What’s right with the left, is what’s left of the right, right?
By Joe Mellor, In house Reporter
When I was a child growing up watching political programmes on a Sunday morning (I know, I should have got out more) I believed that Labour and Tory politicians would not talk, let alone socialise together outside of work. I imagined Neil Kinnock would elbow drop Nigel Lawson in the cloisters of the Houses of Parliament, after the Chancellor’s autumn statement.
I was stunned when I discovered that this wasn’t the case, some of them were even friends. And this was in the 1980’s when the left and the right were clearly defined.
It didn’t make sense, the lefties my parents hung out with never mixed with anyone from the right, they were the enemy.
I can vividly remember walking into some of my parent’s friend’s houses, hearing the wind chimes, smelling the lentils and seeing the CND sticker in the window.
I would think to myself, “here we go again.”
You can try too hard.
And why did none of their trousers ever reach their ankles?
This is not to denigrate the left. To use a phrase used by any second (or third) rate football manager, you play percentages, and in my opinion there are a higher percentage on the left who are virtuous than on the right. However, lefties who whole heartedly believe they have the higher moral ground are not always correct. Not everyone on the left has their heart in the right place.
It might be self-indulged (probably already too late for that) but a short poem by my father illustrates this point, better than I can.
He had dealt amazingly successfully
with sexism, racism, classism
ageism and even able-bodiedism.
But at the end of the day
he was still a total shit.
Just because you are earnest doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else. Nobody wants to be lectured to by a middle class lefty, and that’s coming from one.
The problem is that to become a fully paid up member of the left you have to have an ideology and stick to it rigidly, which leaves you open to criticism and also creates a siege mentality.
“So you don’t believe in globalisation, where was that t-shirt you are wearing made?”
You can’t win, so you retreat back to your own kind and never venture outside of your closed circle again.
The right’s ideology is to make money. Even the working poor – who should in theory be left wing – can see the sense in that.
Huge swathes of the population have liberal (with a small l) values and will donate to charity, care for the homeless, and believe in some sort of benefit safety net for the poorest in society. However, they vote Tory come polling day.
People on the right don’t make you feel guilty about owning a car, buying property and, most importantly, their trousers fit properly.
Whether we like it or not, we live in a world where presentation matters. It is easy to aspire to be rich because it looks pretty good. The left doesn’t have a very good marketing policy. To misuse a phrase, on the left where there is muck…there is more muck.
But could the left clean themselves up maybe even with the help of the right?
Both sides of the political divide can learn a lot from each other. I’m not saying a hedge fund manager should live in a treehouse with Swampy (I can’t think of anyone who would want to do that, regardless of their political leanings) but sharing ideas, no matter how divisive, creates debate, and from that eventually understanding.
Preaching to the converted just confirms the status-quo.
If everyone in the room nods in agreement at each other’s point that is a bad sign not a good one. Congratulating each other on how wonderfully Right on you are isn’t activism, it’s conservatism.
So beware, just because you marched against capitalism, eat Fairtrade food and bought a herd of cattle in Africa via Oxfam for Christmas doesn’t mean you have everything all right, right?
For more information about Dr Nigel Mellor please visit www.nmellor.com
For more information or to purchase the book of poems “For the enquiry” please visit http://bit.ly/theinquiry