2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (vi)
But for the first time in my life, I feel like I am becoming an old man. I feel it in my body. I recognise that I officially retired unexpectedly in deeply traumatic circumstances - a trauma I will never get over emotionally - but it is only now at 57 that I feel that I have properly retired. To get up in the mornings is more difficult. So too actually is typing on forums. It is about to fade away. The stuff along these lines. I have served my ten years well enough to my satisfaction and from now onwards it is likely to be more down to the occasional dabble. One part - it also applies to a dropping off from present culture - is unquestionably political. Going forward, I don't feel akin to the political world as I did since the age of twelve and think it a young person's domain now. A lot of the bigger issues are too big for me. I can't see one team rather than another team having the best solutions. I don't think I am well placed to advise on present issues although I do think I have a lot to offer from a historical perspective otherwise I wouldn't be doing what I am doing at this moment at all. Whatever strengths there are in what I write comes from a knowing that I was never a dogmatist and always thought it through with care and openness and a willingness to show compromise in a spirit of harmony. I'm useless but believe the outlook was good.
Do I believe this is the end of the Labour Party? Not in the slightest and nor should I want it to be. It is quite possible when this century is out, it will have spent more years in Government than Opposition. But it will go through many twists and turns. It will wreck itself in full daylight regularly for such is its nature. I know it from history so well. And it may take a while this time, just as it has often done. Blair and Corbyn will be seen as historically relevant and nothing more. The next New Labour will be spun through an entirely different lens while maintaining its core values for new generations. Don't take notice of those who speak in the here and now. Balance requires its existence. This is Britain. It may need to incorporate the Greens. It may need to go big on high tech in the way that Wilson spoke of the white heat of technology. It may need to grasp nationalism so that it can offer a view of federalism but that will be no easy task. Perhaps the best starting point there is to start asking what happens when SNP and PC become unpopular as they because of time passing will do? Will it lead to a very righy wing form of nationalism? Yes, it probably will. But what of the Liberal Democrats?
They are tougher for me emotionally. They were my natural political home for so many decades. Now I have no natural political home and I never will do, The Conservatives will never be able to bridge that gap in my mind. But given that I am old, I have some doubts whether this matters much. One needs to comprehend the contexts although I feel I have explained them well, That requires adding a certain meat to the bone. Among the early strands of conviction was the knowledge that while the Attlee Government had been rather wonderful, and you should be told that the only reason why it didn't win elections in the 1950s was that the public saw it as being full of old, exhausted, men just as Corbyn and McDonnell could seem today, it was Lloyd George who had begun the Welfare State. It was a very modest start but nevertheless he was a star. And then George Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England", published in 1935 which effectively wrote off the Liberal Party given the emergence of Labour power, which was a truism until Jo Grimond who was not without charisma rallied against before a resurgence most unexpectedly occurred under Thorpe and Steel in the 1960s and the 1970s as the unions were grabbed by capitalist money making. A kind of socialism turned upon itself.
I will just say this but, being me, I would do, I wouldn't I? The key word for me was "underdog". It might still be helpful in the years to come. As it happened and as previously explained, my father was as not unusual for his background and generation Labour leaning whereas my mother came from a family of working class Tories. As a kid in the 1970s, I could see in many ways how things just as now had gone wrong under both main parties and the Liberals when I look back were perhaps the voice of me the child. The child by definition is an underdog. I was certainly an underdog at my senior school. I could see that they were not supported by the majority of people. I also looked for something which bridged the differences between people and they seemed in their centre way to have that aim. That the literature which came unsuspectingly through my door was so insensitive to childrens' wishes was deeply unfortunate but it was probably an additional blow for not having come from the Tories or Labour. More traditionally, and certainly now, one might think of Labour as representing women rather better and Tories being the party more of men - they had a 19% lead among men in 2019 - and although that is the other way round from my background, it all essentially amounts to much the same.
On this basis, I believe that the Lib Dems have a hell of a lot of work to do, More so than the Tories and even Labour. I don't think that their mindset is anywhere near self-reflection - they so believe in their righteousness and this needs to change. I think they got stuck in this decade in adolescence. I know this so well because for most of my life I did. I can see it so clearly. Just as with me, for all of their intelligence and emotional well meaning, they have got themselves into a state. Once in Government between 2010 and 2015, they felt that they had to cave into austerity to show that they were adults. And the experience was so awful for them, they couldn't go back to being a child but rather did an "I know I'm right whatever most people want" and added words like "bollocks" to it while advocating dope to ease the pain of it all, I'm terribly sorry but it just wont wash. God knows where they are going on the EU. If we do leave, will they argue to re-join and signing up to the Euro? A vote loser if ever there was one. I think in contrast they need to rediscover in themselves the underdog real child and in their policy formulation apply a real adult understanding. Just chuck the adolescent out.
Obstinate and often frighteningly belligerent EU obsessive ideology aside - for which thank the merry hugely moneyed liberal kidults rather than today's teenagers although their offspring are chips off the old block - there is an irony. Economic centrism continues to be the only mature position economically. Even at this election, the Lib Dems were representing it. Had it not been for the EU thing, then Swinson for all of her evident limitations could indeed have prepared everyone for her to be the next Prime Minister. It is where many of the heads of the public and their purses have always been. So really, who knows? I was lucky enough a year ago to have paid off my mortgage. Other than my house, I have virtually no money. I expect to have to scale down at some point and release funds for bills. So what. That is life.
But I have to thank the politicians before Thorpe and to a lesser extent before Ashdown for that happening. Our generation was deliberately divided out between those who would benefit like the war generation and those who would be on their knees like many of our current youth. Politics - the politics of my years - was hellbent on making me the latter and somehow I bucked the trend with the legacy help of my parents via Macmillan and Attlee. These people were not Gods but they might as well have been. In intellectual terms, most epitomised by the Lib Dems, the current ones are half Goebbels and half Sid Vicious. Anyhow, good luck to them. Good luck to you all. I never believed in hormonal adolescence. I have only got where I am today by being a properly childish adult and a weirdly mature child who can see that everything else is a competitive capitalist conceit created by modern contraception. I'm now on Monkey Life. Paddington and other higher pursuits. It feels like the end to me. And having always been always right, it is the end.