I went to the launch of the 'Red and Green Club' today in Milnsbridge. The idea behind this is to give the old Milnsbridge Socialist Club a new lease of life and as a useful centre and venue for radical/progressive politics. It gave me some cause for thought about some of the labels we go by in politics. As Milnsbridge Socialist Club it's traditional allegiance would have been to the Labour Party when 'socialism'and Labour were regarded as pretty much the same thing. With the loss of Clause 4 and a recent Labour Government which did its own share of privatisation, being a Socialist in the Labour Party may be more of a convenience than a conviction for those who label themselves as such. There's also no end of other groupings who are proud to shout from the rooftops their socialism e.g. The Socialist Party, Trade Unionist and Socialist against the Cuts, the Socialist Workers Party, the Alliance for Green Socialism. Within the Green Party we have people who regard themselves as socialists and organise themselves under the banner of 'Green Left'.
I've never regarded my own politics as socialist. I'm philosophically a Liberal and believe strongly in the positive freedoms of the individual and freedom from 'Ignorance, Poverty and Conformity' as we used to say in the Young Liberals back in the 80's. I'm sure some folks in the Liberal Democrats still say that now but with much less credibility given their bedfellows. In Kirklees Council meetings the Tory Leader once described me as an 'extreme socialist' which I found pretty amusing and reflected more how far to the right of the Tories he was than any understanding of my own politics or motivations. I'm not frightened by the word 'socialist' nor regard it as a negative it just doesn't reflect my own political background . I usually tell Tories who accuse me of being a Socialist or a 'Watermelon' (red on the inside green on the outside -geddit? Yawn) that they've got it wrong and "No I'm not a Socialist I'm much worse than that!" They sort of wander away looking a bit confused.
Back to 'The Red and Green Club' and all credit to Labour Cllr Paul Salveson for pushing this venture and for stepping above the tribalism that is Party Politics. The Colne Valley has a strong radical tradition with the Luddites, Socialist MP Victor Grayson and I would argue Liberal MP Richard Wainwright a life long pacifist who worked as an ambulance driver in World War 2 rather than take up arms. I'm not suggesting Paul changes the name to 'The Red, Green and Yellow Club' the Lib Dems have obviously moved a long way since Richard Wainwright's time.
If you want to have a go at objectively testing how socialist/radical/tender you are there is a test you can take. I guess Tories/UKIP people could take it in the same way someone might want to test if they've got some awful disease. My scores for the record were radicalism 96.75 socialism 88 tenderness 55 (got a bit of work to do on that last one) so here's Andrew Strong singing 'Try a little Tenderness'