I am continually being told – and have been all my life – to shut up because I’m apparently upsetting ‘people’.
The evidence for these alleged indiscretions is usually an outraged complaint from someone I thought was on my side.
The latest is that, apparently, single-handedly, I am saying things that will ‘snuff out even the slightest spark of interest in the Labour movement’.
Now, apart from a suspicion that my detractors have a tad overestimated my electoral influence, things like this always stop you in your tracks. I genuinely don’t want to upset anyone unnecessarily, and I certainly don’t want to harm the Labour Party.
And then I think: John Wilkes, Feargus O’Connor, Nye Bevan.
What would they have said?
Would they have called a Focus Group and issued a propitiatory statement to soothe the majority whilst upsetting as few people possible?
Or would they simply have said what they believed?
People nowadays despise politicians. They think (admittedly somewhat unfairly) that they are self-serving position-seekers.
They think they lack integrity.
Perhaps the issues are linked.
Perhaps people would find it refreshing to return to politicians who actually say what they think, rather than what they think people want to hear – politicians who have principles, rather than simply parroting a bland, safe ‘party line’.
It’s nice to be popular.
But sometimes you’ve got to tell it how you see it.