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My return to Leigh

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Paul Mason | 15:02 UK time, Saturday, 10 October 2009

For those who missed my report from my home town, Leigh, in Greater Manchester, here it is. I will write a blog about it at some point.


  • Comment number 1.

    Good report - the killer for me is the bloke in the pub saying he'll carry on voting labour, despite labour doing everything it can to change his mind!

    As an anarchist i'm glad to see the rise in community action projects, and also the long term decline in parliamentary democracy. We have nothing to fear from the BNP, they have already mobilised their vote and it turned out to be only 5% of the electorate. The EDL will be beaten off the streets.

    What we do have to fear is the short term effect of a conservative victory on the already strecthed fabric of society. Bigotry will be state-sanctioned, divisions will be formalised and the poor WILL be made to pay, in the form of cuts to outsourced or charity services that used to be part of the welfare state.

    The, frankly disgusting, attacks on disability benefits may seem toothless at the moment (all you have to do is turn up to your benefits interview, you don't have to take the advice or prove a job search etc.) but under the tories they will have fangs, with extra bite from a rabid propaganda machine (how long before we see a british Glen Beck on Sky News?).

    I know plenty of people on the hard left who say 'all politicians are the same', 'they are all as bad as each other' and argue that a Tory govt. will have a galvanising effect on social movements. I, was a teenager in the 1980's in a small market town in the South West and let me tell you, there was no 'community revival' there, just a revival of the Hobbesian Hate that is always ready to seep through the footplanks of socialist progress that were laid thoughout the 20th century, and drag the poor down to the bottom again.

    Can a tory government be avoided? Only, i believe, by a split in the Labour party, leading to a genuine discussion about long term direction, with the assumption that the Tories could not avoid splitting along ideological lines if their differences were similarly laid bare. Then a hung parliament would at least contain a voice of restraint that could highlight the ideology and alternatives to the Tory 'measures' that would be rolled out, and there would be a chance that long term change could continue to develop with a limit to short term damage.

    A massive gamble i know, but at least those pint-nursers in Leigh, and me, would have something to hang our hats on. At the moment, things just look bleak, bleak, bleak.

  • Comment number 2.

    Yeah, but is not Liegh's MP Andy Burnham, not the best health secretary we have had in 30 years, he was once good there as a junior minister also, was wasted on " culture ". He would make a far better future leader of the Labour party than Milliband, perhaps not so enthusiastic about the Blair anarcho capitalist Trotskyite agenda. I don't think that party allegiance will be such an important factor at the forthcoming general election, if you are a good constituency MP or look like being one you will win the seat regardless of party.

  • Comment number 3.

    Brown having to repay his expenses makes me feel sick that I voted labour all these years. YOU lot were rotten to the core, hand in hand with the bankers. YOU have ruined many thousands of lives, and now the thought of us having to use some little petrol powered generator to try and stay warm in the winter because YOU made another fine mess of our energy requirements leaves me asking: WHY cant we have a law that means its jail for anyone/persons who so ruin our country and make a misery of ordinary peoples lives?

    Total and utter disgrace.

    Good to see some rags asking about the far right and the BBC's handling, been going on here for a long time, you really have to wonder.

    Evil can be such a seductive charmer.

  • Comment number 4.

    Jackie Smith is talking out of her backside if she thinks that an apology is good enough for watching porn on pay t/v.
    correct me if i am wrong but as i am not a barrister perhaps someone would remind me about the law of deception, one may like to ask the directors of BAE and the serious fraud office about that one.
    maybe i can claim pay for tv porn on my tax return.

    I always thought that fraud was a crime,and crime does not pay so i had always been taught, my a ***.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.


    The key word in you piece was 'fragmentation'. If you or others want a deeper appreciation of how that fragmentation is manifesting itself you could do a lot worse than look at the lyrics to Lily Allens 'The fear'.

    'The Fear' is really quite a stunning testament to what happens to a society when the collective vision is lost '' I dont know whats real anymore''.

    it is becomming imperative that we understand what we are.

  • Comment number 7.

    Noooooo: "you could do a lot worse than look at the lyrics to Lily Allens 'The fear'". You couldn't do any worse. Well, you could ask Jim Davidson for his opinion if you could be bothered to go and find him in Dubai, but that would be the only thing worse than using Lilly Allen lyrics as a proxy measure of society's mental health.

    Interesting comment though as usual Jericoa, about the importance of knowing who we are. Who do you think we are? I've got no idea, but it does seem like people want some kind of identity that they feel is being denied to them at the moment. Not many people feel like participants in a modern democracy any more.

    We saw the biggest protest in UK history against the war in Iraq and the government went anyway, on a lie. Biggest financial collapse in living memory, and the debts were very quickly socialised without any real sense of justice having been done to the bankers. And probably the most damaging political scandal in my lifetime (I'm a child of the 80s). All this under a Labour government. I think people feel like thay've been taken for fools for a decade, and many of them don't see parliamentary democracy as being able to give them any satisfaction.

    The only votes Labour will get where I grew up in the North East will be through political inertia. Most of the people I went to school with either don't vote, or did vote Labour because of some family connection with heavy industry like me. Not many would ever vote Tory, and with lib dems promising massive cuts in the public sector they might see their support stagnate.

    A lot of the traditional Labour vote in Newcastle will be lost by virtue of the simple fact that a lot more of the traditional voters, like my grandad, will have died over the course of the last parliament. I think the next election could see a record low turnout in parts of the North East, unless you see a lot of those odd BNP and UKIP mentals campaigning. Or the EDL put up a candidate.

    See any EDL nutters while you were up in Leigh Mr Mason? Really interesting piece on them last night. They've got a link to the Daily Mail on their site today, under the heading "It is official, you will now be arrested for debating or questioning Islam!" They're made for each other really.

  • Comment number 8.


    I am not sure if I understand your opening gambit there, you have to look at the lyrics as a parody rather than for any intrinsic 'high art' quality (whatever that means).

    I like Lily Allen, I like the paradox of her lifestyle v her lyrics.

    As for ''what we are''.

    That is the next breaktrhough, that is the impasse of where we are globally, that sense of 'imminent sea change' pervasive at the moment for those whom care to sense it.

    Physics can do no more, since einstein and Bohr they are spending more and more to discover less and less.

    The new frontier is in consciousness research (what would they do with the same budget as the CERN project!).

    There are many truely startling discoveries out there already in this field but nobody knows what to do with them because they are often outside of the frame of reference (cultural boundaries) of science itself which generates a kind of 'stuckness' for the researchers and thier scientific journals.

    Einstein had it easy by comparison.

    I still cant believe that the proof of hardys's paradox recently is known to but a very few and never made the headlines...why would it when we have 'the x factor' sterilised gladitorial arena to titilate our senses.

    but of course it is our 'choise' to watch that over other pursuits choice = freedom so the modern mantra goes and is therefore untouchable, nice little twist of meanings that one (the devil is in the it rhetoric or spin if you like)

    Needless to say I have been on the wine again tonight.


  • Comment number 9.

    to all the people whoi said Labour will blow it...well, this is not Labour this is NuLabour, a Thatcherite fascist tendency that will sell it's soul to the devil and do everything in it's power to hang on to....power and conduct illegal wars and stymie any chance of the repealing of anti-trade union laws....Labour? Don't make me laugh, this crowd have done things that would make Thatcher blush.....

  • Comment number 10.



    As some greek bloke said ''if you dont know which direction you want to sail in no wind is favourable''

    The conservative look more like labour (or the lib dems at least) than labour at the moment but the truth be known none of them have a grander coherent and believable vision to spark the collective public imagination.

    Strange days indeed, most perculiar mama.

  • Comment number 11.


    In the med there is little or no tide to worry about, however in UK waters tides run at up to 10 knots in rocky channels ( e.g. Menai Straits).

    Get an engine, or get wrecked.

  • Comment number 12.

    Goldman Sachs pay out an average £175,000 per employee, I wonder what the people in leigh would make of that if they could comprehend how that particular bank manages to do so consistently well. You just need to examine the positions of its former employees.

    Meanwhile Pakistan is starting to look like more of a promising prospect than Afghanistan for the Taliban, that tactic would be in keeping with their hit and run mountain gorilla warfare heritage. Maximum damage with minimum investment to obtain their goals not directly, but via a network of tortuous maountain paths known only to locals.

    Expand that dynamic out and see where it leads.

    But do not fear everyone, house prices are on the up and David Cameron is waiting in the wings to make all the tough decisions we will need to balance the books and keep us in the happy state of consumer affairs we have become accustomed to.

  • Comment number 13.

    Paul -you are Economics Editor.

    Off-topic, but hey............
    Why is there no-where on the BBC Business website where you can read and comment on the latest cartel profits from JPM & GS?
    Why aren't the Monopolies Commission involved?
    The fees and charges applied by these banks on their captive customers are obviously not subject to the normal conditions of the competitive market place...............
    The politicians of the G20 clearly don't have the appetite to have a go at these practices, so who should we be encouraging?

  • Comment number 14.

    I await your blog with great expectation and anything else on the state of UK finances

  • Comment number 15.

    My return to Leigh. "I will write a blog about it at some point."

    How's that going?
    We are still looking forward to reading it.


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