✒Many of the tabloids printed the dreadful pictures of the woman who was flogged in Sudan for wearing trousers under her outer clothes. You might have seen the film on TV. It is horrifying: the man with the whip following her looking for the most painful spot to hit, her screams of agony, the overseer laughing at her pain.The same papers, on the same day, appeared to be equally outraged by the appearance of Christina Aguilera and dancers performing in their underwear during the X-Factor final. Thousands of people complained on the grounds that this came before the watershed. Maybe so, and I can understand why some parents were annoyed. But I know which society I would prefer to live in.
This approach is true to Labour's own roots in working-class culture and organisations such as the chapel, co-op, union and friendly society. Working-class communities ran their own health insurance schemes, adult education, and social clubs. They didn't rely on the state. This is what inspired the Guild Socialists such as GDH Cole, who wanted political and industrial power to reside at the local level. The Guild Socialists wanted full-blown industrial democracy in the work-place, political democracy through local councils, and consumer democracy through cooperatives. The role of the state would be strategic, not all-encompassing. You could almost call it a ‘big society'.