The Grassroots Uprising

I’ve just submitted this piece to EN4 EN5 where I have a regular column.
I usually publish only after publication, but this is just too topical to wait on. here it is.

Sweets Way Resists

The spirit of resistance in Barnet’s Sweets Way lingers on the roof as the bailiffs move in

Oh look! More than 250,000 Labour party arrivistes have propelled a man to the party’s leadership who professes anti-Trident; anti-TTIP; anti-austerity; pro-investment for growth; and pro-Robin Hood tax views. Well well! Let me try and remember, who was the only general election candidate in Chipping Barnet espousing these approaches? Not Labour. Never mind!

Really! I’m not bitter, nor even twisted. Not a lot anyway. What I am, a lot, is enthused, encouraged. Vindicated.

And troubled. How do we save Corbyn? How do we save the spirit of resistance?

There’s nothing I can do to deliver Corbyn from his own party. The party that compromised and tacked and bent so out of shape it’s unrecognisable and needs a lot of beating, like a panel, to sort it out. I can but pray for that.

But the spirit that Jeremy has come, so beardily, to embody needs help from many quarters, even unlikely ones. Remember the assistance lent by Tony Blair during the leadership campaign? Such inadvertent buttressing is great, but more is needed. This manifestation of England’s resistance is potentially a seismic brake on market fundamentalism, but not an inevitable one.

What does it take to keep a movement going? This one is explicitly political so we know what’s needed: just, erm, to enter the electorate’s consciousness and be part of the national conversation. (Then after lunch, we can have a nap…)

We’re up against the Establishment, those lucky few who benefit from austerity, free-market policies, and all the mainstream media, who dismiss and smear non-Establishment views. This marginalises our alternative approach and confines us to social media and the street. It’s evident though that a Twitter account and a damp leaflet don’t win elections, for otherwise the Conservatives wouldn’t be in power.

In striving for a share of the shout, as PROs say, the advice is tediously the same: the media like violence (even when it comes from the authorities reacting to nonviolent direct action); bare boobs; celebs; and kitten pictures. Spare me!

Here’s another idea. Let the medium that we actually own do its job. I quote Will Hutton Principal of Hertford College Oxford in the Observer, 13 September: “The BBC must say loud and clear that its revenues are designed to be the public’s to be spent on great programmes, not a surrogate tax to be raided by government.” He suggests “a sequence of citizens’ marches on Westminster and Whitehall. The BBC belongs to the British public, not the transient Tory cabinet aiming for the country’s Torification.”

So it looks like it’s back to the streets, guys! And we keep open the option of chucking our brassieres into the braziers.


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