04 November 2005
Oderint dum metuant, or Why I want my fucking party back
I remember a television programme from the 1970s that was fronted by Lord Chalfont, of blessed memory. The noble lord stood in front of the camera, clipboard in hand, and reeled of the statistics which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Britain was on the fast track to Communism. It was a wonderful programme, and I have always thought that it was such a pity that everything he said was pure bollocks.
The programme was wonderful because middle class types watched it and felt that their already existing fears were justified. Actually all that was happening was that inflation was high and people like me had strong unions to off-set this. Our real incomes were rising whilst the suburbanites, who did not have unions, were finding that theirs were falling. As a young fellow I could never understand why the manager was sometimes so offhand when paying my wages. The older men explained it: I had worked overtime and my wages that week were more that the manager was pulling. They didn't like it because their whole pathetic existence was only validated by the belief that they were somehow better, or superior, to us. That belief took a hard knock 30 years ago when we were often pulling in more than them. I developed a habit towards the end of the decade of counting my wages out, very, very slowly in front of the fool who had just paid me. Just to remind him of what my week's screw was . . .
Let's fast forward to 1983. The General Election was underway and Michael Foot, the Labour leader was visiting the North-West. My part of Manchester had been dumped into Oldham West constituency as part of the boundary changes and, being unemployed, I spent the day cheering him on as part of a mixed group of Labour and Communist Party folk.
There was a smallish group of Tories who were trying to mount a counter-demonstration as Footie arrived on the top deck of his open-topped double decker bus. We gave the clenched fist salute and the Tories started screaming that we were socialists! It was so damned funny that it took us a few minutes to recover our composure - then one of the lads walked over and showed them his CPGB card and that really set the maggots a-squarking!
We pointed out all the things that Labour was going to do - inventing most of them, let's be honest - and I saw one woman's lower lip start trembling. "You don't care about decent people," she wailed.
"Yes, we fucking well do," I replied. "We just don't care about the ten-bob millionaires who are nowt a pound!"
That was the end of that. We won the consituency with 46% of the vote and bemoaned the fact that the majority was so low. Over the coming years we worked and worked that part of the country until we had removed all the Tory councillors and the Labour MPs were getting returned with majorities of over 50%. It took time, but eventually Scotland, Wales and Northern England were all solid socialist fiefdoms.
Then we ballsed it all up. We elected a carpetbagger as leader of the Labour Party, a man who would turn our party into a forum for the views of the people that we despised. Now, no working man can have the sheer pleasure of counting out his wages before his gaffer, secure in the knowledge that his wage packet is fatter than that of the creature in front of him. Labour Party activists no longer get that rosy glow of pleasure that used to come when some type screamed abuse at them. The bastards are no longer afraid. . .
We need to take back our movement. Labour exists to speak for the working man and has wife and kids. We need policies that appeal to people like us, rather than the interlopers who now run the party. The message should be that Labour is about real jobs, about strong unions to defend those jobs and about high taxes on the middle classes to help pay for over a generation's insolence from these creatures.