the apathetic nation


By Paul Halas

They partied and broke their own rules; they’ve been rumbled but will there now be a reckoning? The whitewash is already underway, Allegra Stratton is the blood sacrifice and an inquiry, of sorts, is to be held – led by someone who allegedly attended one of the parties in question.

Social media is buzzing with tweets by disaffected lifelong Tory supporters swearing they’ll never vote for the Conservatives again, the Fib Dems even stand to win a by-election or two. The political landscape is shifting, the penny is at last dropping that the current shower in charge make the scammers trying to con your gran out of her life’s savings look like Mother Teresa. Or is it?


Never has the nation been saddled with such a mendacious, morally bankrupt ruling party. The only area in which they excel is funnelling vast sums of public money into the private sector, most specifically the very richest corporations and individuals. The majority of the Cabinet have the excuse that they’re of very limited ability (how the *%~# did Raab, Williamson and Truss ever gain responsible posts, let alone make it up to big school?), but to achieve all the mayhem they’ve wrought they have to have some brains behind the scenes making sure they don’t inadvertently achieve anything beneficial.

There is something grim and sinister driving the Tory Party. Their policies are designed to make the less well off poorer, to deny the young a route to meaningful work, to suppress lower-end wages, to erode working conditions, to make education unaffordable, to make housing unaffordable, to drive inequality ever upwards, and, when people decide to express their anger at all the ordure they’re expected to swallow, to criminalise dissent – with absurdly Draconian penalties. By any marker, we’re several furlongs down the track to fascism. Many of the prerequisites are already in place: a rocky economy, a government that has realised it can get away with rule by edict, a widespread willingness to attack designated scapegoats, and a general air of helplessness and apathy.


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There is something grim and sinister driving the Tory Party. Photo by Mitja Juraja on

Public trust in politics has been lost. People have always complained that politicians are all the same, and it doesn’t matter who you vote for. But mostly such sentiments were simply venting. Whatever your political allegiance, there was a feeling that governments and opposition were expected to conduct themselves with a certain degree of decorum. It’s not that skulduggery and dishonesty in high places was unheard of, but at the very least, when you were found out, you fell on your sword.

That no longer happens. British party politics has lost any semblance of shame. Johnson and his cronies are constantly being rumbled. They defraud the public, lie, cheat, shag, snort, boogie and blunder without a care in the world. Sometimes an acquiescent media actually reports on their shenanigans, but it makes no difference. A mild slap on the wrist here and there, but nothing that means a damn. And the public has grown completely blasé with it. That’s just how it is. Let them get on with it. Screw politics anyway. People just don’t care any more (apart from a small minority whose voices are increasingly being silenced). Politics more than ever has become a happy hunting ground for the very worst people in public life and their backers.


I’m not alone in seething with rage, but I recognise my rage is impotent – emasculated. How to affect matters, effect change, is beyond my ken. Of course, if the country had an effective opposition, a serious alternative to the toxic status quo that’s been in charge for the past generation or three, there would be a shard of hope to cling to – but there isn’t.

Much as I despise Johnson and his ilk, they are what they are and one wouldn’t expect anything different from them. They’re the enemy, always have been. But my real venom is reserved for Sir Keir Starmer. He has done more than anyone to destroy whatever hope I once clung to.

Sure, for most of its existence the Labour Party has been fronted by centrists, self-seekers and establishment stooges, but there was always a healthy leftist faction within it that frequently managed to make its voice heard. The Atlee government achieved great things, the Wilson governments had their moments, and even Tory Blair and his gang failed to silence all the left wing voices – but Starmer… oh boy!

Sir Keir has been the death of Labour as a serious political alternative, and for that I can never forgive him

The only real alternative to the ever right-ward march of the nation was Labour under Corbyn – even if the PLP and the majority of the party apparatchiks conspired with the establishment and media to bring the party leader down – and with him the chance of a Labour government.

Corbyn has gone, but had the policies he put before the nation been retained by the Labour Party people would’ve had the possibility of a real alternative – something to inspire some real hope. The Tories have become such a rank cesspit that sooner or later people would opt for genuine, radical change. That option has been denied to us. Starmer has broken all his promises on policy and is conducting a witch hunt of the left, which must have Tony Blair purring with a mixture of admiration and envy. Sir Keir has been the death of Labour as a serious political alternative, and for that I can never forgive him.


The country is sinking deeper and deeper into a pained but apathetic morass. Many of those worst affected by the Tories’ evil policies are either too immersed in the day to day to bother with politics or have been suckered into taking their frustration out on the sanctioned scapegoats. Those somewhere in the middle strata, those who are just about getting by but are keenly aware that things are getting progressively tougher, just don’t see how anything will change. And those doing rather well just close their eyes and hope that things won’t change because they’re Thatcher’s children and they’re all right, Jack. We’ve become the apathetic nation. “If voting changed anything they’d ban it.” Hell. I’m starting to agree with that. How do we prevent what is effectively an elected dictatorship from lurching into full-on fascism?

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong about Johnson and maybe he’s toast. Maybe the Tories are. (Though I doubt it.) Maybe Starmer will become our next prime minister because people finally tire of Tory sleaze and maybe we’ll avoid the final descent into fascism. The trouble is, I can’t see how Starmer’s Labour would dramatically improve many people’s lives. The sleaze would probably be a little less in your face, but the oligarchs, hedge funders and magnates would still sleep soundly in their beds, the money launderers would still launder, the gig economy workers would still be exploited, the utility companies would still favour shareholders over customers, the NHS would still be fragmented and flogged off and the homeless would still be homeless…The current neoliberal system breeds inequality, and that won’t be challenged under New New Labour.


On a personal level, I’m afraid I’ve fallen into the national malaise. Not through acceptance of the status quo, but because I can no longer see an effective way for me to challenge it. In the Corbyn era I could, with bells on. My activism of the past six years, which had been pretty full-on, has dissipated, my energy drained. And I don’t blame Johnson and company for that. Kier Starmer, J’accuse.

Paul Halas’s escape from 1970s hippidom was the discovery that he could invent stories. He spent forty years contributing to various Disney magazines and books, as well as a variety of non-Disney comics, books and animated films. His retirement from commercial writing coincided with Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Labour Party leader, which led to five years’ political activism. He left the party two years ago with a heavy heart.

Capitalism relies on people like Keir Starmer and Neil Kinnock

Strategic betrayals are always rewarded

By Phil Hall

In the Middle Ages in 1381 the mayor of London, William Walworth, killed Wat Tyler at a parlay with a knife by stabbing him in the stomach and then cutting off his head. The mayor’s coat of arms then became the Saint George’s cross with a dagger drawn in one corner. This should be the coat of arms for all traitors to progressive causes.

From the Anonimalle Chronicle cited by John Simkin of Spartacus Educational:

When the king reached St. John’s Fields he was joined by a fine company of well-armed men. And they kept the commons like sheep within a pen. Meanwhile, the mayor went to kill Wat Tyler. When he came to Smithfield he asked what had become of the traitor. He was told that Wat Tyler had been carried by a group of the commons to the hospital for the poor near St. Bartholomew’s and put to bed. The mayor went there and found him, and had him carried out to the middle of Smithfield and had him beheaded. The mayor had his head on a pole and carried before him to the king at St. John’s Fields.

When the commons saw their chieftain, Wat Tyler, was dead, they fell to the ground like beaten men, imploring the king for mercy for their misdeeds. The king kindly granted them mercy, and then they went home. The king knighted William Walworth. The same day he made three other citizens of London knights for the same reason. These are their names – John Philipot, Nicholas Brymber and Robert Launde. The king gave Sir William Walworth £100 in land, and each of the others £40 in land.

Of course, to some extent, we are all sell outs. So, when we say someone sells out what exactly do we mean? We mean they have a choice. What choices do you have in China? Stand in front of a tank?

There are good professionals of all sorts, often well paid, who contribute plenty to society: doctors, engineers, pilots, architects, researchers, chemists. Do their politics really matter? We need these people. The wealth of a country can be measured by the quality and number of useful, highly educated people it has.

Many honourable liberals fought colonialism the Nazis and apartheid and all forms of injustice, too. They didn’t sell out socialist dreams because they were never socialists in the first place. Liberals have fought for democracy in many places in the world at different times. In contrast, there are quite a few toxic, dogmatic and tyrannically minded people calling themselves socialists who couldn’t give a damn about democracy. Does it matter if they sell out or not?

Ralph Allen

The Bath entrepreneur Ralph Allen is an example of how strategic betrayals are always rewarded. At the age of 24 in 1716, the nosey parker opened a letter from James Paynter and betrayed the Cornish Jacobites. After this, he was awarded contracts to run post offices across England.

In British politics the ‘left wing’ Labour MP, Neil Kinnock convinced Joan Lestor to vote against Tony Benn in the key deputy leadership contest. He helped turned the tide against Benn in 1981 and so Denis Healey got into the Deputy Leadership. Kinnock received a lot of support from the media and won the Labour Leadership after his strategic betrayal. Even the Financial Times can make a clear analogy between the betrayal of Benn by Kinnock and the betrayal of Corbyn by Starmer. ‘Starmer faces his Kinnock moment.’ reads the FT.

Christopher Hitchens is a good example of a successful strategic betrayal. There are intellectuals who play the enfant terrible for a long time, but turncoat at exactly the right moment in order to get maximum advantage. Hitchens was lionised and well rewarded when he supported the Gulf War, praising George Bush and Tony Blair.

Even the Financial Times can make a clear analogy between the betrayal of Benn by Kinnock and the betrayal of Corbyn by Starmer.

The key to a successful strategic betrayal is that you are consequential enough to be in a position to betray trust in the first place. What most of these people are doing is clawing their way into visibility through socialist organisations in order to sell their souls at a profit. It’s important to show your willingness to stab a close left associate from the front or the back. Throw Jeremy Corbyn out of the party. Accuse him of antisemitism despite his reputation for being against all forms of racism. If you want to signal your willingness, demonstrate that you are utterly ruthless.

Once the sell outs have been noticed, they start signaling to the establishment. A For Sale sign lights up. We see this with Labour MPs: they make a little remark defending Israel here. They refuse to criticise US bombing raid there. They make a harsh remark about the current enemy of choice here: Russia, Libya, Syria, The Serbs

Michael White at the Guardian claimed that the explanation is quite the reverse. Benn was not betrayed in 1981, you see, Benn was a purist, an uncompromising ideologue. Benn was not a realist. For Michael White, Benn was a case of the self-styled perfect being an enemy of the good. Michael White, by the way, was the person the Guardian chose to put the pin into Benn after he died.

What the argument for compromise really stands for is the willingness to betray fundamental principles. Anyone arguing for real social justice and redistribution must be sidelined. The sellout, from the days of the abolitionists and before, always labels the reformer and revolutionary as a fantasist and Don Quixote and attacks them for being unrealistic.

Many of the enfant terrible in the left-wing alternative media in 2021 are just people looking for decent, well-paid, secure jobs in journalism.

When the teenager says: ‘I hate you, Mum’ she doesn’t hate her Mum. Not really. We know. The BBC knows, too. Novara Media was careful to be onside when it came to the antisemitism hoopla. Novara Media were signalling.

Novara insults people who deserve to be insulted, like Laura Kuenssberg. In private, many people in British journalism must have the same view of Laura Kuenssberg as Novara. Laura Kuenssberg’s over enthusiastic hatchet jobs on Jeremy Corbyn were not exemplary or balanced, though she was rewarded with the silver chaff of a journalism prize to throw people off.

Ultimately, Kuenssberg’s bias made her useless as a political editor. The BBC held on to her only long enough to save face. She is the equivalent of the manager sent out to fire everyone who is then, herself fired. Novara wasn’t being brave in criticizing Kuenssberg. It was merely boxing clever.

The real function of these seemingly strange and contradictory invitations is to help generate an intellectual immune response to socialist and revolutionary ideas.

A lot of intellectuals are invited to work in US universities despite their left-wing politics. They go, but we all know why. They are hired as a sort of vaccine. They vaccinate the US body politic against radical political analysis and activism. The real function of these seemingly strange and contradictory invitations is to help generate an intellectual immune response to socialist and revolutionary ideas. Slavoj Žižek and others are the political equivalent of the Pfizer vaccine.

But to betray successfully and get rewarded you have to be willing to go the whole hog. If you are merely tricked into changing sides rather than making a full-on strategic betrayal, you won’t be trusted or rewarded.

A good example of this was Clare Short, who was against the war in Iraq. She was the minister for foreign aid in the New Labour government (DFID).

Tony Blair did his best smiling impression of Mephistopheles and offered the good-hearted Clare Short an increased aid budget to help the poor of the world – in return for support for the Iraq War. Short agreed, but almost immediately regretted it.

Short at a rally in Birmingham in January 2009, in support of the people of Gaza, photo Faizan Bhat

Too late! She was then disappeared from media view almost immediately. Instead of the opponents of Blair, like Short, the BBC still constantly serves us up with his supporters, people like the hateful Alister Campbell, that dysfunctional crocodile.

If capitalism could buy everyone out, there would be no contradictions in capitalism. But that’s not the way it works. Capitalism needs to extract labour surplus. It lives for exploitation. It thrives on greater and greater levels of inequality. Corporations are not going to suddenly hire everyone and pay them a decent wage. Forget that. If you think that then you are either a disingenuous fool, or a liar.

Isn’t encouraging systematic strategic treachery the key to the political-philosophical contribution of John Rawls? Wasn’t Thatcher’s shareholder, house owning democracy just that? If you can give just enough people a stake in the continuance of the status quo, the status quo survives. It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to be too generous, but neither do you want to provoke an insurrection.

If capitalism could buy everyone out, there would be no contradictions in capitalism.

An act of strategic betrayal can soon disappear from view and get washed away out of thought and memory, because its result is only the destruction of what might have been. We, the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the reforming left in the Labour party are well aware of who betrayed our shared vision of a more equitable society in Britain.

Who knows what might have been?

Jeremy Corbyn is dead – long live Jeremy Corbyn!

The Peace and Justice Project could kick-start the renaissance of the left.

The end of Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader of the Labour Party left many left-wingers in a state of mourning. When Keir Starmer took up the baton he pledged to stick to the democratic socialist principles the party had been pushing for five years, but a great number of us had little faith that he would keep his word. I expected a watering down of the party’s left-wing stance, but boy – I was not prepared for how quickly and how far Labour has been steered to the right. How naive I was.

For over sixty years I’d managed to steer clear of any political party that would have me as a member, but in 2015 Jeremy Corbyn changed all that. Up until that point I’d regarded Labour as the least dodgy option – mostly – but still not pursuing the kind of democratic socialist policies I wanted to see. That situation reached its nadir with Tony Blair’s governments, which, as any fule no, were effectively Margaret Thatcher and Nicholas Ridley’s love child.

Corbyn changed all that. When his leadership was threatened by insurrection I joined the party in order to vote for his retention, and of course that quickly led to branch meetings and various junior positions within my local CLP. I became immersed in the party, and while I found the level of bureaucracy overwhelming – especially for someone who’d spent his working life being left alone to do his thing – there were plenty of tasks I was able to do. I was one of a large intake of Corbynistas; we knew that many of the long-time members – those accustomed to running things – were not of a like mind, but we had a common purpose, and that purpose was getting Jeremy Corbyn elected. Ha!

Hindsight is a fine thing. During those five wonderful, energising years we believed the party was following a road map to democratic socialism, albeit via Scandi-style social democracy. We knew Corbyn was a phenomenon, but not quite to what extent. Seeing how quickly Labour has been taken back into the market economy-friendly, establishment fold, I now see the advent of Corbyn as party leader as an almost miraculous occurrence, a one in a thousand shot, not to be repeated in my lifetime anyway.

So where do socialists turn now? We are fragmented. Some have remained in the Labour Party, there are the Socialists and the Communists, and some well-intentioned souls have thrown in their lot with the Greens. Just as many have given upon party politics altogether. Although Jeremy Corbyn is taking legal action to bring about his full reinstatement in the Labour Party, his founding of the Peace and Justice Project is clear evidence that he sees developing solutions to the many problems we all face – the UK, the world and the planet – transcends party politics.

(I strongly suspect Corbyn’s action to regain the party whip are motivated by his obligation to his constituents. They voted for him as a representative of the Labour Party. He is a lifelong member; I found quitting the party after just five years was a wrench.)

For those not yet familiar with the Peace and Justice Project, details can be found at:

Briefly, its aim is:

“To bring people together for social justice, peace and human rights, in Britain and across the world.

“The Peace and Justice Project will back campaigns, commission reports and develop progressive networks across the world.

“The Peace and Justice Project will work with labour and social movements and provide platforms to those campaigning for change for the many, not the few.”

The project had its online launch on Sunday 17th January, with speakers that included Noam Chomsky, Ronnie Kasrils (ANC), Len McCluskey, Yanis Varoufakis, Zarah Sultana and of course Jeremy Corbyn himself.

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Noam Chomsky. One of the excellent speakers.

They outlined many policies the project would be promoting, but particular attention was drawn to four major areas of campaigning: Climate Justice, a green new deal; Economic Security, and pandemic solidarity; Democratic Society, and media reform; plus International Justice, and vaccine equality. Details are given on the website about how to get involved.

There was no media fanfare to greet the launch, and where the project merited a mention in the mainstream media it was regarded as either an irrelevance or Quixotic. It would have been surprising if its reception had been any different, which underlines the need for media reform.

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A free and fair press?

Jeremy Corbyn was adamant that Rupert Murdoch and Andrew Neil’s plans for new TV “news” channels must be resisted tooth and claw – things are bad enough as they are.

The project has already drawn criticism from some on the left. One train of thought is that it’s going to be nothing more than a talk-shop, with plenty of laudable ideas but no teeth, and inevitably it’ll die a lonely death. On the other hand, large numbers have lauded its its birth and declared it should form the core of a brand new socialist political party – a True Labour Party. That, I think, is missing the point entirely.

During the pandemic we have seen a renaissance of community action. Support for the elderly, food preparation and distribution, educational help for those stuck at home, people coming together to support those less able to. Regardless of whether the government should be doing more for society (of course it bloody should), people have been stepping up. It has nearly all been a non party-political effort, and has been all the stronger for it.

Similarly the Peace and Justice Project gains from not being party political. It stands for humanitarian socialism, but without capital letters. It is international. It seeks to influence and inform, and hopefully gain sufficient momentum to steer political parties and nations along a more sustainable and equitable path. I believe Jeremy Corbyn has recognised the limits of how much can be achieved within the Labour Party – especially given its current direction of travel. This movement gives me some hope that at the very least there will be a groundswell of like-minded people, here and worldwide, aiming to bring about something better.

Paul Halas’s escape from 1970s hippidom was the discovery that he could invent stories. He spent forty years contributing to various Disney magazines and books, as well as a variety of non-Disney comics, books and animated films. His retirement from commercial writing coincided with Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Labour Party leader, which led to five years’ political activism. He left the party two years ago with a heavy heart.

Suspending Jeremy Corbyn is a Declaration of Civil War

Keir Starmer has now alienated the best and the most idealistic people in the Labour Party

By Phil Hall

My daughter has a heart of gold and though she is young she has already worked as the manager of a women’s refuge and in a legal advice centre. She’s about to train as a housing lawyer. I am very proud of her and her brother and sister and I want the best for them. She was inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s vision of a social democratic Britain, a more socialist Britain, but when Corbyn lost in 2019, despite manning the phones for the Labour Party and going on the stump, she was willing to accept Keir Starmer as a compromise. She convinced me, too:

‘Have you seen McLibel, Starmer gave his time as a young lawyer for free. He saw the case through to the end. He had grey hairs by the time the two litigants lost their case against McDonalds. You know, he had a paralegal working with him who was poor and bought him a suit and books. Starmer is OK. He’s a brilliant lawyer.’

‘I am deeply shocked. I can no longer defend Keir Starmer.’

Yesterday, after Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the Labour Party she contacted me and said: ‘I am deeply shocked. I can no longer defend Keir Starmer.’ Keir Starmer has alienated the best and the most idealistic people in the Labour Party, the ones who, had he really being trying to unify the Labour Party and reach a unity compromise, would have supported him.

In January 2020, Labour had 580,000 registered members, the largest membership of any party in Europe. After the near win in 2017 the membership dipped a bit, down to 475,000, but then it rose again. The Labour membership seemed to have accepted Starmer, perhaps for a trial period only. That trial period is over and he should not be hired.

After Jeremy Corbyn’s election the excitement in the Labour Party grew. Hope grew. This enthusiasm was powered by the energy and idealism of a disenfranchised generation of millennials

Let’s look closer at that. Under Blair the membership of the Labour Party was around 200,000. It was a membership that the technocratic, autocratic, right of centre leadership of New Labour did its best to circumvent using the rules of the Party machinery. These rules favoured the votes of MPs and cabinet policy was rubber stamped by an NEC that was neutered, balanced in the favour of the Blairites.

After Jeremy Corbyn’s election the excitement in the Labour Party grew. Hope grew. The membership rose to over 500,000. This enthusiasm was powered by the energy and idealism of a disenfranchised generation of millennials – and enriched and tempered by embittered old lefties like me working mainly in education and public service, who saw a glimmer of light in the darkness.  

The Labour membership seemed to have accepted Starmer, perhaps for a trial period only. That trial period is over and he should not be hired.

Jeremy Corbyn, an upstanding human being, an important representative of the British Labour left and a lifelong socialist, got enough votes from MPs to stand for the leadership – despite the party mechanisms designed to disempower the membership. The MPs who voted for him wanted a balanced choice for leader, including someone to represent the ‘dinosaurs’ on the left. To their surprise and regret, Corbyn won. He won and he won and he won, despite three attempts to oust him.

We hold the centre-right of the Labour party responsible for joining in with the USA’s oil wars and for safeguarding Thatcher’s legacy.

At every turn Jeremy Corbyn won about two thirds of the membership vote. In a time of deepening climate change, a housing crisis, zero hour contracts, disillusion over New Labour’s support for oil wars, tuition fees at all time high it was obvious that a Corbyn premiership would go some way to redressing the imbalance in British society and  that it would allow us to get along peacefully with each other for a little while longer.

And Corbyn won. He won and he won and he won, despite three attempts to oust him.

Historians once praised the British establishment for knowing when to retreat, when to concede. After killing the demonstrators at Peterloo in Manchester it quietly retreated improving conditions and suffrage. After locking up the suffragettes and force feeding them and torturing them it waited a little and then gave women the vote. After huge mobilisations in India it finally understood that it was time to leave. The last British soldier didn’t leave India like the US left Vietnam: with an embassy operative dangling from a helicopter punching a Vietnamese collaborator who tried to get on board. No, the British left India with ceremony.

Historians once praised the British establishment for knowing when to retreat.

But this admiration doesn’t wash for the current buffoons running the British establishment. The current British establishment has shown itself to be less than silver service, less than aware of the pressing need for a rebalancing and for social justice. The establishment’s butler, its Jeeves, is now Keir Starmer.

Starmer is doing his best to please Boris Wooster and his pals, to diffuse the situation and return us to the ‘normality’ of neoliberalism. The British establishment has used the pretext of antisemitism (a deeply hurtful irony) to actually expel the man who caused membership to rise by hundreds of thousands of people making Britain’s Labour Party the largest party in Europe. The centrists and right wingers in the Labour Party like Jess Phillips have ‘stabbed Jeremy from the front’ just as they said they would and in doing so, they have stabbed us all right in the heart.

Starmer is doing his best to please Boris Wooster and his pals, to diffuse the situation and return us to the ‘normality’ of neo-liberalism.

Does the centre right in the Labour Party – who we hold historically responsible for joining in with the USA’s oil wars and for safeguarding Thatcher’s legacy – imagine that all the people who joined Labour to vote for a proper social democracy under Jeremy Corbyn will accept the decision to suspend him?

Does the centre-right imagine that we will say or do nothing and be happy going back to Blairism?

Does the centre-right think the unions that supported Corbyn will accept this action?

Does the centre-right think they can pour oil on the waters and everyone will carry on as normal?

Strangely, Keir Starmer’s Labour decided to suspend Corbyn precisely on the eve of the elections to the NEC. The voting closes on the 12th of November. This is how I voted.


A short appraisal by MERVYN HYDE

As a baby boomer, born one month after the war in Japan ended and growing up in a working class family, I grew up along with the welfare state and the NHS. From the mid 1940s until the 1970s  I saw my world opening up like a flower before me, and I just accepted that life was generally like this – as I didn’t then know anything different, unlike the children of today who have seen their futures closed down in front of their eyes for very different reasons.

My expectations were that, as I did, to serve an engineering apprenticeship.  On completion I was able to find well paid work anywhere in the town and my qualifications were recognised everywhere.

This was of course during the Keynesian era where the goals were full employment and social care, but then in the 1970s all that changed and Milton Friedman’s Neo-liberal doctrine prevailed culminating in the dismantling of the state by Margaret Thatcher.

I personally recognised the threat to our public services in 1974 where I joined the Labour party, noting the distinct change in language being expressed by Tory politicians, the attacks on trade Unions, British workers and the goods they produced, and no matter how good our public services and nationalised industries were, in their eyes it was never good enough.

That change in emphasis also permeated into the Labour Party which also promoted the false dichotomy of private enterprise being better than publicly provided services. This has led to the erosion of public provision and in its stead the introduction of Neo-Liberal fantasy economics, allied to which politicians have been seen to no longer serve the interests of people but global monopolies that dictate our living standards without any form of redress.

That has been supported by a complicit media and politicians of all colours and political persuasions, who have distorted peoples perceptions of public good in favour of private profit.

This video shows how factional interests within the Labour Party have used their exclusive privilege to thwart the democratic aspirations of the membership; undermined and smeared a democratically elected leader; and subverted an election campaign hoping the party would lose – that was finally achieved by losing the 2019 election with the resignation of a popular party leader.

Mervyn Hyde

Although now working class, my heritage stems from the farming community in Hereford and Worcester, Farmer Grandfathers going back at least three hundred years. I moved from Herefordshire to Gloucestershire at the age of seven and remained here ever since, except for a short time (approx. 12 months) I lived and worked in Germany. I have had a varied career from serving an Engineering Apprenticeship to working as a parts manager and chief storekeeper, to reverting back working on machine maintenance in a multinational company.  I joined the Labour Party in 1974 and campaigned in that election supporting Alf Pegler, who in fact did not win the Gloucester seat, became a Labour City councillor from 1976-1979  campaigned in three wards due to boundary changes and moving house, served as ward secretary and chairperson, on two occasions helped convert Tory wards into safe Labour seats.


How we regained faith in politics

By Paul Halas

Jeremy Corbyn was a phenomenon. This relatively obscure politician emerged from the backbenches to lead the party five years ago, and almost tripled the Labour Party membership. Labour became the biggest political party in Europe. While his ascension came about almost by mistake, there’s no mistaking the effect Corbyn had on British politics. What was his appeal?

He reached out to those who had lost faith in party politics in a way no one else had done for at least three generations.

I first became interested in politics at college in the late 1960s, while learning the craft of film-making. Many of my cohort were “politicos”, who were more interested in polemic and producing propaganda than the tedious processes involved in movie-making. A particular small group, with a radical left agenda (they were chummy with some people who went on to form the Angry Brigade), wanted to make a short film on the hardship of life on the dole, but, realising it should be lit properly, approached me to join them. What were my politics? Left wing of course, but beyond that I was a bit vague… They weren’t actually too bothered, they just wanted their film to look good, which we achieved. And in the process, through osmosis, I learned a fair bit from them.

From then on I always took a keen interest in left wing politics, but was also drawn to libertarian hippidom as well. While I considered the Labour Party far too intertwined with the establishment – a lost cause – I couldn’t really connect with any of the far left political groups either. It was all too “Life of Brian”, with various groups expending more energy on in-fighting and slagging off everyone else than working constructively for societal change.

As the 1970s wore on it became clear that a major show-down was taking place. The working class and the unions versus the nation’s antediluvian employers and the government of the day. And while some emerging voices on the left of the Labour Party, such as Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Diane Abbott and a certain Jeremy Corbyn, were making a lot of sense, the likes of Dennis Healey and Jim Callaghan ensured that the party remained a no-go area for many of us.

And the 1980s? Labour had our sympathy and our votes. By that time I had quit London and was living in deepest rural Wiltshire, where to support Labour was not so much infra-dig as utterly beyond this galaxy. As Thatcher made a bonfire of the nation’s cohesiveness and decency many of us simply seethed impotently. While the unions and people’s lives were shattered, while our council houses and utilities were flogged off, while spivs and speculators became a new aristocracy and malignant globalism started to grow, mainstream politics appeared to hold no answers.

In the Nineties we were going to have a Labour government but Neil Kinnock tripped and fell in the surf… No matter, in 1997 things could only get better. At the time I was living in Tetbury, a small town in rural Gloucestershire, and a surprising number of people there – nearly all affluent men in their 40s and 50s – were passionate about New Labour. To be “old Labour” instantly became a form of insult. I drank with them in the pubs but I couldn’t join them; this was not a club I wanted to be a part of.

For some the Blair/Brown years were just fine, for others the lustre wore off as betrayal followed betrayal… but many others never bought into the project to begin with. By the time Blair teamed up with Dubya to go search out them WMDs I was thoroughly fed up with the Blair administration. Much is talked about Tories who fail to do the right thing and resign following disastrous mistakes, but if ever there were an instance when falling on one’s sword was called for, it was when the premise for invading Iraq was proven to be baloney. Shamelessness in office is nothing new. New Labour was style over substance, masterminded by Manipulative Mandy and the sultan of spin, Alastair Campbell.

Blair’s role as a Thatcherite continuity leader became ever more transparent, despite all the gloss and despite the real advances such as increased spending on health and education. Inequality was still on the rise; creeping privatisation was still on the march. For a while it even seemed as if Charles Kennedy’s Liberal Democrats had a more radical agenda than New Labour…

And that betrayal of True Labour principles eventually told at the ballot box.

Ed Millband came and went. Politics under New Labour and then the Coalition just seemed to become shabbier and shabbier. How thousands upon thousands of us yearned for a bit of authenticity, for some integrity. For a modest leader who was for the people and not the neoliberal elite. And suddenly that call was answered.

Paul’s signed photo of Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t polished, wasn’t slick, didn’t have a media-friendly demeanour. He was the outsider who’d stuck to his ideals through thick and thin, who’d championed those without a voice and who’d constantly challenged his own party when he considered it was wrong. For the first time in most people’s living memories we had a real left wing leader. Hundreds of thousands of us loved him for that. It could have been anyone with those qualities, it happened to be Jeremy Corbyn. We feasted on his appearances and speeches; this slight, allotment-tending, veggie beardo assumed almost rock star status. We flocked to join the party, and when his leadership was challenged countless thousands more signed up to defend him.

For people like me, who’d for years been cynical and disillusioned with politics, especially party politics, here was a cause one could give oneself to wholeheartedly. We could all make a contribution, make a difference. In my retirement, I was suddenly busier than I’d been for years – and together we were going to change British politics forever.

Many of those already in the party, some of them with many decades of dedicated service behind them, had very mixed opinions about Mr Corbyn. Some liked him, some didn’t, most tolerated him. Some had soldiered on throughout the New Labour years with heavy hearts but a stoical loyalty to the party, while others had embraced the prevailing neoliberalism of the Noughties and were alarmed at the new leader’s perceived radicalism. Most, I suspect, harboured a degree of misgiving at the influx of arrivistes in a party mechanism that they had been running for years. New people with a mix of naivety and enthusiasm…But weren’t we ever good when it came to campaigning and canvassing.

See the source image

2017 was exhilarating, even if we didn’t pull it off. We’d caught the establishment and the media on the hop, but they weren’t going to make that mistake again. If 2017 left us still optimistic 2019 left us numb and demoralised. Corbyn, a thoroughly decent man, despite a number of shortcomings, had been laid low by his political enemies, the establishment, the media, and by many of those who were supposed to have been his political friends. On a global scale his ideas were not even that radical, but in 21st Century Britain they were certainly way too egalitarian for the powers that be.

Now we have Keir Starmer at the helm. In his quest to re-take the political centre ground it appears he is willing, eager it would seem, to throw the left under a steamroller. A series of actions, such the forthcoming whitewash of the “leaked report”, give ample evidence of that direction of movement, the latest being the increase in various forms of disciplinary action against left-wingers, mostly on absurdly flimsy pretexts. Control freakery is on the march. Party membership had dropped by about 70,000 since the general election, and I strongly suspect that many of the ones who have “had enough” are people who’d been enthused by Jeremy Corbyn.

I’m still a Corbynista. That’s why I joined the Labour Party, and that’s why I’ll stay if I’m able to. Certainly change can take place through non-party political means, but the scale and breadth of systemic change that will will be necessary if we’re to have any sort of future can only be brought about by enlightened governments. And in the UK I’m convinced that will have to be a True Labour government. A government that believes in democratic socialism and a government that’s serious about tackling climate change.

Let’s make sure Corbynism isn’t dead, and that we’ll get back on the right track in the future.

Paul Halas’s escape from 1970s hippidom was the discovery that he could invent stories. He spent forty years contributing to various Disney magazines and books, as well as a variety of non-Disney comics, books and animated films. His retirement from commercial writing coincided with Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Labour Party leader, which led to five years’ political activism. He left the party two years ago with a heavy heart.

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