Friday, 4 May 2007

Local Elections

As the local election results start to come in, it looks like the political map of Britain is returning to that of the early nineties. A sea of blue with some red enclaves.

I've ranted against New Labour often in this blog. I despise Blairism for its betrayal of the Labour Party and for its disenfranchisement of those who wanted an alternative vision of how society might be run. But I take no pleasure in the Tory revival.

For those taken in by posh-boy Cameron's charm let's never forget that the Conservatives are the party of Thatchersism; that period of almost twenty years that fucked up the social and political fabric of this country more profoundly than six years of fighting Hitler.

And also let's not forget that Tory landslides are only possible when the working class majority votes that way. Working in the print industry, I've rubbed alongside working class Tories for years. Ironic really, given that printworkers only owed their relatively privileged position due to the strength of the labour movement and the unique situation of the pre-entry closed shop - a fact that has still only partly sunk in after the Wapping dispute.

Working class Toryism is a depressing phenomenon. I can only put it down to:

• Deference - amazing but many people still believe that Old Etonians constitute an officer-class that is born to lead.

• Greed - better paid workers who resent taxes subsidising the less fortunate; All those ex-print workers who looked down on the un-skilled and who are now driving minicabs are a classic reminder of how fragile these distinctions are.

• Small-mindedness - the classic call of the white-trash Little Englander; 'I might not have much but at least I'm not Black or Asian or Eastern European etc' - insert the bigotry of your choice.

In some ways, we are back to the period at the turn of the last century. The vast majority of people in this country don't have their interests represented by the Tories or by New Labour, and need to be reminded of this.

The basic arguments for socialism and for class-based politics need to be made again. We should be dusting off those old copies of The Ragged Trousered Philantrophists.

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