VitalSpark: Coalition Blog

Posted: 04 May 2010, in Blog

How many of us have a relative or friend who is a pre baby boomer and who utters “traditional views” or whose opinions are quietly ignored for the sake of a peaceful life? Then again, how many of us know of people who have abused the Immigration or Welfare system but we have “done a Nelson”. NB He didn’t say “I see no ships”, he said “I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes… I really do not see the signal”

The meaning of the word bigot is …someone who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices… In modern usage, this is conflated to incorporate racial intolerance and hatred. However, if we focus on obstinacy, irrationality, and animosity towards anyone with a different point of view, did we not witness a reliable if not an entire depiction of Mr Brown’s character and reputation.

Isn’t democracy great? We should insist that every party leader has to meet ordinary folk – non party members – (on camera) every 3 months or so. That would keep them grounded especially as sensitive topics like immigration fester if politicians avoid the debate – if they were courageous they would lead the debate and that includes acknowledging problems and disagreements.

Mrs Duffy represents the alienation between modern politicians and her class and generation.  She represents old Labour working class voters who don’t fit easily with a Westminster/Whitehall, (Holyrood?) world view of an aggressive “progressive”, “modernising”, secular and intolerant consensus.

In sensitive areas of politics where frustration, community tensions, fear, half truths, urban myths and intolerance are evident, it is normal to see a disconnection between the hoi polloi and our elites. The unintended consequences of liberal good intentions normally result in these symptoms because the poor, i.e. those with most to lose, usually feel the social and economic impact most immediately of these economic and social engineering policies.

So what should a social entrepreneur do? My suggestion is to radicalise our pensioner class and get them involved in social enterprises. These folk have a massive contribution to make but we discard them for a whole variety of reasons – not least our prejudices and intolerance. C’mon they lived through a World War and its aftermath for God’s sake, raised us and they built the post ’45 welfare state and the foundations of our society.

I’d give them money and opportunities to deliver services (and wisdom) for single parents, manage community transport, participate in social prescribing and maintain community property. You want a better society – get this massive and ever-increasing group of people engaged in the future – not ignored, patronised and marginalised.