The current mental state of the Labour Party is like a nagging headache that’s impervious to repeated doses of paracetamol. Michele Hanson bottles the zeitgeist wittily in her column for today’s Guardian, while Helen Lewis offers a detailed and thoughtful analysis of attitudes on both sides of the divide in the New Statesman.
I had intended to avoid burdening this blog with more wasted words about it all, but then, while reading Family Britain, the second volume of David Kynaston’s brilliant social history of post-war Britain, I came across the following passage. It’s October 1952 and in a windswept Morecambe, a stormy Labour party conference is taking place a year after the Tories had swept the 1945-51 Labour government from power. Continue reading “Plus ça change: Labour was a house divided in 1952”
The words of Martin Luther King, from Jeremy Corbyn’s Twitter feed. What more is there to say this morning?
To face history is to face the tragic. Which is why many prefer to look away. To decide to engage oneself in History requires, even when the decision is a desperate one, hope.
– John Berger, Bento’s Sketchbook
‘The world that I knew, it has vanished and gone,’ sang Eliza Carthy during Blood and Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl, a special concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic this week that marked the centennial of the songwriter and Communist activist’s birth. It was a marvellous evening of passionate songs of politics and love which caused me to reflect on the significance of MacColl’s songs in our changed times. Continue reading “Blood and Roses: The Songs of Ewan MacColl”
‘This will never stop,’ writes playwright Anders Lustgarten in the introduction to his critically-acclaimed drama Lampedusa which, unflinchingly and without a trace of sentimentality, deals with the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. I saw it last night at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, co-producer of the play with the Soho Theatre, where it was first performed. Continue reading “Lampedusa: ‘Fucking hell. Why are people kind?’”
Three years ago I left the GP practice where I’d been a patient since my student days because Princes Park Health Centre, once the practice of the redoubtable socialist and councillor Cyril Taylor, was being privatised – handed over to a company called SSP Health which now runs more than 40 GP practices across Merseyside and Greater Manchester. Last month the Health Centre was placed in special measures after the Care Quality Commission ruled services were ‘inadequate’ – the worst possible rating. It was the fourth practice run by SSP Health to be rated ‘inadequate’ so far this year. Continue reading “Private Island: how privatisation turned us into peasants”
In the library last week I chanced upon Bob Holman’s biography of Keir Hardie: a curious coincidence since only that morning I had read an article by Melissa Benn written to mark the occasion of the centenary of Hardie’s death (on 26 September 1915). Though I have always had an interest in the exciting political history of the quarter-century before the First World War (a period that saw the rise of militant trade unionism, the movement for women’s suffrage, the spread of socialist ideas, and the genesis of numerous left-wing organisations that ultimately forged the Labour Party), I must admit that of Hardie I knew little more than that he became the first parliamentary leader of the Labour Party. Continue reading “Keir Hardie: a message for today from Labour’s past?”
It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.
– Ezekial, 21:23
This is a walking story that may have a political message – or it just be a load of twaddle in which four guys well past the age of consent lose their way in the wild before common sense puts them on the right path. Continue reading “Walking Offa’s Dyke path: a group lacking a credible leader”