Tuesday, 15 June 2010

history of the Labour Party

I am reading rather a good one at present, called "Speak for Britain!", published earlier this year, by Martin Pugh.  Very readable, which too many historians are not.  He makes the amusing point that the Labour Party tends to reinvent its senior figures as something they have never been.  Clem Attlee might have been a bit dull but he gave us the welfare state, they clamour.  Actually Clem was arse as a prime minister and gave away the next election, after the triumph of 1945.  Barbara Castle was a great feminist, the sisters cry.  Actually she wasn't, and Germaine Greer for one loathed her for it.  Fiona Mactaggart MP, who is not daft, even spoke about Barbara's feminism at the 2008 party conference when Barbara had spent most of her life avoiding it.  Neil Kinnock started the reform of the party which made Labour electable again, they enthuse.  No he didn't (though he did other good things) - the 1987 manifesto was actually more extreme than the 1983 one, but let's not let the facts get in the way of a good soundbite, eh Kaufman?

I have just been on holiday and I took quite a few books with me, including the above, on my Sony book reader, which I like using very much, although the process of loading books on to it is not exactly user friendly.  I got it at the beginning of last year, and will carry on using it until I am obliged to have an iPad - which we must all have, sooner or later.  Last year I got myself a Mac laptop (MacBook Pro) and after some anguish at the accommodations required of a PC user of many years, I grew to like it and to enjoy the access it gives without having to become proficient in the technology, as well as fab things like GarageBand  and iphotos.  While I was blind in one eye back last month, before I had the cataract operation and threw my glasses away, I reached for a cup of coffee while I was using the laptop, missed the cup and poured the hot coffee into the keyboard.  The whole thing promptly died and I was told by those nice people at fnac (excellent shop, there is nothing like it in the UK) that it would cost more than a thousand euros to repair, ie it would be cheaper to get a new one, also that an accident was not covered by the guarantee (I had had the thing for less than six months at the time) and my delightful home insurance people tell me that the laptop is not covered because I did it myself, even though by accident.  Chiz.  So now what?  We have a clunky ancient PC at home that I cannot bear, and also I cannot get my ipod to talk to it although I have downloaded itunes on to it, so how do I even get more music?  I really really want an ipad for technoporn reasons, and I would really really like to have my reading and books and music and so on all in one place and portable for travelling.  But as I have got to pay for it myself I can't afford an iPad and a laptop.  Perhaps techno-expert readers can advise.  Also on the replacement for the home PC, which is becoming urgent.  Significant other does not mind reading a book while he waits for his emails to load, but I do.  Do we get a new PC?  Do we get a laptop PC for home, so we can use it with the TV as well?  Or what?


Anonymous said...

On the one hand Barbara certainly wasn't a 'feminist' as would be defined either in the seventies or even now.
In fact, she would despise such categorisation.

She was, however, easily the most successful Labour woman politician there has been - and at the moment, there is no sign whatsoever of her crown being displaced. She'd be pleased about that and why not? Who says that being a woman politician means that you have to offer helping hands to other women? Men don't, after all and neither is this expected of them.

What I absolutely loved about Barbara was that she saw no contradiction between being extremely successful in what is still the man's world of politics - and using said men to get her own way. Why not? Neither did she feel that she had 'betrayed' a non-existent sisterhood by looking fantastic and sexy at all times. Well into her eighties and nineties she would regularly turn up at conference in a short skirt on the arm of extremely young and attractive males who would be on hand catering to her every requirement.
One of the most delightful episodes in her Diaries ( 1974-1976) is when she attends Chequers on a Cabinet away weekend and is thrilled that her new trouser suit and open toed sling-backs have wowed the men. Apparently even the usually crusty Denis Healey ( a bitter political foe) was entranced.
Similarly, I relish her absolutely essential and lovingly detailed trips to the hairdresser, not to mention her glee when Harold calls her 'My little Minister' and appoints her as the first ever female Transport Minister with the deathless words 'I want a tiger in my tank'.

Didn't stop Barbara dressing him down when he needed it and didn't stop her being thrilled at topping the Shadow Cabinet or NEC polls - or planning a leadership campaign when Harold went - cruelly cut off by the useless Jim Callaghan - anything but sunny.

Oh and SERPS/Child Benefit/Equal Pay/Sex Discrimination/free contraception legislation etc.
Not a sister, no - but a bloody good politican .

Anonymous said...

Barbara Castle closed a lot of railways.

Mrs Morris said...

If the choice is currently between an iPad and a laptop/pc for home, then I would suggest you go for the laptop as it gives you more functionality until you can afford to get an iPad as well.

Pretty though the iPad is, at present it has its limitations.