It must be hard being a left winger these days; defeated by Thatcherism and almost, but not completely, abandoned by the Labour Party when it finally realised there weren’t enough socialists in the country to vote them into government. It would not have been easy for any true socialist to witness the amendment to Labour’s Clause IV during the party’s presentational shift to ‘blue Labour’. Clause IV may mention ‘socialism’ but not in the way the old version did.
Labour, however, did not let down socialists with its thirteen year spending bonanza which now, thankfully, is being significantly curbed. Socialists must be wincing at the public spending cuts, welfare reform and general disdain for left-leaning principles which put this country’s public finances in such a mess.
So there are plenty of things for socialists to protest about at the moment and the passing of Baroness Thatcher reminded them how well they were beaten some 30 years ago. How did they react to her death? Were they keen to show they’ve ‘got over it’ and can now present us with socialism for the 21st century? Or were they keen to resuscitate 30 year old arguments and grudges? We all know the answer to that one which reminded me of some advice from an old friend, “never bring up an argument you’ve lost!”
During the last couple of weeks, a significant number of people on the left let their comrades down by how they chose to react to the death of the former Prime Minister. Rather than simply state their opposition to Thatcher’s policies, many socialists gleefully expressed their pleasure that a woman who had the audacity to implement policies they disagreed with has died. It’s a childish mindset beyond belief: ‘I disagreed with her. I thought her policies were wrong and I didn’t like their impact, therefore, I’m glad she’s dead’. Many on the left have plunged to a new low in a desperate attempt to get some false sense of ‘revenge’ over the Conservative standard bearer who democratically and successfully led the charge against them.
In Barnet, we’ve become accustomed to the juvenile left, a faction of socialists and anti-council activists who resort to name calling, personal attacks (as opposed to just attacking policy), trivial pursuits and scaremongering. Not all on the left act like this of course but a significant number do. Small groups have tried to halt meetings of democratically elected councillors by uncouthly shouting and screaming. Apparently, not doing what a small group of screamers and shouters want is undemocratic! They completely miss the fact that the councillors they scream at have been elected by thousands of residents who clearly wanted a Conservative administration and expect it to do what Conservatives do; run efficient services and keep council tax under control. Protest is one thing, but interfering with the right of elected members to conduct official business by screaming at them is quite another.
Irrationality, uncouth tactics and comments, name calling, personalisation of arguments, speculation giving over to ‘stirring’ – these are the tools of many on the left borne out of desperation, defeat and the knowledge their policies don’t really strike a chord with the majority of people in this country and this borough. In British politics, this sort of behaviour comes with the territory and is water off a duck’s back for those of us used to it. The only other place it’s expected is the playground. What the practitioners of juvenile politics don’t appreciate, though, is that their methods backfire: any ordinary resident witnessing such childishness will run a mile from them and their ‘ideals’ – and that applies to those on the right as well as the left.