It’s in the bag!


The Sunday Times Style magazine (natch) this week there was an article on girls buying the ‘right' handbags. The sub head read "If you want to belong in the playground, you got to have the right arm candy".

Children as young as eight want to the right bag and each tribe has their own make. They copy their celebrity heroes of course. 14 year old Eliza Clarke says "It's funny. I stand much more proudly; I feel older". Longchamp reflects her ‘personality' and makes here feel ‘confident'.

So what's this got to do with progressive politics?

Well consider another bag that is up for sale or rather auction. Mrs. Thatcher's black Asprey is going under the hammer and is expected to fetch up to £100,000. Her bags were a symbol of her power and she is said to have carried round a copy of Hayek's seminal Road to Serfdom in them.

So the market fundamentalism she espoused is played out over 20 years later with girls as young as eight being caught up in the grinding machine of turbo-consumption. They are no longer girls, there is no youth just the opportunity to sell whatever they can to whoever they can.

Labour and too much of the left have little if anything to say about such issues.

One narrow definition of freedom, the freedom to shop till you drop, allied to a view of aspiration that is almost entirely material are now so singularly ingrained in the psyche of so many after New Labour's rule that it would be deemed madness to question why girls of eight behave in such a way and therefore the free market nostrums of Mrs T.

As ever she deserves the last word. She said three things that continue to inspire me. The first is the claim that the ‘economy is the means, the goal is to change the soul'. Funnily enough it was from a Sunday Times magazine interview way back when.

She wanted to use free markets to make people in her image -individual and possessive. The girls in the playground bear witness to her success. But she also said ‘socialism never dies'. She knew that just as we could be possessive and individualistic, we could be compassionate, caring and cooperative.

The battle would rage on at least until her third crucial saying could come into play -that her goal was not just to transform the Conservatives but to transform Labour away from socialism. Then her triumph would be complete. Is it in the bag?

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