Wednesday 30 September 2015

Class war target hipsters?

The protest at Cereal Killers has got people talking about gentrification so in a sense I suppose it has already done it's job.

My first reaction when I saw the shop that charges about four quid for a bowl of cereal being trashed was good riddance. Then my second reaction when I saw a piece beyond parody  in the Guardian from the hipster brothers who own the shop explaining that they didn't just sell cereal for but also provided an  experience that restored people's childhood memories was again, good riddance.

Initially the story  touched a nerve I guess because my own area is starting a process of gentrification - and hipsters are providing the advance party of the bourgeois. 

But really, men with silly beards are not the problem: Property developers who are speculating in properties in working class communities are the problem. Local councils (many of them Labour) who are selling off social housing and collaborating with austerity and socially-cleansing inner city city areas are the problem.

Poor areas have always attracted the bohemian elements of the middle class. I imagine the Victorian workers  were bemused and irritated by artists with silly beards slumming it in the East End drinking absinthe and smoking opium. But they weren't the class enemy - slum landlords charging rack rents for some of the worst living conditions in Europe were. 

The modern day equivalents of all these groups are still with us. Let's not get distracted. 

Friday 18 September 2015


School's back and there's that new term buzz. In more ways than one. Jeremy Corbyn's victory seems to mark a new start.

Not in the sense that a credible socialist  Labour has suddenly arisen phoenix-like from the ashes of Blairism: It's too early to say that, and I have to say that sadly that scenario looks like the least likely outcome. Corbyn's apparent rejection of mandatory re-selection would indicate that he lacks the steel for the bitter war that is now  necessary to drive out the Blairite entrists that have polluted the party. Many local party organisations are simply moribund and it has suited the Blairites at local level to keep it that way so they can maintain a strangle hold on selection. If the re-selection of candidates is not mandatory then it seems highly unlikely that the required clearing out of the parliamentary Labour party will be possible. And without that, Corbyn is ultimately doomed.

The most important thing is that 'Corbyn-mania'  has put politics, socialist politics back into everyday life. My daughters, both under 21 are enthused by a politician who is principled and non-plastic and have been glued to the unfolding drama this week around Prime Minister's Question Time and anthem-gate. My dad who is pushing 90 has also watched it all avidly - and is even considering rejoining the Labour Party. And amongst my colleagues not a lunch or break time goes by without some discussion of Jeeza.

Of course this buzz maybe just a moment that will  pass sooner or later. But for those of us who aren't in the Labour Party there must be some opportunity to engage with this and start discussing some of the basic ideas of socialism and struggle - and maybe even build something new out of it.