Will interest several here. Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed on BBC R4 later today and podcast thereafter. With David Harvey and Colin Crouch.
In Laurie’s newsletter introducing the episode:
Anyone for Tennis?
It was Jill Ryder who provided my introduction to politics. When I told my school friend Pete Roberts that I kept seeing this beautiful, elegant, blonde-haired girl walking home from school along Alexandra Road, he warned me to keep away. She was well out of my thirteen-year-old range. Not only did she live in the posh area called Blundellsands but she was also a Young Conservative.
But couldn’t I become a Young Conservative too? Pete reckoned it was impossible. They’d never allow someone like me onto their tennis courts or into their posh dances at the Blundellsands hotel.
It was, I suspect, this failure with Jill, rather than any ideological impulse, which led me, just one year later, to join the local Labour League of Youth.
As with many later versions of Labour youth groups, the League was well-stocked with adolescent radicals ? a situation which was eventually to lead to its expulsion from the Labour Party. But at the time we were left to pursue our revolutionary ambitions, to organise marches in support of striking dockers, to protest at the wages paid to workers in local factories, to demand a halt to council house rent rises.
As a relatively junior member my role was confined to printing off leaflets and helping to construct placards for our regular demonstrations. My favourite slogan was nothing more than the stark injunction ”Smash Capitalism Now’. And my greatest triumph, still spoken about in later years among League members, was to smuggle myself into the grounds of the local Conservative club, and then once I was positioned outside the tennis courts, unfurl my revolutionary slogan. It was a testimony to the casual dominance of the local Conservatives that I was allowed to hold up my banner for several minutes before being firmly escorted from the grounds.
And there, among the group of young people ironically waving me farewell, was beautiful, elegant blonde-haired Jill Ryder. Or, as the League preferred to have when the matter was discussed at a later meeting, beautiful, elegant, blond-haired filthy capitalist Jill Ryder.
Capitalism and its faults and contradictions and how these might be remedied. That will be on the agenda today when I meet two leading critics of our current economic system: David Harvey, author of Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, and Colin Crouch, author of Making Capitalism Fit for Society.