Nowhere "Left" to Go?

I recently watched a TV series on BBC2, called "The Hour". Set during the 1950s at the time of the Suez Crisis, it used a basic thriller format to ask wider questions about the nature of democracy. Our democracy. But what struck me most in the programme was a small segment in which footage was shown of the Labour politician Aneurin Bevan delivering a speech in Trafalgar Square. The speech was delivered in a voice seldom heard today. It was a voice of disagreement and dissent. It was the voice of the "old" left. And, to me, it was inspiring.
Bevan had the guts, it appeared to me, to actually say what he thought about our involvement in the crisis, a crisis which, as far as I can make out, seems to have parallels with our current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, I think this may be why the programme makers chose this particular moment in history as the subject of their drama- to make us think about what is happening today.
I remember very well the initial outcry amongst the public when we first got involved in Iraq, when many came to London to march in protest against the impending war. Now, it seems, such things have been mostly forgotten, and we appear to be being carried along by a fervent wave of jingoism. Our servicemen and women are regarded, universally, as heroes. But to me, this hides an unpalatable truth about the nature of our entanglements abroad. Bevan himself said, in a speech given in the House of Commons on December 5th, 1956, that "we...conscript our boys and put guns and aeroplanes in their hands and say, 'bomb there'. Really this is so appalling that human language can hardly describe it." He goes on to say that the ministers in charge of handling the crisis "have support in the country", but that they should not "take comfort in that thought", for they had "resorted to epic weapons for squalid and trivial ends." So it is now that such is the support for "our boys", any dissenting voice about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan can be discredited for being unpatriotic, for not supporting their heroic efforts. I would say, though, that it is quite possible to sympathise with the sacrifices being made by our servicemen and women, but be against the motives of the politicians who sent them to fight in the first place. And Bevan, it seems, articulated this very well all the way back in '56.
Recently, Tony Blair said that the Labour Party should not return to its "old left" values, saying that if they did they would never be re-elected. With the new leader Ed Miliband, the Labour Party may well have veered slightly to the left, although it is hardly a radical shift. But to my mind, towards the "old left" is exactly where the Labour Party should be headed. If there are those out there who would respond, like me, to a voice like that of Bevan's, then I think that it is time it was heard. As we appear to grow evermore towards a political consensus across all the parties, I think the Labour Party has nowhere left to go but further left.
Now, with protests even emerging in New York against the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of the bankers, one senses the beginning of a groundswell of opinion which can only find its voice in a left-wing vision. One yearns for the days, then, of the likes of Aneurin Bevan, a politician of principle and passion, who could be a voice of reason amidst so much madness.


klahanie said…
Dear David,
I have 'left' my site to visit your site. I'm hearing you on this one and Bevan did indeed have the courage of his convictions.
After watching that smug self-satisfied git, David Cameron, orating at the Conservative party convention, I truly wish that the Labour party would go even further left. And the demonstration on Brooklyn Bridge protest in regards to the greed and incompetence on Wall Street, indicates the ever growing groundswell of discontent and anger.
All the very best to you, my leftist hippy friend.
David said…
Dear Gary,
Thanks for your visitation.
On Channel 4 news last night, the protests in New York were covered, and the question asked, "just how far will all this go?". Could it be the start of something bigger?
Personally, I hope so. And, Slavov Zizeck (forgive me if I've spelt his name wrong), the left-wing intellectual, has even predicted that we are "living in the end times" of the entire capitalist system.
All I know is I hope things change soon, and voices, like that of Bevan's, become heard once again.
Very Best Wishes to you too, Gary, you hairy hippy you,
The Manic Chef said…
David, you are being your usual self in this posting. You really do desire to provoke people into thinking, which too many persons do NOT do. I understand and agree in part with your sentiments. For me, I admire the many men and woman who fight when told to fight, but I feel that too many only do as they are told, they are being paid to fight, and that is what they do. In order to get a check you must obey your 'master'. I'm neither left nor right, I do not trust any of the leaders of countries, with the exception of Israel. The push is for New World Order, of which I am dead set against. Left or Right, if not careful either side can lead to another Fourth Reich, and then ALL loose out on freedoms, with the exception of the 'status quo'. I take comfort in knowing that all leaders will face a supreme judge and stand 'guilty' for their depravities, and injustices done to humanity. Thank you for your intelligent openness to speak your mind, it is much appreciated, and a breath of fresh air.... Later....
bazza said…
I often wonder what kind of Prime Minister Bevan would have made.....
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
David said…
Dear Manic Chef,
Thank you for your kind comments and for giving me your own thoughts on this subject.
If my blogs make people think, then, hopefully, that's a good thing.
Yours with Very Best Wishes,
David said…
Dear bazza,
Going by some of the speeches he made, it seems Bevan would have made a very good PM. And, as I piont out in my post, he seemed to speak his mind, unlike so many politicians today who seem to just mouth what people want to hear.
Thanks for the comment, bazza.
Very Best Wishes,

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