|Conrad Noel: Vicar of Thaxted|
During my wanderings through the ideological desert that was the 1980s moving towards that promised land of dogmatic certainty, I rejected the trendy left wing socialism of the Labour party of the early 1980s and the "longest suicide note in history" that was the Labour manifesto of the 1983 election, Thatcherism for me was something that I loathed and despised as the dogma of unenlightened self interest. I rejected both the Tory party of Thatcher as well as the Labour Party of Michael Foot, Tony Benn, as well as Scargill.
I joined the Liberal Party rather than the SDP because they appeared far more radical than the SDP who were known in the Young Liberal circles as the "Soggies" as illustrated by the the songs in the "Liberator"
The party's flag is pallid pink
And old Madeira is our drink,
Though Labour sneers and Tories plot,
We will remain a moderate lot.
Then raise our banner shoulder-height,
For to do more is impolite,
We are so middle-of-the-road,
Our guiding light's the Highway Code.
The Cardiff West Liberals were not really an active lot,or large compared to their SDP counterparts however they were a radical bunch in favour liberty, devolution, workers control (which will lead to my thoughts on Guild Socialism). The Cardiff West soggies where a snobby lot mostly from Radyr, who were quite middle class and respectable and were contemptuous of any form of devolution (some crept back into the Labour party in the 1990s where Labour had moved to the right for them, in fact even to the right of David Owen, ironically enough).That was why I did not like the SDP even though I did regard myself as a socialist of sorts.
Also in the 1980s I was very active in the church you could say a very extreme Anglo Catholic, I was big on the ritual of the Mediaeval Church and that lead me to the guild theories that were popular at the time that found its origins in William Morris "The Dream of John Ball", also in a book written by A J Penty " Towards a Christian Sociology" (unfortunately like others began as a Guild Socialist and was seduced by the Syndicalism of Mussolini ). Their basic was the organising of industrial life into guilds which would include workers control this is where the New Liberalism of Leonard Trelawny Hobhouse and socialism met with common goals. This is the tradition that I am most attracted to but however I do not believe that we are mature enough to establish it
Conrad Noel and the Thaxted Movement
Conrad Noel I do not believe was a Guild Socialist, he was however a true radical, his Anglo Catholicism was subversive and counter culture, for example his procession of the Blessed Sacrament which he described the "Procession of the Divine Outlaw" illustrated where he placed Jesus, as amongst the poor and marginal, and his movement was a shelter for them
The battle of the Flags
Recently during the Rochester and Strood election we saw Emily Thornberry resign over her daft remarks over the St George flags that were flown and the implications of English racism. However we should get a sense of proportion. The Cross of St George is not like the Confederate Stars and Bars! Conrad Noel flew 3 flags in his church, it was the cross of St George, the Sinn Fein flag, and the Soviet flag. For him the English flag was a symbol of English liberty and more importantly a symbol of anti imperialism, just like the other 2. The Union Jack was a symbol of dastardly imperialism. Its time that the Cross of St George should be reclaimed as a symbol of the Ancient English Commonwealth,a revolutionary England