Friday, 9 July 2010

Keir Is Alive And Well In The Valleys

Today, in the heart of the Valleys where Keir once agitated and organised, David Miliband gave a speech honouring the lessons we can learn from Keir's life and actions as well as speaking of his future hope for our movement, party and country.

The best thing to do is post the link, so the whole speech is here.

From a podium fronted with a yellowed, framed picture of Keir in the Cynon Valley, Miliband spoke to a crowd of ex-pitmen from Penrhiwceiber, unemployed people in their 20's from Aberaron, workers from Mountain Ash and pensioners from Cwmbach. This is a part of the country embedded in so-called "old" Labour values. A part of the country battered and slashed by successive Conservative governments and a part of the country staring directly at the oncoming threat of austere measures that could threaten to destroy them once more. It is also a part of the country that doesn't care much for the collective sympathy of others; a part of the country where people stick together through all of the above and stand sternly in the path of the blue axe.

Furthermore, it is a part of the country where the people have no passive deference to those at the top. There is not much hero worship in this part of the country; maybe except for rugby legends. The only other heroes are the people from their own communities; like the ones who lived and nearly died down the pits. The ones like Keir who dragged life with them, kicking and screaming, when the elite cared not to provide any opportunities to them: the ones who made things for themselves. Politicians certainly are not easily worthy of such hero treatment. Pomp, glitz and spin don't sit with the people in this part of the country and there is no respect for reputation alone. Facebook, Twitter and hashtags don't impress these people. What they want from their politicians is action.

So, when the gathered crowd stood to applaud the speech, as well as the substantial Q & A session, given by David Miliband, you felt it was a big deal. For anyone who thought Miliband could not capture the values and beliefs of the left, centre-left and soft-left of the party, seeing the reaction of this audience proved absolutely otherwise.


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