As time goes by

The present UK Conservative government has just registered its first 100 days of government in the new parliament.
Whilst much of the political attention during that time has been devoted to the ongoing saga of the Labour Party’s leadership battle, the government, in a rather quiet and unobtrusive manner, has been going about making changes to the way in which the British people are being governed.
The Labour Party opposition has not been entirely unaware of what is going on outside of its own party rooms and recently came up with a critical list of some of the government’s actions so far. The list included the following items:
*     the intention to cut tax credits;
*     watering down the child poverty target;
*     dropping the NHS waiting targets;
*     ending the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme;
*     trying to relax the hunting ban;
*     dropping plans for rail electrification in the Midlands;
*     tightening controls over the trades unions.
This would seem to indicate a government intent on making changes as soon as possible; a government motivated not by the desire to “put working people first”, but one that is hard-driven by ideology.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has said that “it is a moment for a Conservative majority government to be bolder still.” This would include the move to enable all government schools to become academies so that they “can benefit from the freedoms this brings.” The “freedoms” have yet to elaborated and specifically shown to be in the interests of “working people”, especially in terms of the funding and management of academies and their public accountability.
Of course, with a Prime Minister as opportunistic as David Cameron, the Conservative Party has also taken the time to comment on the trials and tribulations of the Labour Party as it undergoes a leadership election.
In particular, the Conservative comment has focused on the bias towards and the influence of the Labour Party’s left wing. The popular myth would seem to suggest that resurgence of left wing thinking in the Labour Party is detrimental to the possibility of the Labour Party winning a national election in 2020 or, indeed, at any time.
Such thinking ignores the direction in which UK politics appears to be going. The rise of the SNP, the increasing popularity of the Green Party, the voice of ordinary Britons that can be heard in UKIP, the rediscovery of a radical approach within the Liberal Democrats, as well as the left wing swell within the Labour Party, would all suggest that there may well be a paradigm shift occurring in British politics.
This possibility is underlined by the renewed interest in British politics by young people.
Of course, the Labour Party’s problems do not begin and end with the question of the party leadership. There are a number of things that are pertinent to include on its short term agenda.
These things would include the need to change its position with respect to reform of the voting system, revival of local government, the abolition of the House of Lords and the internal democracy within the Labour Party. These are all issues that a modern democratic political party needs to address. However, the Labour Party is not alone in needing to address the foregoing.
The Conservative Party appears comfortable with the present situation. The Conservatives might consider that there are very few oppositional forces being forged against its current dominance in British governance. On the contrary, after conniving to nearly obliterate the Liberal Democrats at the last election, the Conservative Party in government seems quite gleeful about the prospect of a left wing member of the Labour Party becoming its next leader.
It is well to keep in mind that the Conservative Party is itself not devoid of right and left divisions – with the right wing of the Party seeming to dominate at present. So too, it is a common observation that the party’s internal divisions are always very close to the surface.
Therefore, as time goes by, the Conservative Party in government will come under increasing pressure to show clear and consistent evidence that it, too, can be a political party that deserves to govern and can sustain governance in a contemporary UK – in the interests of “all working people”.
The paradigm shift in British politics has already commenced. It may be expressed as follows.
In a conservative and tradition-directed political world there was little appetite for change. That is in the nature of conservatism. What came first was an ideological belief, a set of political principles from which there developed a way of pronouncing and living the contemporary life. This was basic to the misguided development of modern politics, hence government – including the present government at Westminster.
What we are now witnessing in British politics, the paradigm change, is what may be seen to have been initially brought to life in the period immediately after the Second World War. It was a time when the needs of people were given priority in government thinking, a time when political ethics were primary. Political ideology was secondary.
Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the body-politic, this awakening was of a short duration. All too soon, politics as ethics was consigned to a state of suspended animation and politics as ideology resumed its normal business. This change of anima, this re-directing of the political inner personality, was short-lived across all political parties, including a New Labour that initially promised so much but ultimately delivered so little.
What is now happening in British politics, as evident in what was earlier stated, is the return of an ethics-driven body politic – the very antithesis of what is going on with the Conservative Party’s present approach to governance.
The needs of ordinary people, the genuine “working people” (not those of the Conservative Party myth) are, once again, being placed at the forefront of political, economic and social concern. The energy behind the movement is not just a popular left wing campaign, it is a strong and insistent restatement of what lies at the heart of the British nation, what the British people have historically striven for but never quite succeeded in attaining.
It is the movement against privilege, unfettered power, and the manipulation and perverse use of wealth and position. It is a movement for justice, fairness, and human rights for all. It is a statement that people matter more than things; that ordinary people, the “working people”, have a major part to play in the building and sustenance of this world. It is the world-builders, the world-makers who really matter, not the world-shakers!
As time goes by, this movement, this paradigm shift, will become stronger and more evident. It is a new world that is slowly emerging. It may not have had much of a past, but, if tried, it may give us a better future.

About stewculbard

I am a retired secondary school teacher of Humanities, having spent a major portion of my working life as a Minister of Religion with the Baptist denomination. I would now describe myself as a secular humanist and a socialist. I am married to Vicky and we have three children - two sons and a married daughter - all of whom are in their thirties. Formerly of Melbourne, Australia, we are all now living in England. My academic studies have been undertaken in Australia, the UK and the USA. I have a doctorate in religious studies from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. In retirement I enjoy reading, listening to classical music and writing. I am a member of Republic, Sea of Faith, Dignity in Dying Campaign and the National Secular Society. As well, I have a subscription to a number of cultural and political associations, including Amnesty International and, as a committed European, The Federal Trust.
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