The blogger for another year attended the Lewes firework celebration, where tradition, controlled anarchy and fireworks gain control of the streets of a Sussex town for one night of the year. To anyone sick to the back teeth of our molicoddled, standardised and blandly modern world of political correctness and health and safety Lewes bonfire night is the greatest antidote. Of course the P.C. forces of the nanny state hate it, but they just cannot control it.
The bonfire societies have a long tradition of resisting authority’s attempts to control bonfire night and their constant refrain is “We will not be druv!” Sadly in Twenty-First Century Britain even Lewes is not unaffected by the dull and officious spirit of the age with all its health and safety and fear of anarchy.
Nonetheless the 2013 Lewes bonfire celebration kept that old spirit alive and –much to the frustration of the official mindset – it goes from strength to strength. In a society as controlled as ours, where an impolite tweet on "Twitter" can lead to a police investigation, we all need a night off from the oppressiveness of the politically-correct atmosphere and Lewes, with its effigies, its controlled chaos, costumes, parades and vibrant traditions provides this.
Lewes does however highlight how in every other respect we are losing touch with our traditions and real life. In a world where conker trees have to be cut down for reasons of health and safety or politicians with a little more character find their careers destroyed because they are not bland enough for the media and actually say things people feel, we are fast losing touch with real life and indeed losing touch with fun!
Yet again the political class lies at the root of the problem. Many of the people who govern us have their roots in cosmopolitan London and move in a different sphere, ignorant of our nation's traditions. The only way to succeed in politics is to be bland and dull. Therefore the successful politicians are terrified of anything exciting, traditional or dangerous.
Many politicians want us to live in a standardised, bland and modern world. Indeed “Modernisation” is their shibboleth – which means the chipping away at traditions seen as irrational, but which actually hold us together as a nation.
If more of our politicians were more rooted in England and its traditions we might see a different attitude. There is however a self-perpetuating class of people who govern us, moving from Oxbridge to political researcher to MP, with little interaction with people outside the Westminster bubble. The political class is standardised and boring and follows the same pet issues as the equally dull media class. It then tries to remould our old country in its own image.
It is only in a Britain governed by such people that such a great tradition as Lewes Bonfire Night could be put under pressure or frowned upon. Luckily the British public do not take the governing class very seriously and carry on anyway! As the Bonfire Boys say: “We will not be druv!”