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Somewhat ecclesiastical end to 2018. First, let me congratulate the people running St. Paul’s in Worthing. They’ve turned a beautiful old church into a lovely old church with a bar! A wonderful new performance venue with beautiful acoustics and real ale. More of these round the country please.
A few days ago I saw medieval vocal/instrumental outfit The Telling do an evocative and atmospheric performance of early European carols and solstice songs there.
It was accompanied by readings of contemporary accounts of how the ancient festival was celebrated by ordinary people at different times in our history, done in an inclusive, non pretentious way with the bar open all through the gig and no “tuts” if you went and got a beer. (I really wish all “classical” — for want of a better word — concerts were like this.) I bought their debut album Gardens of Delight afterwards and can thoroughly recommend it.
And on Christmas Eve I accompanied my Christian wife to the midnight service — the first time I had attended one since 1971, when my mother was the organist in the same church. Their message is our message with added God.
It is literally impossible for anyone to be a Christian and a Tory. It’s like being a vegan butcher, an unplugged techno DJ or a Brighton fan who supports Crystal Palace. End of.
And so to 2019, and another football analogy. Jeremy Corbyn has the party in the right place. He’s the Chris Hughton of politics. (Especially fitting because Chris is a Corbyn supporter!) Both Chris and Jeremy are thoughtful, analytical and see the whole picture.
Some Brighton fans would love us to have a more flamboyant attacking approach in the Premier League. Most of us recognise that the situation is complex, the odds and resources are stacked against us and Chris’s strategy is the right one.
We have to have a solid base, not lay ourselves open to easy attacks, husband our resources and wait for the opposition to make the mistakes. That’s why we’re 13th not adrift at the bottom.
If we go gung-ho and base our strategy on all-out attack, our supporters will cheer like crazy but most teams in the division will pick us off, we’ll get slaughtered far too often, morale will suffer and and we’ll end up getting relegated.
If Corbyn supports a second referendum, loads of us will cheer his conversion and be energised, perhaps we will get one and Remain will win... but in the tiny margins of first past the post constituency politics, loads of Leave Labour voters will support the Tories and they will win the subsequent election by a landslide.
It is a fact that for some people the referendum issue is more important than their own economic and social situation. There is no point in sneering at them. It’s how they feel.
I know Chris’s tactics are right, and I think Jeremy’s are too. That doesn't mean I’m rowing or falling out with those who disagree. The most important issue of all is that we on the left stay united.
As far as I’m concerned it’s not about whether you voted Leave or Remain in the referendum. It’s about the Tories who foisted the bloody thing on us in the first place.
Nobody in the whole country apart from a clique of Tory MPs, egged on by a clique of elderly Tory Party activists, gave a damn about a referendum. It wasn’t even on our radar. I didn’t vote for one. You didn’t vote for one. Hardly anyone voted for one. There should never have been one.
All the division, all the families and friendships damaged — the whole bloody horrible saga is the Tories’ fault. They have turned the country against itself. I know how important this word is to them so I say this in full recognition of its significance: No Tory politician should ever call themselves a patriot again.
Keep safe. Look after each other!
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