With an introduction by Dan Walsh
This is a terrific manifesto. The naysayers, the sneerers, the tutters, those decrying it as too utopian, too expensive, too extreme, too leftwing, are relying on one crucial thing – a collective act of forgetting.
Truth is, most of us on here are old enough to remember the country when it looked like the labour manifesto. Old enough to remember a country before austerity, before the thatcherite harrying of the north, before the destruction of industry. Old enough to remember when civic life, hospitals, schools, fire stations, bin collections, lollipop ladies, just ticked along in the background. Old enough to remember when rent didn’t eat half of a pay packet, when utilities & commuting didn’t gobble up the rest. Old enough to remember when higher education was free, apprenticeships were common place and retirement care was guaranteed.
And before that – some of us remember when one job in manufacturing could feed, clothe, house a family. When you could ditch a job on a Friday & walk into another on a Monday – & if that Monday was six months away, because you fancied learning to play guitar or paint (or smoking weed & thinking about playing guitar & painting), then that was ok. And old enough to remember when a council house meant pride not shame.
And bigger than that, beyond that – old enough to remember when every single aspect of daily life wasn’t treated as an opportunity to make money by rent-seekers. When we were proud that migrants had picked our city out of all the places in the world. When we recognised that life was a collective endeavour, not the war of all against all, with every citizen recast as an aggressive entrepreneur of the self.
This isn’t socialism. This is more Methodism than Marxism, more inspired by The Sermon on The Mount than the Communist Manifesto. But it is a shift – a return to the idea of a welfare state as a bulwark against the excesses of modern trans-national corporations. A state & institutions that defends us against them, not them against us.
Everyone on here will benefit from this manifesto. Everyone on here remembers when civic life was better. Not a rose-tinted nostalgia for an equality that never existed – but a defiant insistence that we demand more. And that we can do better. All said, that’s the choice. Can we do better than this? The Tories say no. We have to insist on a yes.