Monday, 3 June 2019


As I age and ache, that saying comes to mind that being an old (ish) man, even on a good day, feels not much different from being a young (ish) man except that young man is feeling rather unwell.  But it’s the mind I want to focus on. We are supposed to become more conservative,  more prone to live in the past and more averse to loss as the years pass.

Almost 50% of Conservative Party voters in the UK are over 65 and only 16% of those under 35 say they’ll vote conservative. By rights I should be joining my cohort but….but…. as the years pass I’m getting more left wing.  The Wedgewood Benn in me has, suddenly, like something from ‘The Alien’ leapt snarling from my body. Only it isn’t snarling, it’s full of good humour, just a little anti-capitalist. I  sat in church on Sunday listening to the hymn “Glorious Things of thee are Spoken” with that couplet about the overly rich and smug:

“Fading is the worldling’s pleasure, 
 All his boasted pomp and show”.

The Christians have always known how to smack the rich, them and their “boasted pomp and blasted yachts”. But it isn’t just their “boasted pomp”; more importantly it’s their extreme right-wing Toryness that alienates me.

Alistair Campbell has, meanwhile,  lost his home in Labour who, in turn,  seem to have lost their political minds according to Matthew Goodwin’s article “The Strange Death of Labour” in the Sunday Times.  We slightly further right of Alistair and wondering where our political home might be are facing, like Tennyson’s Light Brigade (misquoted):

“Idiots to the right of us
Idiots to the left of us
Idiots in front to us” 

 I am spending my days frustrated by homelessness, poverty, official attitudes to migrants and the problems suffered in Northern Africa, the tragic decline in manners (stop shuffling Donald Trump. We respect your office but you are very naughty),  the dislocation of a significant number of young children – posing knife threats but worse than that in the long term. We have become a richer, smarter, more excluding and less kind society and that makes me sad.

We‘ve stopped caring enough about the big issues. This “Withdrawal Agreement” has not been a big issue at all - just a fatally misunderstood “preliminary” agreement. We shall have to learn new skills like listening and doing coalition well. The old votes and tribal loyalties are dead. John Scott – the mediator - said this about our world:

“In this increasingly complex, kick-arse, hurtling, over-provided world most people want a simpler life.”

Hurray for simplicity.

And that is just what Clement Attlee described:

“(No) differences arose between Conservatives, Labour and Liberals ….in the War Cabinet … not in the big things. ... 

When one came to work out solutions … one had to …disregard private interests.  But there was no opposition from Conservative Ministers. 
They accepted the practical solution whatever it was.”

That’s all we ask.

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