Wednesday 16 March 2011

The books that changed my life.

I seem to have cornered the Amazon market in canal genre books of late. However, if you were to ask me if there was a book that changed some aspect of my life. Then for me, it happened when I was given two books to read. Whilst I know for some it might be the Bible or maybe even the Koran that would change their life.  However, by change I don't mean a whole physical change of direction in life. For me it was more of a modification in my way of thinking.

The first book was Robert Tressells "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist". The second book was Joseph Arch's "From Plough to Parliament". Both of the books have provided inspiration and both have been read several times.  I have always been a light weight political animal, not wanting to become too involved. I'm not the sort what would want to build barricades in the street and bring about a class revolution. Those days for me are long gone, to be honest I am not sure that they ever existed. But Joseph Arch inspired in me the thought that there is nothing that is beyond my ability. Robert Tressell inspired the need for total fairness at any price. Yes, even an old crusty curmudgeon like me was once upon a time a dewy eyed political perfectionist. That notion was however soon to be beaten out of me!

The biggest problem for me today would be choosing the right political group. I now have a well founded and deep seated mistrust for them all. The main problem being, that the one sized political parties do not actualy fit all. I often thought that a coalition of political parties in Britain would bring about a more balanced change. How wrong can you be, it seems that I had underestimated the willingness to lie to massage a political ego. generally speaking our voting choices are made on factors that directly affect us in some way or other. Whether that be local issues at the council elections or national issues at a general election. I still feel that proportional representation (one man one vote) is the way forward into the next phase of political reform. I always say that you know that it is a good idea when every politician tries to discredit proportional representation, it's ethos and implementation.

Christians in particular have had a pretty appalling record on atrocities through out the ages. Mainly based around a lack of real christian values (whatever they are) and in the unshakable belief that god is on their side and so they will prevail. The Arab states in North Africa are in turmoil with the current wave of political unrest and the need that they perceive for a change of regime. Politics like religion can motivate individuals to do some terrible things all in the name of political progress. But when politic dogma and religion ethos are mixed together, there is a potential for a very explosive mixture.

As I get older, my natural cynicism wains and I start to believe that my old political values will one day prevail. That our politicians will collectively  make choices for the good of everyone. That the cabinet or inner circle will be replaced by a method that reflects the aspirations of everyone and not a minority who are lobbying and/or "sponsoring" in some way the parties in power. Notwithstanding  a stuttering start has been made in that direction after the MP's expenses scandal. Though not enough of them (of all political persuasions) were turfed out of office by the ballot count. A few token miscreants have been incarcerated just to appease the public perception. But we all know that the snouts in the trough will continue, this time their attitude will not be cavalier. This time they will take care to cover their tracks and to have a scapegoat at the ready.

Whilst I think that Utopia is still some light years off in the distance, there are other "political" people who I do enjoy reading. Politicians such as Tony Benn as well as some political writers such as the late Paul Foot. Individuals with real political integrity and an unbridled sense of fairness. Now that I have retired and my ex-employer has no sanction that it can apply to me. I start to feel that growing sense of  freedom from another form of oppression.  But more about that later.


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