They may be loath to admit it, but a lot of the present day entrepreneurial and quango class of Liverpool (and Manchester for that matter) cut their organisational teeth in the heady world of Labour politics and single issue campaigning in the 1980s. The hair may be thinner now, the suits may be sharper, but if you squint you can see the same salesmanship that once traded in the ideas and policies of the left, now at work on the regenerative qualities of property development and knowledge-based industries.
With this thought in mind I can tell you all, brothers, that I’m reading a remarkable book at the moment called What’s Left – how liberals lost their way by a writer called Nick Cohen. He charts the betrayal of causes such as freedom of speech, human rights and equal opportunities by people who have completely lost their moral and political compass: people who will defend Islamist death cults, or Serbian thugs, because they are against George Bush and Tony Blair. Or the west. Or whatever.
The very things that many on the left wanted in the 1980s are now comfortably within the reach of our children. The liberators are education, freedom of thought and freedom to trade. Socialism is a dead ideology. But the ability to do business and the benefits of doing good business are there for all to see.
There’s probably an even better book to read, if you have the time, which picks up where Cohen finishes the question – what is in fact now left to care about? It’s called The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. The subtitle is – a brief history of the twenty-first century and it argues that a new flat world is a fairer world to hope for. The end result is the same, but the journey is very different. Comrades: there are still some battles worth fighting.
This piece will appear in a newsletter for Downtown Liverpool in Business