Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

I think I am probably apolitical. I don’t have allegiance to any political party. At heart I think I am probably a communist. Not the traditional Marxist, Russian or Chinese communist, more a philosophical communist in that I believe the distribution of wealth is grossly unfair.
Third World House
At one end of the scale people in the third World are living in houses made from plastic bags and scraps of wood, at the other end the wealthy are being offered apartments in London’s Shard at a cost of
London Flat
between thirty and fifty million pounds. Even in this country footballers can be paid £300,000 a week whilst the people who pay to watch them may be existing a weekly wage of £500 or less.

The ‘Airy Fairy’ form of communism may be my what my heart feels but I know that it doesn’t work. The leaders of all the communist parties seem to quickly get their snouts in the trough and acquire wealth and power at the expense of their followers.

My guess is that most political leanings don’t come from careful, rational study of the various alternatives but as the result of one of two things. One is “What’s in it for me?” If you are wealthy or in business, you are likely to be a Conservative as you feel they are more likely to protect your interests. Or, if you are what is described as a working
man, whatever that may mean, you are likely to be a socialist in the hope that they will improve your lot. (Would you include a premier league footballer as working class? He gets a wage and he works!)

The second and probably the strongest reason for following one party rather than another is ‘Nurture’. In other words, at it’s most simple, what your Dad believed in. Or it could be someone who had a strong influence on your life when you were young and impressionable. That is probably where the Philbys and the like found their beliefs - from university lecturers in what may have been a form of radicalisation. It isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Just think about it, so many attitudes and beliefs come from our background. I always think of Mitt Romney, American presidential candidate who is a Mormon. Is his religious belief a result of careful study of the worlds religions or is it simply down to the fact that one of his ancestors was baptised into the Latter Day Saints in the 1840s here in England?

In my case, if I followed my Dad, I would be a Tory. Those early days are so ingrained that those thoughts and
attitudes still colour my beliefs but I have become cynical. My Dad was a true working man and apart from being in the First World War from the age of seventeen, he spent most of his working life in a cotton mill. He wasn’t a trade unionist, he was in fact a ‘Scab’. He worked in Clitheroe at the start of the depression and was out of work. After trying to support his wife and three kids doing all manner of menial tasks, he eventually walked over to Barrowford, got a room in the scruffiest part of the village and got a job in a non-union mill. After several months he scraped enough together to bring his family over to join him.

That wasn’t what made him a Tory. The only thing I remember about his rationale was him saying that he thought the country should be run by men used to running businesses rather than by labourers. In fairness to him, you have to put that into historical context. I get the feeling that in those days many politicians were in politics because of their beliefs. Would it be uncharitable to think that these days politicians are in politics because of the money? There are exceptions, men and women who speak from the heart and even if misguided, wouldn’t change their firmly self beliefs just to retain or gain power.

Recent elections have been very close, in 2017 Conservatives had 45.6 % of the votes with Labour having 41.9%. (The remaining 12.5% was shared by 14 other parties or candidates) To me, the reasons for this are absolutely nothing to do with the policies of the two main parties. There are many university and college courses on the subject of political campaigning. These courses probably originated in the USA.

For example, The University of Florida’s Graduate Program in Political Campaigning is a two-year program of study leading to a Master of Arts degree in political science, with a certificate attesting to the specialisation in campaigning. Bear with me. If these courses have been running for the last, say, ten years, some of those students will have gone to various political parties whilst many other will have taken up tutoring and be teaching roughly the same courses at a wide range of institutions. It therefore seems very likely that the various campaign gurus will all have been taught the same techniques and will be ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ which must mean that ALL the campaigns are very similar. We, the electorate, are being persuaded to cast our vote for one party or another by ‘persuaders’ who all went to the same school !

Again, cynicism raises its ugly head. Sit in at any meeting of party leaders trying to decide how to win the election. I wonder how much traditional party policies come into it? I have a feeling the questions are more likely to be “What policy is most likely to get us into power?”

When I was young at least the two main parties were markedly different, now it is difficult to see a clear distinction
coal board poster
between the two. In days gone by, socialists aimed to nationalise many major sections of the community - farming and insurance to name but two. When the Conservatives, controversially, sold off the railways the Socialists promised to reverse the procedure when they came to power it never happened and I doubt if you would find much support in labour circles to re-nationalise gas, electricity or railways.

The media attempts to generate interest in the election by bombarding us with non stop news about forthcoming elections. Am I alone in being bored out of my skull with it all? The various parties all seem to be promising to cut expenditure without cutting jobs or wages; they all seem to promise smaller taxes; they all promise more money for the NHS, for schools - in fact for everyone. The arguments don’t seem to be different and only vary in amounts or percentages.

However, if I don’t vote how on earth are we going to change things? I come to the conclusion that we can’t - the change will just happen. I know I shall be criticised for not using my vote but withholding it is me making a very small silent protest at what I see as a total breakdown of democracy. Try as you may, you can’t really blame any past government for the recent recession, it just happened and apparently all over the world. Every politician and political commentator claim to know what will happen if we do this or that. In my view nobody has a clue - ‘Stuff’ just happens !

As far as I can see if you ask a ‘Political expert’ what will happen with Brexit you would get an answer to match one or other of these images.


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