Friday, 17 June 2016

A past that never was

A cup of tea with a Tunnocks caramel wafer
Let's all have a nice cuppa and be civilised
Warning: politics ahead!

Even if you're outside the UK, I think the murder of one of our politicians yesterday might have made the news where you are. The killing of Jo Cox, a Member of Parliament, has been reported internationally. These are politically turbulent times in the UK; in a few days we'll be voted whether to stay in the EU or leave, and it's led to a lot of nastiness. The campaigning should be about the EU, pure and simple, but what it's done is uncover a nasty vein of racism and fear of others in our society. I suppose you have to expose a festering sore in order to cut it out, but I wish that sore hadn't been exposed in such a horrifying way. I wish we hadn't needed a decent woman to be shot and stabbed in order for people to sit back and say, "Hang on, we've got a problem as a nation."

AA Gill - a journalist I frequently find annoying, I must say - wrote an excellent piece in The Times about nostalgia, "that most pernicious and debilitating Little English drug", and how it's affecting people's politics, about how they're longing for a Britain that never actually existed. I guess anyone who loves vintage likes to bathe in a little nostalgia every now and then. But it's impossible to engage with things from the past for a long time without encountering reminders that it wasn't that brilliant, actually. War. Poverty. Racism. Sexism. They had all those things then too, but plenty of them just weren't talked about, and a lot of it we prefer not to recall too often.

The past is a great teacher, if you're willing to learn from it.  As much as I love the fashions, films and homewares of the 1930s, I really don't like seeing its violent, divisive politics returning. If we're going to get all nostalgic about the past, let's do it by emulating the good stuff, the rejection of fascism, the acceptance into this country of child refugees (how can we be proud of having helped so many in the Kindertransports of the 1930s and refuse to give the same help today?), and a bit of common bloody decency.

15 comments :

  1. Hear, hear, dear Mim! You and the (usually annoying) AA Gill are spot on there. Much as I love the fashions of the late 1960s & early 1970s I have no desire to go back to the racism, sexism and downright horrid attitudes of the day.
    Even as recently as the 1980s I was spat at in the street and refused service in local pubs for daring to have a non-white boyfriend. Things have moved on and the bigots are in the minority which the good folk of Walsall proved when the odious Britain First attempted to organise an Anti-Islam march here and 12 people turned up to support them, hundreds preferring to join an Anti-fascist rally.
    Heartbreaking for the victims of Pulse and the friends and family of Jo Cox. xxx

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    1. Odious is too good a word for that lot!

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  2. Yeah, I could do without revisiting the, "Good old days"of the 1930's/40's but sadly, the same propaganda still seems effective. I mean, a poster of refugees made to look like an invasion? Oh no, there's nothing Nazi about that at all. Debating an issue on the facts rather than appealing to people's worst human tendencies would be refreshing, but the latter requires more work.

    I so wish I weren't writing this comment, and that we would have learned from the past to live in a better world.

    The assassination of Jo Cox, and the Pulse massacre illustrate the awful consequences of this sort of careless rhetoric. It is reckless, irresponsible, and outright ugly. There are decent people on both ends of the political spectrum just trying to do some good (Public service isn't so well paying that people go into it out of a desire for personal gain). We rarely hear about those people because they don't make for good headlines.

    I'm so sorry, sad, and just unable to bear the thought that the 21st Century has chosen to embrace the worst of the 20th.

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    1. You're right, the good stuff doesn't make the headlines in the same way. There are so many decent people out there.

      (On which note - big my goddaughter also did phone banking for Bernie. I think you'd like her!)

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  3. Very well put Mim! Of course, we've been hearing about Jo Cox's murder here in Belgium, in fact it was front page news. I cannot say I am really following UK politics, as I'm already struggling to keep up here in Belgium, but being off to the UK tomorrow, and being there in the week of "the vote", I'm sure I'll be keeping a close watch on events. xxx

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    1. It'll be interesting to hear how you find it. I think we're all thoroughly fed up of it now, and everyone of every persuasion is convinced we're all DOOMED.

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  4. What a dreadful few days it's been. I went to see Eddie Izzard speak about remaining in Europe earlier the week and he brought Harry Leslie Smith with him, and you know what, listening to that 93 year old man talk about growing up through the depression, fighting in the war, the forming of the E.U afterwards and how life has progressed. Wow! So, so powerful.

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    1. Yup, the good old days weren't very good if you needed healthcare or workers' rights.

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  5. Go to agree, Mim. Who would want to return to the "good old days"? I am sure that nostalgia is definitely clouding the brains of some people. How can anyone not be moved by the plight of the people in Syria and other countries torn apart by war, famine and all the other disasters that seem to happen on so regular a basis. Immigration is certainly being given an inordinate amount of attention by the Propaganda merchants like the BBC and the Daily Heil. I don't watch telly or anything so have just caught up with the news after reading this post. My heart goes out to that poor lady's family. Won't start a political rant on here but am deeply saddened by recent events too. Xx

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    1. I honestly can't understand how our politicians can (rightly) applaud the work of people like Nicholas Winton, then reject the opportunity to do their own good work along the same lines.

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  6. Well said Mim. You're absolutely right about what's happening in politics, not just here but across the world. It's horrifying. What happened to Jo Cox has reduced me to tears, several times. But I think that case is not just about politics, but also a reflection of the terrible lack of understanding of and provision for mental health issues. I really hope we are still 'in' after the 23rd, but then we have some hard work to do as a society. In the place where I work, we see lots of families who need lots of help, but as the funding for social services gets systematically hacked away, there is no one to provide it. It's a really false economy and leads into this feeling of 'if nobody's helping us, why should we help all those 'others'?' So many times in the last couple of years, when we hear of terror attacks, it transpires that the perpetrators have had sad lives, with bereavement, loss, abuse and exclusion. We need to be working with those issues to give people better lives. Yikes, soapbox!! Xxx

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    1. Oh, I am fully with you about the mental health issues. People simply do not get the help they need, in so many areas of society. It's terrible. And I think a lack of opportunity for young working class people is only going to make things worse - but don't start me on that rant!

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  7. Well said, Mim - I couldn't agree more.

    Veronica

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  8. Really well put Mim. I cant seem to find the words to express what I have been thinking but I'm glad you wrote this.

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  9. Right said Mim!
    I made the mistake of turning on the BBC & CNN news the other with Brexit baloney being harped on to no end. People are scared around the world right now, I think primarily because of financial reasons but it manifests as xenophobia and hate. YUK.

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