“If you tolerate this, then your children will be next” sang the Manic Street Preachers in 1998

So when I saw the headline about further cuts to school budgets, I was reminded of the song. For those of you who need a reminder about the state of the present UK Government, here’s a Not-Safe-For-Work (NSFW) reminder from Juice Media.

This was on the back of the markets punishing the UK economy over the Chancellor’s proposals to give the most well off some election-losing tax cuts at the expense of the poorest in society.

“Wasn’t the song by The Manics about the Spanish Civil War?”

It was.

Above – “If you tolerate this, then your children will be next,” by the Manic Street Preachers

The lyrics and historical references are summarised here.

One of the things I never spotted with the band who I was familiar with as a teenager was that they didn’t restrict themselves to love songs. It was something that got me looking into the never-found bandmate Richey Edwards, who they speak about in this video. All I knew until recently was that he disappeared and was never found again. What I didn’t know was what his legacy was, what he went through with mental ill-health, and that actually he was a very deep thinker who was also politically aware of what was happening at the time. Here he is talking about Britain and Europe – and the Establishment’s obsession with the past.

Above – video of what was Mr Edwards’ final interview

“I try to read and improve my mind, and get a better perspective on, y’know, world history”

Richie Edwards in Manic Street Preachers – ZTV – Artistspecial – 06/02/1995

The more extended TV interview on what looks like the Dutch channel ZTV in Feb 1995.

Fast forward to today’s events with the Enough is Enough campaign rallies today on 01 Oct 2022 – founded to fight the cost of living crisis.

“If you tolerate this government / these policies / these ministers….”

Take your pick.

“On the day of the latest energy price cap rise, Enough Is Enough, the trade union-backed cost of living campaign, has called for protests in the capital and 50 other British towns and cities.”

The Guardian, 01 Oct 2022

I’ve not caught up with what happened at other rallies around the country. I’m also mindful that we’re not back into the day-to-day reporting of politics on telly because the House of Commons is still in recess. Ten days to go. That plus the Tory Party Conference starts on Monday, with [political journalists’] eyes on who does not turn up as much as who does.

Although Cambridge wasn’t officially on the list of places where rallies were being organised, the longstanding but little known-about Cambridge & District Trades Council – part of the local Labour movement for the best part of a century, managed to get over 50 people gathered outside the railway station with only a couple of days notice on social media. It just happened to be on my way back from my double jab for flu & CV19, so stopped off on the way – and was asked to film. So here are two I made this afternoon.

(If you are willing and able to contribute a small amount towards my costs of production, please do at https://ko-fi.com/antonycarpen)

…before heading off to the Cambridgeshire Association for Local History event on the Ascension Burial Grounds with historian & author Alison Taylor. (A similar number of people there for what was our first in-person gathering – higher turnout than normal).

Above – speech by Cllr Anna Smith (Labour – Coleridge), and also Leader of Cambridge City Council

Another of our local city councillors – Cllr Niamh Sweeney (Labour – Newnham), also spoke.

Above – Cllr Niamh Sweeney – also Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union

I won’t get round to editing the remaining videos for a few days because as many of you know I’m not in the greatest of health and am in the process of going down with the inevitable post-exertional malaise that follows going anywhere by cycle in my case. (But I need to keep fairly active because heart.)

“What happens now?”

I have no idea – although a couple of us discussed some various things beyond strikes and rallies locally. I think Cambridge learnt lots in 2019 from the approach from Extinction Rebellion’s early gatherings. The number of people turning up to neighbourhood meetings in residential areas astonished me. I think the same principle can apply to the multiple crises happening now: book the spaces, invite the people to events where there is ***lots*** of breakout group discussion, and let a grassroots consensus emerge. This contrasts very much with the approach to the austerity measures and the responses in 2010 from the mainstream unions where the long-held ‘establish a committee, one speaker at a time’ approach stuck.

Re-learning the basics of government and politics – or learning the basics for the first time

My generation was never taught government and politics at secondary school. So there’s a generation or three that is missing the essentials of finding out about power and government:

“What power have you got?

Where did you get it from?

In whose interests do you exercise it?

To whom are you accountable?

And how can we get rid of you”

Tony Benn MP

Ironically he was talking about the European Union, on which he was a life-long sceptic but from a left-wing perspective. His opposition dates from an era that pre-dated the European Parliament and the Social Chapter – which John Major’s Gov’t opted out of because it gave workers extra rights. Tony Blair’s Government ratified it in the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997 as per their manifesto commitment.

Several years ago I ran a workshop at St Philip’s Church on Mill Road which taught people about the link between communities, local government, and central government from the perspective of a local resident (rather than the perspective of the institutions). I’ve got the notes buried away somewhere if people are interested.

Food for thought?

If you are interested in the longer term future of Cambridge, and on what happens at the local democracy meetings where decisions are made, feel free to:

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