Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The 'Loyal Left'?

My grandmother worked on a factory floor
Sewing leather for minimum wage...
My daddy grew up, on the wrong side of poor
Rubbin' nickels together for heat.
Well, he and his sister had barely got by
With the clothes and the shoes on their feet.

Red, white and blue
Those colours mean something
Those colours stay true.
Like my family before me,
I'll feel it too.
The blood that's in my veins,
Runs red, white and blue.

That song by Aaron Lewis is of course from an American perspective. Here in the UK there's been a lot of talk about the former 'Red Wall' in the northern half of England – working class post-industrial cities and communities that have been unassailably Labour Party strongholds for generations. Until very recently. Over the past generation the Labour Party's power centre shifted southwards geographically, and upward socially to the white collar professional classes, largely abandoning values and interests of the blue collar working classes, and branding them as 'gammon' and other epithets. Recent research says that of all of the Labour MPs today, just 7 of them had a working-class job before they entered politics.

In Northern Ireland, and especially the madder corners of Twitter (which provides fascinating insights into the deficient, deranged, radicalised worldviews of the new 'connected' generation) you will see utter nonsense like 'Unionists can't be socialists". Where do you start with that?  

There is within the UK what might be called a 'Loyal Left' – people who are working class and who also strongly identify with their community and nation, whatever that nationality means for them (and also the distinctives of internationalism, rather than homogenised globalism). This is the case in every democracy in the world. How could it be otherwise? As GK Chesterton once wisely wrote –

A poor man has much more interest in good government than a rich man. A poor man must stay and be misgoverned; a rich man has a yacht.

To get back to the theme of the song above, my mother worked in the Berkshire textile factory in Newtownards until I came along; I eventually went to the grammar school in the town. Other kids in my year had parents who were teachers in the school - my mother's cousin Patsy was one of the dinner ladies. I was reasonably bright, but I often felt pretty inferior and inadequate in school – but I also made lots of good friends there, of all classes and viewpoints, some of whom I have recently reconnected with. The only way to treat people is as individuals, and take them as you find them.

I do hope that the craziness of Twitter is, as some have suggested, organised and choreographed from 'bot farms' – because if it is in fact authentic and spontaneous, and revealing of widely-held attitudes, then society is heading nowhere good. As Eric Hoffer wrote:

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without a belief in a Devil.

If your neighbour is your devil, your ideology is poison.