Well I’ve never done this before. The book is Citizen Clem by John Bew. The pic at the top of this article is from the Ken Loach film, Spirit of ’45. When you’ve read this book review, if you’re interested in all the talk of Jeremy Corbyn being like (or not like) Clement Attlee, I suggest you watch that film. It’s probably better than this book, and it’s more likely to contain the information that’s relevant to us today:
It was a “public consultation” apparently – or was it a “community forum”? Anyway, it was being run by a couple of people from Post Office Ltd, who didn’t take very kindly to community member Mil Rai suggesting that if it was a community forum, the attendees, being locals, were in charge of it.
Hastings Town Centre Post Office has gone. The building is still there, with its Mercury heads on the window capitals gazing sadly over empty space. There was some talk of turning it into a Nandos. Oh good. We need another restaurant. We campaigned, we argued, we persisted – our MP, Amber Rudd, promoted a ‘consultation’ which asked everyone what they would rather have *instead of* their Post Office.
I’m delighted to have a guest-post here from Keith Lindsay-Cameron, the man who’s famous around social media for writing a letter a day to number 10. It is a fantastic addition to our information for campaigners and activists collection – KG.
I wrote a post about love at the end of the election campaign. Now here’s one about hate. I don’t really think love and hate are opposites – saying so gives hate a power it doesn’t deserve but I’d like to say this…
I went out this morning for a quiet five minutes with my coffee in the garden, and discovered the neighbours’ cat had knocked over the strawberry pot and broken it. I know it was the cat because a) he always craps on the doormat when his equilibrium has been disturbed and b) I’ve seen him doing that ‘wipe yourself all over people’s ankles’ thing along that wall, causing serious pot-wobble, quite regularly.
I didn’t get angry with the cat though. It was just doing what cats do. I didn’t even get angry with the badger when he responded to my earthworks near his sett by drastically changing the smell of the boots I had left out to dry afterwards. I don’t get angry even if it’s personal. It was just doing what badgers do.
I didn’t get angry with Nick Wilson for taking four hundred and something votes in the recent election in our marginal constituency. He’s on a mission to publicise the evil influence of HSBC, and he’s just doing what whistleblowers do. The video of Amber Rudd trying to shut him down at the hustings when he got onto the subject of her and HSBC reached 3m viewers, so although he may have lost us votes in our constituency he did contribute, across the country, to the discrediting of banker-Tories.
But I just can’t stop being angry with Lib Dems. It’s partly, I guess, because I was very taken with the commitment and big-heartedness of the Progressive Alliance, and resented those who worked against it which, in our constituency, was mainly the Lib Dems. I did cheer on the Lib Dem who, with the help of the Progressive Alliance, removed a Tory in Eastbourne – but then he already had credit in my book for being the only politician this side of Caroline Lucas who managed to see clearly enough to support both the commuters and the railway staff during the Southern ‘keep the guard on the train’ dispute. He put the blame squarely where it belonged – on the government that supported (and still supports (with our money)) lousy franchise companies. I liked the Lib Dem I sat next to when telling on election day. She was a paragon of local politics in our town for years and for many who remember her career, she represents everything local politics should be.
But I just can’t stop being angry with Lib Dems. I guess the experience of that election left everyone really pissed off with someone but for me, it was Lib Dems. I didn’t always feel that way… I was quite shocked by Emily Thornberry at a Labour event a while back, when she responded to a question about PR with a blistering attack on Lib Dems. She didn’t hide the fact that it was personal and passionate – it started with “I hate…” I was shocked. Now I get it. This was the first general election I’ve ever been involved in as a Labour Party member, and now I totally understand the feeling. “What are Lib Dems for?” Thornberry ranted.
More often than not, their role in elections is to give Tories somewhere to run to. You see, unlike most of us, who get involved in politics when we can see a useful role to play or someone worth campaigning for, many traditional Tories see voting as a public duty so, when the Tory party are being insufferable, they need something else to vote for that isn’t Labour. The result, generally, is to split the vote and let the Tories back in – but they’ve cast their vote and made their point, so everyone (on their side) is happy – a handy quirk of our stupid voting system. Ironic really, when as far as I can remember the only really useful policy the Lib Dems have consistently stood for is electoral reform.
Were the Progressive Alliance right to support Lib Dems where they had the most likely chance of getting the Tories out? Maybe – but it’s a bit worrying because ten minutes after the declaration of a hung parliament, you hear Lib Dems talking about joining in to prop up the Tories again.
So perhaps it’s logical to hate the Lib Dems… no, hang on, hate isn’t ever logical – and it was a damned Lib Dem who reminded me, when I was complaining about them recently, that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour isn’t supposed to do hate. Will it help if I just call it ‘being emotional’? Not really. Oh well.
LOOK WHAT THAT BLOODY CAT’S JUST GONE AND DONE!
That’s not hate, it’s displacement. Often comes in handy. One is transferring anger and frustration, looking for a place to let off steam. What I do hate, if anything, is being lied to and manipulated.
Walking along the seafront yesterday, all hot and tired, I saw a board outside a newsagent with a picture of my favourite ice lolly thing on it. I was going to buy one – but when I got there, the board had a caption – YOU WANT ME it said. Sod off, I thought, and went without. Most people hate being lied to and manipulated. That’s why it won’t do the Tories any good dropping some of their ‘austerity’ measures now they’ve seen it’s a vote-loser, nor will it do them any good belatedly putting up cash to help the Grenfell Tower people after they’d all voted down laws to protect tenant. It’s also why those career politicians who have rushed to be a part of Labour now they’ve seen that Corbyn can win votes will have to tread VERY carefully. It’s why politicians who put on particular views, and take up particular policies, when it’s politically expedient, or good for their careers, do not get very far with me. It can work in the short term but in the long term, it makes them irretrievably unpopular. Come to think of it, that Lib Dem in Eastbourne probably just saw a useful niche for himself as the only MP standing up for passengers who wanted guards. Perhaps it was just a way to get column inches for himself…
But maybe he’s innocent. I hate thinking like that. Why do we think like that? The thing to do is look at what politicians stand for when it’s against the tide, and against their career plans. Look at all the Tories that stand for tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the poor, even when it gets them booed off stage. That is a genuine principle they have there. Look at Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, spending most of their lives as much-vilified back benchers because they are democratic socialists through and through, and won’t be bought. Look at just about every stand the Green Party have ever taken. If they’re standing up for a vote-loser, they probably have a genuine principle involved.
Here’s an illustration of one of my principles: I don’t think I’ll ever forget the part Nick Clegg played in the degradation of modern politics. His line about tuition fees and ‘being nice’ worked for a while. We bought it. We wuz conned. If there’s one thing I hate worse than people trying to lie to and manipulate people, it’s people succeeding at it. It destroys trust. It lowers standards everywhere. He is a main factor in why we’ve had so much trouble getting people to come down off the cynical ‘they’re all the same’ stance and take a look at Jeremy Corbyn’s record. Memories of Nick Clegg poisoned the water. People like that are worse than the cat that craps on your doormat.
Now, here’s the million dollar question: if you change around the names of the parties and politicians mentioned above, and tweak one or two other details to fit, does this post make sense to absolutely everyone who was involved in that election campaign? And the gadzillion dollar question in the light of the Progressive Alliance surge: is socialism just one opinion amongst other equally valid ones, or is everything that’s not a form of socialism just a PR front for degrading, lethal corruption?