The verdict of the press is near unanimous. Labour’s manifesto is a call to take the country back to the 1970s. However, this may be a statement that will not resonate with a significant number of voters.
The 1970s were forty years ago. Today that decade is portrayed in dramas as an era of flares, glam rock, hot pants and dodgy sideburns. The BBC’s police show Life on Mars, set in 1973, focused on political incorrectness, not the economic and social servitude of those millions unfortunate enough to be members of militant unions. The economic and political history is all but invisible in popular culture. Anyone under the age of 50 will have no direct experience of what life was like in that decade.
This is where the teaching of history is important. However, it is unlikely that British history of the 1970s features strongly in the curriculum, except for the social reforms. The reason why Corbyn’s Labour has limited appeal for older voters is because, having lived through the 1970s once, they do not want to live through it again. Younger voters, not having experienced the Wilson/Callaghan years, have no such empathic connection. Labour was out of power for eighteen years from 1979 before it regained office. The party had to wait for a whole generation, who had no memory of the 1970s, to grow up and be able to vote. Now Labour pin their hopes on a generation who have no memory of communism.
Labour took office under a social democratic banner that was able to appeal to the young who did not know any better, and their elders, who believed it was now safe to vote Labour again. Tony Blair’s New Labour was built on the central premise that he inherited a party that was a toxic brand at the time. His detoxifying reforms were helped by the fact that the collapse of the USSR demonstrated that socialism was a failure, allowing him to adopt the Thatcher reforms and denounce dissent as ‘Old Labour’, capable of being ignored.
The young will not remember the existence of the USSR, its slave states held in bondage by Soviet tanks, the secret police and gulags, or the inefficiencies and corruption under the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’. Their ‘right-on’ history teachers will not teach them this either. Thus they are proceeding to the ballot-box seriously misinformed. On the basis of media reports, they have been deceived by a utopian idealism of a ‘new kind of politics’. It is not so new. It is into its second century and is marked by failure and human tragedy measured in millions of stolen lives.
The country is now facing a radical change in its economic and trade policy. Change always results in dislocation. Dislocation leads to discontent. The dislocation of the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century provided Marx with the information needed to put together a set of works that have been used to justify mass murder and cultural destruction on a scale never before seen in human history.
There has been a political revolution in this country following the Brexit vote. It is time there was a cultural revolution as well. The evils of socialism have been well documented. They have, however, been poorly publicised. At the same time capitalism is on the receiving end of unjustified beatings every day from politicians and commentators who are barely challenged when they pour out their bile on live television.
Socialisms of all flavours – state, national, Soviet – have been the cause of most human misery of the last century. This year marks the one hundred years since the start of this tragedy. If our broadcasters had any decency, they would educate the people of this country so they will not be deceived in to voting for policies that caused, and continue to cause, crimes against humanity.