The s-word

Guts of a Beggar


Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was perfectly respectable to call oneself a socialist. It was a badge that one might wear with pride alongside the likes of Albert Einstein, George Orwell and Bertrand Russell. Nowadays, for reasons we’ll come to in a moment, to call oneself a socialist is to risk being perceived as some sort of cartoon amalgam of Arthur Scargill, Wolfie Smith, Derek Hatton, and Rik from The Young Ones. I have a neighbour who thinks it hilarious to tell people as a matter of routine that I am a fan of Joseph Stalin. Happily, I know that you’re not that stupid, so here goes.

I am a socialist. By that I mean that I believe in the socialism of Bevan and Beveridge, the socialism that gave us nationalised utilities, the NHS and the welfare state. Over the past couple of decades, since…

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One thought on “The s-word

  1. Funnily enough, I’ve been thinking about the s-word a lot of late. Here’s an extract from a speech which also gives some food for thought:

    “Market forces cannot educate us or equip us for this world of rapid technological and economic change. We must do it together. We cannot buy your way to a safe society. We must work for it together. And we cannot purchase an option on whether we grow old. We must plan for it together. We cannot protect the ordinary against the abuse of power by leaving them to it; we must protect each other. That is our insight, a belief in society, working together, solidarity, cooperation, partnership. These are our words. This is my socialism, and we should stop apologising for using the word.”

    No, it’s not Jeremy Corbyn – it’s Tony Blair in 1994 at the first Conference after winning his leadership bid. How times change, eh?

    I rejoined the Labour party, not because I’m some kind of unreconstructed communist attempting to overthrow the state, man. It’s precisely because my beliefs, like those of the quoted blogger, haven’t changed simply for the sake of modern fashions following decades of misdefining what the centre means. And I wrote about it my own experience of rejoining – on what a party that’s forgotten its purpose looks like as well as why, if anyone’s stuck in the 1980s, it’s Tony Blair not people like me who associate with the s-word. After all, he’s the one who can’t see the left in any other terms than one instance of it 30 years and more ago. Here’s a link, if you excuse the indulgence of my posting it…

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