Yesterday, at the instigation of a friend who is so far to the left that he quit even Arthur Scargill's party, I attended a "simultaneous" showing of Ken Loach's archive-documentary film "The Spirit of '45".
Loach is criticised for jumping straight from the atmosphere of hope and "all-in-this-togertherness" which made the creation of our wlefare state possible, to the selfish individuality and contempt for society which was legitimised under Mrs Thatcher and continues to facilitate its destruction. Loach, who was available to contribute by video-link to a discussion after the showing, pointed our that he is not trying to record a history of all the times - simply to contrast the two prevailing atmospheres.
I found it most salutary to be reminded of how much the Labour Government achieved in its one-and-a-bit term of office: the NHS created, secondary education for all introduced, cities re-built and hundreds of thousands of houses built, transport and utilities taken into public ownership; and all against an economic background which shows up our present so-called austerity as the luxury it really is.
The true question for our age is how to build, not a consensus because it doesn't exist, but a working coalition of that majority which undoubtedly does exist for building a fairer, more caring, cohesive and responsible society.
Despairing of the Labour Party and writing off the Greens (we Liberal Democrats, alas, don't even rate a mention) Loach favours the creation of a new party, and draws attention to a People's Assembly, which is to meet in London on the 26th June, and which he believes will restore hope to our political consciousness. A wise voice from one of the audiences pointed out that it took 45 years from its formation for the Labour Party to begin to create the society in which it believed. A "left" even further divided may well give the neo-conservative right yet another half century or so in which those who already have, or are lucky, can continue to prosper at the expense of the weak.
There is in my view an urgent need for the existing left: Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and others to grow up, stop abusing each other, and look for the ample common ground we all share. If today's predictions are right, and effective press-regulation is indeed introduced, that shows that politicians can stand up to the powerful and beat them when they try. May this be the kindling of a spirit of hope that, in 2013, may yet emulate that of '45.