Attended the inaugural meeting tonight in the People’s Museum in Manchester. An appropriate venue for a singular cause. The meeting was arranged by Andreas Whittam-Smith and his helpers. The movement (for that is what is hoped it becomes) is targeted at the next election: May 7th 2015.
The issue is very straightforward. Our politics is in a mess. We have a political class in charge who went straight from university to a research job with a ‘think tank’ (funded by heaven knows who) and/or a job as an adviser with a minister. Shortly after comes the safe seat and hey-presto! Another one joins the club.
Not only that, they are bloody useless too! They also do not listen to non-bubble dwellers. They inhabit a world filled with cronies in many mega corps. We used to regard the rest of the world with a certain knowing superiority about the lack of corruption in our system - not any more!
The solution to this is to create a party with a one term life. The raison-d'être is to reform Parliament and break the hold of the political class.
Andreas is a softly spoken somewhat diffident chap and not one who would immediately spring to mind as the spokesperson for reform. That however is part of his strength. Being a part of Fleet Street for so long has given an insight into the way things work. Not just governments but also mass media too. Like his analysis he is credible.
The initial plan - apart from a brief dipping of the toe in the Corby by-election water - is for like-minded people to get their heads round a manifesto-type pledge and agree a policy. If you are not happy with spending vast sums on Trident then try to persuade others on that group to concur. That and similar policies are to be thrashed out over the next 15 months.
The assembled were a motley medley ranging across age and sex. A handful had travelled some way to be there. All shared a common disgust at our current office-holders. There was much talk of ‘grounding’ the campaign, getting through to disenfranchised, discontented and disaffected voters. Use of social network media was felt to be a positive but the room was reminded that there are still 27% of the population without access to the internet. Knocking on doors and - heaven forfend - talking to people face to face was seen as good as anything for engendering support.
Visiting the museum prior to the meeting was informative and showed so many issues from our industrial history are alive and well and flourishing in 2012. Chartist and early labour leaders quotes resonated in today’s fractious and disparate world. Nye Bevin's voice rang out, reflecting on the creation of the NHS in the face of strong opposition. One of those was Churchill who had declared the country bankrupt at the end of the Second World War. In a time of great austerity he said it was not possible to create such a monumental enterprise.
Well Winston got that wrong didn’t he? Just like his modern counterparts.
The Great Reform Bill of 1831 was a start towards universal franchise. We need another one for 2015 to burst the bubble, make our rulers listen to us and to create a society which is a fair and more just one.