As I settle into comfortable retirement in our village, BBC Radio Norfolk is one of life’s real pleasures. I particularly enjoy the predictability of the phone-in football programme, ‘Canary Call’, which follows the final whistle after every Norwich City game. Comments from those who not only didn’t see the game under discussion but haven’t seen one for decades are always treated with the utmost courtesy.
My favourite however will always be ‘Rodeo Norfolk, Radio and Norfolk’s Country and Western Programme’,which goes out between 0900 and 1200 on a Saturday. Half way through, the feature is ‘Your Country Collection’: listeners send in six records and the excellent presenter, Keith Greentree, chooses three to play. I am proud to say that my selection has been played on four occasions and I have just submitted a fifth. This pride was punctured when I met one the BBC executives who told me that, unusually for a listener, I always identified the right artist and song title and was able to spell their names correctly; it was this, rather than any musical judgement, that had provided the platform for my success.
It was no surprise therefore when, on Monday 18thFebruary, I received a phone call from the station. I thought it was a query about my latest country collection submission, but in fact the call was a request for the radio interview that is reproduced the blog immediately below. It was a response to the major news story of the day: that a group of seven Labour MPs had formed an independent group as a reaction to the current Labour Party leadership.
Listening to the clip I wish I had been a little clearer that I am not currently planning to leave a Party that I joined over 50 years ago. I wouldn’t have changed anything else I said – I am disgusted by the anti-Semitism and by the behaviour of those, including North Norfolk Labour Party Members, who defend the leadership’s inept handling of the issue. To his immense credit Labour’s Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, hit the right note with his statement the following day. To quote: “The instant emotion I felt, when I heard the news this morning that colleagues were leaving Labour, was deep sadness. I love this party. But sometimes I no longer recognise it”.
Tom Watson continued: “The tragedy of the hard left can be too easily tempted into the language of heresy and treachery. Betrayal narratives and shouting insults at the departed might make some feel better briefly but it does nothing to address the reasons that good colleagues might want to leave”. Too true, Tom. My inbox the following day was full of communications from various Labour factions and included the following gem from Momentum: “[Leslie and Chuka] are attacking Labour for “weaken[ing] our national security”, supporting “states hostile to our country” and being “hostile to businesses large and small”.In short, their agenda is for war and big business”. Work your way through that tortuous logic! It illustrates why I cannot currently make the effort to attend North Norfolk Labour Party meetings while Momentum exercise control.
So, as Tom Watson so eloquently articulated in his statement, if the Labour Party is to survive time is short; it is vital that the scale of the problem is recognised if further defections are to be avoided. Ironically such sentiments were captured perfectly in one of my songs submitted for the Country Collection. It is ‘Love me like I’m leaving’by Sugarland: a recognition that a relationship can only be rebuilt if the emotions underpinning imminent break-up are recognised. I hope that Keith Greentree will play it one coming Saturday – but not on 23rdMarch when I will be in London for the Remain rally.
leftyoldman blogs will appear occasionally as the Brexit battle continues and the shape of post Brexit politics emerges. If you would like to receive email notification of future blogs, please press the ‘followleftyoldman’ button on the left hand side above. I continue to tweet at @eugrandparents.