Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just To Show They're Still Sincere. They Sing The Red Flag Once A Year

All eyes will be on Ed Miliband today during the Labour conference singing of the Red Flag.  Tony Blair always looked uncomfortable during this bit (at times doing a passable impression of John Redwood singing the Welsh national anthem).  

The right wing tabloids will be seeing the fervour with which the ridiculously named 'Red Ed' sings the old Socialist anthem.

It all reminded me of the old song, 'The People's Flag Is Palest Pink, part of the genius of Leon Rosselson, amongst others.  The first line of that song goes:

The people's flag is palest pink
It's not as red as you might think

Probably an interesting analysis of those who think that opportunist Ed is really a reincarnation of Nye Bevan.

The most apt verse for the present state of the Labour Party is the second one though.  Union barons (note not Labour Party members or MPs) have decided that the working class are best represented by a privileged, middle class, liberal intellectual from North London.  Ed Miliband probably represents one of those middle class intellectuals derided by Tony Blair in his autobiography as not understanding ordinary working class people or working class aspiration.  He is one of those Hampstead liberals who has an idealised version of ordinary working class people, while being happy to constrain their ambition or aspiration.

As Matthew Parris says in The Times today:

"He is one of those North London Labour intellectuals who find it genuinely difficult to believe that there could exist people of sound mind and humane instincts outside the circle of light in which the intelligent Centre Left feel they are bathed."

Of course, the Labour establishment and the trade unions rejected Andy Burnham, the one candidate who does genuinely understand working class aspiration and the one candidate who could genuinely have connected and empathised with aspirant voters.

Still, as the second verse of that old song said, the liberal middle classes always think they know what is best for ordinary working class people anyhow:

The cloth cap and the woollen scarf
Are images outdated
For we're the party's avant garde
And we are educated
So raise the rolled umbrella high
The college scarf, the old school tie
And just to show that we're sincere
We'll sing The Red Flag once a year

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