I recently commented on a West Cumbrian internet site about my local MP. The site’s anonymous administrators responded to my factual points predictably enough with superficial memes, insults and attempts to discredit me with ad-hominem attacks rather than putting forward any reasonable points of their own. One of their taunts involved the term ‘Lefty loser’ which betrayed a lot about their very limited understanding of the working-class struggle for rights and equal consideration.
The genius behind the keyboard clearly thinks that the Left lost because of the 2019 General election result. They think the struggle lasts for the duration of a general election campaign and now it’s over. Such a superficial understanding of politics isn’t all that uncommon but it’s far from accurate.
In truth, as this series hopes to demonstrate, the fight has been going on for centuries. It was raging long before any of us were born and will presumably continue long after we’re dead. All any of us can do is join the fray in our own time – we won’t see defeat or victory – only periods of setback and progress.
The current government has an overall majority. That means they can do a great deal of damage to ordinary working people and our rights but they haven’t won. In fact, as history shows, despite the episodic highs and lows of our movement, working people have been gaining ground fairly consistently for generations and that overall trend will continue. We’ve lost a bit of ground right now but we’ll get it all back and more. So don’t despair – the task continues, the struggle continues and our work is the same as it ever was – to keep on advocating for justice and human rights, to keep on arguing against conservative greed and the racist and religious bigotry that so often accompanies it. The task for now is to do all we can to limit the damage that Boris and his mates will inflict by watching our neighbours’ backs, by making sure nobody goes hungry or destitute because of sanctions or cruel decisions from the DWP and by educating those around us about the real reason for their declining standards of living.
We need to take the long view. We need to be resilient and not despair. We must never give up the fight but press on, just as our ancestors did whose tireless struggle won for us the NHS and the Welfare state, decent housing and the right to be involved in our own government at every level from casting a vote to participation in cabinet and the Lords.
It was the brave activists of previous centuries that won for us employment rights, universal healthcare and an end to life-blighting childhood injuries from long hours in England’s ‘dark, Satanic mills’ and crippling stresses on developing bones in the mines to small boys suffocating to death in the blackness of chimneys. It was socialist reformers who fought for universal education and the right to more than a single day off a month. It was socialist activists who won for us access to the legal system and equality under the law. Their road to victory wasn’t easy and neither is ours but each generation of socialists makes its own progress overall. The current setback won’t change that so long as we come together, stick together and refuse to give up the fight.
There are no ‘lefty losers’ – only activists, campaigners and educators who continue the fight, hour after hour, day after day, year after year until each little battle is won and the cause moves that bit closer to a genuine, meaningful overall victory.
Like the Levellers, the Chartists, the Suffragettes and even the massacred victims of Peterloo our struggle continues. They didn’t lose and neither will we. There is no such thing as a ‘lefty loser’, only lefties who are in it for the long haul. We are resilient, we are strong, we are part of a centuries old tradition and we will prevail!