Labour people - then and now

Hunter has been poorly (a nasty chest infection, coupled with an asthma attack) and so spent most of the Bank Holiday Weekend laid up in front of the telly watching coverage of the '79 General Election. Saturday, May 4th being the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher entering Downing Street as PM.

I was particularly struck (and, it would seem, many other bloggers were too!) by how decent a man Jim Callaghan was. He stepped into Harold Wilson's shoes (1976) when everything was already going down the pan and was doing a fair job of stabilising things until his old mates in the trade union movement (especially Moss Evans of of the transport workers) stabbed him in the back by inflicting the Winter of Discontent upon the country and thus making Labour unelectable for a generation.

It's a shame that Callaghan's name is forever associated with that, rather than the blame being laid 4-square at the door of the union dinosaurs. Still, Mrs T understood who was to blame, didn't she? And so had the nation's support when she went on a slash-and-burn rampage over the nasty Spanish practices and privileges of the unions over the years that followed. But, much as I love and admire her, Margaret didn't have the personal warmth or charm of Callaghan, did she? If it hadn't been for the 'Winter of Discontent', Callaghan, affectionately known as "Sunny Jim" would almost certainly have won the '79 election.

Hunter has always thought that there are decent people in the Labour Party. But they're a dieing breed. Locally, Hunter can think of Alan Dobbie (the Mayor), former MP Barbra Roche and the late Fred Knight as good guys. Joanne McCartney, our 'LAM', is pretty decent too. David Lammy, in contrast, is ghastly, truly terrible: an arrogant, often ignorant, lazy, ill-mannered lobby-whore. (Hey! No-one ever accused me of pulling my punches!) He is the worst politician, of any party, Hunter has ever had the misfortune to meet. For me, opposition to Lammy is personal--and this is a feeling that is fast-becoming the norm in Tottenham amongst his constituents.

Callaghan and his old general secretary of the Labour Party (whom we also saw interviewed in the 79 election coverage) would both have been truly shocked, saddened and disgusted with those McBride emails. And people, I suspect, would have believed him. But nobody believes that bitter buffoon squatting in Downing Street and calling himself 'Prime Minister' thirty years on.

1 comment:

David Allen said...

I saw some of the '79 coverage too. What an incredible contrast with today--everything seemed so innocent and unspun in those days...