Although I don’t vote Labour (and only voted Tory once) I think perhaps this little set of memories might help explain why I find Labour pc and Conservative Friedmanism equally abhorrent.
My Dad’s sister was called Molly. In 1930, while playing in the back yard of the family home in Buile Street Salford, she fell over and scratched her knee quite badly on the edge of a flagstone. My grandmother bathed the wound, and Molly (always called ‘Mont’ for some reason) went back to playing with her two appalling brothers.
Two days later, the knee was looking ‘angry’ as we say in Lancashire. But this was 1930: as a Union organiser on the trams, Grandad had been first locked out during the 1926 General Strike, and then victimised into unemployment. Before the war, my grandfather had been a master carpenter. He went off with the Lancashire fusiliers to get his head shot at in the First World War, miraculously survived, and returned home to a land “fit for heroes” – up to but not including getting his job back. He never had a proper job again after that.
Point is, there was no money coming into 17 Buile Street…and there was no NHS. So grandma held off calling in the doctor. That decision cost my Aunt her leg. A week later it was amputated. Her mum was riddled with guilt, and Molly’s life was ruined – she was, I can say without bias having seen the pics, one hot babe. But back then, a cripple was a cripple.
Some time not too long afterwards, a young Labour MP called Aneurin Bevan pledged that, when a full majority Labour Government was elected, he would “banish the fear of medical bills forever”. Nye was as good as his word. I’m not a Socialist, but I am an unashamed Bevan hero-worshipper. The Young Right pillocks who today dismiss him as “Big State Labour” completely fail to grasp what this giant of a man was trying to achieve: a loosely affiliated, Westminster-funded alliance of clinics and hospitals like the one that saved his Mum’s life when he was a teenager.
One of Bevan’s most telling answers (given at a hustings meeting in 1951) was “The purpose of power is to give it back”. Does this sound like the utterance of a Stateist control freak? I think not: indeed, towards the end of his all-too-short life, Nye Bevan expressed in private his disappointment at the many-headed serpent his invention had become.
Anyway, Mont lived with her disability, and became the main breadwinner until my Dad got a job with a cotton merchant in 1933. In 1950, she fell in love with an Irish bloke and – being a strict Catholic – fell pregnant in short order. He deserted her before the wedding, and what would’ve been my adopted brother Patrick died soon after being born. Molly’s lot was not a happy one. Neither was my Grandmother’s: she never forgave herself.
This tale of woe perhaps explains my intense dislike of Jeremy Hunt, and why I can see grubby little hypocrites like him coming a mile off. So then: why do I not support the Labour Party? There are a thousand answers to that, but here’s one to be going on with.
In the late Sixties, Molly and I were watching an episode of Not only…but Also. The show contained the now immortal one-legged Tarzan sketch. In this hysterical piece, Dudley Moore turns up as a one-legged man to audition for the role of Tarzan, and Peter Cook plays the vaguely Jewish agent explaining why he’s unlikely to land the part. Molly laughed herself to tears at the sketch. She didn’t take it personally, because the sketch is not about disabled people: rather, it’s based on the age-old gag about the difference between human aspiration and achievement.
If there is one thing I find patronising and insensitive, it is bourgeois Labour supporters trying to persuade disabled people that they should indulge in self-pity – and preferably sue either the Creator who made them that way, or the tree that jumped out in front of their car. Frankly, even if an employer’s neglect (not unusual) caused them to be paraplegic, their sole concern should be to get a just amount of compensation…not to eat themselves up with bitter desire for revenge.
I do not support the Conservatives, because the Party is being hijacked by shitheads. I do not support Labour, because the Party believes that litigation and hate are the answers to every problem. I do not support any ‘establishment’ Party, because their sole aim is to enable the survival of that establishment…whereas I think the system is way, way past its sell-by date.