Viewing posts tagged paul foot

Resist in Peace Tony Benn

Paul Foot on Tony Benn in the LRB:

For nearly a century, Labour MPs have been going to Parliament to change the world, but have ended up changing only themselves. Tony Benn is unique. He went to Parliament to change himself, but has ended up determined only to change the world. This extraordinary conversion has taken place not on the backbenches, where a young socialist’s revolutionary determination is often toughened by being passed over for high office, but in high office itself. Indeed, the higher the office Tony Benn occupied, the more his eyes were opened to the horror of capitalist society, and to the impotence of socialists in high office to change it.

And in his book, The Vote:

Any workers fighting redundancy, any school standing up for the comprehensive system, any persecuted foreigner seeking asylum could rely on his active support.  Again and again, he deliberately abandoned his base in Parliament and worked among those who, he hoped and believed, would one day trigger a new Chartist agitation, and a revolution from below.

In 1999, after two years of the Blair Government, he made a historic announcement: he would not be standing for Parliament in the ...

Opposite Reaction

The TARDIS Eruditorum blog recently took the opportunity to connect 'The Caves of Androzani' with the 1984-85 Miner's Strike.  In the process, Philip Sandifer (the author of the blog) writes:

...Arthur Scargill, head of the NUM, made an egregious political miscalculation. Faced with an accelerated schedule for closing the pits and afraid that he’d lose the vote, Scargill declined to submit the strike to a national vote. This was against NUM rules and allowed Thatcher to delegitimize the strike, which she wasted no time doing, comparing striking miners to Argentina in the Falklands. 
and...

The propaganda war, combined with Scargill’s inept politicking, kept the strike from gaining broad support with the public, and it ended in failure a year later, leaving the mining industry and union a shadow of its former self. 

Sandifer mentions police savagery and also the wholesale media propaganda assault against the NUM (though he talks about the 'redtops', as though it was a purely tabloid phenomenon).  Ultimately, however, he seems to imply a plague upon both Thatcher's and Scargill's houses.

In the various permutations that this view takes, the heroic resistance of 150,000 workers and their families over ...

Thalira, or The Two Planets

From the late, great Paul Foot's book The Vote: How it was Won and How it was Undermined:

...Benjamin Disraeli wrote a novel about Chartists.  It was called Sybil, or the Two Nations (1845), a deeply sympathetic and beautifully written account of the rise of Chartism and of its appeal to the suffering masses.  The central theme of the novel is the distinction between 'moral force' Chartism, espoused by the unblemished heroine, Sybil, and 'physical force' Chartism, described with obvious distaste.  The theme of the novel was that the conflict between the good on the 'moral force' side and the evil on the 'physical force' side became so bitter that it could not be solved by working people.  The solution had to come from outside, from on high, from a brilliant, sensitive and eloquent Tory MP, Charles Egremont.  Sybil's disillusionment with her rougher supporters, who include her beloved father, begins when she reads an account of an emotional speech in Parliament by Egremont, who then conveniently arrives in the middle of 'physical force' chaos to carry off his beloved and make a lady of her.

It occurs to me that, if you take out the romantic ending, this ...

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