Friday, February 03, 2012

The Lanchester Declaration

Our good friend, the anti-war blogger and writer, David Lindsay, has asked me to post this ‘Lanchester Declaration’, which I am very happy to do.

1. Our common position is one of absolute commitment to the Welfare State, workers’ rights, trade unionism, the co-operative movement and wider mutualism, consumer protection, strong communities, conservation rather than environmentalism, fair taxation, full employment, public ownership, proper local government, and a powerful Parliament.

2. That is fully compatible with a no less absolute commitment to any, all or none of the monarchy, the organic Constitution, national sovereignty, civil liberties, the Union, the Commonwealth, the countryside, traditional structures and methods of education, traditional moral and social values, economic patriotism, balanced migration, a realist foreign policy, an unhysterical approach to climate change, and a base of real property for every household to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State.

3. Our common position as set out in 1 above requires a truly national party. In the service of that common position, a truly national party would respect and take account of all of the commitments set out in 2 above, though without requiring any of them.

4. A truly national party would be profoundly sensitive to the interests, insights and aspirations of agriculture and manufacturing, small and medium-sized businesses, each and all of the English ceremonial counties, each and all of the Scottish lieutenancy areas, each and all of the Welsh preserved counties, each and all of the traditional Northern Irish counties, each and all of the London Boroughs, and each and all of the Metropolitan Boroughs.

5. A truly national party would be profoundly sensitive to the interests, insights and aspirations of the countryside, local government, the trade unions, mutual enterprises, voluntary organisations, and social and cultural conservatives.

6. A truly national party would be profoundly sensitive to the interests, insights and aspirations of people who cherished ties throughout the world, most especially within these Islands and the Commonwealth, but also to the Arab world and Iran, the Slavic and Confucian worlds, Latin America, and elsewhere, in principle including any country on earth, and ideally including all of them.

7. None of the above would be to the exclusion of the interests, insights and aspirations of financial services, the presently favoured parts of the country, the towns and cities, social and cultural liberals, or those who cherished ties to Continental Europe, the United States of America, and the State of Israel. But it would exclude any new Cold War against Russia, China, Iran, or anywhere else.

8. A truly national party would always give priority in international affairs to the ties within the Commonwealth and within these Islands, and could have no truck with any idea of the American Republic coercively imposing utopianism. It would reject that idea’s rewritten Marxism in which the bourgeoisie is the victorious class, because it would reject all class-based politics in favour of what Aneurin Bevan called “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon”.

9. A truly national party would fight every seat as if it were a knife-edge marginal.

10. A truly national party as a vehicle for our common position would draw deeply on a heritage variously trade unionist, co-operative and mutual, Radical Liberal, Tory populist, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and so on. Integral to that heritage is a valiant history of opposition to all of Stalinism, Maoism, the Trotskyist distinction without a difference, Nazism, Fascism, and the Far Right regimes in Southern Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. Those who have never recanted their former Stalinism, Maoism or Trotskyism, or their former support for those Far Right regimes, admitting that that stance had been wrong at the time, can have no part in a truly national party.

David Lindsay, Parish Councillor, Lanchester, County Durham; Tutor, Collingwood College, Durham;
Rachel Banner, True Wales
Adam Bartlett, Labour Party member, Slough
Patrick Carr, Dipton, County Durham;
Tim Collard, Edinburgh; Retired British Diplomat (Germany and China);
Ann Farmer, Woodford Green, Essex; Writer and Researcher;
Peter Kilfoyle, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton, 1991-2010; Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science, 1997-1998; Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, 1998-1999; Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence, 1999-2000
Mark McNally, Tutor, Collingwood College, Durham
Dr Martin Meenagh, Tutor, Lecturer and Barrister, London;
Margaret Pattison, Councillor, Lancaster City Council
Robert Pelik, Doctoral Candidate, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham
Richard Robinson, Councillor, Broxtowe Borough Council


David Lindsay said...

Very many thanks, Neil.

Simom said...

Will you sign this too, Neil?

Robin Carmody said...

Unlike some of its other critics, I do not simply mock and laugh at Lindsayism. I recognise that it is an important position and movement, which represents genuine and heartfelt opinions within certain parts of the population, which need to be dealt with and engaged with.

But all the same I cannot help thinking that they don't really have their heart in point 7, and that ultimately this is a longer and more sophisticated way of saying "Mistajam and Cameo and Logan Sama and Charlie Sloth should be sent back where they came from". I recognise the importance and value of the things that Lindsayites cling to; it is just that I believe we are a better, broader, more tolerant society now, and if that means we lose good things, that we are worse in some ways because we are better in others, then so be it. I just don't think the restrictions on diversity and reductions in freedom that would be required to create again a Lindsayite society - tempting though it is in some ways - are prices worth paying. I love what we have created now, for all its faults, too much for that. Maybe I'm wrong; I can certainly see both sides. I just don't think an artificial restriction of cultural evolution is the way ahead, that's all.

Neil Clark said...

David, You're very welcome.

Hi Robin, I don't agree with you on yr interpretation of point 7 and I'm sure David will want to come back on that point.

'simom', I agree with large chunks of the Lanchester Declaration, but not quite every bit of it. I'm more than happy to publicise it here. It's great that someone is making an effort to get something started instead of just sitting back and sniping, without putting forward any proposals themselves. There's plenty of commentators out there who criticise, but far fewer who actually come out and say what they DO stand for and I salute David for that.

Brambo said...

Whilst I too have difficulty with some of its elements, and the Christian death-cult influenced anti-'choice' part in particular, we do indeed require desperately real political choice and this movement is promising just that. Would that 'Occupy' could get its political act together so succinctly. Well done for publishing it Neil.

Neil Clark said...

Thanks, Brambo. As I said earlier, it's very easy just to snipe and say we're opposed to: here we have someone having the courage to come out and put forward possible solutions. All three of our major parties are singing frm the same neoliberal hymn sheet and we desperately need more meaningful political choice, as you say.

David Lindsay said...

You are very kind, Neil. And hardly any slouch yourself, thank goodness. With which bits, exactly, do you disagree, and why?

I sincerely do not know what Robin means, and if Brambo is referring to abortion, then, like the definition of marriage among other things, it is deliberately not mentioned, and in fact I do not know the views of several signatories on those subjects, simply because I have never asked.

If anything, point 7 takes care of that: as long as social liberals will let the rest of us vote according to our consciences (and the views of, for example, John Smith) on abortion and certain other supposed wedge issues, then we will do likewise in the service of point 1, the implementation of which would in any case result in far fewer abortions, in far less call for euthanasia or assisted suicide, and so on.

At state and local level, the Democratic Party has always remained fairly solid in much of the South and the West by adopting this approach, and is currently experiencing a significant revival in those areas. Yes, some of those Democratic torch-bearers (black and white) are strongly pro-life. But social conservatives have to be well to the left economically to be Democrats at all. And they are: economically well, well, well to the left of the leading liberal Democrats.

This is not a Christian project as such (again, I have no idea what some signatories' religious beliefs or affiliations are). But which "Christian death cult", exactly? Radical Liberalism, with its close ties to the chapels? Tory populism, with its close ties to the C of E? Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism, mainstays of the Labour and kindred core votes throughout the Anglosphere, looking to British Labour in post-War Italy and Germany, and now merged prominently into the principal vehicle of the Italian Left, within which Catholicism is the major bulwark against neoliberal and neoconservative tendencies? Christian Socialism, drawing heavily on all three of those?

Whereas I can think of several anti-Christian death cults, and I suspect that you might be or have been rather sympathetic towards one or more of them.

Martin Meenagh said...

As far as I can tell, Mistajam--who looks surprisingly like Sir William Arthur Lewis--comes from Nottingham, Logan Sama is from Brentwood, Charlie Sloth is from Camden and Cameo may not even be unfamiliar with Putney. Horses for courses, Robin--I'd like to see these artists earning and paying proper taxes to support the state, as I'm sure they try to do, and so on.

What's with the 'clinging' stuff? Guns and Bibles? We tolerate too much, really--too much mediocrity, too much educational failure, too much liberal rubbish about not giving offence (because we've forgotten about courtesy, or the threat of a punch on the nose which used to underpin it and have to have it imposed) and too much atomising crony capitalism, and too much warmongering.

People don't think clearly anymore, which may be the effect of having anyone, but especially the likes of Mistajam, pour the sort of stuff he does into people's ears via mp3 players. Evolution is a natural process; intelligence and civilisation are about bending and repressing nature and creating useful artificial things where necessary, whilst disapproving--that's all I'd do--of less useful things.

I'm tone-deaf, really, though I do like a good tune and middlebrow music. I'm open to a bit of eminem. I just don't understand grime or the sundry iterants your list of DJs there reference. I'd like to think that it was just for the kids, but you're obviously an adult and into it and, frankly, it confuses me. Is there anything you'd recommend (I mean that) to listen to that anyone might like?

Martin Meenagh said...

"grime" also seems into killing and stabbing, swearing, and treating women badly whilst reinforcing failure. Or is all that just ironic and on a par with Titus Andronicus or the Book of Revelations? The one thing I'd say for it is it sounds like it'd do some good in a gym, but even there you can't beat a bit of the bee gees. :)

Martin Meenagh said...

I take all that back. I have just watched two fellows on youtube, 'Dizzee Rascal' (Sirens) and 'Ghetts' (Artillery) and they seemed to be quite tongue-in-cheek. Not keen on all the racist language and gun stuff, but one of them seemed to be going on about St Lucia and Parmesan as far as I could tell.

jock mctrousers said...

This is the only part that matters:

"...would reject all class-based politics in favour of what Aneurin Bevan called “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon”."

That tells you what they're about; the rest is waffle.

Personally I have a big problem with mass immigration ( I don't see it as 'cultural progression', but the cultural side of it is the least of my concerns), and a big problem with what passes for the 'left' these days, so I have a little time for UKIP - I can overlook their 'one-nation Tory', or just plain nazi, politics as long as they remain an anti-EU lobby, with no real prospect of power. But who needs another one?

It's been done, David.

David Lindsay said...

By whom, Jock McTrousers? When? Where? How? To what effect?

As it took shape, Labour adapted itself both to Radical Liberalism and to populist Toryism, depending on the pre-existing culture at least of its target electorate. Labour was never the party of anything like the whole of the working classes, nor did those classes ever provide anything like all of its support. Britain has neither a proletariat nor a bourgeoisie in the Marxist or Continental sense, but several working classes and several middle classes. There was never any incongruity about the presence of middle or upper-class people in the Labour Party, and not least among Labour MPs. Nor about their having come from, and far from cast off, either Liberal or Tory backgrounds. Especially in Labour’s early years, those backgrounds routinely included activism, and indeed parliamentary service, on behalf of either of those parties.

Both Radical Liberalism and populist Toryism were very open to central and local government action in the service of their communities. They were therefore open to many aspects of the never-dominant Socialist strand in Labour as surely as they acted as checks and balances on that tendency. Deeply rooted in the chapels, the Radicals had a pronounced streak of moral and social conservatism, especially where intoxication and gambling were concerned. Toryism, properly so called, upholds the organic Constitution, believes in carefully controlled importation and immigration, and advocates a realist foreign policy which includes a strong defence capability used only most sparingly and to strictly defensive ends. And so on.

The movement that drank deeply from both of these wells did in fact deliver social democracy in this country, a good both in itself and in its prevention of a Communist revolution. That movement was destroyed by those who had always been its bitterest enemies, the sectarian Hard Left, which had moved from economic to moral, social, cultural and constitutional means. Although the better brother won, a Miliband versus Miliband Labour Leadership Election perfectly encapsulated the takeover of the Labour Party, well within 20 years, by a subculture defined by its vitriolic hatred of the Labour Movement, by an almost complete ignorance of it, and by an utter incomprehension of, combined with a pathological distaste for, most of its Fabian and all of its non-Fabian roots: Radical Liberal, Tory populist, trade union, co-operative, Christian Socialist, Social Catholic and Distributist, and so on. “The progressive Centre Left” means something else entirely, and refers to where the wealthy anti-Labour faction of Leftist political apparatchiki and their media retainers has ended up. Will everyone else finally get the message? Aided if possible by electoral reform, but even in such reform’s absence, it is time to start again.

There was and is, of course, nothing remotely working-class about the sectarian Hard Left. Not in Britain. Not anywhere. Ever.

Douglas said...

I got stuck in the first item when I read "conservation instead of environmentalism." What do the declarers mean by that?

David Lindsay said...

Oh, Douglas, that is far too long to answer in a blog comment.

Durham postgrad said...

Lindsay needs medical help. He got banned from the Telegraph for pretending to be an academic and exposed for cheating by the Durham newspaper Palatinate.