanitizer and the ushers have gone from most shop entrances, and also that democracy has been switched off, and officials of various kinds get ratty if political individuals push for action. Take a leaf out of Sir Keir’s book, they seem to suggest – be an opposition cipher without annoying important people.
The period of mourning
Many of us on the left were devastated after the 2019 election battle against the Holdfasts of the establishment. Recovery takes a long time, and has its stages. This week, as the combined peace and anxiety of virus lock down wears off, I find myself full of fury against Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell. It’s not fair, but emotions rarely are: we were going to change the world – we have changed our world. (Oops cue new backbrain song. )
We look into that Leaked Report, and we think – you guys have been in the party for decades – you knew – why didn’t you tell us, when we put our all into the battle against austerity and environmental breakdown, why didn’t you tell us, when we asked you to stand up for Jackie, for Chris, for Mark and the others, that there was no point, that you didn’t stand a cat’s chance in hell of turning the establishment, that we needed to ramp up the battle by about 500% to force democracy and justice on them?
Why didn’t you TELL us?
Well, there it is. Maybe they thought we knew. History suggests that whether you win or lose a battle, the prize is the opportunity to fight in the next battle. One thing is very clear – we need to keep and build our local networks, and we need to work with people we know we can trust.
Good luck everyone – over the last six months, we’ve learned that there are advantages to being in the Labour Party or a trade union, but that you can’t afford to trust the people who run them.
Over the last three months, we’ve learned that we can stop the engines of environmental destruction if we want to, but that we won’t get any help or support from the establishment, be it red, blue or any other colour, if we do so.
Now, a friend who’s living with a partner who has dementia is told to keep 2m away from her, another friend who’s been told to self-isolate for her own safety until the end of June has been told she’ll probably be sending her kids back to school. A young MP was sacked from her day-job for talking about problems with PPE, the leader of the Labour Party forgot to tell everyone they have the right to stay off work if their employer can’t keep them safe, and I’ve lost count of the people like me I’ve come across who have watched little businesses die, and have been too busy helping out locally to chase government assistance, knowing it’s going to be a waste of their time, that their livelihood is gone. I could go on for ages with the illogical and unkind consequences of this mess but – you know. It’s all over soc media.
Analysts tell us the new advice from the government is designed to throw responsibility off their shoulders and onto ours – well let’s be clear, it was us all along. It was us who built the movement in the Labour Party, it was us who kept putting food in the food banks, it was us who built covid-19 community help teams.
It will have to be us, now, who lead the fight to keep what we’ve learned in the last six months, and find the way to defeat austerity and climate destruction. And when someone tells us there’s a rule against what we’re doing, well…
As I walk on through the town to get my shopping, I look into the cafes where we used to meet and plan and I see empty chairs at empty tables…
…yeah, it’s corny but never mind – (most of) my friends are alive, and meeting online.
(new song coming up, there’s no stopping ’em…)