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Martyn Sadler

Michael Foot Centenary

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Well Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, Jim Callaghan, Thatcher and Major didn't have privileged backgrounds. They were all lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of a excellent selective state education. 

 

The problem with privilege is that it detaches you from a cultural mainstream and you tend to lack empathy with the views of "ordinary" and "normal" people. However that doesn't mean people with privilege should be bared from political life. Attlee and Macmillan were both from wealthy backgrounds but both were very in tune with values of British society at the time. 

 

Anyway the "loony left" and the militant trade unions didn't care about the average person in the street. There driving motivations were their conceited intellectual arrogance and their entrenched economic privileges and status. The radical left within the Labour Party were as much to blame for the excesses of Thatcherism as Thatcher and her clique. 

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Well Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, Jim Callaghan, Thatcher and Major didn't have privileged backgrounds. They were all lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of a excellent selective state education. 

 

The problem with privilege is that it detaches you from a cultural mainstream and you tend to lack empathy with the views of "ordinary" and "normal" people. However that doesn't mean people with privilege should be bared from political life. Attlee and Macmillan were both from wealthy backgrounds but both were very in tune with values of British society at the time. 

 

Anyway the "loony left" and the militant trade unions didn't care about the average person in the street. There driving motivations were their conceited intellectual arrogance and their entrenched economic privileges and status. The radical left within the Labour Party were as much to blame for the excesses of Thatcherism as Thatcher and her clique. 

I agree.

 

But I'd say that despite not having a privileged background, Major never really connected with the Great British public. Neither did Brown.

 

Funnily enough both Blair and Cameron, who did have posh backgrounds, are much better at this.

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I agree.

 

But I'd say that despite not having a privileged background, Major never really connected with the Great British public. Neither did Brown.

 

Funnily enough both Blair and Cameron, who did have posh backgrounds, are much better at this.

 

Cameron significantly less so than Blair - and Blair not at all now although in the run-up to 1997 he was peerless.

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Great man. Bad leader.  They elected him because Benn felt he could manipulate him.  The fault IMO was Callaghan's, had he resigned immediately after the 1979 defeat Healy would probably have been elected leader.  No "gang of four" no SDP and possibly no Thatcher second term.  Lord Thorneycroft helped to scupper Healy, when asked on Question Time who Labour should elect as leader he said Healy without hesitation. 

The next bad result for Labour was Healy winning the deputy leadership.  Had he lost I'm sure huge swathes of Labour MP's would have defected to the SDP which would effectively have become the "Labour Party in exile"  But once again fate determined that Healy won. Shirley Williams was interviewed recently and you could tell she still regrets the split.  But it's all water under the bridge.

Michael Foot thought that the ideal socialist state was the one that operated in the UK during WWII. Rationing meant that many people were better fed than they'd ever been and as a result healthier.  He hankered after a return but it was a pipe dream.

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I agree.

 

But I'd say that despite not having a privileged background, Major never really connected with the Great British public. Neither did Brown.

 

Funnily enough both Blair and Cameron, who did have posh backgrounds, are much better at this.

 

Well I am from the South and lots of people of all different political persuasions I know think Major was a decent human being who tried to do the right thing even if he didn't. In retrospect his record is pretty positive compared to the disasters that New Labour descended into by the end. 

 

Along with Callaghan, who also didn't go to university, Major was probably the most normal person ever occupy number 10. Whether or not you agree with his politics he worked his way up from the Lambeth Borough Council. It was a pretty extraordinary path to power compared to the likes of Blair, Brown and Cameron.

 

The thing with Blair and Cameron is they are good TV performers who can come across as plausible whilst having little or no grounding in the real World. A dangerous combination. Even Nick Clegg could turn it on for an hour long debate and look how that turned out. 

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Great man. Bad leader.  They elected him because Benn felt he could manipulate him.  The fault IMO was Callaghan's, had he resigned immediately after the 1979 defeat Healy would probably have been elected leader.  No "gang of four" no SDP and possibly no Thatcher second term.  Lord Thorneycroft helped to scupper Healy, when asked on Question Time who Labour should elect as leader he said Healy without hesitation. 

The next bad result for Labour was Healy winning the deputy leadership.  Had he lost I'm sure huge swathes of Labour MP's would have defected to the SDP which would effectively have become the "Labour Party in exile"  But once again fate determined that Healy won. Shirley Williams was interviewed recently and you could tell she still regrets the split.  But it's all water under the bridge.

Michael Foot thought that the ideal socialist state was the one that operated in the UK during WWII. Rationing meant that many people were better fed than they'd ever been and as a result healthier.  He hankered after a return but it was a pipe dream.

 

Astute observations. The one Labour politician that the Tories really feared was Denis Healy. In terms of the SDP the one intangible "X Factor" behind them was David Owen. Pro-American, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-EU and pro most things the radical left held as fundamentally evil. Without the ego and the drive of Owen I doubt the Gang of Four would have got off the ground. Owen might have been moderate in terms of his policies but he was very inflexible in terms of his methods. He refused to sort out the Labour Party's internal problems in house, he tried to wreck the Liberal-SDP alliance and he tried to wreck the Liberal Democrats too. He was pretty unreasonable and was probably the main driving force behind the creation of the SDP and he was probably one of the main reasons the SDP failed. Politics is the art of the possible not some ego driven power trip.

 

The internal problems of the Labour Party can be traced back to the intransigence of Aneurin Bevan in the 1940s and the splits he fermented once quit the Cabinet. He courted all sorts of rogues and nut jobs to serve his own ambitions. Hugh Gaitskell attempted to move the Labour Party in a fundamentally moderate and non-ideological direction in the 1950s but was rebuffed. A massive opportunity missed in my book.

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Well I am from the South and lots of people of all different political persuasions I know think Major was a decent human being who tried to do the right thing even if he didn't. In retrospect his record is pretty positive compared to the disasters that New Labour descended into by the end. 

 

Along with Callaghan, who also didn't go to university, Major was probably the most normal person ever occupy number 10. Whether or not you agree with his politics he worked his way up from the Lambeth Borough Council. It was a pretty extraordinary path to power compared to the likes of Blair, Brown and Cameron.

 

The thing with Blair and Cameron is they are good TV performers who can come across as plausible whilst having little or no grounding in the real World. A dangerous combination. Even Nick Clegg could turn it on for an hour long debate and look how that turned out. 

It was my point that Major should have been able to connect much better than he did. He was a Tory from Brixton and worked his way up. Yet he was always awkward (as was Brown). Perhaps because he'd never really had a job outside politics.

 

I'd say that the "decent bloke" image was rather misleading. He was very sly. He was the guy who was sleeping with a cabinet colleague whilst PM and managed to get away with it! A quite incredible "achievement".

 

Even Boris Johnson seems to be to "connect" and few people could be less removed than him from Mr Ordinary. 

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Major did win the 1992 Election with 42% of the vote. More votes than Blair managed in either 2001 or 2005. The great untold story of politics since 1997 has been the split in the centre-right vote between the Tories and the Liberals. Lots of Tory voters defected to the Liberals after 1997. Middle of the road types who were brought up never to vote Labour. In 1990 and 1991 most people thought the Tories would lose in 1992 but Major somehow pulled it off.

 

The Currie/Major bonk fest stopped before Major became a Cabinet minster as both of them were far too sensible to get caught red handed. Does having an affair make you a bad person? If so there are lots of bad people in the UK. Better a bit extra marital sex than a Prime Minister who gave a pretty good impersonation of being a war criminal!

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In 1975, while he was the Secretary of State for Employment, for example, six men were dismissed from their jobs at Ferrybridge because of the introduction of a closed shop. Not only were they dismissed, but they were denied unemployment benefit.

 

But Foot showed them absolutely no sympathy.

 

"A person who declines to fall in with new conditions of employment which result from a collective agreement may well be considered to have brought about his own dismissal," he was reported to have said.

 

In other words they could starve, and in that sense Foot's socialism was bordering on fascism.

 

 

If that was bordering on fascism what's this Martyn?

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22766635

Not an isolated incident I'm afraid - ask (among others) Ricky Tomlinson. 

This sort of thing happens all the time. Belonging to a Union protects people from it. Perhaps the freeloaders at Ferrybridge should have taken this into account.

I recall the fuss about intimidation at Grunwick. Unfortunately the right wing press reported it as the Unions doing the intimidating when in fact it was the employers initimidating their staff for "daring" to belong to a Union.  The anit Union bias in the media in this country is sickening.

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If a union gets pay rises and benefits for the workforce, then what right do non members have to claim those benefits?

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I'm just re-reading Martyn's quote.  The one that 'borders of fascism'.

 

It still holds now though, doesn't it?  If you go against the conditions of employment however arrived at then you can be said to have brought about your own unemployment.  If you are fired (as opposed to redundancy) or leave in such a way now then you have no actual guarantee of receiving benefit straight away.

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If that was bordering on fascism what's this Martyn?

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22766635

Not an isolated incident I'm afraid - ask (among others) Ricky Tomlinson. 

This sort of thing happens all the time. Belonging to a Union protects people from it. Perhaps the freeloaders at Ferrybridge should have taken this into account.

I recall the fuss about intimidation at Grunwick. Unfortunately the right wing press reported it as the Unions doing the intimidating when in fact it was the employers initimidating their staff for "daring" to belong to a Union.  The anit Union bias in the media in this country is sickening.

To prevent employment practices like this is precisely what unions should be for, and it's why unions will always be vital for groups of workers in relation to powerful employers.

 

That's why I believe that Rugby League players should have a much stronger union, for example.

 

But for unions themselves to intimidate and victimise working people is unacceptable.

 

Your comment about Grunwick is correct up to a point, but when a mob descends on a factory, and it appears to have the approval of union leaders, they can then hardly complain if they suffer a PR mauling.

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Great man. Bad leader.  They elected him because Benn felt he could manipulate him.  The fault IMO was Callaghan's, had he resigned immediately after the 1979 defeat Healy would probably have been elected leader.  No "gang of four" no SDP and possibly no Thatcher second term.  Lord Thorneycroft helped to scupper Healy, when asked on Question Time who Labour should elect as leader he said Healy without hesitation. 

The next bad result for Labour was Healy winning the deputy leadership.  Had he lost I'm sure huge swathes of Labour MP's would have defected to the SDP which would effectively have become the "Labour Party in exile"  But once again fate determined that Healy won. Shirley Williams was interviewed recently and you could tell she still regrets the split.  But it's all water under the bridge.

Michael Foot thought that the ideal socialist state was the one that operated in the UK during WWII. Rationing meant that many people were better fed than they'd ever been and as a result healthier.  He hankered after a return but it was a pipe dream.

I'm not sure you can describe Foot as a 'great man'. I'm not sure that he would want to be described as such.

 

He was a great debater, a great speechmaker and a great polemicist.

 

But in trying for and winning the Labour leadership I don't think he recognised the limit of his own capabilities. And your point, if true, about him hankering for a state like the one during wartime only emphasises that point.

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The internal problems of the Labour Party can be traced back to the intransigence of Aneurin Bevan in the 1940s and the splits he fermented once quit the Cabinet. He courted all sorts of rogues and nut jobs to serve his own ambitions. 

Which is why Foot's hagiography of him was so misleading and disappointing.

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If a union gets pay rises and benefits for the workforce, then what right do non members have to claim those benefits?

Every right. Unless the benefits are paid directly by the union.

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If a union gets pay rises and benefits for the workforce, then what right do non members have to claim those benefits?

No right at all, but in many cases employers and unions are not keen to negotiate separate deals for those workers who don't want to be part of a union.

 

In my university lecturing days, it was impossible for anyone who didn't want to belong to a union to negotiate separate employment contracts.

 

The employer didn't want the hassle, and the unions didn't want to force the issue either, because it didn't want individuals to be able to negotiate better deals for themselves than the unions had negotiated. 

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Every right. Unless the benefits are paid directly by the union.

Why do they?

Take factory A. It pays everyone minimum wage and on top of this is a dangerous place to work with H&S ignored. Fred goes round asking people if they want to join his union in order to improve pay and conditions. He asks 100 people, of which 90 agree and 10 tell him to get lost. The union members pay their subs and within a year pay has risen and it is a much safer place to work.

Why should those people who didn't want to join their colleagues in changing things reap the benefits? IMO they are *entitled* to none of these benefits but no doubt they will take them anyway. Like I have seen lots of people do over the years.

Ironically, the union in my industry (printing) is pretty much useless. Not a criticism of them but it's a bad market.

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Why do they?

Take factory A. It pays everyone minimum wage and on top of this is a dangerous place to work with H&S ignored. Fred goes round asking people if they want to join his union in order to improve pay and conditions. He asks 100 people, of which 90 agree and 10 tell him to get lost. The union members pay their subs and within a year pay has risen and it is a much safer place to work.

Why should those people who didn't want to join their colleagues in changing things reap the benefits? IMO they are *entitled* to none of these benefits but no doubt they will take them anyway. Like I have seen lots of people do over the years.

Ironically, the union in my industry (printing) is pretty much useless. Not a criticism of them but it's a bad market.

Because your terms are between you and your employer, no one else. People doing the same job can be paid different amounts. So those choosing not to work and inconveniencing the company get a bit extra, those choosing to work and don't really care either way get a bit extra for not inconveniencing the company.

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Because your terms are between you and your employer, no one else. People doing the same job can be paid different amounts. So those choosing not to work and inconveniencing the company get a bit extra, those choosing to work and don't really care either way get a bit extra for not inconveniencing the company.

Eh?

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Why do they?

Take factory A. It pays everyone minimum wage and on top of this is a dangerous place to work with H&S ignored. Fred goes round asking people if they want to join his union in order to improve pay and conditions. He asks 100 people, of which 90 agree and 10 tell him to get lost. The union members pay their subs and within a year pay has risen and it is a much safer place to work.

Why should those people who didn't want to join their colleagues in changing things reap the benefits? IMO they are *entitled* to none of these benefits but no doubt they will take them anyway. Like I have seen lots of people do over the years.

Ironically, the union in my industry (printing) is pretty much useless. Not a criticism of them but it's a bad market.

 

Because these days a safe working environment is a right not a benefit. Unions may negotiate collectively but the Agency Worker Directive (for example) puts paid to significant discrepencies in pay and conditions. This requires companies to ensure a relatively equal set of terms regardless of age or gender (for eg). Thus only the drive, attitude and potential of the individual affects whether they get a few quid more in their pay packets.

 

IMO it comes down to the fact that we've been on a 50 year long path where individual rights have become the legal minimum standard rather than that of the collective "majority".

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Because these days a safe working environment is a right not a benefit. Unions may negotiate collectively but the Agency Worker Directive (for example) puts paid to significant discrepencies in pay and conditions. This requires companies to ensure a relatively equal set of terms regardless of age or gender (for eg). Thus only the drive, attitude and potential of the individual affects whether they get a few quid more in their pay packets.

 

IMO it comes down to the fact that we've been on a 50 year long path where individual rights have become the legal minimum standard rather than that of the collective "majority".

Oh and they just decided one day to give people more money, less hours and a safer working environment did they?

 

Without the initial bargaining power of the unions, we would still be on the bare minimum. Employers are not charities, they exist to make money.

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 Basically, people can live their lives however they choose.

Of course they can. But if I am working in the sun building a shelter as you sit around sunbathing, don't be thinking you are entitled to use my shelter when it pees it down. Comrade.

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Of course they can. But if I am working in the sun building a shelter as you sit around sunbathing, don't be thinking you are entitled to use my shelter when it pees it down. Comrade.

If its a shelter built with your money on your land. I agree.

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