Cruddas: ‘England is Labour’s fiercest fight’


by Sunny Hundal    
6:07 pm - October 19th 2010

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Tonight, Labour MP Jon Cruddas will be giving the annual Aneurin Bevan speech.

The speech will focus on the ‘English Question’ and maps out where the Labour party faces its toughest challenge. It’s rather long, at nearly 5000 words, but we exclusively re-produce it here in full.

* * * * * * * * * *

Taking Back the Big Society

Thank you for inviting me to give the memorial Lecture tonight. My subject is ‘Taking Back the Big Society’.

Now I was going to speak about the specifics of the Big Society debate, about its different forms across Whitehall; its tensions and contradictions and about Labour’s own record and how we should respond.

I now think, however, that in order to do such work we have to firstly consider some more fundamental first principles. Because this debate is really about Labour; about what it has become and what it has been in the past and about what it has lost.

And how – through the lives of historic labour figures like Bevan- we can rediscover our own identity; through the rediscovery of a sentiment around Labour.

Why? well, put simply, we are in crisis.

Arguably we are experiencing the third great crisis of Labour following those of 1931 and 1981; each driven by patterns of economic rupture.

How will we get out of this? And where do we start?

I believe we will find the answers to these questions here in England.

I admit this is a strange observation when discussing a towering Welsh Labour figure; but bear with me.

England is where the fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest; where the crisis is most acute.

…………………………………..

Now, I have to make an initial admission.

I did not grow up in a family schooled in the great Labour contributions of Hardie, Lansbury or Bevan.

I had never heard of them till I went to University.

Our heroes were the Kennedys – born not of party but of diaspora- and Oscar Romero – born of creed not of political science.

We lost the brothers over 40 years ago. And it is now 30 years ago last march since Romero was assassinated by San Salvador death squads.

Whilst I personally was very much attracted to his mixture of catholic social teaching and Marxism- to give a ‘voice to the voiceless’ – in fact at home we owed everything to Labour.

Aneurin Bevan told Jennie Lee: ‘it is the Labour party or nothing’.

He was speaking for the working class but he was also speaking about himself.

And for me too- and many, many millions of us.

I still see it the same way, almost as a life sentence;

A fundamental part of my and our identity.

But what is the identity of Labour now?

……………………

The threat facing Labour is bigger than the Coalition.

Its bigger than the millions lost to us at the last election.

Or the tens of thousands of members lost.

We have lost the respect of many who put their trust in us.

Now I am not here to bury Labour; but there is a pervasive sense of loss around our Party.

It is a loss of identity.

We do not possess some kind of historical right to exist.

Across Europe social democracy has been reduced to parties of the public sector and the liberal middle class.

30% in Sweden; 23% in Germany; 29% here in the UK.

Capitalism has been through a revolution and the old working class has lost its economic function.

Its culture is dying; its patterns of family and kinship under siege.

Its political parties are fading.

Many are turning to the far right cultural movements that are sweeping across Europe.

And this is the coming front line.

The new battleground is one of identity, race and religion, of class and culture.

Witness Merkel this week; Sarkozy and the Roma.

Labour has to be in this swim; to ensure that right wing populists are not the only ones navigating this terrain.

Bevan understood Labour’s faults and dangers.

He said, ‘We can’t undo what we have done. And I am by no means convinced that something cannot yet be made of it.’

It is true, there is hope for Labour precisely because we have a powerful tradition; a collective memory built in previous periods of dispossession.

But Bevan also gave a warning.

To retreat into purity will bring impotence.

Success will require boldness in word and deed.

The task at hand is for Labour to rebuild its identity grounded in ordinary, everyday working class culture.

If we don’t change, the mood will turn to weariness and despair; possibly captured by right wing populism.

The people will continue to desert us.

There will be dark times.

It is therefore an obligation to rebuild.

For that we need audacity.

Think of England Today

My dominant image of politics in 2010 is not the election, Gordon Brown and Mrs Duffy, nor Cameron and Clegg in the Downing St garden; nor of Ed and David Miliband.

It was in London; just recently

It was walking behind a big African guy coming home from church with his toddler.

The little boy was wearing a t-shirt with two simple words on the back. In very big bold type.

‘Pastor Jones’. Was all it said; all it needed to say.

It was the height of the Mosque in Manhattan controversy and Pastor Jones in Florida was ready to burn the Qur’an.
International Burn a Qur’an Day.

In real time his message had reached the centre of cosmopolitan London. Where people felt moved to dress their kids in solidarity with this cultural and religious fight in North America. And go to church so dressed.

The man and his child belonged to a London church; on inspection we find links between this church and the English Defence League.

Indeed we find links between the EDL and organisers of the New York protests.

Moreover, these shadowy figures are also in touch with key Tea Party people in America, inviting them over and building links across Europe.

On 30 October they will be in Amsterdam supporting Geert Wilders.

What is this about?

Sure the BNP has been crushed by electoral defeat.

The EDL is a new kind of threat- a cultural movement; unpredictable and violent; a new politics of ‘flash demos’ and open wildcat networks.

It copies the old Anti Nazi League slogan: ‘Black and white to unite’.

It demands democracy not racial purity: ‘While our troops fight for democracy overseas we’re losing it here’ they shout.

Its leaders welcome all races to join in defending England’s ‘Christian culture’.

It is patriotic, it loves the military.

The EDL is a small, violent street militia but it speaks the language of a much larger, disenfranchised class.

A politics born out of dispossession but anchored in English male working class culture; of dress and sport.

Camped outside the political centre ground, a large swathe of the electorate.

The making of an English Tea Party.

A people who believe they have been robbed of their birthright

They want community and belonging.

……………………………..

I would argue that in the last three decades England has suffered a social calamity.

Thirteen years of Labour governments had only begun the repair.

Deindustrialisation.

The malign elements of globalisation ripping through communities.

For many, ways of life ruined.

Civic decency and families compromised by crime and drugs.

Scores of thousands suffering chronic illness and premature death.

The institutions that supported the labour movement a shadow of their former selves.

……………………………………..

In his essay, Culture is Ordinary, Raymond Williams described the working class culture he grew up in: neighbourhood and security, mutual obligation and common betterment.

Precisely those things often now felt to be under threat.

People make a culture to make identity and their home in the world.

A Labour working class culture grounded in the ordinary.

And another great Welshman Dylan Thomas described this culture of the labour movement as ‘parochial’ and yet ‘magical’.

But what happens when that is lost?

When the things that give you and your family meaning are rendered obsolete?

When you are dispossessed of that culture you lose a sense of who you are.

It can be to suffer humiliation.

It can become harder to find and keep a sense of honour and dignity.

It can create the anger of the defeated.

It can destroy family and community. And culture.

The old industrial order with its male breadwinner and head of household has gone.

Men have lost traditions of skilled work that were a source of pride.

What now do fathers pass down to their sons?

Many young men have lost the traditional rites of passage into adulthood: getting a decent job, establishing a family, making a home.

And there can be the shame of those who are unable to defend themselves.

There are the beaten and defeated, the ‘feckless’ poor and the so called benefit scroungers, those who suffer chronic illness, depression, alcoholism, addicts, who have not worked for years, who are living reminders of what happens to those who can’t cope, and who don’t succeed in this rat race.

This is the fate that our society deals out: not compassion but more often contempt.

At times people will use violence to avoid this shame.; respect garnered in different ways.

Here lies an angry politics of dispossession.

Is it to become crystallised – or framed – in Europe and North America – in a new politics of Patriotism, Family and Faith.

A ‘civilisational politics’ that stretches across the Atlantic.

A politics of loss.

Loss of a sense of identity and a way of life.

A loose coalition pulled together by what they are against: often this is Islam.

The enemy is not, to them, just Islam it is also the liberal middle class elite who reside over injustice and who have betrayed England and humiliated its people.

Labour must stop this refracting into an English populism; by building our own optimistic politics.

To return to Williams: he said ‘to be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing’.

We have been here before.

In the 1960s, Enoch Powell built an English nationalism that drove a wedge between the liberal elite and the people.

Powell sought to make despair convincing.

He said, ‘There is a deep and dangerous gulf in the nation’.

The liberal intelligentsia is the ‘enemy within’ , destroying the moral fabric of the English nation with its promotion of multiculturalism.

A permissive elite that renders the majority of English people passive and helpless, and abandons England to those who hate her.

Are we witnessing a new cultural struggle in civil society?

A growing gulf between the political classes and the people.

Could this develop into the real challenge of our time.

Played out in the context of massive public expenditure cuts.

It is incumbent on Labour to once again make hope possible.

There is much talk in Labour about our Southern Discomfort.

But the politics of dispossession point to something bigger: Labour’s English Discomfort.

Bevan said be bold.

He taught us how to begin the political struggle.
Ask the question: ‘Where does power lie in this particular State of Great Britain, and how can it be attained’

So let’s return to some fundamentals in terms of England.

Because although these issues are contemporary- they are actually not new. They lie deep within Labour’s own culture through waves of dispossession.

Lets briefly return to England’s past

In the winter of 1799 Dorothy Wordsworth and her brother William settled in Dove Cottage in Grasmere.

The industrial revolution was in its most intense period.

A period of economic rupture.

She decided to keep a diary.

She writes about nature, their walks and the garden.

But there is more.

She describes her encounters with beggars: ‘a poor girl called to beg’, a ‘broken’ soldier, ‘a pretty little boy’ of seven – ‘When I asked him if he got enough to eat, he looked suprized, and said ‘Nay’’, an old sailor 57 years at sea.

She asks them about their lives.

Where have these sick, destitute and uprooted people come from?

Countless pamphlets of the time attempted an answer: wages were too high, wages were too low, paupers were feckless, they had bad diets, they had drug habits, they drank tea that impaired their health.

A strange contemporary feel to the debates if you read them now.

The national debate about the causes of pauperism literally led to the idea of society itslef.

In turn the idea of society laid the foundations for socialism and social democracy.

We are having the same debate today.

Big Society, Good Society, we cannot talk about them without talking about class, power and dispossession.

…………………………….

Since Wordsworth the English working class was defined in three acts of dispossession.

First. The dispossession of the people from their land and livelihood and from a common way of life.

Gerrard Winstanley summed up the history of enclosures in his ‘Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England’.

He told the landowners: ‘The power of enclosing land and owning property was brought into creation by your ancestors by the sword’.

Enclosing was standardised in the General Enclosure Act of 1801.
The industrial revolution turned the common people into shiftless migrants’.

Second. The dispossession of the labouring class from the political life of the country.

The enclosures dispossessed the people of their land.
The 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act excluded the landless from the franchise.

‘In England’, writes Karl Polanyi, ‘it became the unwritten law of the Constitution that the working class must be denied the vote’.

Third. The dispossession of the people from their own labour.

The 1834 Poor Law Reform Act established a competitive market in labour.

The poor were divided into helpless paupers who were confined to the workhouse and a new category, the unemployed.

Free labourers must earn their living by working for a wage.

Unemployment meant the hated work house or death by starvation.

Labour was turned into a commodity and the capitalist system was born.

So began what Polanyi describes as the double movement of capitalism.

On the one hand the market destroys old social networks and reduces all human relations to commercial ones.

On the other, is the counter tendency to defend human values; the search for community and security.

What is Labour in its deeper meaning?

What is then the Labour Sentiment?

Historically it is the response of people to their dispossession.

It is a timeless fight against such dispossession.

It is the defence of their social life and relationships from commodification.

It is the politics of a common life, a common law and a common wealth.

It is being played out today.

Labour has been at the centre of the historical struggle for democracy.

Since Wordsworth; through successive waves of dispossession.

This is our tradition; to be reclaimed today.

Turn then to New Labour

For the last three decades Polanyi’s double movement has been working in the favour of capital.

Trade unions decimated.

A massive transfer of wealth and political power to the rich.

Like our ancestors in the first decade of the nineteenth century, we are faced with profound questions about capitalism and dispossession.

About the role of the market and state and the relationship of the individual to society.

New Labour was at its best a contemporary, popular response to these questions.

Tony Blair set out his vision of New Labour in his 1994 inaugural conference speech:

‘This is my socialism…‘A nation for all the people, built by the people, where old divisions are cast out. A new spirit in the nation based on working together, unity, solidarity, partnership. That is the patriotism of the future. Where your child in distress is my child, your parent ill and in pain is my parent, your friend unemployed or homeless is my friend; your neighbour my neighbour. That is the true patriotism of a nation.’

But it did not survive.

By 2005 New Labour politics had become a desiccated materialism where people either sink or swim.

At the party conference Blair said, ‘there is no mystery about what works: an open, liberal economy, prepared constantly to change to remain competitive. The new world rewards those who are open to it.’

A dystopian worldview.

Social solidarity is essential, but its purpose, he said ‘ is not to resist the force of globalisation but to prepare for it, and to garner its vast potential benefits.’

In that arc between 1994 and 2005 Labour lost its identity.

A communitarian politics built around the good society had been defeated by a utilitarian privileging of personal choice and liberal individualism.

A striped down notion of aspiration dominated.

Philip Gould said in his ‘Unfinished Revolution’ that his parents ‘wanted to do what was right, not what was aspirational’.

When asked what was Labour’s essential message Alan Milburn said it was to help more people ‘earn and own’.

In contrast Romero – speaking for our labour ancestors- and indeed speaking for a different Labour sentiment – said ‘aspire to be more not to have more’

……………………………….

Now the consequence of this drift within Labour- was of course the ‘Big Society.

David Cameron seized the opportunity.

He reframed New Labour’s ethical socialism into his idea of ‘building a pro-social society’: ‘There is such a thing as society, but it’s just not the same thing as the state’.

Iain Duncan Smith and the Centre for Social Justice gave pro-social, anti-state politics a moral underpinning.
Cameron called Britain a ‘Broken Society’.

In 2008, he wrote ‘ the aim of the Conservative Party is nothing short of building the good society’.

Notice the use of both the big and the good society- seen as inter-changeable.

By 2010 he was talking about ‘Our Big Society Agenda’:
‘It’s about the biggest and most dramatic redistribution of power from elites to the man and woman in the street. It’s about liberation.’

He is colonising a language- around fraternity; duty; obligation and yes belonging.

It is a profoundly important challenge for Labour as our loss of language reinforces that loss of identity.

His party is unenthusiastic. Sure.

His right are disgusted. Sure.

The electorate and commentariat don’t get it.

Yet Cameron persists.

His 2010 Conference speech called for a ‘Big Society Spirit’: ‘It’s the spirit of activism, dynamism, people taking the initiative, working together to get things done.’

Labour has been slow to respond. We have said

-Big Society is just about dismantling the state.
-It’s vacuous and shallow.
-Cameron’s mistaken obsession.

But Labour cannot afford complacency.
Labour built new schools and hospitals; a massive social investment.
An historic achievement.
No-one seems very grateful.

Labour in government pursued efficiency, ‘value for money’, and ‘customer satisfaction’ but it did not take care of the human relationships and trust that lie at the heart of public services.

It used the market and the state as heartless instruments of reform.

People felt excluded.

They did not feel an ownership of the new grand buildings.
With embarrassing speed the Conservatives detached Labour from its own achievements.

The market failure of the banks was turned into a crisis of public debt and blamed on Labour.

Cameron’s Big Society is a mix of social tory activism and old fashioned volunteering.

It speaks about mutualism but is stuck in market transactions.

It believes in fairness but won’t tackle the causes of unfairness.

It wants power to the people but opposes democratic reform.

It is Cameron’s version of what Stuart Hall once described as New Labour’s ‘double shuffle’; a sophisticated, warm political language that disguises what lies beneath; its neo-liberal wiring.

Its warm and generous words obscure- quite functionally – a deeper fundamental assault on the state.

Cameron’s goal is to seize the centre ground and remake it around a centre right politics.

He has seized Labour’s most precious asset: society and its relationships.
He has left Labour looking like a technocratic, micromanaging, ‘we know what’s best for you’ party.

The coalition with the Liberal Democrats has only increased the potency of this strategy.

Labour has been dangerously slow to respond.

Yet buried underneath the last few years there was other work in progress that was in direct contrast to the trajectory of much of this Labour thinking.

It urged us to challenge this dominant notion of materialism and acquisition.

It talked about fellowship and human relationships; it talked about dispossession and neighbourliness.

It talked about England: of Tawney and William Morris; of Orwell. It talks of virtue, love, collaboration and kindness.

The task was to build the ‘decent society’; grounded in the ordinary working class culture of the country.

I would urge people to read Hazel Blear’s 2004 pamphlet; ‘The Politics of Decency’.

Second I would urge people to re-read the Compass Pamphlet ‘The Good Society’.

The parallels- and the common ground- yet from different wings of the Party – are crystal clear.

Hazel and Compass might appear strange bedfellows; but I believe labour’s future is to be built within these two texts.

And now things appear to be moving further.

For example, in July, David Miliband reacted.

He recognised that Labour lacked a creed – ‘a strong idea of a good society and a life fit for all human beings for all citizens.’

In turn, Ed Miliband has pushed it into the centre of Labour politics

In his inaugural leadership speech at the 2010 Party Conference, he called on Labour to ‘inspire people with our vision of the good society’.

Taking back the Big Society from the Conservatives means building Labour’s Good Society.

It is about rediscovering a sentiment around Labour.

Lets think about the notion Labour’s Good Society

Lets return to New Labour: at the beginning it captured the popular mood.

It had a vision of the Good Society.

The pluralism, the ethical socialism, the stakeholding economy, the idea of a covenant of trust and reciprocity with the people, the powerful emotional language that ignited popular hope.

It made a powerful, vote winning story.

I believed in this politics, I still do.
But it is no longer enough.

Arguably, with the move away from stakeholding, it tended to see globalisation as essentially benign and understate at best the destructive forces of capitalism; its double movement as described by Polanyi.

It developed a naive faith in markets and a fatal deference toward the City of London.

We now have to go on a return journey to rediscover our language and identity.

So lets start with a number of central propositions that lie deep within our own history- captured in the life of Aneurin Bevan himself.

First, that Labour is a moral force.

It emerged out of the harsh puritanism of non-conformist culture.

But it broke the status quo and it began to transform the culture that had given it life.

It grew out of the Mutual Improvement Societies dedicated to literature, a love of learning and the liberating power of culture.

It grew out of a vast popular movement of voluntary collectivism.

Bevan’s politics were formed in the Tredegar Query Club, the Tredegar Medical Aid Society, the Miners Institute, the Miners Welfare Committee.

It was a movement of civility, liberty and self-education.

It was dedicated to social justice, intellectual freedom and the desire for self realisation.

Not the brittle aspiration that became New Labour’s signature tune but a deeper human desire to live a good life.

Second, Labour is for the common good.

Its ethical intention is aimed at the good life with and for others and the creation of just institutions.

Its politics of virtue is rooted in Aristotle and grows out of the shared life of friendship.

The common good provides the general conditions through which each has access to their own fulfillment.

Third, Labour is for reciprocity

There is a story always quoted by Karen Armstrong in her studies of comparative religions. She refers to the way Hyam Maccoby quotes the Rabbi Hillel’s Golden Rule.

Some pagens came to Hillel and said that they would convert if he were able to stand on one leg and recite the whole of the jewish scriptures in full whilst keeping his balance..

A pretty tough ask..

Well, Hillel stood on one leg and simply said the following: ‘Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you. That is the Torah. The rest is commentary.’

The rest is commentary- striped bare this is the core of all religeons- and none- as it also lies as the core of much humanism found around labour; a sense of reciprocity and obligation to others.

Reciprocity is the ethical core of Labour.

Reciprocity is the give and take that creates the social bonds that hold people together in a common life.

And it is not exclusively religious.

Consider this written about Bevan by Jennie Lee in a letter to Michael Foot- the day after he died on the 6th July 1960.

She writes thus:

‘Nye was never a hypocrite. No falsity must touch him once he is no longer able to defend his views. He was not a cold blooded rationalist. He was no calculating machine. He was a great humanist whose religion lay in loving his fellow men and trying to serve them.’

The Golden Rule: ‘Do not do unto others what you would not have done unto you’ reappears.

Further Jennie writes:

‘He could kneel reverently in chapel, synagogue, Eastern mosque, Catholic cathederal on occasions when friends called him there for marriage or dedication or burial service. He knelt reverently in respect of a friend or a friend’s faith, but never pretended to be other than he was, a humanist. Often in the last few years he talked of ‘the mystery that lies at the heart of things’, nothing more definite than that.’

This is vital as we seek to rebuild Labour.

In contrast to much secular European social democracy, Labour succeeded in the UK in building a workers movement- built around a common humanity beyond money or power alone- that was not divided between catholic and protestant, or between secularists and believers, but the movement itself provided the common life which reconciled these different elements.

It was genuinely plural, respectful of difference; fraternal; courteous.

This open pluralist sentiment has to be rediscovered again in order to make Labour a vibrant contemporary force.

Not a haven for a shrill, closed and exclusive, middle class secular metropolitan liberalism.

Fourth, Labour is for liberty and joy

The ethic of reciprocity is the basis of human freedom.
We are interdependent and liberty is mutual; the freedom of one requires the freedom of all.

There is no liberty for all without solidarity and democracy

There is only one force capable of countering the profit seeking of capitalism and the social damage and insecurities it causes, and that is democracy.

Political democracy alone is not sufficient; it has to extend into the economic sphere.

Bevan – as we all know- used the term serenity- it is an elusive term – but is a sense of contentment.

It is a notion of self realisation again traced back to Aristotle- the Polis- the City State- politics- is about establishing institutions that allow us to live a virtuous life- the search for wisdom, compassion, the cardinal virtues.

Bevan was not a religious man- although close to death he did – as we have see- ponder the ‘mystery that lies at the heart of things’.

He found this self realisation in walking, in learning and culture, in the pleasures of life.

Where there is joy there is a life lived well

Fifth Labour is for a common wealth

Labour’s political economy was born out of the experience of dispossession. It seeks:

-To ensure the worker receives a fair reward for their labour.
-To build up democracy in order to regulate markets, and use capital for the common good.

-A productive, wealth creating, wealth spreading economy for a common prosperity and not for the enrichment of the few.

-A system of welfare for all funded by all according to their means, that preserves the dignity of the people and that protects them against the inequities of capital and the misfortunes of life.

-A just distribution of assets such that all can live independently according to their want.

I will conclude with a couple of points.

Tonight I anticipated simply talking about ‘taking back the big society debate’ by offering a critique of the Tory agenda.

But the more I kicked it around, the more it becomes a case of firstly rehabilitating a sentiment around labour as part of rebuilding a party and movement.

In our history Labour has always responded to dispossession; to economic and social loss.

It must do so again by rediscovering a warmth and generosity; especially in England by learning from our previous generations who have all dealt with the same patterns of loss.

As such, Labour’s Good Society lies deep in the English struggle for popular democracy.

As well as a struggle forged in celtic Labour traditions and culture through such heroes as Hardie and Bevan.

Yet it is a distinctly English crisis that Labour must now respond to – by learning from our own comparative history.

Literally a journey of self discovery; of rediscovering a virtue politics of compassion, fraternity, duty and obligation.

The next few years will be difficult; we are obliged to re-anchor Labour in ordinary, mainstream culture of the country. As we have done before.

Not least to counter those sinister forces who seek a politics of division.

‘To make hope possible rather than despair convincing’.

The Conservatives Big Society is founded in its history as the defender of the status quo and the property rights of the rich.

They profited from the Satanic Mills.

By reclaiming the Good Society, we can again seek to build that Jerusalem.

Thanks very much for having me this evening.

ENDS

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Elect that man your leader, and build your politics based on his ideas. Then millions of people will support you once again.

Powerful speech, epic in scope, let down by the Satan allusion at the end.

Labour need to ask themselves why it is that they don’t do as well in England as they do in Wales and Scotland. Even in 2005 the Tories got more votes than Labour in England.

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Jon Cruddas is absolutely superb.

Good speech but it’s only talk. There’s an old saying;

“what we reveal is interesting, what we conceal is important”

When he comes up with an answer to this, he gets my vote and support

http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/realdebt.pdf

5. Chaise Guevara

Where was this guy during the Labour leadership contest?

Blanco: it’s not a Satan allusion as such, more a Blake allusion. He’s not saying that Cameron is the Devil or anything.

@ Chaise he was busy backing David Miliband…

Multiculturalism in the frame yet again.

When will the left wake up and smell the coffee?

Absolutely incredible. Brilliant speech, brilliant direction. Give this man carte blance to implement this philosophy.

9. the a&e charge nurse

First, that Labour is a moral force.
Second, Labour is for the common good.
Third, Labour is for reciprocity.
Fourth, Labour is for liberty and joy.
Fifth Labour is for a common wealth.

I’m sorry but this speech is packed with the sort of grandiose rhetoric that NO politician or political party can ever realistically hope to achieve?

Surely politicians of any stripe should take Harry Callahan’s immortal epithet, “A man’s got to know his limitations” as their starting point?

Remember the sheer unadulterated joy when Tony “My Journey” Blair took up office in ’97, yet now he is despised almost as much as Thatch was – even so, would I be wrong in describing these two iconic figures as the most important British politicians in the last 30 years?

No, I would much prefer a more modest, and dare I say realistic posture.
A few limited guarantees on health and education would be a very good start.
If a few more people had decent housing that would be an added bonus.

Perhaps it’s time to abandon epic pronouncements such as these even though they make a cracking read?

Good tip to all posters, avoid emotional statements. I know we’re all guilty of it at some point or other but it does not influence attitudes amongst others when it comes to politics for the average fella in the street.

To him or her, it’ just becomes an ‘e’ version of the Jeremy Kyle show.

Failure to influence political attitude transfers into ‘non voters’ too easily.

11. Ken Livingstone for Politburo Leader

Drivel from start to finish.

“How will we get out of this? And where do we start?”

Wrong question Crud, how about “how did we get here?” The answer would be… oh right, because the last Labour government was one of the most incompetent, destructive, ruinous governments in history. You tanked the economy and invaded Iraq, way to go!

Jon, that speech is brilliant, I hope you meant every word of it. I don’t mean to wee on your chips (’cause it really is a bloody good speech) but for god’s sake ACT on it, prove to me you mean every word of it and make sure every other Labour MP proves to me that they too believe in the common good, and I might just rejoin and carry my card again.

And I concur with Chaise Guevara, it’s an allusion to Blake not auld Nick (Clegg or otherwise)

“Where was this guy during the Labour leadership contest?”

Identifying and supporting the best candidate. But that’s water under the bridge.

A thoughtful speech from a very interesting man. Well worth reproducing in full.

13 Jimmy

Many would disagree that his identification was correct, and even if it was the fact that he backed the wrong horse would tend to cast doubt on his politcal “smarts” wouldn’t it?

Making stirring speeches is one thing, actually making yourself electable is another. Labour needs to prove both that it is not simply a re-labelled version of the deeply unpleasant New Labour experiment, and that it can formulate and “sell” a coherent, progressive and radical alternative to the Big Society.

So far I have seen precious little evidence that it is doing either, or that it has the quality of people or the heart for the struggle. In fact, reading the speech has actually made me more sceptical that Labour is up to the task. There is a window of opportunity for them to change, and to set out their stall for the electorate, but it needs to be a sincere conversion and it needs to be done soon.

Cruddas was right about one thing; Labour has no historical right to exist. If it isn’t capable of elucidating a well thought out alternative to the Big Society it should make way for a movment that can.

Hmmm…An article on the English Question that doesn’t bother mentioning the English democratic and fiscal deficit.

15

Prof. Hazell is probably right tho’ isn’t he?:

“the English Question does not have to be answered. It is not an exam question that the English are required to answer. It can remain unresolved for as long as the English want. Ultimately only the English can decide whether they want to seek an answer to the English Question.

Robert Hazell (2006), The English Question, Manchester University Press”

I’ve never heard any urgency from anyone about answering “the English question”. Attempts to formulate an English parliament would almost certainly fracture the Union; there have to be real doubts about whether our constitution would be able to cope with English and UK parliaments controlled by different parties.

The fiscal deficit so beloved of those moaning about how the celtic fringe is subsidised tends to overlook the massive hidden subsidies enjoyed by the SE of England, and the fact that spending on many parts of the North of England is also high, because (surprise surprise) they are the poorest, most disadvantaged, most remote etc.

In addition, playing the “fiscal deficit” card simply plays into the hands of the Nationalists; the SNP are already making headway in arguing that fiscal independence would be a “good thing”, and it would be difficult to see much rationale for the Union at all if that came to pass.

Some nice words, but I’ve got three big problems with this speech.

Firstly, warm words are fine, but what does it actually mean in practice? There’s no sense how any of this actually relates to any current policy debates.

Secondly, Cruddas is fascinated and approving of things like the Big Society and the Centre for Social Justice. But if you examine these things by their deeds, rather than words, the founder of the Centre for Social Justice’s work is introducing policies which will massively increase poverty, and the people behind the Big Society are wiping out thousands of charities and community groups. Cruddas seems more impressed that David Cameron gave nice speeches about social action than about the fact that Labour helped create a golden age where civil society groups were able to flourish. Again, the difference is between words and actions.

Thirdly, I think there is a lot to be learned from Catholic Social Teaching, and Labour needs to ensure that it appeals to people who are not public sector workers. But the idea that the way to revive the Labour Party or social democracy is by attacking a “metropolitan secular liberal elite”, as he does in several places in his speech, is utterly daft.

‘Powerful speech, epic in scope, let down by the Satan allusion at the end.’

Tha allusion is to Blake, not Satan – as is the reference to Jerusalem.

Very moving, excellent.

I know Jon Cruddas was talking specifically about the ‘sentiment’. But I would have welcomed even a hint of what the economic life of the Good Society might look like.

Because, at the end of it all, it really is the economy stupid.

20. Rural Rides

Excellent! Powerful and moving.

But – I know that Jon Cruddas was talking specifically of the ‘sentiment’, the emotional core of what it means to be Labour, but I would have welcomed even a hint of what the economic life of the Good Society might look like. What will be the economic basis of our Commonwealth?

Without the formation of a credible economic vision, he’s just another lefty, do-gooding, daydreamer.

More please!

21. Rural Rides

9.

“I’m sorry but this speech is packed with the sort of grandiose rhetoric that NO politician or political party can ever realistically hope to achieve?”

I think you’re misunderstanding his aims. He is specifically talking about the ‘sentiment’ around Labour, the ‘brand values’ in New Labour-speak.

17.

“attacking a “metropolitan secular liberal elite”, as he does in several places in his speech, is utterly daft.”

He isn’t is he? He’s saying that Labour needs to be seen as more than this if it’s going to re-engage ordinary working people.

22. the a&e charge nurse

[21] well I certainly think this long speech can be understood on a number of levels but I have no problem accepting your point.

I must admit I do have problems with assertion No:4 though?
http://www.noliberties.com/trailer.htm

First, that Labour is a moral force.
Second, Labour is for the common good.
Third, Labour is for reciprocity.
Fourth, Labour is for liberty and joy.
Fifth Labour is for a common wealth.

Platitude platitude platitude.

1 – really? Blair, Brown, Mandelson, Campbell, Balls, McBride…

2 – see 1

3 – see 1

4 – of course, while everyone else is for slavery and misery. FFS…

5 – we’ll give you lots of other people’s stuff so you can live, erm, “independently”

Jon Cruddas refers to Enoch Powell’s notion of a “permissive elite that renders the majority of English people passive and helpless, and abandons England to those who hate her”.

That could almost be a description of New Labour itself, except that the New Labour elite actively hated and suppressed any idea of England as a positive concept. There’s not enough in this speech to suggest that Jon Cruddas has any real faith in or commitment to the English people as such.

This is all about Labour and about reigniting in England, rather than for England, a belief in what Ed Miliband in his conference speech referred to as the “Labour nation” while somehow managing to avoid mentioning ‘England’ a single time. This is a vision for a Labour Britain, not a Labour England. Implicitly, an English focus is framed as divisive of the social unity associated with the United Kingdom: “we are obliged to re-anchor Labour in ordinary, mainstream culture of the country ['the country'; i.e. Britain not England]. As we have done before. Not least to counter those sinister forces who seek a politics of division [i.e. an English politics].”

Yes, the Big Society is divisive. But it’s divisive because it is a vision and policy focus almost entirely directed towards England, which increases the divisions and differences – socially, economically and politically – between England and the rest of the UK. Labour needs to propose an alternative vision for England that truly espouses the needs and aspirations of English people – including the aspiration towards democratic English self-government – in a way that is consistent with Labour policies and values advocated and implemented in Scotland and Wales. That would be a true commitment both to Labour values and to England: one that didn’t treat England implicitly as a case apart by both ignoring its specificity (to the point of denying its very distinction from ‘Britain’) while at the same time allowing it to become an exception to Labour’s ongoing commitment to social democracy and social solidarity elsewhere in the UK.

There needs to be a specific Labour engagement with England as England: one that is both true to Labour’s roots and heart (Cruddas’s ‘sentiment’), and motivated by genuine concern for the English people and nation. The way to oppose ‘populist’ English nationalism à la Powell is propose a vision of the ‘Labour English nation’.

Sunny:

“we exclusively re-produce it here in full.”

No you didn’t. I wasn’t exclusive to you, it was sent to http://www.socialistunity.com as well, and we published it the same day.

Another good speech from Cruddas.

Maybe this is his strategy – stay out of the last leadership race – it’s likely to produce a dud, get the position of party chairman, make challenging powerful speeches and articles (he has identified the English democratic defecit, Toque, in his New Statesman article, which is about the best on the issue from any MP see: http://www.newstatesman.com/uk-politics/2010/08/labour-party-english-england), make more of a public name for himself, then stand when the prospects of victory are real.

I hope so, because this is the only person in Labour with the right package of common sense, intellect, and boldness to make it a party worth voting for.

26 dan

The link above didn’t work for me, just went to the NS front page.

If Cruddas truly is able to make a silk purse out of the New Labour sow’s ear he’s not just got the right package of attributes, he must be a miracle worker! Good luck to him…. I have a feeling he’s going to need it.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' Bevan speech tonight http://bit.ly/avoejR

  2. sunny hundal

    Jon Cruddas' big speech tonight on 'Labour's fiercest fight' looks interestingly communitarian http://bit.ly/avoejR

  3. Fredrik Jansson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Jon Cruddas' big speech tonight on 'Labour's fiercest fight' looks interestingly communitarian http://bit.ly/avoejR

  4. Crazyenglishmf

    Cruddas: ‘England is Labour’s fiercest fight’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/QRzlR56 via @libcon

  5. conspiracy theo

    'England will be Labour's fiercest fight' – Cruddas | Liberal … http://bit.ly/cYHlsg

  6. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: 'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' Bevan speech tonight http://bit.ly/avoejR

  7. Jon Stone

    RT @sunny_hundal Jon Cruddas' speech tonight on 'Labour's fiercest fight' looks interestingly communitarian http://bit.ly/avoejR <- SO GOOD

  8. A Khan

    RT @libcon 'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' http://bit.ly/avoejR < An essential read!

  9. Maizey R.

    RT @ASK_5: RT @libcon 'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' http://bit.ly/avoejR < An essentia …

  10. Stewart Owadally

    RT @ASK_5: RT @libcon 'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' http://bit.ly/avoejR < An essentia …

  11. Jonathon Hawkes

    Anyone with even a passing interest in the long term direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas http://bit.ly/czXl93

  12. James Tanner

    RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in the long term direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas http://bit.ly/czXl93

  13. Robster

    @sdv_duras @ninagleams I wondered what you both thought of this speech by Cruddas http://bit.ly/cDYEEb

  14. Rachael

    RT @JonHawkes73 << read this speech by Jon Cruddas http://bit.ly/czXl93 <<wow!!

  15. Matt Leys

    Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  16. G. Host

    RT @mattleys: Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  17. Gary

    @JosieLong RT @mattleys: Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  18. gibbzer

    RT @mattleys: Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  19. yorkierosie

    Cruddas: ‘England is Labour’s fiercest fight’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HlIQpKd via @libcon >>His thinking is *so* right! #TrueLabour

  20. Tom Scott

    RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in the long term direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas http://bit.ly/czXl93

  21. Samuel Tarry

    RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  22. Oz

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  23. Syazwina Saw

    RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in the long term direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas http://bit.ly/czXl93

  24. Jules Clarke

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  25. jenny wren

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  26. Samuel Tarry

    Well worth reading from start to finish: http://bit.ly/a0J3AB’s-future-will-be-fiercest-jon-cruddas-aneurin-bevan-speech-tonight/

  27. Esther Titchen

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  28. Gavin Thomson

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  29. winston k moss

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  30. Ma

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  31. AshleyWills

    RT @mattleys: Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  32. Matt Kendall

    Cruddas speech has very good bit on reclaiming #bigsociety http://bit.ly/czXl93 half way through.

  33. sunny hundal

    If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  34. Dan Jackson

    http://bit.ly/czXl93 – fascinating (and historically well informed) speech by Jon Cruddas on Labour's English problems

  35. Rick Muir

    RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  36. Rachael

    RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  37. fljf

    RT @itsmotherswork: RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  38. SE Cambs Labour

    RT @libcon: 'England is where fight for Labour’s future will be fiercest' – Jon Cruddas' Bevan speech tonight http://bit.ly/avoejR

  39. Paul Richards

    Worth a look RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  40. Ruth Smeeth

    It's excellent RT@sunny_hundal:If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  41. Stef_W

    RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  42. Matt Leys

    This is the speech Jon Cruddas gave last night. If today leaves you searching for an alternative, start here http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  43. Tina Davies

    RT @mattleys: This is the speech Jon Cruddas gave last night. If today leaves you searching for an alternative, start here http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  44. Matthew Broughton

    RT @mattleys: Tonight Jon Cruddas gave the annual Aneurin Bevan speech. It's quite something http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  45. Tom Souffall

    RT @SamTarry: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  46. Noxi

    RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  47. willc00per

    Jon Cruddas defines the way forward for Labour. Stirring. http://t.co/HkIhq4M via @libcon

  48. Gordon Gibson

    RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  49. Celyn

    RT @GinWales: RT @sunny_hundal: If you missed Jon Cruddas' speech last night on Labour's "fight for England" – it's good http://bit.ly/avoejR

  50. Eddi Reader

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  51. TERENCE FLANAGAN

    RT @SamTarry: RT @JonHawkes73: Anyone with even a passing interest in direction of Labour should read this speech by Jon Cruddas MP http://bit.ly/czXl93

  52. Jonathan Greer

    If you haven't read Labour MP Jon Cruddas's Aneurin Bevan speech yet, please do. It's a great speech http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  53. sarah

    RT @slowthrills: If you haven't read Labour MP Jon Cruddas's Aneurin Bevan speech yet, please do. It's a great speech http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  54. Matt Leys

    @HumphreysHere It's here. You'll need a few minutes http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  55. Matt Leys

    There is an alternative to the ConDems and New Labour. Read Jon Cruddas's speech from last night: http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  56. Greg Eden

    RT @mattleys: There is an alternative to the ConDems and New Labour. Read Jon Cruddas's speech from last night: http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  57. Steve Akehurst

    Superb. Far too few politicians, of all parties, speak like this. RT @libcon: Jon Cruddas' Bevan speech tonight http://bit.ly/avoejR

  58. Dan McAlister

    RT @slowthrills: If you haven't read Labour MP Jon Cruddas's Aneurin Bevan speech yet, please do. It's a great speech http://bit.ly/99UdY4

  59. simon king

    Cruddas: ‘England is Labour’s fiercest fight’ | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/cWotgsZ via @libcon
    The left has to be articulate & honest

  60. paul soutar

    RT @delaval_astley: http://bit.ly/czXl93 – fascinating (and historically well informed) speech by Jon Cruddas on Labour's English problems

  61. Owen Smith

    The link: http://goo.gl/LTBF

  62. Eastern Eye shines a light at Diwali « Honour Mission

    [...] speaking up for the values of Western society- values that we all benefit from as British citizens. Jon Cruddas has spoken convincingly in recent months of the need for a shared British culture, in order to [...]

  63. Michael Harris

    utterly magical speech by Jon Cruddas on #bigsociety worth reading in full http://bit.ly/czXl93

  64. The Election Blog

    'Taking back the Big Society'' by Jon Cruddas MP. Worth a read even if U haven't yet forgiven hm 4 th ledrshp election! http://bit.ly/9x0ypT

  65. Connaire Demain

    http://bit.ly/bbOVW5 why isnt he in the shadow cabinet?

  66. Albert Barba

    Cruddas: 'England is Labour's fiercest fight' | Liberal Conspiracy http://bit.ly/jtthR2

  67. Itsmotherswork

    @NoelMcDermott Thx.
    http://t.co/xXW25id’s-future-will-be-fiercest-jon-cruddas-aneurin-bevan-speech-tonight/

  68. Itsmotherswork

    @HullRePublic
    http://t.co/jVHvVDWZ’s-future-will-be-fiercest-jon-cruddas-aneurin-bevan-speech-tonight/
    (Cruddas October 2010)





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