A long traditional Boxing Day walk yesterday taking in part of the 'Northern Heights' that winds it way across my bit of Northern London - from Alexandra Park to Hampstead Village and back.
This western side of Haringey couldn't be more different from Tottenham - and the walk was rather like taking a cross section through the underbelly of the chattering classes. Barbours, Hunter wellies, those South American hats with the ear flaps, and all-terrain baby buggies were out in abundance. The pub at the end of the walk was full of them. Opposite the pub a blue-plaque on an imposing Victorian mini-mansion caught my geeky eye.
Here lived Henry Hyndman, founder of the first 'Marxist' organisation in Britain. Also sometime Tory toff kicked out of the Liberal Party, ego-maniac and control freak. He managed to piss off Marx when he wrote a crude introduction to Marxist ideas without mentioning Marx at all. But most significantly he shattered his own organisation and drove out the best elements like William Morris and Eleanor Marx. Amongst other things, he did so by making some seriously fucked-up political decisions including taking money from the Tory party in return for splitting the Liberal vote, and supporting Britain's involvement in the Great War. His final political incarnation was in an organisation with the unfortunate name of the National Socialist Party.
In effect he began the phenomenon of ruling class interlopers screwing up the labour movement - a torch that was picked up most effectively in recent times by Tony Blair. And he couldn't have found a more fitting place to be commemorated than Hampstead Village.