The New Age of Empire, Kehinde Andrews (2021), Allen Lane.
‘Capitalism is racism.’ That’s what it says on the inside of the dust cover.
This Land, The story of a movement
Owen Jones (2020) Allen Lane
It is a year since Boris Johnson’s Tory Party won the 2019 general election with an 80 seat majority – a ‘landslide’ for the Right and a ‘disaster’ for the Left. In our current covid crisis this all feels a long time ago and rather difficult to think about – but the consequences of the defeat will be with us for a long time and so this seems like an appropriate time to review a book that covers the Left’s leadership of the Labour Party in the five years preceding this.
A Wonderful Thing – or a Pisser?
I knew as I drove back in the rain swept dark from Eckington in North East Derbyshire (a ‘must win’ constituency) on the evening of 12th December. Over the previous week the canvassed support for Labour had felt to be softening and then falling away. On polling day itself people who over the previous few weeks had indicated a promise for Labour were reluctant to talk on the doorstep. People I remembered speaking to personally looked embarrassed. My last knock seemed to sum it all up. Three weeks previously I had finished a round on an upbeat note after a promising discussion with a woman in a modern bungalow. This time the door was answered by a man who just shouted ‘Brexit!’ at me before slamming the door shut in my face.
I recently received a communication from a good friend which included an aside that professed disappointment with Labour at the moment; that they are trailing in the polls when we have the worst and most incompetent government in living memory.
I mulled uneasily over this for a few days …. of course I am disappointed, but that doesn’t do anywhere near justice to how I feel – I am in fact very, very pissed off – bordering on furious when I can summon up the appropriate level of indignation.
I haven’t written about Brexit since the day the result of the referendum was announced. Initially this was due to that overwhelming sense of doom and despondency that many of us felt about the decision, but as time has gone on it has been more a reflection of my increasing confusion as to how we should respond. I don’t know what to say (or even think sometimes) – and the more I have read and listened the more conflicted I have become.
I have been reading and hearing Labour MPs not renown for the their full support in the past for Mr C admitting that they may have got things wrong (or at least half wrong in the case of Ms JP) and that they are prepared to play their part in improving relationships within the PLP in order to promote unity.
On the day after the referendum, on the day the result was announced, I went up to the allotment, but found myself unable to concentrate on the weeding. After a number of attempts to motivate myself I gave up and went and sat in the greenhouse, drinking coffee from a flask and regarding the now lightly falling rain with some distaste. Eventually I had to admit it was no good – I couldn’t distract myself – I would have to deal with it, and that for me, often entails writing stuff down.