Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Grand Day Out

This Saturday I went with Rullsenberg and some friends to Levellers Day in Burford, Oxfordshire. As my friend described it, "Idealism in an English country garden".

The day started with Tony Benn. I've seen Tony Benn quite regularly for over twenty years and it's always the same speech. To paraphrase "Redistribute wealth, ... , if you go back enough generations each of us, individually, has more ancestors than there were people alive therefore we are all cousins, ... , and wouldn't the world be better if we all just got along, ... , there's seventy seven nationalities in my grandkid's school, ... , it's a United Nations, ... , my grandkids know more about the world than I did at their age".

Next came Karen Chouhan, from the National Assembly against Racism, talking about identity, integration and how her son regularly gets stopped and searched by the police. All solid traditional stuff. All solid traditional polemic that describes the world as it is and not as it ought to be.

Then a speech from Salma Yaquoob. I wasn't making notes and can't readily recall what she said but she comes over as very intelligent, and is probably going to replace GG as Respect's only MP.

Then we went in a procession around the town of Burford lead by Cry Havoc Morris, and followed by a Woodcraft Folk contingent.

Meeting back outside the churchyard we sang the Billy Bragg lyrics to the Internationale. Enough to bring a tear to the eye!

In the pub we were sat by Cry Havoc Morris who serenaded us with music. Must admit I have a confession to make, and this will please Bagrec, I enjoyed the experience.

The day ended with a show by Robb Johnson and Leon Rosselson, which sometimes irritated and sometimes entertained, according to my own prejudices. A song that particularly irked was Rosselson's "My Father's Jewish World", with its line "It's not a nation, not a religion, this Jewish spirit is still unbroken". The final clause, "this Jewish spirit is still unbroken", has merit and is beyond dispute, it's the first two sections that irked. That bit about "not a nation, not a religion". Is he appealing to the romantic ideal of the diasporic citizen of the world, which has a certain idealistic charm or is he denying any right to a Jewish nation? I think it's the latter. And that is wrong. In a world of nations everyone has a right to a home nation except the Jewish people. That is unforgiveable.

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