Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

trimdon labour club

There was a report from the Trimdon Labour Club on Radio 4 this morning, a place that was described as the epicentre of New Labour. The piece brought memories of the excitement of the 1997 election. Everything really did seem new and hopeful then.

I don't think, though, that I had much clue about what New Labour was, or would become. For me, the 'New' bit just meant something like 'a fresh start'. I had memories of flawed but inspiring idealists like Tony Benn and Michael Foot, and of decent pragmatists like Dennis Healey and Jim Callaghan. I had the ideologies of Victorian socialist pioneers, like Marx and William Morris. Not that I am remotely a Marxist but I do feel that his and Morris’ writings are society's conscience.

I had my membership of the party too and the words on the back of the membership card that read like they might mean things that Morris, et al, might approve of.

I had no idea that the 'New' in New Labour would mean a party that was largely unrecognisable to anyone who remembered 'old' Labour when it was in power.

Not that the last 13 years have been bad for us personally. We have spent that time first coming to terms with my family's particular tragedy, then recovering from it, and house price inflation and low interest rates have helped us.

But hasn’t middle-class prosperity, welcome though it is, been bought at a high price? The gap between averagely well-off and disadvantaged has burst open under New Labour (and it is this gap, more than the astonishing headline-grabbing one between super rich and super poor, that is really significant, I suspect). 'Stability', not least the illusion of relative stability that has been created during this slump, has been propped up by a dishonest and irresponsible national borrowing policy.

The empty tackiness of Brit Art and the terminal scuzziness of the expenses scandal are, it seems, just the surface cracks in a building that is built on the shoddiest foundations.

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