Watching Ed Milliband dance a ballet of indecision and uttering lightweight response to the Euro crisis and our economy has been excruciatingly painful. Similarly listening to Carwyn Jones political statements in the Welsh Assembly and the press were just like being stoned to death with popcorn. Our Welsh politicians have all been dancing together, jockeying for advantage and selling their souls to pass the Budget, but always with an eye on public opinion and a reluctance to put their head above the parapet.
Where are Welsh radicals of history like Anaeurin Bevan who single-mindedly fought to establish the National Health Service in July 1948, ensuring my birth seven weeks later was free to my parents at the point of delivery (literally)? Indeed one of his famous quotes could be his verdict on current politicians.
We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run down.
We sadly miss Welsh radicals like David Lloyd-George, who for all his deep flaws, was the architect of educational reform and social benefits. He got to the heart of the matter when debating in Parliament on the new idea of unemployment benefit:
You cannot feed the hungry on statistics
Our lightweight, self-serving and ineffective politicians seem to have had every drop of radical blood removed and simple don’t or won’t recognise the need for radical solutions to the issues faced by today’s society. Indeed, they would shy from the dictionary definition of radical:
…a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods
My passion for justice has been fuelled by many people who were uncompromising in their quests for reform. People like the great Christian reformers such as William, Wilberforce, John Groom, John Newton, Lord Shaftesbury and Elizabeth Fry. Campaigners for equality and social justice like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.
When I grew up, my teenage years were the 1960s and I drank in every drop of news and information about the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-Vietnam War movement and shaped my musical taste with the protest songs of Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Donovan and others. Thank goodness we still have Billy Bragg today carrying the torch – his unaccompanied singing of the Internationale always has me in tears.
Students were at the vanguard of reform in the 1960’s and individuals like Daniel Cohn Bendit and Tariq Ali were young focal points for students and others. Today, the Occupy Movement has adopted the view, misguided in my opinion, that everyone is equal and no individual needs to be a leader or spokesman. They need to learn the lessons of history – battles are fought around a leader and a flag. Wider society can then evaluate the arguments in the way they are familiar with.
I’ve given up on today’s politicians. There are young people out there burning with passion, energy and zeal that need to declare themselves, step up to the plate and be the leaders they are and then change Wales, the UK and the wider world for the greater good of the people.