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No Need for New Labour

14 Jan

 

There’s a popular misconception that the political repositioning of the Labour Party was what won the 1997 election and kicked the Tories out of power for the first time since 1979. This misconception – this historical lie – is what underpins the claims of self-proclaimed ‘centrists’ within the Labour Party to be the only ones capable of winning elections.

In fact, it was the Tories that lost the 1997 election – and they would have lost against any Labour leader, no matter how red, pink, ‘Old or ‘New’ they were. For those who have forgotten, or never got told, here’s some of the relevant highlights of British politics in the years 1992-1997:

From a narrow win in 1992 onwards and for the rest of that parliament, their sheer viciousness – and economic incompetence – become inescapable.

1992 “Black Wednesday”, the forced British withdrawal from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and the stock market crash in its immediate aftermath, comprehensively destroys the reputation of the Conservative Party for economic competence. The narrow poll lead they had immediately following the election is transformed immediately. From this point onwards Labour’s poll dominance never slips.

1993 The Welsh Secretary visits a Welsh housing estate with a high proportion of single-parent families – and uses the visit to vilify the single parents who are there to meet him and who are being photographed with him.

The act that enables rail privatisation – once labelled a ‘privatisation too far’ by Margaret Thatcher – is passed. Despite it being controversial and threatening to alienate commuters in their south-east English heartland, the Tories make sure that British Rail is fully privatised before the 1997 election.

1994 Stephen Milligan’s grotesque death show some of the hypocrisy at the heart of John Major’s “Back to Basics” moral crusade. Perhaps not as graphically as Edwina Currie’s later revelation that she and the Tory leader had a four-year affair would have done. Then again,  Tim Yeo MP has already resigned after revelations about how he helped to contribute to the numbers of single parent families. Oh, and Tory MP Neil Hamilton and former Tory parliamentary election agent and lobbyist Ian Greer are named in what becomes known as the ‘cash-for-questions’ affair,. This runs on and on – right up until the 1997 election. It’s this episode that popularised the term ‘sleaze’. For the next three years that word is everywhere.

1994-1997 Rail privatisation. Have I mentioned that this was a policy calculated to lose votes in Tory heartland areas?

1995 John Major resigns as Tory leader, without resigning as Prime Minister, in order to have a leadership election within his party. His eventual opponent, incidentally, is the same man who visited Wales two years earlier to slag off single parents.

Earlier in 1995 the dramatic collapse of Barings Bank at the hands of a single ‘rogue trader’ demonstrates beyond doubt that banks are not being regulated properly. Sound familiar?

A month before that The State We’re In jumps staight into the bestseller lists. Subtleties aside, the key message of the book is that the Tories’ economic model is plain wrong and Britain needs its political institutions radically democratised. Almost anyone with a smidgeon of education is forced to read it – or argue with somebody who has – over the two years running up to the next election. Remember, if you can, that at this point in history the internet is so primitive that it does not influence political opinion.

Also during this year two Tory MPs leave to join other parties, and the Tories lose control of their last councils in Scotland and Wales.

1996 The publication of the Scott Report shows complicity between Tory ministers and companies illegally exporting arms to Iraq – and demonstrates that the Tories were willing to let others go to jail for their misbehaviour.  Just as some other Tories had been in 1995, when they sought to silence vital defence evidence in the very similar ‘Supergun affair’.

The Scott report ran to over a million words. Opposition politicians scrutinising it were given less than two hours to read it. Nevertheless one Labour politician, a habitual left-wing rebel called Robin Cook, managed to read, remember and use enough of it to utterly crucify the government in the debate that followed. Here’s his killer conclusion, direct from Hansard:

Tonight Parliament has the opportunity to insist that Ministers must accept responsibility for their conduct in office and to assert that the health of our democracy depends on the honesty of Government to Parliament. That is what we shall vote for tonight. Of course Conservative Members have enough votes to defeat us. If they vote to reject those principles, however, they will demonstrate not only that the two Ministers who have been most criticised in the Scott report should leave office, they will convince the public that this is an arrogant Government who have been in power too long to remember that they are accountable to the people, and that the time has come when the people must turn them all out of office.

The Tory leader instructs his MPs to treat the debate as a motion of confidence in the government. They obey. The Tories win the vote by one MP – exactly the size of their majority in Westminster.

There is less than a year to go before the 1997 election.

Now tell me New Labour was necessary.

 

 

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Leadership, Logic and Labour

10 Jul

Jeremy Corbyn has regularly been accused of lacking leadership qualities.

It’s an odd – and stupidly illogical – thing to say about a man who has refused to stand down in the face of a concerted, treacherous and overwhelming attempt by his own MPs to unseat him.

In fact, he has led a popular movement that has massively boosted his party’s membership in response to the threats against him.  He has led by repeatedly condemning those on his own side who would like to reduce his campaign to personal abuse of his opponents. And he has led, most of all, by taking the opportunity the challenge has presented to restate his principles in clear and stark terms.

Like at the Durham Miners’ Gala, when he recounted being asked how he was coping with the pressure on him.  His answer, delivered with an actor’s relaxed pause, a slow build, and the immaculate timing of a angry comedian, cuts like a sword through the illusions of the political and media classes:

Real pressure, real pressure, is when you don’t have money to feed your kids.

But when the challengers and the mainstream media talk about ‘leadership’, what they are really claiming is that he doesn’t play ‘tactics’.  They are wrong there too, as I’ll show in my next post.

 

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no. 9

14 May

I’ve been putting out a lot of suggestions for action in the face of an austerity majority at Westminster.  But this is the first one that I’m advertising as happening on a date and in a place.  See the poster / flyer below.

If you’re in the Aberystwyth area and you want to help make a change, please come along.  If you’re not, please tell any of your friends who are.  Unless they’re Tories, obviously…

This also applies to people at the University.  In Aberystwyth we have hundreds of people who make a living out of academic ‘radicalism’.  But only a vanishingly small proportion ever contribute to community campaigns or political action outside the lecture theatre.

Finally, if you simply want to tell us that we should be joining (or working with) already-existing campaigns or institutions, come along to the meeting and tell us yourself.  More information is always welcome.

Leaflet-Cambrian-1845-21-6-2015

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.6

10 May

Even if you’re not a member of a political party, even if you’re an anarchist, there’s a number of things worth considering for action that can come from the nature of your representatives.  I don’t mean this in terms of some abstract, purely theoretical nature, nor am I necessarily demanding serious research. I’ll use where I live as an example of what I mean.  My constituency MP is one of the tiny band of LibDem MPs left.  His name’s Mark Williams.  I remember virtually nothing about him, except he wasn’t altogether comfortable with the bedroom tax. Boom! That’s a conversation worth having.  What action / perspective is he now going to take on the bedroom tax in opposition?  If he chooses to champion abandonment, will the LibDem parliamentary campaign threaten to derail popular oppositional movements?  Particularly, how will that play out in Ceredigion? I’d suggest, on the basis of the tiny amount I know without undue stretching, that left, national and bedroom tax activists working together could create a fever around the issue in Ceredigion if they organised hard to present their case publicly in the next few days.  And Mark Williams and the LibDems in Ceredigion would be following behind, if it was done fast. This is something I would love to see happen.  If you’ve contacts and links you think would be useful in fleshing out that idea, let me know. Whoever and whatever your local representatives at whatever level are, how can you use their present and past allegiances, habits etc, in order to manoeuvre them into being a thorn in the governments’ flesh.  Not only in parliamentary terms, but in terms of being drawn to sympathise – even if only over a single issue – a popular and self-confident network of oppositional groups. In the North there seems a real need for questioning over whether particular Labour MPs should now be content with an also-ran economic and political status for that area, even within England.

If you live there, please, check out things like the Campaign for the North and the Free North Campaign – and get involved. Are there also single issue things that clearly intersect with the need for a higher status for the region? Suggest a common cause to the relevant organisations in those areas.  Be pushy and let them know this is going to be a vibrant and positive thing – a deepening of democracy.

Do you want a regional parliament?  If you do, start doing the in-depth research and publishing your results.

If you’re an architect or critic or historian, then ask what the right location would be.  Write about your proposed location(s), in whatever form you like.  Publish as fast as possible.

Incidentally, are you a teacher or lecturer planning a politics, geography or sociology lesson?  Consider a class discussion on the right site / design(s) for a Parliament of the North.  Get your students talking about the transport links through the area, the networks of power, the questions of identity, urban planning and its role in everyday life.  Explain to them that in Scotland, the referendum vote was for those aged 16 and over. Even twelve year-olds now may be eligible to vote come the next election, if this aspect of Scottish politics comes into play again within the next five years.

On which note – somebody, somewhere, preferably a teenager who is sick of working without the protection of the minimum wage – needs to kick off campaigns on voting and wages for that age group.  If you are that person, history is probably on your side right now. More tomorrow.  Good night.

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.5 Political and Community Action 1

10 May

I’ll be returning, repeatedly, to ideas of media strategy.  And seeking to establish routes for resistance to austeriarchy will, I think, tend to force even more returns to the media issue than even I would like.

But let’s look elsewhere for a moment.  Outside Scotland there is no effective parliamentary route for the left to achieve anything.  The ground can shift now.  Two opening suggestions:

1.  Looking for targets and times for effective community and protest action that have good transport links, or organisation, within the region where radicalisation is desired.

Of course, transport links are not simply a given – you can do something about them.  Do you drive?  Especially, have you a minibus license?  If so, there’s something you can do…  Now it’s just a matter of finding someone you can do it for, or with.

2.  Moving informed political and philosophical discussion out of the universities and into pubs, workplaces, squats, temporary autonomous areas, and homes.  The Scots made a discursive society a reality, and have thus been able to upend expectations in two years’ flat.  Philosophy in Pubs is, as I understand it, the organisation most committed to making a thoughtful society.  Have a look at what they do.  If you like it, consider putting on political and philosophical discussions where you are

On that note about transport…  Bad and often worsening public transport offers the possibility of peoples’ organisations, under democratic community control, to create alternatives.  Some could be centred on transport, obviously.  More important, however, is getting events underway in local areas that are clearly, urgently and politically related to the election result and making a positive response.

3.  If you’re on the left in the Labour Party, and you’re sick of the New Labour regime that shouts upon every defeat that Labour must bend over further for business interests, then start researching law and scheming hard.  Would you be capable of organising a left-wing constitutional coup in your party organisation, whether at branch or constituency level?  If so, although it’ll be hard work, the time to look for like minded-people within that party is right now.  If not, consider whether you would be able to draw upon your time in the Labour Party to bring others like out of the party and into a new, membership-list supplied, organisation.

Similarly, pushing your branch into wider community links could best happen right now, whilst people are at a low ebb.  If you’re great at introducing people over beers and you know everyone in your area, then do some bringing people together.

4.  if you’re on the left of the Lib Dems.

There really is no hope for you, is there?

Unless… you go now.  Your coalition delivered the rUK to the Tories and Scotland to the SNP, whilst a catalogue of desperate and ugly deaths attests to what you have done, wittingly or unwittingly.  The only hope there is, is to immerse yourself in the new opposition – I don’t mean parliamentary opposition – with the zeal of a convert.  Otherwise posterity will not forgive you.

Incidentally, haven’t you noticed that the party you’re still in got half its name from a party that cemented Thatcher’s dominance at a key moment in history?  For God’s sake, Go.

Drive, put up posters, organise meetings, stand outside the jobcentres and give out free tea and coffee and listen to how people feel when their benefits get cut.  Argue your (very liberal) rights as the police move you on, and then consider how far we are from a democracy.

It’s the only way to begin to atone.

More soon.  I hope some of the ideas create a spark.  Let me know…

A Series of Strategic Responses to the Tory Majority, no.2. Destroying the Mainstream Media, pt. 1.

9 May

The pro-independence groups, parties and organisations in Scotland used a massive social media, community organisation effort, and clever set of parliamentary and legal strategies to achieve the near clean-sweep in Scotland.

The social media effort was central, and intimately related to community organisation on the ground.  We’ll come back to that.

But, partly as a result of the success of those strategies, a new factor entered in the form of The National.  Even without a vast readership, it provided a mechanism whereby pro-independence activists had a solid reference point for arguments – even arguments with people who never use online media and still don’t trust it.  Consequently, the power of the social media sphere entered into the new newspaper sphere.  (On that point, anybody not yet reading Wee Ginger Dug is living on a strange planet. Now a National contributor himself, his cataclysmic blog blast at Magrit Curran’s comment in the Record deserves a prize place amongst the great political polemics).

There is no newspaper equivalent for the National elsewhere.  To my mind, this was decisive in allowing the mainstream to continue with an agenda shaped by the right, and even the far right.

Proposal One:  A National for Wales.

There’s a lot of possible actions that could be taken right now with regard to generating a National-style publication in Wales. Given that we’re all different, I’m going to break these down and try to make them into things an individual could do today, while they’re still angry and anxious enough to want to seize the day.

1.  Getting money.  For a national newspaper, that’ll be a whole lot of money.  But if you know people who’ve got money to invest in what they believe in, talk to them.  Now – while they’re still gutted at five more years of wrecking-ball economics.

2.  They’ll want to know about…

Specifics.

Let’s look at some of those, and some immediate possibilities for action that spring from them.

Do you know a newsagent?  Talk to them about a national newspaper.

Got an independent bookshop?  Host a symposium on the possibilities for a national newspaper.

Are you, or your company or organisation, able to get the papers out on the day?  If so, hassle somebody who could make them happen to giving you something to deliver…

Are you a printer, or designer, or journalist?  If so, now is the moment to step up and create a genuinely independent and popular Welsh media.  Put your hands up and say what you can do.  Even better, if you’re ready, what you’re going to do.

Have you got experience making social media work for you?  Step up.

Do you have access to a conference facility?  Use it.  Book the rooms today.  And then start inviting speakers.

Are you an academic in the area of media?  Write about this idea and its implications.  Do you want to pick holes in the economics of a national newspaper in other places?  Do it – that’d be the best publicity possible.

Are you a Scottish independence campaigner who wants to make something fantastic happen?

  • Get in touch with people elsewhere, and offer the help you’re genuinely able to give.  Be pushy
  • Contact people you know who would be amongst potential backers.  If, in the next few days, a major Scots figure announced a financial partnership in the creation of an independent newspaper for Wales, it would create a major – but highly creative – controversy and a whole new area of public debate.  Even more controversially, I’m sure there are Scots who would see the humour and potential of a ‘working-class London’, or a ‘national’ called The North
  • Create the social media conditions via Scottish social networks and pages.  For example, a single post on a big fb page asking Scots to put the case for a new Welsh media directly to their friends in Wales, and asking for volunteers in the cooperative creation of those papers.  Look for enthusiastic Welsh administrators as fast as possible.

Are you Leanne Wood?  Leanne, you know well that outside Scotland, it was the mainstream media that won this election. Whatever help you give, but especially a public pledge to attend the launch party, would be welcome.

Are you still a Labour supporter?  If you’re on the left of the party – and I’m really not interested in talking to the rest of the party here – now is the time to look at a genuine national newspaper for Wales.  Given the strength and longstanding resonance of socialism in Wales.  You may have a problem with a pro-independence stance, but for the next five years, your only effective avenues of action are outside Westminster.

Are you a trade unionist?  Suggest that your branch earmark a contribution to setting up a National Newspaper with a dedicated section for union news.

Are you an anarchist?  Make your mind up and do something about it.

Are you an artist?  Make an image, or a meme, putting the case for a ‘national’ newspaper.  And then promote it shamelessly in a way you’d usually find embarrassing.

Please do some of these things, and pass on any further suggestions that might spark a response.  The next few days are likely to be vital in creating a change in those places, unlike Scotland, where misery was the rule in the election results.

What Gerry did next.

3 Jan

I got angry with Gerry Hassan whilst writing my last post.

This makes me unhappy.  Despite the fact that I think true serenity and calm are for people who have failed to realise how bad things are.  Or who profit from misery, poverty, environmental degradation or the employment practices of CityLink.

It makes me unhappy is because it temporarily blinded me to a few things. But it’s not too late.  For those who care about philosophical integrity and acknowledging your sources, the first of these is important. Those who only care about Scottish independence can skip to the second heading.  If you’re think the two are inseparable, or if you’re still enjoying yourself in a deeper way than you could looking at ladbible videos on facebook, carry on to point three.

Please note, a lot of this is all a tad more academic than my usual fare.  I’ll get right back to the righteous anger next time.  Promise.

Acknowledging your sources

I read Hassan’s article because of a link provided by Mike Small at Bella Caledonia.  And when I’d read Hassan’s article and website, I decided – in contrast to Mike’s more subtly structured piece – to do a point-by-point demolition of Hassan’s article.  I wasn’t reading Mike’s work – and I only actually went online whilst writing in order to double-check my facts and links  But you’re not to know that. So, if you wish to give credit for any of the ideas that are duplicated between the two critiques, give them to Mike. He got there first.  Or, in other words:

Thanks Mike.

That said, there’s a few other differences.  I’ll point out two.  Mike didn’t explicitly note Hassan’s silly attachment to the essential complexity of things, or the central place of a similar idea of complexity in the marketised brainlessness of ‘New Labour’.  And I didn’t note that Hassan’s writing had a:

   … fervent urgency that’s mirrored only by a distinct vagueness.

Fair play, that’s a well-constructed sentence.

And an important idea that deserves to be spread further. Indeed, it bears repeating, expanding, discussing and investigating.

Yes, investigating.  Let me put my understanding of it as a two-part (and deliberately leading) question “Yes” inclined academics might like to set their students in the run-up to the general election:

How do critiques of “Yes” combine narratives of urgency and radicalism with static and conservative motives? Discuss with reference to any detailed plans for social change which can be found in, or are implied by, those critiques.

It would surely be an outstanding student who successfully tracked down a detailed plan for social change in Hassan’s critique. Although he might just feel like providing it himself.  We’ll come back to that.

Talking of Details … 

Hassan had pointed out that not all ‘middle class’ people had voted ‘No’.  This helped make me angry because he was using this in order to make us admire the sophistication and variety of middle-class life – as if the ‘features’ and ‘family’ pages of every newspaper everywhere wasn’t already doing that.  The middle class was to be looked at in terms of its differing ‘sectors and cultures’.

In the next paragraph he analysed the working-class vote not by ‘cultures’, but by letters and numbers. By the very same letters and numbers the British state uses to classify us.  The middle class, it appears, have culture, whilst we do not.  I said that.  I also said this imbalance probably wasn’t an intentional error on Hassan’s part.

But.

There is a big positive factor for ‘Yes’ that he managed to wriggle out of talking about.  And my anger stopped me noticing it in my last post.

The middle class sector that he suggests had a ‘Yes’ majority was that of public sector professionals. This group includes most academics.  That is, most ‘intellectuals’. The working class sector he thinks had a ‘Yes’ majority was that of skilled workers.

Revolutionaries for a long time – maybe even always – have sought to unite intellectuals and skilled workers behind their revolution.  It doesn’t guarantee success, but it is an important necessary precondition of success.  If you really want a reference for this, then pick a book from one of the hundreds here.

In Scotland, if we’re to take Gerry’s idea of analysing classes on a sector by sector basis seriously, the independence movement has achieved this.

Well done “Yes”.

What Gerry Did Next

Amusingly, that point gives any lost “Yes” supporters – and radicals like Gerry who claim to be above such ‘shallow binaries’ as ‘yes or no’ – some clear signposts as to where to go next.  Once this fusion of radical intellectuals and skilled working-class exists, with the openness to debate that Gerry so welcomes, then the movement is in the position of being able to create independent and liberating institutions to compete for radical dominance against the institutions of the established order.  In ways that would make ‘independence’, in mere parliamentary terms, irrelevant.

And I’m not just talking about theoretical dominance.

Lets assume that Gerry Hassan is sincere about wanting to aid the new Scottish radicalism that could be so much ‘more’ than independence.  Here’s two simple steps he could take.  Starting today.

i.  Publicly disassociating himself from the Demos think-tank, and any other links that he still has with the intellectual (and pseudo-intellectual) foundations of New Labour.  After all, it’s a bit rich for someone to claim greater radicalism and openness than the most devoted Radical Independence activist – whilst still happily hobnobbing with the architects of New Labour.  This could also mean getting off the editorial board of the pathetically New Labour Renewal: a journal of social democracy.  

After all, he’s lucky enough to live in a country where “socialism” is not a dirty word.

And it’s not like he’s a new and unknown political thinker who needs to build a publication record in order to get or keep a job.  But there are plenty of those in Scotland.

He could, if he really wants to encourage open dialogue and political engagement, also publicly condemn Demos’ cynical – and symptomatic – failure to maintain responsibility the website set up for the Glasgow 2020 exercise in public imagination that he took a leading role in.  What’s there now is an insult to Glasgow’s history (it doesn’t mention shipbuilding), politics (it doesn’t mention shipbuilding, or unions, or political parties, or class, or religion – bar a cathedral tour), or the referendum, or the working-class), and memory…

important deviation in mid sentence: (although the link on the site refers to events in 2013, there is an ‘upcoming event’ listed that really should be updated with some urgency and sensitivity, or simply replaced).

…and webdesigners.  You could be forgiven for thinking that it was all just about an academic trying to get ahead.  But Hassan is in a position to show that isn’t true.  By…

ii.  Putting his money where his mouth is.  Literally.  His money.

Hassan’s Part two of ‘message to the messengers’  puts forward the case, citing Gandhi, that the Scottish left needs to ‘be the change’ it wants to see.  Or, in Hassan’s words “developing a practice of social and political change, nurturing catalysts and agencies which make real a culture of self-government, and is, critically, not owned by any one party or perspective”.

A brief digression. Somewhat inconveniently, Gandhi’s most important function was as a leader of a movement for independence in precisely the sense that Hassan is rejecting. Despite the loincloth, sandals, salt collecting, appearance of pacifism – and the reflex worship given him by western lefties ever since, simple independence was the aim.  Gandhi was enough of a realist to let the struggle of the Dalits for rights slide, and he really didn’t give a toss about the economic struggles of the Lancashire labourers and unemployed when he toured there in the hungry thirties.  Internationalism goes a long way – but Gandhi seemed to indicate that if you let it trump national independence, you’ll lose both.

Another brief digression.  Sooner or later, I’ll get round to replying to the dozen-point part two of ‘message to the messengers’.  Point by point, because I have no imagination.  What is it about the number twelve that Hassan finds so appealing?  For now, let me just say that Labour leaders have often disappointed the people who voted for them – because the leaders have been more right-wing than the voters wanted.  Scottish voters (as opposed to political analysts who are paid by Demos to discover problems with left-wing viewpoints) may indeed have been voting for socialism when they voted Labour.  The claim that ‘Scotland has never had a socialist majority’ is an unproven one and dependent on a questionable academic perspective – which Hassan does not even trouble to give a source for.  The fact that it is the ruling academic perspective does not automatically make it correct. After all, the elite amongst Labour historians have has been constituted for the last generation of those desperately seeking complexity and subtlety and escaping what they thought were cliches. In the Welsh case, at least, I think that’s wrong. As yet, I haven’t researched the Scottish case, but I will. More details on that, and on the Welsh example, for a future post.

Back to ii. now that we don’t have to talk about Gandhi or messengers anymore Those ‘catalysts and agencies’ of self-government are indeed important.  Gerry Hassan, as a prominent academic and political expert, is in the position to do more than put together books and blog articles aimed at influencing the independence movement – or at disturbing it and creating a pervasive insecurity at a moment of decisive intellectual optimism and numerical increase.

Obviously, I’m not in a position to judge Hassan’s personal wealth, or his credit rating, or the wealth he could mobilise by seeking out investors from his vast contact list.

But I’d make a safe bet that (maybe with a remortgage) he could spot a gap for a collectively owned social enterprise in a deprived area, cover start-up costs, and employ half a dozen currently unemployed people for the first year at the kind of salaries not usually seen round there.  That would be a real redistribution of wealth of exactly the kind that he urgently demands.  And he’s just the man to make sure it gets the media attention it deserves.  And to find the delivery people, the fitters, roofers, the cooks, the software engineers, the webdesigners, the business contacts, the political contacts, the funding, the boatdesigners, the investors.

What would that enterprise be?  Surely, with his lifelong expertise in finding the stories and narratives, he could find some ideas.  Or, how about this?

Twelve proposals, from across Scotland, for what could be radical and wonderful thing could be done using that seed money – and influence. Honed and haggled over months by face-to-face and onine committees in every participating area, with the completed proposals forming the basis of Gerry’s next edited volume.  It wouldn’t be so bad leaving Demos behind if he got to roll out the foreword to it …

Twelve dreams of freedom and radical futures made electronic, or of paper and ink and spirit.  Argued bitterly – and sometimes beautifully – across all the radical media.  Gerry’s at the University of the West of Scotland, and their media students and staff and links would mean explosive coverage on social media. With competition from teenagers and pensioners arranging film screenings of their phonecamera interviews and rants and figures and graphs and poetry.  The BBC might even end up covering it (cough). It’d make a hell of a tv programme or twelve.

And it would certainly get beyond simple yes/no binaries and cliches.

Perhaps there could be a referendum to choose between them…

There’s still a few acknowledgements remaining, especially of the couple of other people who’ve written contra Hassan’s points.  Alistair Davidson is one, and deserves much more attention than I just gave him – that will happen in a post in the near future.  The importance he gives the resonance of  ’45 is definitely worthy of more detailed comment.  Apologies to those I’ve missed.  This will also be put right. Happy New Year.