Fresh back from the Hay festival where I took the opportunity to listen to Roy Hattersley speak (Fry was sold out…). The former deputy leader of the Labour party was putting forward his case for a return to traditional socialism, government intervention in the economy, strong welfare state, social determinism etc…
A charismatic speaker Baron Hattersley fielded questions from the audience himself (slighting a Guardian journalist quite openly - who was supposed to act as chair). One Plaid Cymru member stood up and said "I agree with 99% of what you said, but I must say you sound out of date…” to which the former MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook said (paraphrased) “Christians haven’t stopped going on about the sermon on the mound because its 2,000 years old - if you think something’s right then say it". The member of Plaid, very publicly fooled, sat down having learned the lesson - don’t mess with the big guns or you will get burned.
It was refreshing to hear a politician talk of ideology again. Whether you agree with Keynes or not it was nice to hear a real opinion, not spun rhetoric from the centre ground - Roy was very firmly off the fence and proud of it (which is not true of many politicians nowadays). He is spending his summer advocating the move to Proportional Representation - which despite his claims otherwise is quite ironic. Now that the Labour party are looking like losing next time out some prominent figures in the party are seeking a change to PR, coincidence?
An interesting anecdote that came up during the 77 year olds speech underlines the current state of politics in my humble opinion. He told a story where Tony Blair once said to him “the people out there don’t want ideology… they want to be managed”.
So how do you save a sinking ship? By working together as a community as opposed to singularly as individuals according to Roy Hattersley. Expect to hear more from him in the coming months, he plans to spend his time explaining the evils or the free market (and why they’re to blame for the proverbial hitting the fan), the merits of PR, and why socialism isn’t dead all summer long…
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