Things have never been worse in the UK in my lifetime and the prospect of a full five years of Cameron, Osborne and an embarrassingly shambolic opposition nationally, allied to weak, supine and inert local administrations in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire could lead to a sense of hopelessness. The NHS is set to be destroyed and the prospects for our young people are dire. But…..
Ten Reasons to be Hopeful.
- The UK people overwhelmingly rejected Austerity by a massive margin. In the May general election 76% of those registered to vote did not cast their ballot for the Tory Party that somehow ended up in Government on its own. What this tells us is that if the electoral system were reformed there would not be a Tory Government.
- The rise of minority Parties. It’s clear that the voters are totally disillusioned with the three so called “main” Parties and in a reformed system you would see the rise of independent Socialists, the Greens plus those progressive elements that are in the Labour Party under sufferance would be emboldened to go it alone knowing that they would have a chance of securing representation. People cite worries about UKIP but they, in common with the BNP before them, would be exposed by the scrutiny of elected office. We need radical alternatives because all “consensus” does is silence minorities.
- Our young people. There is so much cynicism about kids not engaging with politics. Bunkum. Whilst it’s true that they aren’t connecting with Party politics, there’s a multitude of reasons for that. The Tories hysterical attitude to the young has been to squash them with an education system that “teaches people to know their place”, (leaked document by Education Secretary Kenneth Baker, 1986), the Lib Dems kicked them in the teeth over fees and Labour saddled them with tuition payments and an illegal war in Iraq. Our young people care passionately about the environment, human and animal rights, the environment and the NHS and get involved in these issues. In Hull three Sixth Formers put of a Mass Community Rally against Austerity which attracted the crowds to Queens Gardens this month. They have been the driving force behind the People’s Assembly. We must emphasise hope and not let fear win the day in their minds.
- Tolerance. The UK celebrates difference and we must continue to allow our brightest and best to flourish. We defeated the Nazis because our greatest minds were nurtured and flourished in a spirit of “can do” even when their ideas and methods seemed bonkers. This was encapsulated at Bletchley Park and through the extraordinary goings on at the Special Operations Executive. We can harness this off beat genius by making our Universities return to being places of supreme excellence in R and D where we once led the world.
- Energy. We have an abundance of natural resources and renewable power in Britain. Yorkshire alone has 300 years worth of coal (it can be cleaned up with investment), the potential of the Humber estuary, and a chance to lead the world with wind and tidal power.
- Wealth. This nation is the sixth richest on the planet. There is an abundance of money. Inequality is what holds us back. If the tax system was not so blatantly weighted in favour of the super rich the “deficit” would not exist and there would be £800 billion extra via a Land Tax (the rest of us pay it, it’s called Council Tax) to invest in 2 million desperately needed homes, proper well paid work for our youngsters, and fully funded pensions, the NHS and education.
- The Public Sector. We built the most amazing Public Services in the world in the wake of World War Two in the guise of top class public housing, the NHS and free education for as long as people wanted it. This in turn produced public sector workers who are totally committed to serving the people. Our nurses, teachers, fire fighters and the legions of people working for our community do not work to the clock. They certainly aren’t motivated by money or the (now) trashed pensions and despite Labour Councils being the midwives for Austerity they carry on regardless protecting our kids, helping our vulnerable adults and going the extra mile at work.
- Solidarity. Scotland has, in a weird and misguided way managed to achieve a situation where their residents don’t want to see bad things happening to their compatriots. Nationalism has been that vehicle and has been abetted by crass governance from Westminster and the absolutely final meltdown of the Labour Party north of the border who sided with the Tories and capital when it mattered. The Scots have found common conscience with each other. In the rest of the UK we need to emulate this but via class conscience and not the petty nationalism and bigotry offered by the likes of UKIP and New Labour wannabee leader Liz Kendall who says she wants to put “country first”. Coded language for anti immigrant policies to try and woo what she patronisingly sees as white working class prejudice. In 1997 we voted for what we thought was solidarity, the left needs to create a vibe on these lines.
- Talent. Parliament is a cesspool of corruption and petty squabbling set to the back ground hum of public indifference. With some notable exceptions they haven’t produced an original idea for a generation. However when you go to public meetings and listen to people on street campaigns there is a wealth of ideas about how to do things better, especially when it comes to how to get the best out of people on a personal and professional level. We have some excellent writers such as Owen Jones and Harry Leslie Smith. Danny Blanchflower explains the economy in a way that even I can follow plus books such as, “The Spirit Level”, by Wilkinson and Pickett demonstrate how inequality is bad for everyone.
- Our history. The UK has produced epic struggles and examples where vested interests have been challenged and held to account. From John Ball and the Peasants Revolt through the Levellers, the Chartists, the Suffragettes, the rise of the Unions and the 1945 Labour Government, to the Poll Tax Rebellion and this month ¼ million mobilising against Austerity the British people have a tradition of standing up for what is right.
We must stand up to be counted as Socialists, but crucially learn to be outward looking. Every meeting must have an action in the community and we must channel our desire to be proved ideologically correct at all costs by placing the needs of everyone in the communithy above making worthy speeches for each other.