Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Call to arms: Progressivism is not dead

A simple statement, progressivism is not dead.

On Tuesday MPs voted emphatically in favour of legislating on equal marriage for same sex couples. Despite widespread criticism from the incumbant Conservative Party Backbenchers - some of which was truly vile - the Bill passed by a sizable majority. Nadine Dorries MP for example, citing faithfulness during her speech is simply ludicrous; the MP by all accounts is throwing stones from her glass house.

But, i digress, the Bill was passed. Perhaps a defining moment of this Parliament: legislation (that if it gets through the Lords of which there is no guarantee) that addresses one of the many areas of inequality in out society. A piece of legislation that is momentous in allowing same sex couples the share the joyous celebration of love in the form of Marriage. A Bill progressives and reformists can be proud of.

A Bill the Government laid before Parliament. A Bill laid down before Parliament by the Conservative and Liberal Coalition. A Bill passed by Labour.

The defining social Bill of this Parliament was passed by Her Majesty's Opposition, not the incumbent Coalition Government. Conservative members voting against, out numbered those voting in favour. All the Labour MPs voting in favour got this Bill through, and it is important to remember this momentous day as a day Labour took a step towards a fairer Britain.

There is a deep-rooted spine of small "c" conservatism running through the UK. It is by no means as defined as in, say, the American pysche, but we have a tendency to lean to the Right nonetheless. This is why moments such as these matter profoundly in the development of this country into a country with open opportunities for all.

We should not settle with what we have. Plato considered us all to be stuckfast into the castes we're dealt. The Right may well argue that those who "work hard" will be rewarded - a subtle jibe at the working classes aspiring to be middle class - but we all know it is not that simple. Mother has worked hard all of her life, working when she could, between being a single parent; she will always be middle class. We should be working towards bridging the gap that allows all of us to have the same chances the middle and upper classes have.

Michael Gove had a chance to define this Parliaments education policy programme. Rather than addressing the chronic differences between the budgets and by extension opportunities of State and Private Schools. Instead, he went too hard and too fast in trying to remould GCSE's seen as some as too easy. Too easy for whom? Certainly not inner-city schools who have a damaging low number of good teachers. Gove will forever now be branded with the embarrassment of the rejection of his plans by the Education Committee, and his subsequent U-Turn.

This was a characteristically unfair, ill-thought and ill judged Right-wing policy, that the Government should have abandoned far sooner in favour of a reforming policy, opening up the education system for all to do well to all, not adding another tier for the middle-classes to excel in.

If only the ruling few could recognise the minorities who need representing, support and help to at least have the chance to break the mould that Plato would have had them grounded into.

We should be straining every sinew, laboring every lobe of the brain to develop new policies that give everyone the chance to go to University, own their own house, get married to whomever they choose.....

Tuesdays result gives me hope that progressivism is not dead. Come 2015, i'll be voting Labour with the expectation that they are the party to open up the avenues for change and reform, not a party that is making things hard for the "hard working people" they claim to stand up for. I urge you to do the same at the ballot boxes in two and a halfs years time. .

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