As an effectively disenfranchised welfare recipient, I am therefore following the Labour leadership campaign with interest and in doing so I was struck by the following observations.
Namely that during assembly at school and Sunday School in the 1960s, we were on occasions obliged to sing the hymn, All Things Bright And Beautiful; one verse of which was: “The rich man in his castle/The poor man at his gate/HE made them high and lowly/and ordered their estate”. Thereby giving the impression that it was ordained by God that the chosen few thus had a God given and therefore an unquestionable right to rule as they saw fit and get rich at the expense of everyone else; with no concern really about the plight of those that they impoverished in the process (indeed, even the motto of the modern day monarchy is “My Right: My God”) whilst they ruthlessly guarded their privileged position and ensured that it remained their preserve down through the generations; by for example fixing the law to suit their own purposes.
Which in turn provided the stimulus for the down trodden to organise with a view to creating a much fairer society, which culminated in the election of an Old Labour government in 1945 committed to the implementation of such as the Beveridge Report which emphasised the eradication of the five giants of Disease, Idleness, Ignorance, Squalor and Want.
That in turn gave rise, for example, to the Welfare State, NHS, and together with the 1944 Butler Act, access to higher education based on academic ability rather than ability to pay.
However, the creation of such a state of affairs was anathema to the ruling elite and hence ever since its advent they have consequently sought to turn the clock back by adherence to the adoption and zealous implementation of a free market theology.
A quest they were initially greatly helped in achieving by trade union and extreme left wing militancy crucifying Old Labour on the alter of their own selfish ambitions.
The ironic thing being that the process has also been greatly aided by the newly dominant elements within New Labour, who worship at the alter of free market capitalism whilst appearing to care not that they have by doing so effectively disenfranchised millions of voters who would normally vote for them; choosing instead to compete with the Conservatives for the (one suspects) relatively smaller number of the more affluent floating voters in marginally constituencies.
It therefore now seems that the current New Labour leadership contest reflects that which has hitherto taken place between the free market Tories and Old Labour! With Old Labour remnants now wanting to put the clock back to 1945, whilst New Labour in line with the Conservatives wish to put it back to 1776 if not before.
The fundamental question therefore for everyone, is do they wish to build a society fit for the 21st century and beyond rather than construct one fit for the 18th? I.e. seek to build a truly inclusive and fairer society for all, or, simply pay lip service to such ideas as a means of acquiring power to enable them to take us all back to the dark ages?
Food for thought?
Robertshaw Crescent, Deepcar, Sheffield, S36 :