“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets. The rich and the poor.” These words from Disraeli's 1845 novel 'Sybil' could have been written for Norwich MP Chloe Smith.
“Even the burial of his body in the Abbey was a species of theft when you come to think of it”. George Orwell's words came into my mind as I watched the ceremonies surrounding today's 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.
You once described yourself as “the quiet man”. It didn't quite work for you at the time, which is a pity, because quietness implies a capacity for reflection, listening and, in the words of our Quaker 'Advices and Queries', for finding space to “consider it possible you may be mistaken”. These are not qualities which are much in evidence among our noisier politicians.
Schadenfreude is a disagreeable trait in human nature. But most of us will at some time have fallen victim to the spiteful little voice which ricochets around the outer edges of our consciences, whispering gleefully, “Good. Serves them right.”
November 30: the day 'divide and rule' was exposed
“We're all in this together” has never seemed so cynically mendacious as it does today (30 November) – the day after the Chancellor's Autumn Statement and the day on which public service workers are taking part in the largest organised day of action for a generation.
“A dog starved at his master's gate, predicts the ruin of the state”. These lines from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence go beyond the obvious cruelty they describe. They remind us of the destruction which follows when power abdicates responsibility, care and compassion.
“It's aw a muddle, lass. Aw a muddle.” This was the dying lament of Stephen Blackpool, the power-loom operator of Hard Times who was driven to physical and emotional ruin by the ruthless economic and industrial system of his day.