Or is it an epiphany?
I retired at the end of June this year and so far I’m enjoying it. For the first few months it all felt like a very long holiday and then I started to feel like I was wasting a lot of time. I’d been doing art but that didn’t feel like enough. One needs an active and interesting life to be able to draw inspiration for creating. The older I get the more aware I am of my days being numbered, of time running out. I had just started to look around for something to do when the election was called. Whilst I thought it was a pretty stupid time to call an election I was keen to do my bit. It was quite pleasurable going, what felt like, back to work. Despite it often being monotonous in its process the conversations were interesting and mostly good humoured, and I enjoyed the taking part as part of a team again. Obviously I was gutted by the result but the key now is to go forward.
I don’t really celebrate Christmas, so no obscenely oversized meal for me, just an ordinary sized light snack for me at lunchtime. It was accompanied by a little light reading; I happened upon an article on the openDemocracy website entitled Labour should focus on building a new co-operative economy from the ground up. A very interesting read. It seemed to be saying things that chimed with me. Ideas that equated to the way I had been thinking for quite some time. It’s always pleasing when you come across people that think the same as you, especially when it’s around ideas that perhaps deviate from the orthordox.
One disadvantage that the left has in politics is that the right wing have all the infrastructure, the mainstream media outlets and money. We can be well organised and have a large membership, but if we can’t get our message across we can’t make progress. We also need to challenge many of our traditional ways of thinking. Given that it’s going to be five years before the next general election we have to perhaps consider that there are other ways of radically changing this country. Centralised control and planning might not be the way forward. We need to think this unthinkable thought. Perhaps the way forward is to develop an alternative economy. This Tory government doesn’t give a shit about the working classes. Do we just drop to our knees and let them do their worst or do we fight back? If they won’t help the working classes then we should just blinking well help ourselves. The Labour movement needs to reorganise, modernise and rebuild its network and reach out to people. We need to restore trust in our movement, we need to help people to improve their lives; co-operation is the key.
An alternative economy, a new commonwealth, will enable us to take back control, build in sustainability, reinvest in local economies, establish co-operatives to tender for local and national government contracts, starve traditional capitalist businesses of custom and generally shift the balance of power. Also if we shift the power base away from London and develop a network of co-operative economic cells it will make it much more difficult for the right to divide us. Economic and political devolution needs to be strived for. Public ownership doesn't necessarily mean government ownership.
We also need to help educate people. Take over the running of schools. Set up colleges. A highly educated working class would be a powerful force. Now when I say educated I don’t mean trained as in the current tick box regime, I mean educated with the power of critical thinking and able to apply logic. As a movement we definitely need to take the moral high ground. We also need to present a more positive approach; less of a protest group more of can do organisation for change. We all need to moderate our language. It's okay to be angry but it's not acceptable to be aggressive, to wish people ill etc. That's fascism. We need to be smart. We need to prove we are better than the right. Robustly arguing our beliefs but politely. Aggression prevents equality. Aggression is oppression.
For me starting to work on some of these initiatives is far more important than who our next party leader is. Not that it’s not important. The real power of the party is in its members and that’s how it needs to stay. Yes it’s important to win back power on a national level, because that way we can put so many beneficial changes into place, but in the meantime there is much we can do to show the world that we are a credible political movement and that we practice what we preach. We need to take back control from the elite and enable a transition of power to the people in a way that no government can take it away again.
These arguments need to be refined but for me they form the basis of something I can work on and discuss with other people.I for one have found my occupation, my cause célèbre, and something I can dedicate time to in a bid to try and help others.