The name Labour Party, for instance, the party that grew out of the Labour Movement to represent the interests of labour, of trade unions, and those working people who actually built this country’s infrastructure and prosperity, often with their bare hands. The surge of grassroots support for Jeremy Corbyn has nothing to do with nostalgia, although there are those among us who do pine for the days when there were no food banks, when housing was affordable for all, when access to higher education was free, when the unemployed were not being constantly harassed, when disabilities were not always being poked to see if they were genuine, when NHS waiting lists were not so horrendously long, when there was, in short, a momentum in the country to move towards an ever fairer society, in real terms.
Year in year out we witness the pomp of parades in honour of those who died in the two World Wars. How easy it is to pay lip service at such events. Did these men and women make their sacrifices in the name of child poverty, zero hours contracts, austerity measures that employ the devices of hunger and lack of heating in order to whip the so-called workshy into excruciatingly low paid jobs? In times of war there was austerity for all: nowadays it is targeted using the latest computer technologies like the latest cruise missiles and our very language is corroded by the use of truly nauseating terms, “the working poor” for example.
The Labour Party did not perform badly at the last election, it seems to me: for the most part, the Labour Party did not participate in the last election. Where was the voice of working people? Under the Miliband band of brothers it seemed more like a Conservative Party by any other name. Career or conviction politics, you pay your money (taxes) and you make your choice. And don’t even think of mentioning Chilcot, or the banking debacle.
As I have said in a previous post, my own politics developed purely out of literature, and the aesthetics of John Keats and the beauty and truth arguments. These views were later bolstered by the Justice and Peace movement and liberation theology. I still have a book on my shelves written by José Porfirio Miranda, a Mexican Jesuit, entitled Marx and the Bible. It presents an extremely erudite and persuasive linguistic analysis of the Bible, highlighting its true prophetic role, which had nothing to do with predicting the future and everything to do with the promotion of social justice, defence of the orphan, the widowed, the dispossessed.
The British National Assistance Act of 1948 heralded the greatest social revolution the world has ever known, with not a single bullet fired. The values enshrined in that legislation are the values for which I believe our servicemen and women fought in those World Wars and for which so many died. We dishonour them by turning the clock back. Under austerity, child poverty is expected to grow in this most powerful of world class economies. What Labour Party in its right mind (and conscience) could possibly even consider not opposing such measures with all its might? So bring it on, Jeremy, we have nothing to lose but our deep sense of shame.