Community Snow Clearing: Labour or Tory?
Community Spirit against the Snow With the election looming, I suspect I’ll be spending more and more time trying to distinguish between the different political parties. A tweet earlier in the week caught my eye, as someone drew attention to a Times comment piece; I realise I’m dealing with lot of stuff from comment pieces right now, but apparently “Snow brings out the inner Tory in all of us”.
I thought they meant we all decided to stay at home and be grumpy, but apparently it means we all muck in and help each other. There’s something distinctly not-right about this claim. Sure, many people did come out and work together, but how does that represent the exercising of one’s inner Tory?
Margaret Thatcher once remarked that there was no such thing as community – yet this author seems to be remarking that community spirit is a Tory value. It isn’t, its more traditionally been a Labour value. The Tories do families, isolated and striving for a higher material standard of living. True, they ‘do’ private enterprise, but not the sort of team work that saw whole communities tackling the snow, helping out their less able neighbours. It would have brought out my inner Tory if I went along the road offering to dig other people’s cars out at a fiver a time.
Yes, some might use the existence of council services to justify their laziness, but that is all it is. Few if any can really have felt obliged to sit and wait for help by anything other than the cold itself. I suppose the Tory attitude I did show was to march myself through the snow without thinking to clear it for those who couldn’t. Most councils were clearly under such strain that helping them out would still have left plenty of over time for their staff, but would have been better for all of us.
I realise that much of this is based on personal views of what makes a Tory or Labour voter. But I also think that identifying sweeping your pavement with a vote for the Conservative party is asking a bit much, to be honest. The parable of the Good Samaritan, I’m afraid, I have always associated with Socialism and not with Conservatism.
When Alex Salmond told the Scottish to dig each other out, he didn’t have Lords in their castles sending the Butler to dig the driveway, he probably had community spirited team effort. This isn’t individual action, its team action, its mutual aid (actually, that’s more Anarchist than Socialist, but we’ll ignore that). And we should be glad that people aren’t now so isolationist and self-interested as to act only for themselves, which has been at the heart of Conservative policy since Thatcher, and probably long before.
At the end of the day, though, its taking the partisan debate a long way too far if one doesn’t allow a united stand against something as straightforward and immediate as a large snowfall. Questions do need asking, policies do need reviewing, but not until the immediate problem is over. Current gritting policy is based on the worst that local councils have known. And Conservative cutbacks could create as much of a mess in future as Labour bureaucracy have to date. But before that, we need the snow to melt so we can get back on with our lives. Being a Political issue doesn’t automatically make something Party Political, and neither do old fashioned ideas of what parties stand for automatically resemble the ideology of the present day party leadership.