I have a tee-shirt with a Bill Shankly quote that I wear occasionally. Shankly was the first great manager of Liverpool Football Club from 1959 to 1974. He was a dour but witty Scot (other quotes include “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”), came from a small mining community and never forgot that football saved him from ‘the pit’.
When I wear the tee-shirt I feel a little bit nostalgic for several reasons. First, it evokes a more innocent time when football was a working-class game instead of a money laundering scheme involving oligarchs, sheikhs, television, agents and players. Second, it reminds me of a time when many of the top football managers and players in England were Scottish – characters like Matt Busby, Denis Law, Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson. Third, the quote takes us back to the swinging sixties and seventies, a time of great social progress when (in the UK, at least) socialism was in the ascendancy.
I guess nostalgia ain’t what it used to be, because over the last fifty years socialism has retreated from political power to the edges of debate and opposition. Ideas of solidarity have been largely replaced by savage individualism. While capitalism / the right wing / conservatives have succeeded with much the same ideas over the last fifty years, the left needs to radically change to progress today.
Today the world has some huge problems – e.g. climate change, population growth, inequality, unemployment – and a set of leaders who are either unwilling or unable to tackle them. But, most worrying of all, those of us lucky enough to live in democracies need to choose better leaders to tackle those problems.
So I’m producing this web-site to explore how the left could recapture the relevance and excitement it had back in Shankly’s day. And hopefully also to make the world a better place…