British working class youth vs. New Labour

This video from Britain says about itself:

A group of teens in a group talking about environmental issues yet still having fun

From British daily The Morning Star:

Wonderful Woodcraft

(Sunday 18 January 2009)

NICK MATTHEWS on the Woodcraft Folk‘s rising fortunes following a rocky patch.

IT seems that 2009 could be a particularly good year for that most important of British youth organisations, the Woodcraft Folk.

Founded back in the 1920s as an alternative to the growing militarisation of the Scouts, its aim was to develop a new social order to support world peace, partly by introducing poorer children from urban slums to the joys of exercise, fresh air and the countryside.

In the 1926 book Who’s For The Folk, founder Leslie Paul wrote: “The Woodcraft Folk seek to establish a new social order. They believe that, when the worker achieves freedom from wage slavery and the fruits of the soil are garnered by the toilers, then will a new stage of development open out to man.

“A new epoch, rich in promise of a finer social life and a greater awakening of intellect. We are rebels … and to this decadent civilisation we bring a new fire and a new energy. We go out of the town and away to the hills and woods with our little lightweight tents packed in our rucksacks … after the ugliness and monotony of the smoky city, we find new life among the green growing things and new health from the sun and the four winds.

“This health, together with our understanding, enables us to fight tenaciously for social betterment.”

Not exactly new Labour‘s language, a thought that came to mind back in 2005, when then children’s minister Margaret Hodge informed the Woodcraft Folk that it would no longer receive its £52,000 annual grant, plunging the volunteer-led organisation into crisis.

See also here.

In his 1951 memoir, Angry Young Man, Paul was scathing about the occult dabblings and totemic symbolism of the Kibbo Kift: “Perhaps it owed its presence to the many theosophists who were associated with its birth, but I felt then the absurdity of this servant girl stuff in a rugged, open-air movement.” With other rejects, he formed the Woodcraft Folk, set up along the original socialist and utopian ideals that Kibbo Kift professed: social reconstruction, communal responsibility and spiritual regeneration allied with the teaching of practical woodcraft skills. The group still flourishes today: here.

7 thoughts on “British working class youth vs. New Labour

  1. Slightly off topic, but worth mentioning the related scandal of the Woodcraft Folk itself losing government subsidy under New Labour because the young people involved voted to oppose the war in Iraq.

    The Woodcraft Folk is an organisation some 80 years old that has always been broady aligned to the peace and cooperative movements and does an excellent job of providing community activity and involvement for children and teenagers – yet in a tOtally vindictive and narrow minded piece of spite against the young people, the Labour government withdrew the funding that paid for the central office staff.

    Comment by Andy Newman — 15 April, 2009


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