Political reflections at Samhain
It's the time of the Crone, the period of Samhain. It's a good time to look back. I always catch myself at this time of year reflecting on my political experiences of the last 4 years. I think it must be the approaching AGM of the Wales Green party that sends my memories reeling and cascading through my dreams and my perceptions .. Perhaps it’s because my blog all too Human is now two years old.
2014 saw the death of Jeremy Thorpe and it frequently has had the effect of making me reflect on that period of the late 70`s. In those days forty years ago. Whatever can be said about Thorpe does not take away from the fact he understood pro to-Environmentalism, called for the bombing of Rhodesia and thought in challenging ways. He was a long way from the bland Liberal Democrats of today. When I look at Vince Cable, amongst others the blandness overwhelms me and I see the shark suited bullies massing on the Tory side of the House of Commons waiting to gobble him up just as they consumed and destroyed Nick Clegg I see the community politics that they once espoused becoming no more than a means to keep a few MPs alive and functioning. There is no existential meaning for them anymore. I see it peeping out of the eyes of Peter Black and Kirsty Williams. They are all action with no purpose or meaning.
At Christmas 1977 I was elected Chairperson of the Welsh Young Liberals. It was a difficult election I had begun as the outsider and was facing two other candidates. I stood on a Libertarian Socialist platform my main rival was a traditional Liberal from Cardigan and another candidate from Cardiff.
Leighton Andrews our former Minister of Education in Wales pushed the Bangor delegation my way and I narrowly won. I can't escape the irony though that when I became Leader of the Welsh Green Party most of my critics came from the same area..West Wales. I must have some ancient and long lasting Karma with the area. Of course all this speculation is merely a literary device.
I think of other events of the 70`s. Peter Hain`s acquittal on a bank robbery charge in 1975 at that time we believed that the South African Secret Service was seeking to destroy the old Liberal party to make Tory victory certain at the next election. We believed the same thing about the Thorpe allegations and some hints from Harold Wilson’s reflections made us more suspicious of intelligence plots. There is a very interesting book called the Penncourt files and I recommend you to read it.
Then I remember a TV programme about infiltration of the Stop the 70`s tour by police and intelligence services. And now nearly three years short of my 60th birthday I still reflect on this role of the state in disrupting the radicals. Even Fred Fitton of the SWP had spent some time as a Young Liberal at the time of Louis Eaks time as chairperson of the Young Liberals.
I remember Dai Griffith beating the future Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans to become President of Swansea Students union. Some weeks ago I heard the same but now Nigel Evans MP lay into Tom Watson over allegations against Leon Brittan. I can't help thinking that Nietzsche's observation was that our morality was based on our wounds. Young Nigel is raving about Witch Crazes and persecutions. However, I can't help thinking that it was Nigel's government that brought in Section 28 and despite his own revaluations and experiences I would simply say to him if your Party brings in legislation that allows persecution and witch hunting then your true morality and integrity should have made you resign at the time.
I remember a book written by Peter Hain called “Radical Regeneration” in it he condemns Labour as a hack party. Having lived in in his constituency for three years I realise that he was he describing the Neath Labour party and I wonder if late at night he reflects upon that. In chapters 4 and 5 he describes a realignment of the radicals into a new political movement. Looking back nearly forty years I realise that the time has come to see those principles in my ageing self that makes me rave at the time of the Celtic new Year.........
But to return to the book I ask you to take a look. You will be surprised. We are there, the modern Green Party in Peter Hain`s words. Perhaps the rise of Jeremy Corbyn is also a reflection of this. However, I see no changes in the bland Neath Labour Party and I reflect that in Neath Port Talbot Adult Social Services has become “outsourced” to a private company.
Perhaps it is the dark mornings and the experience of ageing at the time of the arising of winter ..... but then again it may be that I am now liberated from the past and can begin to tell my story. This blog will allow me to do this, there are many articles, speculations, literary and philosophical issues and a novel called “Valley of Steel”. It deals with the experiences of a leader of a small environmental party in a Southern Welsh City during the early years 21st century. It's all made up though..there never was an Edwin Salesbury...but you may know different. And Spring 2018 is coming after a long personal Winter.
I have always been interested in seeing what goes on behind the scenes, at the things that I deny about myself and what others deny about themselves. Over the last 50 years or so it has led me to some interesting places, people and ideas. At Christmas a friend of mine bought me a copy of the Pencourt File, it's a study of the Intelligence Services attempts to destabilise the Wilson Government of 1974 to 1976. When I was involved in a previous incarnation of political activity, I read the magazine "Borderlands" which looked at the role the same services role in their infiltration of the Radical, the Left and the Green movement. As we approach another five years of Right wing government my thoughts go back to these issues.
There is an area where the secret state intersects with our paranoia and our fears. The Left and all critical views tends to attract to it a higher proportion of people who are suspicious, egotistical and obsessive. Of course this proportion is small but nevertheless there. Just recently I read a psychotherapy article about that if you compare 100 political activists with 100 non political activists the non-activists are significantly less neurotic. Anthony Storr`s book the Political Psyche is a rich read indeed......but still there is no harm in a speculative flow of consciousness.......
There is however something I have observed over the years...wherever I have been involved in politics and campaigning I always encountered individuals who have a military or police background underwent an Epiphany and turned to the Left........perhaps innocent I know, but then again......I often wonder that with the growth of the anti-fracking movement, for example, would reveal about police or military backgrounds of a few key activists. I have charted how some activists reappear and disappear over a number of years. They usually appear when the Green party is gaining in strength or we see the rise of a genuine Socialist Labour Party and power and are always involved in controversy and dispute.
The psychological view of Freud is that individuals project and displace their fears and loathings on to others The sadness is that where the secret state meets the psychotic the intersections are many and varied and defeats speculation. Knowing the difference is crucial and essential. But then again, which quadrant of the Venn diagram have I wandered into in the silly season in the dog days of rationality that is at the time of the Crone and Samhain ?