No moral compass, quite a bit of prejudice

From a very early age I recall wanting to know facts so I could make my mind up about things. I’ve never been one to take what is said to me as anything but one side of a story and possibly it’s utterly wrong and even prejudiced nonsense.

I’ve mentioned before that antisemitism was sadly an issue within my family with both my Dad and his mother being prone to make anti-Jewish statements/remarks. I’m not sure when on hearing these remarks I became curious about them but I was probably subject to them all my childhood. Did we know any Jewish people? Had they done my family some wrong? What was it all about? Not content with being antisemitic my grandmother was also anti-Catholic too and would not go into a Catholic church.

It was only later in life that it dawned on me that there were no credible reasons for some of my family being antisemitic and anti-catholic – they were simply prejudices handed down from one generation to another but not spoken of in polite company in case others thought them prejudiced!

It makes you wonder what on earth those of my grandparents and parents generations, who held such appalling views, thought they were doing fighting against Hitler when they seemed to hold some views of a similar nature!

I had been discussing such matters with my independently thinking feminist daughter who seemed a little surprised that I’d been asking some people I know if antisemitism had been an issue in their families and that I was interested in getting people to tell me what their prejudices are, why they hold them and who handed the prejudices on to them. Her point was that most people never think about their prejudices they just hold them and repeat them when they think the occasion requires.

I think antisemitism and anti-Catholic were the two big prejudices that I picked up on in my Dad’s family who were working class Tories. I think you could also include supporting the Tories and indeed the Church of England as family prejudices as they seemed to be handed down generation to generation too. They all stopped with me though.

I first realised that I was an atheist by not being able to get my head around why on earth I was being sent to Sunday School and Church as a child and young teenager. Of course I was being sent because of my Dad’s religious prejudices – he was a C of E protestant so he thought I should be too. I thought otherwise and having looked at religion decided it was not for me at all. However, at the same time I realised it was for some people and that they held many differing religious views which they were quite entitled to hold. I don’t hold prejudices against religions.

And what about politics? Well having realised that I wanted to get involved in it which party should I join or more precisely what do I believe in? Together with an old friend, who has since died, we found it interesting that he came from a Labour working class background and I came from a Tory working class background but we were both looking to form our own political views. What we did was to get hold of the party political manifestos of Labour, Liberals and Conservatives from the 1979 General Election and we read them. When we’d done that we both had decided that we were in fact Liberals and we’d come to that decision separately. We both joined the old Liberal Party in 1980 and via it, the SDP/Liberal Alliance and then the Lib Dems we perused socially progressive radical liberalism. My friend died in 1999 but I’m still a Liberal. I hope that does not mean I’m prejudiced in favour of the Lib Dems as I try not to be too loyal to them as they are simply a vehicle for delivering Liberalism. If a better vehicle comes along who knows……

To me religion, like politics is something we should all be confident about choosing for ourselves. I don’t think either are for passing down through the generations. You won’t be surprised therefore that I oppose state support/funding for religions and religious schools/education. For our Head of State to be the leader of one particular religion is frankly ridiculous to me in our multi-cultural society.

And what about that phrase ‘moral compass’ which is normally used when talking about politicians/political parties when there is a question about their ethics? There’s probably always been questionable ethics when it comes to political parties because they are tribal and some politicians will stop at nothing to either gain or retain power. The phrase moral compass is used quite often these days as our politics goes through a particularly rough patch. The lies and misrepresentations over Brexit are a clear example where many politicians have been accused of losing their moral compass. And here’s the rub, politicians with no moral compass will delight in playing to voters prejudices. In other words when voters have fixed, you might say ill-informed views, over a hugely complex issue like the EU that will be exploited by politicians who will feed them messages that they will want to hear. The complex issues don’t really get an airing at all as it suits both the some voters and politicians to stick to talking about and building on the prejudices.

Prejudices are learned; we are not born with them. Young children are not bothered by other children with different coloured skin. However, as they get older and if they come from families who hold racial prejudices then the racist behaviour of their family can and often will be picked up by their children who will think it normal to hold such appalling views.

Let’s face it I could have grown up to be antisemitic based on my family prejudices. Makes you think does it not………

Liverpool’s Labour politics – What’s going on?

If I spoke to some of those I know in the Labour Party who follow the Corbyn/Momentum creed I guess they would say that Louise Ellman, Luciana Burger and Jane Kennedy are bloody Tories who they are well rid of, or words to similar effect.

But Liverpool has now had 2 of it’s Labour MP’s resign from the party plus the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner and all in the last few months. Are we just seeing the further realignment of Labour into it becoming a pure socialist party and in the process shedding it’s social democrats and other more moderate factions/sects or is there something else going on too? Sadly, there can be little doubt that antisemitism is at play in this heady brew but people holding anti-Semitic views should surely not be a part of any political faction which looks upon itself as being progressive. Yet both the resigning Labour MP’s have clearly pointed to antisemitism as a big reason for their break with Labour.

I’ve spent the last 39 years involved in progressive politics and the trade union movement on Merseyside and in all that time I have never failed to wonder how Labour held itself together with so many widely divergent views within one tent. That it can no longer hold itself together is on one level no surprise yet all the same one of the big underlying issues for this schism are allegations of racism and not just another round of left V right push me – pull you.

Actually, it gives me little pleasure to see Labour struggling with issues which should really be entangling the right of politics not the left, but thereby hangs the dilemma. Very early in my political life I came across a young man, via my trade union, who as a Labour activist openly told me there were more racists in the Labour Party than in the Tory Party. I’ll never forget that view but then over time I slowly began to understand why. Labour has some supporters/voters who are tribal, they are almost literally born into the Party. The Tories are their enemy, as is anyone who is not Labour, yet some of them are far from being progressives and they can hold strikingly right wing views. It led me to coin the phrase – many Labour members/supporters are too right wing for me.

Wherever Labour is going politically they need to see off their racists and those who make excuses for them.

Oh and another thing that stands out; all 3 of the high profile Merseyside resigners are female. That’s also a huge concern, indeed it begs the question about how welcome women feel about being active in a major political party.

All political parties can attract people who are joining them for the wrong reasons; the trick is to remove them when they start to display inappropriate behaviours. Sadly, the problems can often be ignored rather than them being challenged. I fear Labour is now paying the price for ignoring inappropriate behaviour and that has the effect of normalising such behaviour.

Jeremy what would you do with him?

When Jeremy Corbyn got himself elected as Labour Leader my first thought was, at last Labour will become the socialist party that it should always have been. I also felt a little sorry for him as the right wing press and the right wing of his own party tried to undermine his leadership. Of course I’m no socialist and no supporter of the Labour Party but Labour moving to the left is where they belong to my mind.

Now don’t get me wrong Jez is a second division politician who got himself elected almost by default but he clearly has what one could call a cult-type following, which I have blogged about previously. That he is a second division politician has been born out though by his approach to the two big issues of our time.

Firstly, no leader of a progressive party could in any way back the right wing policy that is Brexit, yet he has done so whilst seemingly believing that there will be no job losses due to it! A detachment from realty is obvious as Brexit will lead to job losses and the poor will be made poorer. What kind of socialist or progressive stance is that?

Secondly, he’s got Labour up to it neck in antisemitism! How on earth has he managed to engineer a situation where such allegations can be made and why has he failed to address those most serious allegations of racism that are now being aimed at Labour, often from its own members. His cult devotees say it’s all a right wing conspiracy against Jez but really, saying that may comfort them but they must know it is a hole of the Labour leadership’s own digging.

Someone needs to take the shovel off Jez or he’ll soon dig another hole for Labour to fall into whilst the Tories continue to bumble on towards a most appalling Brexit for us all because they benefit from having no serious Official Opposition.