It’s time for socialists to rejoin the Labour party


10:47 am - April 22nd 2009

by John B    


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Labour’s defeat in the 2010 election is a near-certainty – and it’s also clear that the defeat will come for two main reasons:

1) the economy is shafted
2) everyone hates the leadership

All the other factors being claimed as reasons for the impending defeat are a subset of the points here (indeed, arguably 1 is a subset of 2 – it’s a lot easier to excuse the government’s other failures if you aren’t being thrown out of work and having your house repossessed at the time).

And together, they lay the foundations for the defeat of the New Labour project and the resurgence of the Labour left.

But first, a couple of clarifications on why these are the reasons for the defeat.

The government is no more corrupt and sleazy than previous governments, or indeed the current opposition: it’s just that ‘sleaze’ scandals get manufactured, and capture public interest, when they happen to people who are already unpopular. For example, MPs’ expenses have been large and unmonitored since the 1980s, when MPs across all parties agreed to accept minimal pay rises in exchange for more generous allowances… ironically, as a way of deflecting the jealous public rage levelled at pay rises. [*]

Another factor some consider to exist in its own right is immigration. But this isn’t right either: people in the mainstream only worry about immigration when they think they might lose their jobs to immigrants. Prior to the downturn, the people worried about immigration were crazy bigots and the underclass (who sort-of compete [**] with immigrants for houses and benefits even when times are good) – hence the abject failure of the Tories’ 2005 anti-immigration platform. So if opposition to immigration becomes an issue this time round, this will be directly due to the downturn.

And finally, the idea that a significant proportion of people are opposed to the government’s authoritarian policies is refuted by the fact that, err, they aren’t. Liberals and libertarians, as always, represent a minority of the population; the groundswell of public opinion still holds that locking more Bad People up for longer is a Good Thing That Will Help Us Sleep Safe In Our Beds. If anyone ever gets elected to dog-catcher, never mind MP, never mind PM, primarily on a civil liberties manifesto, then I’ll eat a hat made of other hats. And no, David Davis doesn’t count.

Less hated, not more liked

So the election collapse is solely down to the-economy-stupid factor and the We Hate Gordon Clown And ZaNuLiebore factor. But so what?

Well, it means that whatever happens in 2010 – even if it’s a Conservative majority government – can’t be seen as an ideological Tory victory. Tory policy would have left us in exactly the same state… because it was the same in all significant respects. This is the reason why it took so long for the Tory lead to emerge, despite the government being widely perceived as unpopular and the economy tanking pretty much from the start of Brown’s premiership.

And when polled, people still dislike Cameron and Osborne, it’s just they currently dislike Brown and Darling even more. You could only claim that the Tories were ‘popular’ if you defined popular as ‘less hated than Gordon Brown’, a definition that would leave tabloid journalists, estate agents, double glaziers and paedophiles celebrating their new ‘popularity’.

The ideas that are actually popular among real people in the UK – those that people would actually vote for if the election weren’t framed in the media and the popular conscious as a choice between one extremely unpopular centre-right mildly authoritarian party and one slightly less unpopular centre-right mildly authoritarian party – have absolutely nothing to do with the Conservative manifesto.

Far more important is the international drift to the old-school left, from casino capitalism and demented military interventionism towards re-regulation and dis-intervention. People want their jobs protected, they want fat-cats punished, they want spending to mitigate the recession, they want benefits if they are laid off… these are not things that an incoming Tory government could push, even if Cameron wanted to [***].

The Tories don’t have to last long

Starting from that position, and with Tory economic policy marginally worse than Labour’s, the recession likely to continue through 2010 anyway, and the impact of public sector borrowing likely to dampen the recovery [****], the incoming Tory government will rapidly become extremely unpopular. Think 1982, when Mrs Thatcher’s government appeared certain to lose the following year’s election, and was only saved by the intervention of a mad fascist dictator. Absent a Belorussian invasion of the Isle of Man, the Tories’ levels of popularity by the time of the 2014/15 election will be limited.

The centre of gravity of UK politics is unlikely to shift far enough over those four or five years that the Liberals, or some currently unknown leftist party, have reached ‘leading opposition party’ status. This means that whoever’s running the Labour party at that point, as long as they’re not hated by the entire population, will be in a good position to win power.

But who’ll be running the Labour party then? Well, there will never be a better opportunity than 2010 to change the direction of the party away from the New Labour ethos. Labour will just have suffered a major electoral defeat driven by 1) New Labour’s economic policies and 2) New Labour’s personalities. With centre-right economics, Blair-ish personalities, and winning elections, being the only defining features of New Labour, this is the best chance since 1983 for activists to shift the party’s centre of gravity significantly leftwards. Possibly the last chance, as old-school leftist MPs die out.

On the other hand, if everyone who is left-wing quits in fits of pique to spend more time with their pure hearts, untainted egos, and George Galloway commemorative mugs, then the current bastards will stay in charge of the party, because there won’t be anyone left to oppose them. And they’ll probably lose, because everyone will still hate them, and we’ll get a second term of reviled Tory government, and the poor and minorities will get screwed even more, and people will hate politics even more.

So if you want to see a serious left-wing party standing in 2014-15, your only chance of achieving this is to join Labour now and become an activist as soon as possible. Don’t worry, you don’t have to vote for them in the upcoming election – just lobby as hard as you can for leftist candidates in every party post that comes up, local, NEC and Westminster. Don’t even wait until the defeat – the writing is already on the wall, and you need to establish this narrative sooner rather than later.

[*] And so an MP’s base salary is now at the dizzy heights of a 27-year-old solicitor at a London commercial practice, and made up to roughly the level of a 35-year-old solicitor at a London commercial practice by the allowances.

[**] really, immigrants and the underclass both get screwed over by the ruling classes, who could build more social housing, allocate it more sensibly, and impose less silly benefit systems if they chose. But if you see a Bangladeshi getting a house when you don’t have one, then this is a conceptual leap too far.

[***] many of them aren’t things that I support, either. This post is about what the socialist-left should do, not about whether they’re right.

[****] it’s worth trading slower growth in 2011-2014 for a less precipitous decline now, obviously, but it won’t feel that way at the time.

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About the author
John Band is a journalist, editor and market analyst, depending on who's asking and how much they're paying. He's also been a content director at a publishing company and a strategy consultant. He is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy and also blogs at Banditry.
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Story Filed Under: Labour party ,Our democracy ,Realpolitik

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Reader comments


“this is the best chance since 1983 for activists to shift the party’s centre of gravity significantly leftwards.”

Presumably you don’t want a re-hash of the 1983 manifesto though? I doubt the country will ever be THAT left-wing.

“many of them aren’t things that I support, either. This post is about what the socialist-left should do, not about whether they’re right.”

Come again, if you don’t support such things then why do you think the left should do them?!

Because even though my politics aren’t hardline socialist (I’m pro-redistributive taxation and state provision of services, but in favour of generating the money to pay for this via a broady capitalist system with limited government intervention in the functioning of businesses beyond levying taxes, enforcing laws, and trying to stop the world from financial meltdown), I’d rather have a socialist opposition followed by a mildly-socialist government, than a New Labour not-really-opposition plus a tribe of quarrelling Swuppies who’re ignored by everyone, especially each other, followed by the same.

In 1983 the Conservatives won 61% of seats in Parliament, the biggest victory since 1945. This was partly because the third party (SDP/Liberals) captured 25.4% of the vote to Labour’s 27.6%. Subsequently, Labour were out of power for a further 14 years. This situation only changed after Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair dragged the party towards the centre.

1983 was the beginning of a long centrist shift on the back of a huge electoral thumping.
Therefore, I don’t understand “this is the best chance since 1983 for activists to shift the party’s centre of gravity significantly leftwards”. Do you want to return to power in 2015, or write another suicide note?

By this logic, socialists should be joining the Conservatives right now, to try and push *them* in a more leftward direction, since that seems at least as possible (i.e. not even slightly) as pushing Labour leftwards.
It’s not that everyone hates ‘the leadership’. We hate *you*. The Labour party in general, not just the people at the top. You’ve had twelve years of government, and you’ve fucked up time and again, and now you’re like an abusive husband saying “Please give us one more chance… we promise we’ll change!”
There are good, decent, principled people in the Labour party, but they’re propping up a rotten, evil (and I do not use the word lightly) government, which would not be able to exist without their efforts. I sincerely hope that they manage to gain control of their party, and turn it round into something completely different from what it is now. If they do, and if the Labour party spends at least as long demonstrating good intentions as it has practicing malice, then maybe the party would be worth some tiny level of support.
And people wonder why some people think this site is a Labour front…

And when polled, people still dislike Cameron and Osborne, it’s just they currently dislike Brown and Darling even more. You could only claim that the Tories were ‘popular’ if you defined popular as ‘less hated than Gordon Brown’, a definition that would leave tabloid journalists, estate agents, double glaziers and paedophiles celebrating their new ‘popularity’

I call a Fundamental Heffer Error on this one. Cameron’s personal ratings are currently at about +25-+30 (with Brown at -15 – -30). You may want it to be true that people don’t like him really, but all the evidence points the other way.

The second point with which I would take issue is that the ongoing recession will make Cameron’s Tories unelectable by 2015. There will be a very good argument for the Tories to make that the recession was Labour’s fault, that public spending was allowed to balloon out of control by Labour and that measures to rectify it were made necessary by Labour’s incompetence.

You cite the Tories’ unpopularity in 1982 and assert that had the Falklands not taken place Michael Foot would have been Prime Minister. It is, of course, impossible to be certain about anything here, but given the depths of unpopularity to which Labour plunged in 1983, not just against the Torties, but also against the SDP, that is unlikely. A discredited Government, such as Labour after 1979, and probably after 2010 too, finds it much harder to win back public trust. Just look at the Tories after 1997, even when Labour lost public support, the Tories couldn’t take advantage.

Incidentally, I am entirely in favour of the Labour Party swinging hard back to socialism. But then I would, I’m a Tory.

It’s funny defending authoritarianism on the grounds of popularity. Liberalism sets itself against the tyranny of the majority. That’s The Point. The fact that only a minority of people are against locking up innocent people ‘just in case’ is something to be ashamed of, not something to gloat about.

John – a worthwhile debate but I have to say that with all due respect, you grossly underplay the extent of the loathing that Labour’s natural constituency has for the party.

I spent quite a while as a trade union activist (Unison) and even then (I left in 2006) people would spit in your eye if you suggested voting Labour.

The Labour leadership at the council I worked at asked us (local union branch) to support it for the 2006 elections and we had to say No – our membership simply wouldn’t tolerate it. That was before Brown, and before the recession, which puts paid to an extent to the leadership/economy argument that you propose (although Blair was certainly a target). People hate Labour for a lot more than those two things – privatisation of public services, ALMOS, PFIs, the Iraq war, etc – an extremely long list which I’m sure others can add to. The recession is the latest in a long list of grievances.

There was also a genuine sense of betrayal – people had enormous expectations of Labour which they felt the party failed utterly to deliver. They didn’t expect to find themselves outsourced and put on worse wages and terms and conditions, etc (I speak of public sector workers here, but there are heaps of them, and a lot of them expected to be well represented by Labour, given that they tend to be in low paid jobs like cleaning, careworking, etc).

I’ve asked people directly for their views on Labour in the past three or so years that I’ve been running my own website and publishing here on LC, and I’ve published a great many of those views, and I can tell you that even that sort of informal poll says very clearly that people feel monumentally let down. People say things like ‘I will never vote Labour again. Never.’ I can only post one link at a time here, but am happy to send you as many as you want. As I say, a lot of that interviewing was done before the recession. So loathed is Labour that there’s a real groundswell in the grassroots in the likes of Unison to break its affiliation with the party – and a real campaign by the leadership to expel activists who suggest that. That’s how desperate things are.

You say:

‘This means that whoever’s running the Labour party at that point, as long as they’re not hated by the entire population, will be in a good position to win power.’

What you have to understand is that there are thousands of people out there who are saying ‘never again. I will never vote Labour again.’ I admire your optimism, but have to say that there is an awful lot of work to be done – perhaps generations’ worth – before never finally comes round.

Obviously I am in favour of people joining the Labour Party. However I’d say that most ordinary members (not just MPs and hacks) are very suspicious of entryists, and if you plan to join to change the direction of the Party you’re going to have to put some effort in to get Labour re-elected in the short-term if you want to gain their trust. I can see that for many people this would be problematic.

I COMPLETELY disagree with you as immigration. I’ve been seeing immigration raised much less on the doorstep since the downturn, and almost exclusively by middle-class people who the recession isn’t hurting as badly. Most working class people I speak with aren’t as worried that migrants might drive down wages (rather than taking jobs, wages are usually the bigger concern) as they were pre-downturn. They’re noticing that Eastern European migrants are leaving the UK, they can see that job losses atm have nothing to do with migration and everything to do with credit.

“You’ve had twelve years of government, and you’ve fucked up time and again”

Yet labour did everything the right wanted. There’s gratitude for you.

7 – Kate, I reckon many of the public sector workers who are currently saying ‘Labour are as bad as the Tories, I’ll never vote for them’ will, by 2014, be thinking rather differently. The Tories are planning to break the power of the public sector unions in order to be able to radically reduce the pay, pensions etc. which public sector workers receive.

All those people who believe that the public sector is inherently unproductive and a drag on wealth creation, and are disgusted by “pensions apartheid”, and who believe that there is literally no local authority function which could not be delivered better by the private sector, they are the ones who are going to be in charge and looking for ways to cut public spending significantly after 2010 if the Tories win.

Compare and contrast, for example, Hammersmith and Fulham Council 2002-6 and 2006-the present.

Four years of that at a national level, and anyone who goes on about ‘Labour and the Tories are just the same’ is going to sound a bit silly. The people who think public sector workers are feather-bedded layabouts are going to be delighted, and public sector workers less so.

The BNP is going to dramatically eat into Labour support and the only place left for non-authoritarian progressive policies is going to be the Lib Dems, who have been the only anti-authoritarian progressive party in this country for some time.

I can’t see the people that Labour betrayed voting for them again any time soon, in the same way it’s taken 10 years, 4 leaders and an absolutely inept Labour government for the Tories to come back.

The sooner progressives of all stripes left the Tories and Labour and made a third party viable for government the better.

You are so deluded! Mass immigration is a primary concern for the majority of voters, as polls have shown. The BNP is Labour’s biggest rival in many working-class areas. The Tories failed in 2005 because the Media were still colluding with New Labour and their leadership lacked charisma. The lies about immigration levels and the subsequent effects on infrastructure, housing, education, and cultural identity are now exposed.

I hope that idiots like you gain control of Labour and continue with your “the people worried about immigration were crazy bigots” nonsense. You will get annihilated at the polls. Bandit for leader!

Could I suggest that you edit the title to add “Small-Govt capitalist says:”?

@5, sadly we don’t have an Alternative Reality Machine, but looking at the way the Tories were polling in 1982 I’m sceptical the recovery they needed could have taken place without the Falklands boost (there’s also an extent to which the SDP’s success came *because* left-wing types knew by 83 there was no prospect of a Labour government so nothing-to-lose…)

@6, electoral strategy != personal morality. Authoritarianism *isn’t what’s hurt NuLab’s ratings*, even though it’s probably the thing I personally dislike the most about them.

@7, you may well be right. I’m basing this on historical parallels and published polls; I haven’t done the time bashing the street that you have and completely accept that captures a lot of data that I’m missing. It’d be interesting to see whether or not the Labour leadership have done private polling on the subject of ‘would you come back to Labour if…?’ – if I were them, I’d be very keen to know (and very unkeen to spread the information more widely)

@12, Labour and the BNP both pretend that the BNP is Labour’s biggest rival in working class areas, because it suits both of them to claim that it’s the case even though it isn’t. Which one are you?

As others have said, in a nutshell, the Tories will be delighted at your strategy.

Neither. Do you actually believe “the people worried about immigration were crazy bigots”? Do you engage with anyone outside your delusionary bubble? I suggest you take some time away from your keyboard and talk to people on the street, you might learn something.

Bandit for leader!

17. Shatterface

This is exactly the WRONG time to rejoin Labour.

A defeat is almost inevitable this time round and if Socialists rejoin now they’ll be blamed.

Join AFTER they lose when the case for reform will be stronger. Start thinking an election ahead.

@17 hmm, I see your logic – but in line with Tim F @ 8’s point, the point in joining now is so that people are on board by the time of the next election and are able to influence the direction of change, rather than turning up and saying ‘haha, you lost, we didn’t help you, now put us in charge’.

19. Shatterface

Donpaskini (10): this Government shed thousands of DWP jobs and closed Jobcentres across the country when the ‘boom’ continued but are now halting closures and desperately recruiting inexperienced staff through Capita to help deal with the unemployment their policies have created.

Don’t expect them to show any more loyalty to their new staff when the economy picks up again than they did to the previous lot.

If I joined the Labour Party now I’d have to campaign for and vote for a prospective Labour MP who is pro-war, anti-immigration and pro-ID cards… how is this advancing progressive ideas again?

It seems to me I’m in a better position to argue for my ideas and the campaigns I’m involved in if I campaign against this utterly vile reactionary rather than constantly having to apologise for campaigning for him.

Bloody good article.

following #21, which isn’t to say I necessarily agree!

But it’s a good article

23. david brough

Which fucking streets do you walk down, Chav? The sort of streets where parents talk about sending their children to private universities, as you do?

If you went into my local and started talking about how good the City of London is, and explained your right-wing shite economic “policies”, you’d get your head kicked in.

Can somebody please tell me why the pursuit of ‘full employment’ (Brown’s phrase) is rightwing? How is the use of a credit boom to massively expand the public sector, thereby ‘creating’ tens of thousands of jobs, a conservative policy?

Pre credit crunch, Polly Toynbee was cheerleading Brown’s accomplishments in eradicating unemployment and ending boom and bust. She mocked the right for denying him these grand achievements. Now that the mirage has unravelled, you on the left are quick to distance yourself from New Labour’s leftwing economic policies, and quick to call them ‘rightwing’.

“(there’s also an extent to which the SDP’s success came *because* left-wing types knew by 83 there was no prospect of a Labour government so nothing-to-lose…)”

Weren’t the Alliance polling at about 50% at one point? The Tories were unpopular due to high unemployment and Labour were unpopular because the loony left were taking control.

“If you went into my local and started talking about how good the City of London is, and explained your right-wing shite economic “policies”, you’d get your head kicked in.”

What charming people you associate with.

26. david brough

Yes, we learnt our fucking social etiquette during the 1980s when our communities and livelihoods were crushed by Blair/Brown’s inspiration and mentor Thatcher.

“Can somebody please tell me why the pursuit of ‘full employment’ (Brown’s phrase) is rightwing? How is the use of a credit boom to massively expand the public sector, thereby ‘creating’ tens of thousands of jobs, a conservative policy?

Pre credit crunch, Polly Toynbee was cheerleading Brown’s accomplishments in eradicating unemployment and ending boom and bust. She mocked the right for denying him these grand achievements. Now that the mirage has unravelled, you on the left are quick to distance yourself from New Labour’s leftwing economic policies, and quick to call them ‘rightwing’.”

Wanting full employment is not a right wing policy, and no one is saying that. What people are saying that is that Brown’s way of going about it was right wing. He ran the economy on virtually the same neo-liberal policies that he inherited from Thatcher/Major. That’s why it was right wing. Because he kept the financial sector deregulated.

28. Caius Fatuous

“Pre credit crunch, Polly Toynbee was cheerleading Brown’s accomplishments in eradicating unemployment and ending boom and bust. She mocked the right for denying him these grand achievements. Now that the mirage has unravelled, you on the left are quick to distance yourself from New Labour’s leftwing economic policies, and quick to call them ‘rightwing’.”

For the first 8 or 9 years of New Labour, one of the main, recurring complaints from Tories was that the government were stealing their policies. Did the Conservatives regard their policies as ‘leftwing’?

29. Mike Killingworth

Has anyone yet calculated how many public sector jobs have to go to achieve Darling’s £15bn of “efficiency savings”? Why does anyone think that the Tories will cut even more? At an average of £25k a job that’s 600,000 more unemployed.

Unfortunately I can’t find the total number of people employed in the public sector (without registering on some website or other) but no doubt someone has them to hand so we can see what proportion of them that number represents.

David, me old chap. Unless its some champagne socialist wine bar (in which case I’d fancy my chances in a row), I’d probably get on well with the regulars. Do you call them crazy bigots, as the Bandit suggests, when they criticise Labour’s mass immigration policies?

John Band:

But who’ll be running the Labour party then? Well, there will never be a better opportunity than 2010 to change the direction of the party away from the New Labour ethos. Labour will just have suffered a major electoral defeat driven by 1) New Labour’s economic policies and 2) New Labour’s personalities. With centre-right economics, Blair-ish personalities, and winning elections, being the only defining features of New Labour, this is the best chance since 1983 for activists to shift the party’s centre of gravity significantly leftwards. Possibly the last chance, as old-school leftist MPs die out.

I think you’re going to find it very hard to prise control of the party from the cold, dead hands of the New Labour apparatus (let alone its apparatchiks), especially if the leadership contest boils down to, say, Harman, Milliband or Balls.

32. Mike Killingworth

[32] Until whichever of them wins out fails to improve the Party’s standing in the polls. Between Cameron’s gaining office and the end of 2011 I would expect at least one poll to show Labour behind both the LibDems and the BNP.

Mike Killingworth: Between Cameron’s gaining office and the end of 2011 I would expect at least one poll to show Labour behind both the LibDems and the BNP.

Ye Gods…considering the BNP are always lumped in with the less-than 10% categorised as ‘Other’ in national polls, that would be a meltdown of historic proportions. Even a Labour party led by a Purnell/Blears ticket would probably do a little bit better than that.

34. Alisdair Cameron

So if you want to see a serious left-wing party standing in 2014-15, your only chance of achieving this is to join Labour now

Sorry, but no
Joining now simply gives succour to the New labour project’s disciples, to the lobby-fodder drones, to the entryist wankers, to the likes of incompetent Jacqui Smith, authoritarian Straw, Tory-boy Purnell, control-freak Brown and co.
If you think that the party is salvageable (dubious), then get involved only when there’s been an almighty clear out, coming soon in the likely electoral apocalypse, and rebuild from the ashes, rather than walk into a condemned, ugly and dangerous construction populated by poisonous vipers.

35. Mike Killingworth

[35] I agree, AC. Now is not the time. Wait for the leader after next.

36. Planeshift

“Tories’ levels of popularity by the time of the 2014/15 election will be limited.”

Doubt it. Unless we really are fucked, by 2014 the economy will be in recovery pretty much regardless of what the tories do, and they and the right wing press will be presenting it as a success story for Cameron.

Brown should have called the election last autumn and presented it as a “which policies do you want to try and see us through the recession – our revival of keynesianism or the conservatives cut spending and let the magic Adam Smith fairy dust sort it out”.

It’s now too late for him.

Have to say I agree 100% with Alisdair and Shatter – this is completely the wrong time for socialists – or any left-leaning people to join New Labour.

Whether there be a hung parliament come the next election r not – New Labour have, and will continue, with Tory policy – read the Budget – I have just read it in full and with eyes widening with each line I read – I now have both eye strain and a head ache.

Why would I join that shower of shit to promote what is to become in a budget that does precisely zero?

The ONLY thing that would happen if socialists joined the party would be, not to force it left – but MORE to the right because it would be the left, not those who are socialist, just left and the socialists would be blamed for any party woes that could spring up while the Tories are in government.

It is a guarantee that the Tories are going to decimate the economy further. The 50% tax rate will be abolished in no time whatsoever by Osbourne. The spending cuts he will bring in will make Thatcher look like a saint!

I don’t think the OP really understands that it will be good for the left if the Tories and Tory-lite are in power (in bed together) for a few years – that could, by the grace of God, make people open their eyes as to why never to vote for a right-wing party like New Labour or the Tories again.

The working-class people I speak to loathe, nee hate, New Labour because they know that they are nothing more than Tories in the Labour camp.

If I was a tinfoil hatter I would say that the reason is that so many Tories infiltrated the upper echelons of the party just to make them look so bad – but I’m not…but a good book could be written about that.

Anyone a literary agent?

Interesting article in that bastion of Torydom, the Independent, describing the inheritance the next government will receive:

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/hamish-mcrae/hamish-mcrae-we-should-start-by-admitting-weve-failed-as-an-economy-1672069.html

A few quotes:

“As Alistair Darling will acknowledge, the deficits revealed today cannot be brought back under control in the life of the next parliament; it will take at least two, to get borrowing back to a sustainable level. So for a decade at least, maybe a generation, government spending will be constrained and taxes will remain higher than they are now.”

“It will be down to the next government to start to re-establish the fiscal discipline to which Gordon Brown aspired, but from an incomparably worse starting point.”

“So the price of combating a recession that will in all probability be less serious than that of the early 1980s (though worse than the 1970s and 1990s) will be a doubling of the national debt. That can never happen again. When the next recession comes, in say 2018, we will still be paying off the cost of the present one.”

“Whatever we do now, it is inevitable that our children will pay much more in tax than they receive in social benefits. For the present generation of retirees, thanks to favourable demography, the position is reversed. In the past, when governments ran up huge deficits it was to fight wars and I think most of us would accept that defending the country in the Second World War was worth the price. But now the deficits are to spend more on social benefits than people are prepared to pay in taxes and our children will have a right to feel cheated.”

“Now it is 1976 all over again. I don’t mean in the sense that the UK will have to go to the International Monetary Fund for a loan, though I would not completely rule that out. No, I mean it in the sense that the various countries will have to spend the next 20 years or so figuring out how to impose fiscal discipline on governments, just as it took that time to impose monetary discipline.”

However we get out of this mess – assuming that we do get out of this mess – we did not get into it because Tony Blair refused to spend enough money.

“that bastion of Torydom, the Independent”

I miss the time when one could read that phrase and be sure it was meant ironically.

No-one who is in (or advocating being in) the LP that I have noticed has addressed the rather important issue of structures. OK, so you’re advocating rejoining, to take the party “back” (albeit that the left never ran it in the first place). So how are you going to do it, given that the right will not simply hand it to you?

i) Via policy changes at national conference? You can’t do that any more, not to mention the fact that even when you could, the leadership routinely ignored them.

ii) Via the democratic selection structures of the party? Recent parliamentary selections lead me to doubt that possibility.

iii) Via desperate hopes that a credible left-wing leader will “emerge” (an idea rather remniscent of 1950s Toryism, albeit from the opposite end of the spectrum), whom you can then elect by over-running the electoral college? It ain’t gonna happen, and in any case runs against the bottom-up traditions of the left.

This, then,is just pie in the sky which enables people to avoid hard choices about what to do now that the Labour Party is no longer a vehicle for real, progressive change in the UK, isn’t it?

41. Ken McKenzie

@29

Mike, the figure for public sector employment at the end of last year was 5.783 million. In other words, between one in nine and one in ten public sector employees are likely to lose their jobs if 600,000 jobs are lost.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Prep/13615.asp

To put this into perspective, in the last 12 months, unemployment has gone up by 486,000. http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=12&Pos=2&ColRank=1&Rank=310

42. Mike Killingworth

Many thanks, Ken. It’s a dreadful site to find your way around so well done!

Is this a cynic feigning practical “realism”? or an opportunist feigning disgust at abstenionist socialists? I prefer honesty to manipulative insult – a common method rife in the “far left”and I’d say a factor in so many ending up in this corrupt “new “labour regime! A clue is in the fact that this lead piece refers to elections as the only possible engine of change and presumably class as some sociological myth? Maybe this unfolding crisis will demonstrate that fundamental shifts in understanding take place in response to deep crisis – and events can then no longer be predicted by refering to previous patterns in events.
Of course history is held in contempt not only by “new” labour but by just about every self promoted political commentator. I therefore suggest that those who doubt that anything different can be anticipated take their pessimism on a trip amongst the outraged masses of working people who are in the process of seaching for solutions to the disasters they face. What unites this class is not intellectual common ground but circumstances – as it happens intolerable circumstances which can, and I believe is leading to growing awareness of fundamental issues and a willingness to break with long held political beliefs and behaviour. Out of neccessity!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: It’s time for socialists to rejoin the Labour party http://tinyurl.com/d36rzw

  2. joe laking

    I would extend this article to all those on the left who have felt unrepresented over the past 12 years http://short.to/5ly6

  3. john band

    as threatened, piece up on LC: http://is.gd/tS8v

  4. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: It’s time for socialists to rejoin the Labour party http://tinyurl.com/d36rzw

  5. Liberal Conspiracy

    New post: It’s time for socialists to rejoin the Labour party http://tinyurl.com/d36rzw

  6. joe laking

    I would extend this article to all those on the left who have felt unrepresented over the past 12 years http://short.to/5ly6

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    […] was announced, John Band made a good joke over at Liberal Conspiracy by saying that now is the time for socialists to rejoin Labour. I damn near looked at the calendar to see if it was April 1st. The Labour Party’s internal […]

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    […] Time for socialists to rejoin the Labour Party – all twelve of them. Great fun to read. I think! […]





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