This week I had a salutary reminder of the ghastliness of the Labour Party in the 1980s, and also my first glimpse of the nastiness of cyber-bullying. It was most unpleasant.
My recent book, Labour’s failure and my small part in it, was featured in an on-line article on the North Norfolk News website. The journalist, Alex Hurrell, made a good job of summarising the main messages and included the following statement: “He covers watershed moments in his lifetime within the Labour Party, including the 1984-1985 miners’ strike, which he labelled ‘a political disaster for the Left’”. She also correctly stated that Neil Kinnock was one my heroes.
The North Norfolk News site gives an opportunity for on-line comment and two came in quickly. One accused me of betraying the white working class. The second, from someone clearly very left-of centre, commented: “Supporting Kinnock over the Miners sets the tone for his beliefs”. Now if I have a very raw nerve it concerns the 84/5 miners’ strike. The development of subsequent romantic myths has completely obscured the reality of what was at stake, of what happened, and the long-term consequences.
Foolishly I therefore responded on-line asking how much the individual knew about coal mining. What I received in return was Where were you, Martyn? In Nottingham supporting the scab UDM”. Now for the record, what ever his misgivings, Kinnock supported the miners publicly throughout. I spent most of the strike working at the Coal Board establishing a company to bring new jobs to mining communities. But that is not the point. What we experienced from the hard left in the 1980s was a combination of sheer ignorance underpinned by personal vindictiveness. I can once remember a frustrated, Ashley Bramall, then Labour Leader of the Inner London Education Authority, giving a conference speech in which he expressed his frustration that “ignorance of a subject is now seen as some sort of advantage”.
So this recent exchange has been a dreadful reminder of the past. If, as seems almost certain, Jeremy Corbyn wins we may in for another very rough time. He will fail in the role and those of us who opposed him will be easy targets at local meetings. I’m glad I live in North Norfolk where we have fewer ideologues: it is likely to get rough in Norwich South where the Labour MP Clive Lewis has emerged as a leading Corbyn supporter. If I lived there I guess I’d stop going to meetings for the next eighteen months.
* Labour’s failure and my small part in it: a memoir for my grandchildren Martyn Sloman
Download here Labour’s failure and my small part in it
This short book contains detailed sections on the Labour Party at civil war and the miners’ strike. It is available free of charge as a download on this blog site (above) and on a personal website http://www.martynsloman.co.uk. A Kindle edition, priced 99p., the minimum permissible by the publisher, is also available (details on the personal website).