My political influences

Bob tagged me with this one.

Here’s the list that I’ll claim, but whether it’s true I’ve very little idea:

  1. Isaac Deutscher – when I was about 14 I read The Prophet Armed, which gave me the impression that the ends justify the means.  A view I no longer subscribe to.
  2. Antonio Gramsci – for the concept of the political myth, which I was quite taken by at university
  3. Max Weber – for an understanding of bureaucracy.
  4. The Guardian – an inconsistent liberal touchstone.
  5. John and Llin Golding – they taught me the value of (strongly held) moderate opinion in the Labour Party, the need for organisation and for discipline.

I have to say that I’m surer of the last two than the first three.

About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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8 Responses to My political influences

  1. Reidski says:

    The Guardian as a political influence? You can be so funny at times, Andrew!

  2. andrewkbrown says:

    In my defence it was when I was young and impressionable. 🙂

  3. Good list Andrew. I guess the Guardian was a pretty huge influence on me, as it was the daily breakfast fodder in my trade unionist/CND-supporting household as I grew up. Steve Bell, in particular, probably helped shape my teen world view.

    Isaac Deutscher! You and Blair both (Oliver Kamm: Blair’s books) I’ve never actually read his Trotsky biogs. I’ve never believed ends justify means – one problem I had with Leninists when I first met them.

    Gramsci gets the idea of myth from Sorel – a useful idea I think.

    The Goldings: when I was a Labour member, they were figures of the hated right for me. I should probably re-think! I like wikipedia on John Golding: “He was an outspoken opponent of Labour left-wingers such as Tony Benn and Eric Heffer, whom he regarded as idle dreamers out of touch with the working-class.” Spot-on! At least for Benn, if not quite so much for Heffer.

    Incidentally, Benn seems to have appeared on lots of lists in this meme. (Coming second to the ubiquitous Orwell I think.)

    Tagging anyone?

  4. andrewkbrown says:

    Indeed reassess your feelings on the Goldings, for they are fine Labour people.

    John took particular delight in winding up Heffer, which may have been quite easy to do by all accounts. He has a story in his book ‘Hammer of the Left’, where during one NEC meeting he managed to enrage Heffer so much that he (Heffer) left the room, only to reappear after finding himself in a broom cupboard.

    John was a Labourist with strong pro-European and pro-nuclear beliefs but he was happy to organise the defence of Foot (anti-European, anti-nuclear) as party leader on the basis that he was the party leader.

    I worked for Llin for 8 happy years, and unlike some parliamentarians I came across never saw her staff as servants. She was always clear (and remains so) that loyalty to your party is not a sin, and that valuing the needs of working people should be our political priority.

    I’m not tagging anyone, but others who want to take the challenge should feel free to do so.

  5. Reidski says:

    Back to The Guardian, but when did that paper’s editorial line last support a group of workers taking lawful, industrial action? I certainly cannot remember, but I’m sure someone can enlighten me! I do like doing the quick crossword, right enough!

  6. andrewkbrown says:

    I’m not sure I can recall; possibly when the workers were striking against the government. 😉

    The point about the paper though is that it’s influence was less on my understanding of social democratic thinking, but more the development of my social liberalism, such as it is.

    I think I’d also say that it would be a bit weird if all our influences came from the same place on the political spectrum. I often hold liberal views, but not always.

  7. Reidski says:

    Sounds like a mighty fine explanation to me.

    And on that Goldings business, I hate to put the development and progress of political parties and society down to the influence of individuals, but I have a thought that we might very well have been living in a better place had John Golding been in the top levels of the Labour Party for the last 10 years or so … but maybe just my naive thinking!

  8. andrewkbrown says:

    Well maybe, but I’d be surprised if we’d have won so many elections… or maybe that’s what you mean!!!

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