Monday, 27 September 2010

Alan Davies' & Teenage Revolution

I've been watching Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution - his autobiographical TV journey through 80's Lefty-hood, from minor public schoolboy to lovable Mockney everyman.

Apart from his truly appalling Jonathon Creek Sunday evening drama-thing, it's hard to really dislike Alan Davies as his heart seems to be more or less in the right place. The ground he covers in revisiting 80's activism is very close to home for me - Maggie Thatch, CND, the Miners' Strike, Wapping, the Poll Tax, Billy Bragg etc ....

But apart from his rather selfish view that the defeat of the Left  wasn't a complete disaster because at least we got alternative comedy, there was something else that really grated on me: The nauseating way he fawned on Kinnock and presented his notorious '85 Labour Conference speech  not as the day when the door was opened to New Labour but as the day Labour rid itself of the stranglehold of the  Left. 

Of course it's a well established point of view, and one that many on the 'Soft Left' did, and still do,hold. But what was truly sickening - and bemusing - was the ease with which Davies switched from fawning over Kinnock to fawning over (ardent SWP member at the time) Mark Steel.  

Anyone who was around in the 80s will recall how passionately the Swoppies disowned the Labour Party at a time when it actually did have a powerful Left-ward magnetic pull. Militant Supporters inside it were dismissed, at best, as confused 'centrists' with illusions in Labour reform-ism. But even at the time bizarrely enough, SWP-ers and non-Marxist Labour Lefts seemed to get along perfectly well on a social basis despite their diametrically opposed ideologies. On the other hand us Militants were generally treated as pariahs by both groups - and the most unlikely of bed-fellows would unite is spitting venom at us. Of course it's  very different now and the SWP's  old accusation that the Labour Party is no place for socialists is actually true - in the same way that even a broken watch will tell the right time twice a day. 

Even so - certainly in our local anti-cuts campaign - the chumminess between SWP-ers and the few remaining Labour Lefts is very noticeable. And this isn't just social - the SWP seem to make a political distinction between the ConDem's cuts programme and its reluctant implementation by   Labour Councils. Most importantly they don't seem to want to antagonise possibly sympathetic  Labour members by calling for councillors to either vote for an 'illegal' needs budget - the only really  viable position against  devastating imposed cuts - or to stand down to make way for representatives who are. I'm genuinely puzzled by this SWP / Labour Left axis -  just as I was in the 80's.

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