Oh for halcyon days of the 70s, and a return to the left-right combination
HAPPY days are here again. I’m joking, of course. But we could be seeing a welcome return to the past, that land where they did things differently: in our imaginations always better; in reality usually worse. Still, my wee heart leapt for joy when I saw the right-wing papers going doolally about a return to the 1970s.
The hysteria was prompted by announcements of new policies from the Labour Party (the proper one, not the daft Scottish one). Here’s a list, provided in shock-horror terms by a right-wing paper: “A ministry for employment rights, headed by a Cabinet minister. A workers protection agency to inspect workplaces and bring prosecutions. Revival of collective bargaining to improve pay, working hours and grievance processes. Councils of workers and employer representatives to set terms and conditions.
“New powers for trade union representatives, including right of entry to workplaces. All employees to have right to ask for flexible working. Living wage of £10 an hour by 2020 for all over-16s. Banning unpaid internships and zero-hours contracts. Shorter waits for state pensions. More rights for tenants, including caps on rent rises.”
I back them, every one. Proposals for a four-day week have also been mooted, or at the very least a 35-hour maximum working week. Not everything I want is on the list: mass arrests and prosecutions of shareholders (the “something for nothing” society); capital punishment for people hurting children; a severe crackdown on the hunting and shooting lobby.
But, hey, it’s a start. It’s not so much revisiting the 1970s that boosted my flagging morale as the return to traditional left v right politics and economic arguments. Such a welcome break from vacuous virtue signalling, Brexit and nationalism.
The loony liberal agenda is as much prevalent on the mainstream right as it is on the left. It’s only when workers’ rights or a strike is mooted that the right-wing mask slips and we’re forcefully reminded what it’s all about: the economy, stupid.
The philosophers and comedians agree that life is confusing. But never more so than now. Back in the 1970s, the papers, left and right, never stopped banging on about the “far left” and the “extreme left”. Today, they all, left and right, keep shrieking about the “far right” and “extreme right”.
Back in the 1970s, no one was more Euro-sceptical than the “far left”. In recent times, the left has allowed itself to be dominated by bitter, furious, greetin’-faced, Remain-obsessed liberals. In America, meanwhile, conservatives have become the most passionately opposed to war – probably because it involves foreigners – and President Donald Trump goes around the world seeking peace deals and sacking his hawks at home
In the face of liberal hostility, censorship, banning and abuse, right-wing commentators in the US now talk of a “crisis of civility”, and they are correct to do so. It’s the same over here, with the recent pantomime posturing in parliament over a wee, harmless proroguing making Britland an embarrassment around the world.
Embarrassment brings us to Scotland, where we’re ruled (to a small degree) by an independence-supporting party that spends all its time campaigning to remain in a union.
No wonder we’re all harking back to the past, the right to the 1950s, the left to the 1970s. As regards the latter, I never bought into all that “winter of discontent” propaganda that the right has cunningly instituted as historical fact.
But I wouldn’t really like a return to the 1970s in all respects. The trousers – always a trustworthy barometer of any era – were outlandish and the beer in pubs deplorable. No one can doubt that there have been advances – not just in trousers and beer – since the 1970s. But there has also been decline: in civility, common sense, the quality of confectionery, and morally uplifting persecution of the wealthy.
As for the future, for the first time I’m thinking of not voting for anyone. I think I’d prefer a system where, rather than backing one party, you could put ticks beside their various policies. However, that would probably take an hour or so and, lacking the relative leisure of the 1970s, I suspect we’re probably all far too busy for that sort of thing.
WOULD I take a child of mine to the football? I would not. I would shield him (or indeed her) from it, telling them it’s just a television programme, and that the stadia in reality are no more susceptible to visits than Narnia or the Klingon Empire.
The reason is that the language, rage and violent gestures of the fans would expose them to a side of human nature I’d rather they didn’t see. Perhaps I just mean Scottish nature. Here, fans are more permanently furious and downright rude than elsewhere.
Even in England, which my researchers tell me is quite near here, camera shots of fans beside the touchline show a generally good-natured, happy crowd, whereas here they’re always standing up and pointing furiously or shouting vile insults.
I write after revelations about the appalling abuse from rival fans suffered by Celtic captain Scott Brown. I don’t want to sound a note of controversy, but football is just a game and, objectively speaking, is really rather daft.
No player should have to experience the ghastly taunts that Brown has. He wouldn’t have to suffer such abuse if Celtic were playing a crunch game against White Witch United or Klingon Rovers.
SHOULD the police even be tweeting? In today’s PC world, they’re forever emitting right-on bilge, leading the lieges to lose confidence in them.
Their latest attempt to show they’re looking after us featured a tweet advising every citizen to prepare a “grab bag” in case of some unspecified emergency. The warning came out of the blue, so to say, and was prefaced by a peculiar claim that September is “preparedness month”, implying that we can remain safely unprepared the rest of the year.
Items that terrified punters were encouraged to pack included flashlight, radio, batteries, personal toiletries and whistle. Irreverent punters responded with their own essential items, usually alcohol-related, including gin, gin and gin, while in Scotland square sausage and Irn Bru appeared among the staples.
Fortunately, as someone who fears disaster any moment, I have for some years carried a “Rab-bag” containing notebook, camera, whisky flask, copy of The Hobbit, spare wig, taser (in case of meeting readers), change of underpants, and a dinner jacket.
One wonders, though, if the police have intelligence (no jokes, please) about something about to happen in September. Brexit-fuelled civil disorder? Empty shelves in the supermarkets? Inclement weather? I think we should be told.
MOST commentators agree that, when the end of British civilisation comes, the symbolic moment will be the closure of John Lewis.
The favourite store of “Middle England and the Other Bits” exudes cosy warmth, stability and good taste. That it has become largely unaffordable may be one reason why it has suffered its first half-year loss.
Certainly, one notices some departments – particularly electronics – with more staff than customers, while others, such as stationery in my experience, aren’t staffed at all. As I’m more likely to buy three quid writing paper than a five-grand wraparound TV set, this leaves me discombobulated.
In a surprise development, the store has blamed Brexit uncertainty for its woes, just as in 2014 it set up Scottish independence as an Aunt Sally. This exclusive revelation just in: not one person in the land is deciding whether or not to buy a bed, writing paper or wraparound television on the basis of Brexit uncertainty.
One good bit of news to emerge from the sad fall in profits is that the store might ditch its “Never Knowingly Undersold” pledge. It was always predicated on the premise that customers were too polite to point out that it was bilge.