Saturday, 3 September 2016

The October Revolution

There are many reasons why I do not begrudge those Eton boys their audience of President Putin.

One is that trade union leaders of the generation that is now passing away were much the same age when, albeit as bag-carriers, they accompanied their predecessors around the world.

In those days, the leaders of the British trade union movement could gain access to anyone they wanted, anywhere on earth.

Something similar applied to those who ran the largest British municipalities, again often accompanied by very young protégés.

At least as much as the public schools, local government and the unions were the ladders of advancement.

Including for people, such as Jeremy Corbyn, who had been failed by the very overrated grammar schools system.

The main effect of that, and presumably its main purpose, was to produce lower-middle-class people who were embittered, or just plain unambitious.

Like the public schools, local government and the trade unions in their heyday were many things, but they were certainly never unambitious.

They were largely destroyed by a Prime Minister who was determined that, if she had to be a desperate housewife of little or no culture, then so did everybody else.

She would have liked to have done the same to the public schools. But she was in their party, and they did eventually get it back from her in spectacular fashion.

In order to do so, they rode on the coattails of the Militant Tendency. It, and not the then Leadership of the Labour Party, organised the fully successful campaign against the Poll Tax.

That measure had put her 20 points behind in the polls, so that her MPs were facing electoral wipeout unless she was removed.

She was, and the man who had wielded the knife was immediately given responsibility for bringing back the rates in all but name, as he duly did. His party then unexpectedly won the 1992 General Election.

Margaret Thatcher herself never tired of bitterly pointing all of this out. The veterans of Militant have never stopped crowing about it.

But no one else has ever been quite able to admit it. Instead, a story has been constructed that was all something to do with the EU. It was not.

It was about the aristocratic wing of the Conservative Party's seizure of an opportunity presented by a group of mostly Scouse Trotskyists who had already been expelled from the Labour Party.

To those Trots, on the presenting issue itself, those Tory toffs took great pleasure in surrendering entirely, once the minor inconvenience of Thatcher as Prime Minister had been dealt with.

Fast forward a quarter of a century, and boys from Eton can gain access to the President of the Russian Federation before he has ever met Theresa May.

There is every reason to assume that so could Corbyn. Very probably accompanied by certain teenage stalwarts of social media, no public schoolboys they.

The idea is perfectly delicious that they, too, might shake Putin's hand before she ever did, and might also plaster the photographs all over the Internet.

Roll on the October half term holiday.


  1. A triumphalistic account of the 1990 coup against Lady Thatcher and the Community Charge, which had it survived would have been hailed as one of the greatest reforms in British history. Unfortunately you are correct, the posh boys (both parts are important) removed the best Prime Minister since the War in response to organised Trotskyite agitation and violence, and they brought back the rates under another name, complete with the exemptions for the Trots' base of students and council tenants. A shameful episode.

    1. I am no great fan of the Council Tax, as they decided to rename the rates when they brought them back. But neither New Labour, nor the Coalition, nor the SNP has ever touched it. And its (re)introduction drove the banished Thatcher up the wall.

  2. Let us not forget the original poll tax proposed by Thatcher, required that each individual pay the same amount. Hence the monika. The amount was approximately the same as the rates for an individual dwelling. So a modest house with six adults, could be paying three times that of a mansion with two adults. It hasn't been addressed since because this massive hike for the poorest most crowded households, alongside a massive drop for the largest properties, never happened.