Sunday, 20 September 2015

Writing - A Labour of love

I have always been a political animal without being a soapbox mounting tub thumper. As a student I was tempted by the idealism of communism when that seemed to be the fairest way for humans to share this earth, and now I'm retired I've returned to consider the political world in which we live.

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Jeremy Corbyn

I am also a practising Christian and as such seem to have developed a strong sense of injustice. The above information coupled with the fact that the world seems to be under greater control by a smaller and smaller group of the super rich has alarm bells ringing as to the plight of the majority of us who are less fortunate.
Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party just over a week ago and the furore in the supposedly unbiased media has been almost embarrassing. The leader is always referred to as the ageing left winger. David Cameron is never referred to as a middle-aged right winger.

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Keir Hardie (1856 - 1915)

Keir Hardie died a hundred years ago this year and his biography shows a pattern of life so many experienced in the Victorian era and yet which has similarities with the world today. Hardie was the first leader of the Labour Party.
Hardie was illegitimate, brought up in poverty with no formal schooling, though his parents taught him to read and write.By the time he was 10 he was working 10 hour shifts down a mine as a 'trapper' opening and closing a door to help maintain the miners' air supply. Despite these disadvantages, Hardie became first a union official and then, in August 1892, the independent labour MP for West Ham South. He took his seat in Westminster but refused to wear the 'uniform' of black frock coat, starched wing collar and black top hat. Instead he wore a tweed suit and a deer stalker hat for which he was lambasted in the press as 'cloth cap in Parliament'. Interesting that today's media are frequently guilty of attacking what Corbyn wears!

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Founders of the ILP

The Independent Labour Party (ILP) was formed in 1893 by the above group of people that included Hardie. They formed the party because they disagreed with the Liberals over economic policy and the treatment of the poor. This new party worried the Liberals as they feared it would capture the votes of the working class voters.
Hardie spent the next five years building up the Labour Party, touring the country and finally getting arrested at a women's suffrage meeting. He was released quickly by the Home Secretary who feared embarrassment at having detained the leader of the ILP.
After many machinations by the Liberals and the ILP to form a pact to bring down the deeply unpopular Conservative government the Labour Party was formed in 1906 and in the General Election of that year had 29 MPs elected.

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Women's Suffrage

In 1908 Hardie resigned as leader of the Labour Party. He spent the rest of his life campaigning for women's rights, self-rule for India and the end of segregation in South Africa. As a pacifist he was appalled by the First World War and tried to organise an international general strike to end the war. 

Hardie died in a Glasgow hospital in 1915 after a series of strokes.

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Jeremy Corbyn has been described as a left winger when in fact he is what I would describe as a humanist. It seems that he identifies unfairness in society and his policies are designed to restore some kind of balance between the rich and the poor. It would appear that Corbyn sees the same injustices that Hardie identified and he has found support in the country. All power to his elbow.

God Bless