Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, comments on UK Labour, by Robert Colvile. Birkenhead is near Liverpool. Field championed such un-Labour causes as welfare reform and immigration control — so he is old Labour, not part of the PC crew who took over with Tony Blair.
“We had a debate in the parliamentary party just before Ed Miliband led us to defeat. A large number of then Labour MPs got up and said he’d given a brilliant speech. I got up just before the end and said ‘Do you actually think that we’re responsible for this huge influx? Do you think this has resulted in real pressure on the NHS, that there’s no chance of getting your children into the local schools, that you’ve got no chance of getting a house? And Ed got up and said ‘No’. And a lot of the PLP cheered. And I thought ‘God, what am I doing in this party?‘”
On how Labour went from opposing the state to being the state:
“It’s very interesting how the view of the state has changed during my lifetime from what was seen as a protective organisation to what it was originally – an enemy. I don’t think many people in Stoke think the state is the solution to their problems.
“The Labour movement was actually originally anti-state. It was the body that protected the rich. And we’re back to that. We’ve not had one banker in the box – let alone sent to prison – for all the terrible things that they’ve inflicted upon us. I think people do see the state as protecting the very rich, and not on their side.”
On poverty and dependency:
“We’ve got a whole group of males who cannot fulfil their historic role — and women who wouldn’t be particularly interested in it. And we’ve fallen out of love with nurturing children. How can you lie in bed, expecting your kids to get themselves up, washed, dressed, get breakfast, get to school? It’s unimaginable… You’ve got huge armies of children, everywhere, in every constituency, hungry. And teachers laying on breakfast clubs and supper clubs because they will go home to cold, empty houses.
“I was struck by one little fella who’d been adopted. And I asked him what the difference was. And he said it was warm, and there was food in the cupboards. Quite chilling, isn’t it?”
One of the last of the sensible left.