MUSIC FOR SOCIALISM

 

There is a hidden issue blighting the lives of millions of people in Britain, a festering inequality which has not been addressed for decades.

 

We are musicians who think this is the core issue for building a more just society.

 

This is a huge problem that will take at least a generation to fix.

 

In the mid-1940s a Labour government dramatically improved health, education and housing – all at the same time.  It allowed millions of  working class kids to do well and advance.

 

Millions grew up in that new environment and went into jobs their parents were effectively barred from through their circumstances.

 

But a generation later, in the mid-1960s, the Labour party began taking its eye off the ball.  Many improvements for housing estate kids were reversed.

 

Some Labour councils let the estates run down. By 1979 they had become so poorly maintained that the Tories came to power with many working class votes, and Margaret Thatcher finished off the job.

 

Now, in 2011, there are up to 13.5 million people locked in a cycle of poverty.  They and their children, and their children’s children are sentenced to a lifetime of no hope. Dead-end estates, no jobs, just a daily slog to try and survive. Millions of children grow up with an expectation that they will never get a decent job. Their experience – and their parents’ experience -  tells them that many of the simple achievements the majority in Britain enjoy are not for the likes of them.

 

Music For Socialism is not a political party. We are not looking for donations. We are not organising marches.

 

And we don’t support the fashionable concept of politics as therapy – it’s no good throwing things at the police  to make yourself feel better.

 

We simply want decent people to think about what’s happening to the forgotten millions, and to look around and support the very few politicians who dare to recognise what’s going on under their noses.

 

Sure, there are many problems to address…climate concerns and political issues abroad.  There are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in single-issue politics.
 

But what we are saying is the dead-end plight of 20 per cent of our people should be the major priority for this country at this time.

 

The current focus on cuts – how many, how deep, how soon, does not address the fundamental problem. Even if we returned to the status quo, we would still be facing a massive issue of the long-entrenched cyclic impoverishment of millions of families.

 

Britain started doing something right in the 1940s. It wasn’t outlandishly radical. We improved the life-opportunities of millions.

 

Then we let these advances fall away.

 

The victims are with us still and will continue to be with us, until we restore the freedom to hope and the expectation that things can be much better.

 

Just think about it … and persuade others to do the same.

 

 

Tim Hodgkinson                                    Ken Hyder

 

 

 

If you are wondering why MUSIC for socialism, we just happen to be musicians who are concerned with the way things are going. Any group of people linked by work, or other interests, could come together to articulate how they feel about what is happening in Britain today.

 

We are NOT campaigning for musician-centred interests – like arts funding. This is NOT  a single-issue concern. While single issues can be very important, we believe that now is the time to start focussing on the biggest complex problem debilitating our society. None of us can be free or feel part of a progressive society when so many of our citizens are shackled by lifetime impoverishment.

 

We are not saying that WE can bring about the changes necessary – we are simply saying that the political world needs to understand how far it has lost touch with this need for a fundamentally just society.

 

Any group of people can articulate that demand. We hope that other groups form and begin to spread the word.


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UPDATE FEBRUARY 2019


A VISION FOR LABOUR

PART 1:

VISION: WHAT IT IS, AND WHY IT MATTERS

1) All our policies should derive, and be seen to derive, from an integrated and coherent program.

2) This program should be clear, confident, inspiring, easy to understand, and entirely different from what the Tories have to offer.

3) It should strongly emphasise how our policies are going to transform the lives of individuals in this country, and not just speak about collectivities and economic abstractions. It should offer something that every individual can imagine and hope for.

4) We have great policies in the Manifesto. The problem is not the policies but the extent to which they are seen to form a coherent inspiring whole.

5) Generating an articulate vision of how a Labour government can transform people’s lives is not a long-term project, it’s an absolute priority and an urgent necessity. Everyday that goes by without such a vision is a day lost.

6) Armed with such a program, Labour politicians will speak with greater confidence and far greater impact and resonance. Our responses to events will no longer be short-termist reactions: they will draw positively from our plan for the future. This will remove the “Oh god, what are we going to say about this?” factor, make our responses faster, improve how our statements are reported in the media, and speak more powerfully to our potential electors.

7) Once you have such a program, you get more say in defining the political agenda, and you are more likely to be able to marginalise the Tories: people with an idea will be talking to people without an idea.

8) Such an approach would be easier to unite around and more difficult to oppose within the party: it would be harder for right-wingers to disagree with. 

PART 2:

WHAT THIS MEANS

The party would benefit from a joined-up vision targeted on each individual in society being an active and important part of our whole community.
 
The plan would be to change and revitalise many of the things which make these things possible. Recent governments have been chipping away at many of these former facilities like youth clubs and education and job apprenticeships.
 
Yet all too often, when the government cuts back on benefits, say, we argue about the levels of cash rather than the whole issue. Similarly, when black on black knife crime soared this year, some of the argument concentrated on the reduction of police numbers. That police cut DOES have an effect, but our party’s position should be that we will implement changes which will attempt to reduce these crimes happening in the first place by giving the perpetrators and victims much more of a chance of transitioning from childhood to adulthood with a sense that they ARE wanted and NEEDED in society through a variety of programmes, like apprenticeship schemes.
 
However the plan is not, and should not be solely about the millions of disadvantaged and forgotten families located largely out of sight in housing schemes often on the outskirts of our larger cities. No, it should be a plan for every individual in society, ensuring that from the cradle to the grave there will be facilities to enable them to learn, develop their personalities, help others and feel good about living in a modern Britain.
 
As we are moving towards shorter working weeks, we should reach out to people with increasingly more time on their hands. In the 1980s, Labour Weekly ran a piece on this issue, based on an interview with a futurologist who said that the Labour Party should prepare IN ADVANCE for this BEFORE it happened. They should provide adult education for people who want to learn things for their interest and satisfaction, and organise schemes for people with more time to do things in the community – like providing gardening maintenance for the elderly.
 
Sadly, as we know, nothing was done about this proposal for a future Britain.
 
That future is now about to happen, and Labour needs to be setting out a new plan for a new future ensuring that every single person, young or old is given the opportunity to live a complete and fulfilling life on all levels of experience.
 
PART 3:

WHAT THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE
 
We propose a new vision of the future, not only an economic and technological leap towards better conditions for the many and not just the few, but a giant step towards a new kind of society in which every individual is entitled to a life worth living.
 
We see the greatest asset that we hold in common is our human potential: it is this we must value most and this we must invest in. We want to build a society in which every individual can discover and learn throughout life, sharing the pleasure of that with the others around them, and developing their mental, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and social lives to the full. Making people free doesn't just mean letting them vote for the government every few years: it means giving them the concrete resources to make real choices about their lives: it means giving people free time and access to social wealth and to education for life.

We want to build a different kind of society with opportunity for everyone. Many people are trapped in the current system, deprived of any breathing-space in which to make decisions about their lives, beset by one problem after another. We first need to lift the burden from their shoulders and open up that breathing-space for them. This means redistributing wealth, taxing the better-off, introducing rent controls, and raising minimal wages and benefits. But this is just the first step. We also need to open up their life opportunities by reducing the working week and building an education system that is available to everyone for life. 

We are the fifth largest economy, yet many people - even those in work - are forced to use foodbanks to get by. Getting more money into people’s pockets is a start, but beyond the alleviation of grinding poverty lies the goal of making a society in which every individual can fulfil their potential. This is a true vision of opportunity. The Right have historically argued that they defend the interests of the individual against the encroachments of Labour’s collectivism. It is time for us to take back the individual. Opportunity for individuals can take many forms. We will build youth-clubs, open sports facilities, revitalise adult education, and vastly expand the availability of apprenticeships. Ours is a plan for every individual in society, ensuring that from the cradle to the grave there will be facilities to enable everyone to learn, develop their potentials, help others, and feel good about living in a modern Britain.

Today many people in this country are socially isolated by the sheer weight of daily problems pressing down on them. We say: give people a little time and a little space, and community will follow. Make young people feel that they are valued, that their potentials are as important as anyone elses. The current spike in knife-crime requires an increase in police numbers, yes, but if young people can see that they are valued future citizens, and that different pathways are open to them to transition to adulthood, we will be on the way to preventing those crimes from happening in the first place. Having a joined-up vision of the future encourages the development of joined-up solutions to immediate problems, and these are more likely to be effective and long-term solutions and not just short-term increases in spending.

We need to grasp the future and invest in automation to progressively reduce the working week.  We want every individual to have time that is free from the need to work, time that is truly their own. We do not have to define exactly how the wealth producd by automation will be redistributed, perhaps by a re-structured wages system, perhaps by a universal basic income, but our political demand is for every individual to have the time and the resources to benefit from the opportunities offered by a new society.


 

 musicforsocialism@gmail.com

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