I thought it timely to remind readers of the Big Picture that has been taking shape since 2010. Remember the struggle to understand that Big Picture was the inspiration for the writing of 'The Road to Corbyn'. I needed to get my own head around what was happening and why.
Back in 2010, the Conservatives with their neo-liberal, nasty agenda came to power in a coalition with the Lib-Dems. Shame on Clegg and the Lib-Dems. Five years of Austerity followed - years of personal suffering for many with no good outcome for the national economy which continues to
grind its way along the bottom of the growth grid. The Conservatives won a majority in 2015 campaigning against a Labour Party which refused to condemn Austerity and that policy continued under Cameron and Osborne, bringing still more heartache.
Cameron was forced to resign as leader and PM when his arrogant calling of a Referendum on European membership misfired in 2016 and a majority voted to leave the European community. I am sure that the alienating and divisive effects of Austerity played a crucial part in that Referendum result. When times are hard, scapegoating and xenophobia are more apparent. Brexit happened in the UK - Trump happened in the States - because swathes of people felt pissed off with government and were looking for people to blame for their own lives going pear-shaped. I think they hit the wrong targets on both sides of the Atlantic.
|The Brexit/Trump Connection|
Then the new Prime-Minister, Theresa May, decided to stick the knife into the traditional enemy, the Labour Party, now led by a socialist, Jeremy Corbyn. She called another election in 2017 because she had a 20% plus lead in the polls and saw a chance to humiliate, if not destroy, the Labour movement. Oh my goodness! What a miscalculation. She lost her majority and had to buy the support of a fringe nationalist group of Northern Irish politicians to remain in power. Her own MPs dared not cast her aside for fear of another election and losing power to the Labour Party. That Party is still led by Jeremy Corbyn and has a lead in the polls of some six percentage points despite the hostility of much of the media and the antagonism of significant sections of the Parliamentary Labour Party - his own MPs - towards their socialist leader.
Jeremy Corbyn memorably called the deliberate imposition of Austerity a political choice, never an economic necessity. It was and is a cruel and callous act - like so much associated with Tory misgovernment. Think 'Windrush' and the institutional racism of the Home Office and its ministers, nationally - and think 'Grenfell' and its nightmares, locally in Kensington and Chelsea. These are matters that have arisen since I wrote my book but they both in an awful way fit the narrative and explanation in my reworking of Bunyan's 'The Pilgrim's Progress' for a secular 21st century. My Pilgrim sets out to understand why there is so much suffering in his contemporary world and soon discovers - just as his 17th century predecessor did - that Mammon is at the core of all that is going wrong. For my Pilgrim, Mammon presides over unregulated capitalism - the market economy so prized by neoliberal Tories.
This is the free-enterprise world for bonanza private profits where a tower block can be refurbished on the cheap and turned into an inferno in minutes because regulations are just so much red-tape getting in the way of the money-making that will bring prosperity to all - in the end. Bull-shit.
This is the free-enterprise world where there are lower-orders who are needed at specific times for particular economic reasons but are always expendable when other priorities dictate. The Tory neoliberals needed to be seen to be tough on immigration controls - and there was no hardship in taking that path. It was popular enough to ensure votes in any election. Press barons would applaud. Now we have the apologies to those affected by the Windrush scandal - but just remember all those years of determined rhetoric and effort to get the immigration figures down to the tens of thousands. Led by the Home Secretary of the time. Our present Prime Minister. Institutional racism - let's name it as the Macpherson Report did with the Metropolitan Police after Stephen Lawrence's racist murder.
I end on this image of hope and inspiration, an image of a young man murdered in 1993 in Eltham where my mum used to take me shopping in the 1950s. A British citizen who aspired to become an architect. I listened to two young guys who shared his colour talking last night on Channel 4 News about what they take from this image of Stephen Lawrence. Motivation. The desire to be the best they can be. In the knowledge that his murder did change things a little. Enough for them to take on the challenges and overcome the racism that is still there.