Dec 4 2011: Tony Gardner – Your Labour And Co-Operative Candidate for Beeston (Election Flyer, 1970s)

This waterstained election flyer, which isn’t dated but looks to be of early 70s vintage (judging by the mention of the three day week in its message to the voter) outlines the basis of the candidacy of Tony Gardner, standing on a Labour and Co-operative platform in Beeston, near Nottingham. I’d assume this means he stood against the (then) current Conservative government of Edward Heath. What’s notable are the policies and general circumstances he outlines, which include “an oil crisis”, “soaring international food prices”, a Conservative government pursuing “a deliberate policy of confrontation”. In the light of all this, he proposes solutions such as “help for poorer families and the disabled”, “the effective redistribution of wealth – particularly inherited wealth” and “public ownership of development land” among many other things that the present opposition leadership might do well to consider as they pursue their “austerity – but cutting at a slower pace than George Osborne” position.

Hard to imagine, after three decades of rising inequality and free market dogma, that Gardner clearly represented the dull, everyday political mainstream, and not the far left by any stretch – yet to find anyone even remotely near the levers of power putting forward any of his suggestions today, you’d need to look for a very long time indeed. Still, his suggestions resonate, none more so than his remark that “the people of Britain will respond to the challenges we now face provided they can see that the burdens will be fairly shared”. We may be waiting awhile to see that in the current climate, but perhaps knowing how quickly the political landscape changed around men like Gardner in the mid-1970s should give us hope that another seismic shift will occur, this time more positive in its impact, and snatch the rug from under the present mainstream’s complacent feet at similar speed.

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