If I have learned something since I went into Parliament and spent more time reflecting on the nature of government it is the abject waste there is, and the muddle of things.
In some strange way I have concluded that I have never really left behind the Notting Hill slums that I was born to – the slums were simply exported into the rest of life. That though society did not live in a physical slum, the same stopgap thinking dominated the world beyond the slum. If you get what I mean.
I realised, as I moved away from slum life, that slum thinking was the norm of post-war thinking. Like that, in the slums, there could be bright spots. Like an NHS that did its best to keep the poor as healthy as possible. Or like the arrival of the glistening youth culture of Presley and then The Beatles.
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As The Beatles were making their way up the gladiatorial hit parade, the working classes were vast and ill-fed and ill-housed. Most working-class work was backbreaking and likely to shorten and impoverish human life. Most working-class people inherited poverty as their birthright, and we can still see this today, with vast amounts of people – in their millions – kept alive by state support. No exit for them into the uplands of prosperity and health. We squandered health and education and cultural opportunities because British society simply muddled through.
Government and the society that it comes out of seems full of stopgaps and half-arsed thinking; and this continual waste of life and human resources in some ways mimicked my former slum life. Disorder and misuse of human resources were carried on, in more cosmetic forms, by society in general.