(This is basically a composite rant that I sent out around the UK General Election in December 2019)
I did something naughty for Labour…
|…but I’m not going to tell you what. Not just yet.|
For those of you outside the UK, you will probably have heard about the unpredictable and confusing state of our politics. Well, this wizened and cynical anarchist can testify to that. There’s a general election coming in the next ten days, and I’ll be voting.
The Corbynista end of the Labour party is like a warm, inviting comfort blanket for me. It’s something I grew up with. It represents the idea of radical change that the system can – just about – deal with. Possibly. All I need to do is pop a cross in a ballot box next week. See? Easy!
The last time we had anything resembling socialism in this country, it was in 1945. The threat of a tooled-up working class, weapons-trained to fight fascists, coupled with a huge vote for Labour that year, proved too irresistible to a cowed ruling elite. “We must give them reforms or they will give us revolution,” as the arch Tory Quintin Hogg said at the time. That’s not the case now, however.
Some wag on Twitter said something like an election is like a bus: it won’t take you where you want to go, but it will take you near enough. You’ll have to forgive me for feeling that I got hammered, fell asleep on the bus and soon enough I’ll wake up at the end of the line facing a five mile walk through the night home!
The other day, I played at a picket line in support of the striking university lecturers here. Those of us who came of age in the 1980s in the UK will be aware of the contrast. When I was growing up, the conservatives attacked the organised working class, in the shake of the miners, who were on strike in 1984 – 1985. They were defeated.
This time around, they’re after the public sector people. Since they’ve been in government, the Tories have also targeted immigrants, the poor and women, who have borne the brunt of their austerity policies. Their leader, that raffish John Bull of a twat whom I won’t name, was conspicuously absent from the leaders’ televised climate debate.
I guess I did my job that day at the rally, and got some weary strikers taping their feet and singing along. Nevertheless a Tory victory next week, coupled with a hard Brexit, will give the elite all the excuses they need to strip back all the pay and conditions and environmental regulations they want. Who will they be after then? The polls show a significant Tory lead. But it’s shrinking. It’s possible the best hope right now will be a coalition against them.
This is actually a fight against the British manifestation of the populist right. By any means necessary. Ot at least, voting anyway. We’ve even had a mandatory Trump visit.
When I started being an activist nearly 25 years ago, I didn’t quite imagine this would be the state of play. There are some vital signs, however. Extinction Rebellion are waving the flag for direct action and we have a galvanised radical left of sorts. But is it enough?
But Brexit has left people weary. For anarchists, who the hell wants to talk about sovereignty, trade deals and customs unions? Everyone is knackered. Everyone regardless of their politics is freakin’ knackered!
Nevertheless, right here amongst the compromises and the bullshit and the existential navel gazing, you can hear the unmistakable sound of a country drawing its breath. And hoping. However that might pan out. Stay tuned.
And naaaah, I’m not going to tell you what I did!! 😉
Anyway, I’m bored of all this politics. Let’s talk about dating……
I did a moonlight flit into England on Thursday night, smuggling myself out of Wales on a train armed only with a guitar and rucksack.
Again?! At my age?!
The exit poll came in as I rushed to get my Brighton connection.
What is it with you, my beloved England? Why do you keep electing such abusive rulers?! Have you not got over the Norman Conquest or something?!
William the Conqueror harried the north. Old John Bull, however, slipped up there on Friday spraying largesse everywhere, like a mobster rewarding the switched loyalty of a fiefdom during a blood feud.
As head of the Conservatives, he rushed in to thank his new friends for breaking their generational loyalty to Labour and lending him their vote. And what is he promising? Money!
Yes, ladles and jellyspoons, you are about to witness the strength of working-class Toryism. Think Thatcher allowing the common folk to buy their council houses. Old John Bull, similarly, is making the causal link very clear been voting for him and turning on the cash flow.
Along with all the chronic narcissism underlying that gesture… There’ll be a few winners, plenty of losers and room for everyone.
Watch, too, as the right continue to break the alliance between the radical middle classes and what’s left of the organised working class – in many cases, now just misty memories – that historically formed the backbone of the Labour Party.
“The liberal metropolitan elite are SNEERING at you!” says John Bull and his lackeys in the media, even the ones he’s about to curtail, to his new friends in the toiling masses. “They’re ignoring our vote for Brexit!”
Yes, that’s right – our vote! Commoners, in place of the allotment owners, woke youth and the woolly sandal brigade, we now have the officer class, in all its clipped, grating authority. “Corbyn is a terrorist sympathiser- not like us!”
(Never mind the dog whistle anti-semitism underlying their phrase “liberal metropolitan elite.” That’s fine when it comes from those who are born to rule in this country, but not from a middle class radical wannabe leader like Corbs.)
They’re not like us! Got it? This is identity politics. But not the kind that seeks to make gains for women, trans folk, people of colour and others excluded from the shit show. Far too triggering for the right. This is English identity politics writ large. And woe betide anyone who doesn’t tow the line with this blood and soil shyte.
Hang on a minute, what about Wales? You wouldn’t have known from the media that Welsh Labour, for all their not-considerable sins, were re-elected here. Yes, there was a dramatic blue swing. But not like the one in England.
But of course you won’t hear about that! It’s Wales – no one cares! Precisely the reason why the nascent YesCymru campaign which has been bubbling under this year will start to grow again now. And tempting as it is to go it alone, it will all depend on what happens next in Scotland.
Ah yes, Scotland, which voted for the separatist SNP in droves! Let’s have a look into my teacup and see if I can divine the future..
Up until now, the SNP has had the intelligence and the vision to make waves despite losing their Indy ref in 2014. Now they face a re-energised, hyper-nationalist English Tory party.
Watch as they draw the SNP out and fight them like they did the miners in the 80s. They’ll beat them round the head with the fact that 2014 was supposed to be a once in a lifetime vote. Like “Get Brexit done,” it’s a simple but effective idea that could cause a maelstrom. And just wait till that Alex Salmond trial…
Thus will you see the hitherto English nationalist party move to reassert the British nature of the state. I dread to think what it has I store for the different parts of Ireland.
And what if my tribe, my beloved anarchists? Anarchists have of late orchestrated some great demos and workplace organising. But we have generally failed to capitalise on the current crisis. A lot of us got sucked into the Corbyn project. I imagine we will continue to be caught between Celtic nationalism, the ballot box, inspired but off-the-radar activism and some kind of mythical purity.
Surely New Labour isn’t the best we can expect!?!
A bunch of us sat in the pub the night after the election at a gig in Brighton. A lot of us were shocked and scared about what is going to happen next.
The attacks will come swiftly, starkly and relentlessly. You won’t know what’s hit you or what to get shocked at next. You’ll be exhausted from the get-go.
But there will always be love and dance and song – and protest. Like the austerity protests in 2011-12 the energy will dissipate unless united into a wider movement. That would be the ideal destiny of anarchism if we could only reach for it. But we shall see.
In the meantime, let the music keep your spirits high. And it did that night. We sang we shouted and we laughed and we cried and held each other close.
Welcome to the glorious, new, old regime – where there is DEFINITELY no climate emergency.