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The death of Labour

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I’ve known quite a few Labourites down the years. In South Yorkshire being Labour was as much a part of life as the Yorkshire main coal seam 1km under our feet. These were Ian Austins to a man, believers in hard work, social responsibility, a mixed economy, a strong defence and Trident. Amongst them were the last batch of national servicemen and those who wore the pair of the UN bronze and distinctive blue and yellow ribboned campaign medals of the Korean war. They tried hard, really hard, not to say ‘love’ ‘dear’ or ‘pet’ when asking young women for a cup of tea, knowing but not quite understanding that this now gave offence.

In London, I knew a far greater variety of Labourites. There were communities – Irish, Jewish – who traditionally looked to the party as a collective defence against the abuses and depredations of the tribal English. There were the Windrush generation of Commonwealth immigrants who joined them for much the same reasons. There were a great mass of Londoners, minor consumers of the Welfare State, who wanted decent homes at affordable rents in which to live on their wages as bus drivers or council clerks. For the most part they were Ian Austins, too. There were the actors, poets and artists from the French and the Colony Room. Soho’s last lamplighter. Those employed in higher and further education, where labour allegiance was a sort of membership worn lightly in case they should want to ‘go into politics’ if they failed to get that departmental headship yet again.

Of course there were the nasty Labourites, too. The bullying and grasping TU officials (including one bane of my own managerial life; when he was exposed in the ‘Sun’ as a serial groper and sex abuser and sacked by his own union, which he took to a tribunal, my rejoicing was great). There were the nasty local councillors bent with greed or corrupt with petty power, drunks, bullies, haters and frauds. All those who used the party as a ladder to support their own foulness. But one meets such people everywhere.

All the above one could tag as ‘mostly harmless’. Many will have voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum. Many will only now, in this election, come to realise that their party is dead, taken-over by a cynical and dangerous cabal of Marxist opportunists who care nothing for their wishes and beliefs, who will not reward their loyalty. Even the Noncefinder General, himself not an attractive human being, has jumped ship. The Jewish Chronicle screams warnings. John Woodcock, Tom Harris and Michael McCann, former Labour bigwigs, say don’t vote for Corbyn.

Lay up those silk banners. The party is disbanded. Labour is dead.

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