“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” – Lewis Carroll
The Humpty Dumptys have sprung out of the traps since Labour’s Election debacle. Mandelson, Blair and Miliband Snr, along with their pit bull Lord Sugar, wheedle for the Party’s return to Labour’s ‘inclusive’ big tent throbbing with blue-collar and middle-class ‘aspiration’, safe from the polluted air of Miliband Jnr’s ‘left wing’, anti-business rhetoric.
The problem for these fairground barkers is that economic recovery to sustain such aspiration remains pretty chimeric for the swathes of society who have seen their economic fortunes decline or at best stagnate. So they’re not turning up for the show any more but drifting elsewhere. Because this isn’t 1997, like the barkers claim, when fundamental faith in the financial system was a night-follows-day given for the many.
It’s actually still the horizon-less hangover period following the seismic Bank Bust of 2008, when the rug was pulled from under that fundamentalism. Since then aspiration has become replaced by a quiet, angry desperation of knowing that the free marketeers failed on their promises, that things are going to continue to get worse not better for so many, and that it’s going to be many years before any real recovery occurs. In their water people know that The Debt bugaboo hasn’t gone away and its jeopardy remains. At least that’s my sense of things.
As a filmmaker in a precarious profession I have to think that my job involves being in some kind of touch with what’s happening beneath the surface of our lives. How else might my work find its audiences? My screenplay for The Crunch reflects my sense of a simmering foreboding for the future. And combustible anger towards the Big Top’s ever richer, more powerful owners and their managers in the political and civil institutions. Its vision of financial and social mayhem and near civil war is dark. But its readers are unshocked. “It feels so real…You’d better get it made soon!” many say.
But Labour continue to go for the comfort, not the discomfort, zone in the collective not-so-unconscious. They fail to address those who now feel, re Groucho Marx and New Labour’s ‘inclusion’ mantra, increasingly included out of the free marketeers’ promised land – and a growing number of the uncomfortable middle class of all ages are among them. It’s hard to see how it can recover without engaging with this malaise and moving away from its City barkers’ influence.
There are apparently already signs of disillusioned Labour voters either moving Green-wards or resigning from a political apparatus that has failed them. New Labour looks old hat. Humpty Dumpty can’t be put together again and time is being called on the old Party machine. 999 Caller Jo Land’s partner James Doran has written incisively on a fractured Labour’s potential splitting.
Meanwhile tears and fears among the NHS campaigners have been rapidly replaced by a new determination. There’s a sense of relief that the omerta imposed on Labour supporters by the City-supping Mandeblairson regime still at large in Labour has now been lifted. After the divisiveness among campaigners caused by the regime’s campaign apparatchiks, could unity develop between disillusioned Labourite faithful and indies like 999 Call For The NHS who didn’t fall in with the Party line? And could the NHS Reinstatement Bill campaign set an example of cross-party political opposition to the now gung-ho free marketeers?
Over the last month I’ve by default become directly involved in the NHS Bill campaign. Asked by Joanna to help with a Guardian letter appeal from her and Professor Allyson Pollock for support for the Bill we got 84 signatories including ambulance drivers, senior consultants and a number of the great & good ranging from Melvyn Bragg to Steve Redgrave. 999 Call For The NHS continue to accrue signatories – over 2000 at the last count – including large numbers from across the NHS, and my involvement continues as plans are hatched for the NHS Bill group’s and 999 Call’s future campaign strategies.
“Your problem is you’ve become part of the story…” Joanna said to me last weekend. It’s an amoeboid part and I haven’t yet worked out whether or how to deal with it in the Groundswell film, which it has somewhat backseated recently.