I’ve spoken to four Labour hopefuls for the parliamentary seat of Chester. I’m not sure why they keep on coming. The conversations are always long; and for me absolutely fascinating. But then I don’t half speak a lot.
For them it must be sheer torture.
A sign of democracy at work, mind.
A good sign, that.
I appreciate each and every visit sincerely, and in the spirit each and every one was intended.
The most recent visitor to my humble abode, unannounced this evening but pleasurably received, shall remain (as with the other three) quite nameless. There was plenty to talk about, though. Two things I’d like to mention.
I realise now, as a result of this evening’s conversation, that the following is important for me when choosing a candidate for MP. Two fundamental approaches. One involves judging which person might be most faithful to their constituency; which person might be least likely to be swallowed up by Westminster and that black hole of community betrayal. The other, in a cruelly globalising world, involves judging which person might be most effective for their constituency; which person might be able to set themselves apart from that black hole of community betrayal I mention and use it to engineer greater benefits in a wider picture.
The tipping point towards one candidate or another or another or another will be determined by how sure we can be of their fidelity and competence. And since people grow as they live their lives, what we vote on now will never be what it becomes.
So we can’t ever be sure of anyone, can we?
Of course not.
But even so, we must take our decisions as people stand before us today. In a sense, we must determine to what degree we want to risk our futures, and how: is the job of MP a potentially magnificent multiplying of the role of local councillor? Or, alternatively, is it a far more complex throwing of the conceptual dice, as that big and foreign world out there is seen in terms of its multiple impacts on our much smaller existences?
Is it possible, in the end, to interact with the big – and change it before it manages to irrevocably change us? I do wonder. I think, in fact, I’ve wondered all my life. I think, perhaps, this – above all – is what has stopped me from interacting.
Talking of which, I’d like to come to the second point I wanted to mention in this post. The subject of One Nation Labour arose tonight: the contrasts it may afford, once decently articulated, between the divisive Tory narrative of turning one sector of the British people against another on the one hand and the collaborative future Ed Miliband’s Labour will probably wish to engineer on the other. But an interesting phrase, connected to the aforementioned concept, also came up in conversation: a strongly expressed desire on the part of the candidate I spoke to this evening to radically change Britain for the better. And my reaction was quite subdued; at the very least, we could say nuanced. Let me explain why.
I suggested that instead of wanting to radically change Britain – which quite easily could be interpreted as yet another prejudice-based obsession to change people where people-change is impossible – we should begin to construct a narrative around wanting to change the structures, companies and ways of seeing and making society that impact on our ability to radically be the people we always have been. That is to say, One Nation Labour should not end up a fresh-faced rerun of New Labour’s New Britain – forcing square pegs which are happy to be square pegs into round holes they quite vigorously dislike – but, rather, a newly forged adapting to those 21st century realities which involve the engendering of enabling instincts many good corporate organisations now use on a daily basis.
In short, instead of changing Britain, and by extension the people, we should be changing the environment in order to liberate and release the people.
The difference may be one of focus. The implications would, however, be substantial.
It’s not the people who are at fault – even as the Tories would have us believe this is the case. No. It’s the round holes which refuse to place themselves at the service of us incorrigibly square pegs.
Now worked on and fashioned carefully, that would be a tale worth weaving. If only the progressive souls amongst us would one day accept that the great political actors of the 21st century should focus on adapting environments to people and not the other way round.
Especially as the other way round has already been tried and found terribly wanting.
Electoral success would indeed come to those who might believe in such an approach.
My question running as follows: are we even able to properly comprehend the nature of the challenge?