The centre left still has no idea how to become relevant again


10:41 am - June 28th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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Jacob Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University, is widely credited for coining the Labour buzzword ‘pre-distribution’.

He wrote an article for the Guardian a few weeks ago, as part of a talk at Peter Mandelson’s think-tank Policy Network. The most interesting part of the article for me was this bit:

Second, the third way took for granted that one could maintain the state’s role in providing public goods while also glorifying markets – especially, at least until the crash, financial markets. Then, of course, governments of all stripes bailed out those markets when things went sour. Throughout, virtually no investment was made in fostering a positive conception of the state’s role in making market work, which is actually more vital than ever in a complex global economy. The result is a crisis of legitimacy, and no political force suffers more from this crisis than the moderate left.

This point cannot be emphasised enough. The ‘moderate’ left is in a deep crisis of legitimacy that hasn’t gone away.

Even five years after 2007 we still don’t have an explanation of what went wrong in 2007 and what lessons have been learnt. Ed Miliband has made some attempt to grapple with this, but the agenda seems to have fallen by the wayside.

Now the focus is back on ‘fiscal consolidation’ and ‘tough choices’ and ‘pragmatic decisions’ and ‘public sector reform’ and so on. You know, the kind of words the Progress crowd love.

Now I’m not saying those phrases are not relevant in any way. But many on the centre left have mistaken this ongoing crisis of legitimacy (‘how did you let us get into this mess?‘) as a sign that people want to hear more of the things the centre-left loves talking about.

In other words, they say, obviously the centre-left is unpopular because we aren’t talking enough about ‘fiscal discipline’ and ‘public sector reform’ – rather than try and convince the public that we realise fucked up and have some bold ideas to promote this time around.

Ed Miliband started off down this path, and I was hopeful that he would stick with it, and develop it further to convince the public that Labour had learnt and changed.

But it seems the same people who were previously praising the bankers, disliked regulation and wanted the banks bailed out – Ed Balls is a key figure here – have gone back into their comfort zone again. Three years later there is nothing bold on reforming financial services, rebalancing the economy or a bold industrial strategy other than lots of speeches and a British Investment Bank (which the Tories are pushing anyway).

Instead of arguing about how far the UK economy needs to change to it work for ordinary people, the Labour party is spending all its time trying to explain how far they would match Osborne in every step he takes.

The centre left – I’m referring to Labour’s “centrists” here – aren’t even listening to their own people and recognising their ongoing crisis of legitimacy.

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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


It really does beg the question whether Balls et al. were ever actually ‘centre left’ to begin with. They’ve never actually demonstrated such inclinations in policy or rhetoric whether in power or in opposition. On what basis, then, can we even call them ‘centre left’? Just because they’re in the Labour party? Please.

2. Baton Rouge

Balls and Co are New Labour albeit the Brown wing. They can barely be described as Centrist let along centre left. But why cannot a centre left become relevant again ever? Because the social, political and economic conditions for the existence of such an opportunist formation have completely and utterly disappeared never to return. The choice now is between a genuinely radical socialist left or a centre to fascist right which is attracting like a magnet all other political forces whatever their initial point of departure as the capitalist sytems collapses around our ears.

Try the IFS on 14 June 2013: Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK 2013:

– Average incomes fell again in 2011–12, reaching 7.2% below their 2009–10 peak at the mean and 5.8% below their 2009–10 peak at the median.

– Income inequality changed little in 2011–12 but remained significantly lower than before the start of the recession.

– Relative poverty also changed little in 2011–12, remaining more than a million below its pre-recession level – its lowest level since 1986. Numbers in ‘absolute poverty’, however, rose.
http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/r81.pdf

4. Man on the Clapham Omnibus

When the ship is sinking its everyone for themselves whilst there is an appearance of choice. Both Blair and Brown have followed Thatcher so if Millibean is looking to be left wing I’d say that was a pretty novel thing to be doing at this time. Nationalisation of water and energy would be a start.

Applying the term “centre-left” to the Labour Party becomes an exercise in hair-splitting compared to the right-far-right-swivel-eyed-right spectrum of conservatism. Isn’t the issue the one more broadly touched on in other posts: the left are still reeling from the divisions caused by Blair and Brown, with all sorts of pet ideas but no will to follow any leader to the promised land?

In fact, nobody seems to be able to agree on what the promised land is any more. Just that it ain’t what the Coalition is doing, even though New Labour started the process.

Again and again it comes to the lack of an alternative vision for the future to the one we are rapidly being pushed into by the transatlantic righty project. Doing the same with a nicer smile and some handwringing won’t inspire anyone.

Libertarianism seems to be the specious attractor for the young, who are cynical about the political establishment for good reasons. They know they have to make the best of things and they feel that government is part of the problem. What government we have, and why, must therefore be a starting point. And that doesn’t mean more drab managerialism and control freakery.

6. andrew adams

Labour have bought the argument about not being seen as a “party of protest” so are bending over backwards to appear “responsible” when discussing things like welfare and cutting the deficit. The trouble is that this just makes them appear shifty and evasive – every recent interview with Balls has looked as though he trying to avoid giving straight answers about Labour’s intentions. So Labour’s supporters are pissed off and its enemies still portray them as the high spending welfare friendly party which just won’t admit it. Way to go guys.

7. Richard Carey

@ 5 Cherub,

“Libertarianism seems to be the specious attractor for the young, who are cynical about the political establishment for good reasons.”

There’s nothing specious about it. You yourself acknowledge the good reasons to be cynical about the political establishment. Let me give a few examples: NSA / GCHQ spying on everyone; British government suppporting / arming Syrian rebels; bombing Libya; membership of the EU On all these issues, which I rank as very important, there’s no difference between the supposed right-wing Tories and the supposed left-wing Labour. (Some may claim that on the EU there is a difference, but Cameron is clear in being pro-membership, despite what some of his noisy backbenchers feel.)

Now, the excuse that comes from left-wing people is that this is because Labour is right-wing. Fine, if that makes you happy, but the situation remains that the political establishment are united on all the important things, especially the notion of a powerful, unaccountable, overly-centralised state.

As for the OP, if the “centre-left” feels it is wandering in the wilderness, good. I hope it stays there until it works out the difference between society and the state.

Richard, you’ve nailed your colours to the mast and see libertarianism as the locution to everything. It is blinkered nonsense. Libertarianism only plays into the hands of those who already have wealth and power.

I don’t think the attraction small-statism to the young is to do with national security so much as their own financial security: they don’t have any.

There is a horrible contrast between the baby boomers who have had it all and will have it all through retirement, and those who are going to have to work longer for less in the way of pension, benefits etc. in large part to sustain those older, lucky, generations. That will not be lost on younger people. Whereas the state has been an undoubted blessing for many, for coming generations it will be a burden they resent.

One area of contention is retirement age. Manyolder peopel currently in work dont’ want their retirement age to be pushed back. That’s understandable, if selfish. But by digging their heels in they are just placing a greater burden on younger people who know they will have to work for many years longer. With this prospect, it’s not just fat cat bankers who look like they’ve got away with more than they deserve. So does the council worker who retires at 55 with a nice second public pension ‘because I’m entitled to it’.

As much liberty as possible and as little government as necessary.

“It is blinkered nonsense. Libertarianism only plays into the hands of those who already have wealth and power”

You sick bastard.

11. Richard Carey

@ 8 Cherub,

“you’ve nailed your colours to the mast and see libertarianism as the locution to everything”

I’m not quite sure what you mean by “locution to everything”. Libertarianism doesn’t speak to everything, only political matters.

“It is blinkered nonsense.”

I expect you say this because you imagine libertarians to simplistically imagine that all the problems of the world would evaporate if the state ceased to exist. This is not my view, and in any case such speculation hinges on a very large IF.

“Libertarianism only plays into the hands of those who already have wealth and power.”

Really? Let us ponder that with regard to the examples I cited. You think opposing the power of the NSA / GCHQ to spy on us plays into the hands of those who already have wealth and power? I think the opposite is true. Regarding the other examples, I believe the government policies pursued in Libya, Syria and Brussels are quite acceptable to those who already have wealth and power, and therefore the libertarian position is pulling in the opposite direction.

You probably think libertarianism is just about cutting rich people’s taxes. It is not. Nor is it merely an elaboration of the notion that ‘greed is good’.

You probably think libertarianism is just about cutting rich people’s taxes. It is not. Nor is it merely an elaboration of the notion that ‘greed is good’.

Hes a leftist with stick arms, he needs to be taken, he does not feel safe that others have free will & choices.

Sunny,
There never was an answer, just a question. The problem is that you seem to be the last to know that. To lots of us it was rubbish from day 1. What’s the point of wasting so much energy on unanswered questions.
Here’s the answer from 2010. http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2010/10/28/the-sixth-estate/

9

The other side of the argument is the massive unemployment levels within the younger age group which is not helped by the higher state pension age. It really is time to look at alternative ways of production, particularly sharing work. A welfare state costs dearly and isn’t very efficient.

Sorry, my spellchecker substituted “locution” for “solution” and I didn’t check thoroughly enough.

Richard, you can cite your government agencies as much as you like. Consider this: Why do you think libertarianism is so espoused by wealthy right wingers? Do they see it as a way of setting us all free and aspire to it because they are wonderful, altruistic idealists?

You need to get your thinking hat on and take off your rosy coloured spectacles.

@14 Steveb

I’d suggest its more than that. We need to consider what the point of work is. Should people do meaningless labour to define their worth? We get hung up on the need for jobs when we should be thinking about how people can develop positively in a wealthy society. Currently we have a very unequal distribution of goods. If the fourth largest economy in the world requires a huge swathe of unemployed people to be considered worthless, another large group to be wage slaves and a very few to truly benefit then isn’t something wrong?

Consider this: Why do you think libertarianism is so espoused by wealthy right wingers?

Because they respect freedoms? You wont find many wealthy on the right who scream for big goverment and arent self made, you wont find many wealthy on the left who dont scream for big goverment and are self made, funny that

18. Richard Carey

@ Cherub,

“Consider this: Why do you think libertarianism is so espoused by wealthy right wingers?”

Come off it. Libertarians have minimal political influence, although we have been growing since the dawn of the internet age and are hopeful that this will continue. In the US, Ron Paul has put a lot of key libertarian issues into the mainstream, such as ending the Fed and pursuing a peaceful foreign policy.

Leaving aside the Koch brothers, libertarianism has not been particularly favoured. People like Mises and Rothbard were never showered in gold. They were too outside the establishment mainstream. The notion that libertarianism serves, and is supported, by the oligarchs and the plutocrats is laughable. The aforementioned Ron Paul gives a good example. In his last campaign he had a hugely enthusiastic base, speaking to audiences of thousands across the country. Had any other candidate had that starting point, the mainstream media would have hyped him to high heaven. Look up “Jon Stewart Ron Paul” on YouTube for the truth on that one.

“You need to get your thinking hat on and take off your rosy coloured spectacles”.

The economy’s fucked, the state’s turning into 1984 and our government is funding Al Qaida in a sectarian bloodbath. I could do with some rose-tinted spectacles.

19. So Much For Subtlety

The Centre-Left has no real future. You can’t have unlimited immigration and a welfare state. Milton Friedman said so a long time ago and he has been proven right.

Since then Richard Putnam has also shown that racially diverse neighbourhoods have less cohesion, less trust and hence less willingness to help other people, even among people of the same race.

Britain is heading the way of Brazil with its large Black underclass, its tiny White elites and a generally indifference to the suffering of everyone else.

Quote: “Trust is more important. As Fukuyama wrote: “people who do not trust one another will end up cooperating only under a system of formal rules and regulations, which have to be negotiated, agreed to, litigated and enforced, sometimes by coercive means. . . .Widespread distrust in a society . . . imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust societies do not have to pay.” [Francis Fukuyama: Trust; (1995). p. 27}

But on their track record, why should we trust the banks?

Sunny, is it possible that the ‘Centre Left’ have lost contact with millions of people by appearing to pander to small groups of the chattering classes? If you only talk and listen to small sections of society ,is it any wonder you end up sounding like these people? The Left have seriously narrowed their agenda to a couple of issues, like gay marriage, and have been seen to abandon millions of people to their fate. The ultimate in ‘no compromise with the electorate’.

Yet we have seen what few employment rights that exist in this Country ripped up in front of our faces and the Left have responded with a feeble shrug of the shoulders. There are millions of people in this Country who have got a new ‘job’ that entails less hours, significantly less hours than they need to survive and yet no one is speaking up for them. When they hear ‘jobs are up’ they want someone to point out that zero hour contracts are not the type of jobs we need. We have seen the rise of zero hour contracts and again, the Left have managed an anaemic response. Yet, any MP who opposes ‘gay marriage’ can expect to find themselves on the Left’s’ wall of shame’, but voting to limit payouts for unfair dismissal or injuries sustained in a breach of health and safety laws raises little more than a grumble.
As you rightly point out, during the fag end of the last Labour government and Gordon Brown’s political career, it seemed that factions of the ‘Left’ where more than happy to let the ‘Labour’s overspending caused the crash’ lie gain traction. Let’s not pretend that a huge chunk of the Left where quite happy, and I mean happy, to watch Brown getting a kicking in the name of Blair/Brown infighting. The Left were happy enough to allow sections of our society, from the poor and the disabled take the flak for the crash.

In my opinion, the biggest mistake the Centre Left have made has been to try and cling onto a political consensus that the Right have long since abandoned. Forty or fifty years ago you could say there was an agreement on our destination, just a debate on the methodology of travel.
I dare say that Churchill, Macmillan right up to even a Ted Heath wanted broadly the same things for society, that many of us would want. I bet that Churchill was concerned about unemployment, under employment and casual employment, but modern day Tories believe that these things are solutions. In short, todays rabble of Tories hate everything we stand for and want to dismantle the post war settlement. These bastards are not friends who we need to convince to see things our way, but enemies who are out to destroy everything we have built post war.
They want to dismantle the things we built as a response to the awful pre war conditions of mass poverty.
The Left need to strap on a pair and engage the Tories and the Right in an ideological war, instead of merely giving up ground at every opportunity.

On departmental overspending, try this in today’s news:

“Eric Pickles’ department has been fined for having an unauthorised bank overdraft, it has emerged. Just two days ago, he was praised by Chancellor George Osborne as ‘a model of lean government’. The Department for Communities and Local Government ended the financial year £217m overdrawn and was fined £20,000 by the Treasury.”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-23095396

The chair of the HoC Public Accounts Committee is saying:

But Margaret Hodge said the £217m overdraft was “a shocking example of incompetence – no-one was keeping an eye on the cash position”.

It’s the usual: Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you to.

When Labour was in government, the Conservatives in opposition reatedly called for more and more deregulation when the real problem was too little regulation of the banks.

23. man on Clapham Omnibus

21. Jim

So whats that gonna involve and whos paying what for it?

24. Charlieman

@5. Cherub: “What government we have, and why, must therefore be a starting point. And that doesn’t mean more drab managerialism and control freakery.”

Yep, top down control and centralisation have to be acknowledged as significant problems before government (or opposition) present a new way forward.

In the recent spending review, a pooled budget for the NHS and social care of elderly people was announced. It is an improvement on current practice but it is still a sticking plaster over underlying problems (eg NHS political structures that are unaccountable and disconnected from local authorities).

I’ll answer a question you asked me on another thread about raising more tax revenue from some companies. I think there are some companies which have structured their internal payments to minimise UK corporation tax. Unravelling company avoidance mechanisms in a way that is fair (and which does not have side effects) is not straightforward and will require international agreement (the current arrangements apparently appeal to some countries). But there is almost certainly tax that can be collected.

I don’t know whether collecting more tax from companies is enough in the immediate term to fix the UK budget and I strongly doubt that it is a long term solution. It is the correct thing to do in terms of fairness but I do not think it is a trivial task.

25. Charlieman

@19. So Much For Subtlety: “You can’t have unlimited immigration and a welfare state.”

Immigration to the UK is constrained; you wish it to be more constrained. Liberals and libertarians acknowledge that current welfare provision is incompatible with unconstrained immigration. So?

“Since then Richard Putnam has also shown that racially diverse neighbourhoods have less cohesion, less trust and hence less willingness to help other people, even among people of the same race.”

Richard Putnam studied racially diverse neighbourhoods in the USA, a limitation noted by academic critics. There is much to admire about the USA but race relations are not an example. Putnam’s studies are not relevant to the UK.

“Britain is heading the way of Brazil with its large Black underclass, its tiny White elites and a generally indifference to the suffering of everyone else.”

Well done for noting the problems in Brazil. You failed to observe that indigenous people scarcely exist in the cities of Brazil or Argentina. Again, your comparison with the UK fails.

Charlieman: “(eg NHS political structures that are unaccountable and disconnected from local authorities).”

I would certainly worry about the competence of local authorities to take control of local NHS spending and that would undoubtedly increase the extent of the existing postcode lottery in healthcare provision.

27. So Much For Subtlety

25. Charlieman

Immigration to the UK is constrained; you wish it to be more constrained. Liberals and libertarians acknowledge that current welfare provision is incompatible with unconstrained immigration. So?

Immigration to the UK is not constrained. We have, to all intents and purposes, an open door. Good for them. I am not sure it helps your argument but there you go.

Richard Putnam studied racially diverse neighbourhoods in the USA, a limitation noted by academic critics. There is much to admire about the USA but race relations are not an example. Putnam’s studies are not relevant to the UK.

And Britain’s history of race relations are so much better? On this issue we come from the same place with the same history. Nor is there any reason to think that his findings in the US do not apply here. As you can see if you look around. You would have to show that they do not as the default assumption must be that they do.

Well done for noting the problems in Brazil. You failed to observe that indigenous people scarcely exist in the cities of Brazil or Argentina. Again, your comparison with the UK fails.

It was not a comparison with the UK. It was a prediction. Where native people may also be as rare in Britain. On the other hand virtually everyone in Brazil is part indigenous. They haven’t gone away. They intermarried. It is also irrelevant as there is nothing inherent in the nature of being native that makes it harder to deal with the legacy of slavery. Or easier.

You are just trying to distract from the issue.

28. Charlieman

@27. So Much For Subtlety: “Immigration to the UK is not constrained. We have, to all intents and purposes, an open door.”

Tell that to the people who hopped over the borders and were deported.

“And Britain’s history of race relations are so much better?”

Irrelevant, as you so often say. See next point.

“On this issue we come from the same place with the same history.”

Companies in American states (and elsewhere) imported slave labourers. Slaves were used in America at a time when everyone in the UK was a “free person”. The UK is culpable for the African slave trade (as traders) and for sustaining slavery within the Empire. But current UK and USA society does not derive from a common source.

“Nor is there any reason to think that his findings in the US do not apply here.”

See above: current UK and USA society does not derive from a common source.

“Where native people may also be as rare in Britain. On the other hand virtually everyone in Brazil is part indigenous. They haven’t gone away. They intermarried.”

This argument is incoherent. You have not explained the power distribution of White elite, the Black underclass and almost non-existent natives.

“You are just trying to distract from the issue.”

Wot? Like “The centre left still has no idea how to become relevant again”?

29. Paul peter Smith

@28 Charlieman
“The Uk is culpable for the african slave trade…”
It most certainly is for the 17 – 19 centuries with regard to the Americas but appart from that hardly at all. Slavery is not something white people do to coloured people, its what the powerful do to the less powerful across all cultures and all of human history to this very day.

30. So Much For Subtlety

28. Charlieman

Tell that to the people who hopped over the borders and were deported.

What both of them? Tell them to buy a poodle next time and claim they are in a committed and loving relationship.

Irrelevant, as you so often say.

Except it is not. Not unless you want to deny Britain has a history of racism towards Africans. Do you?

Companies in American states (and elsewhere) imported slave labourers. Slaves were used in America at a time when everyone in the UK was a “free person”. The UK is culpable for the African slave trade (as traders) and for sustaining slavery within the Empire. But current UK and USA society does not derive from a common source.

But a large part of Britain’s Black population derives from the same experience as a large part of America’s. They were taken from Africa in British ships, worked on British plantations, run by British people, in British colonies, directly governed by British officials such as Jamaica. How precisely does this differ from America’s experience? True slavery was not legal in the UK at some point. Nor was it legal in Pennsylvania.

See above: current UK and USA society does not derive from a common source.

I wonder if British people of Jamaican origin do not, in fact, see their ancestors as having been enslaved by White British people.

This argument is incoherent. You have not explained the power distribution of White elite, the Black underclass and almost non-existent natives.

Because it is irrelevant and it is just your lame effort at distracting attention.

Paul peter Smith

It most certainly is for the 17 – 19 centuries with regard to the Americas

In the same way Jews are all responsible for killing Christ?

31. Paul peter Smith

Pontius Pilate killed Jesus (briefly, depending on your religious inclinations). I dont get your analogy? I pointed out that we have a SHARE of the blame for slavery just like almost everyone else and you bring up a possibly fictious, possibly Egyptian, possible magician/rebel leader.

32. mylastpostwaseliminated

Guys

Get into your thick heads that we do NOT have democratic leadership in Westminster!

They are all lobbied, crony-capitalist self filling pocket fillers only out for themselves.

Crony-capitalist corruption in GOVT & THE CITY has wrecked our country, the corrupt, bust banking system, your Pensions being ransacked etc etc

The Elites corrupted Capitalism and the laws of the UK for their own parasitic greed (offshored hidden wealth for over 50yrs)

Capitalism, just like marxism, has been wholly corrupted and decimated by a manipulative, pocket filling cabal of elites

33. mylastpostwaseliminated

Reply to post # 30

You Talmud Taliban don’t pull the wool over my eyes with your White-Christian ‘Guilty of’ – lying propaganda anymore!

“American Jewish merchants, using their religio-commercial connections, enjoyed a competitive advantage over many non-Jews engaged in the same lucrative inter colonial trade.
Since the West Indian trade was a necessity to America’s economy and since this trade was, in varying degrees, controlled by Jewish mercantile houses, America Jewry was influential in the commercial destiny of Britain’s overseas empire.

The very fact that Jews had also played a central role in bringing slavery to the West Indies and established numerous trading posts there helped them to establish the trade in North America. These locations included Curacao, Surinam, Saint Thomas, Barbados, Madeira, and Jamaica. Again I quote:

“. . .and hence Jewish traders in New York had a marked advantage over others in this West India trade. Historian Peter Wienik flatly stated that this trade “was principally in the hands of the Jews.”

The predictable Jewish response to these revelations is that that only a few Jews engaged in slave trading, or that their participation was minimal but according to the following such is not the case.

“They came with ships carrying African blacks to be sold as slaves. The traffic in slaves was a royal monopoly, and the Jews were often appointed as agents for the Crown in their sale …”

[Liebman, in SEC. LIFE,]

All the main London Banking and Insurance companies have ‘Triangle’ blood and chatell slavery on their hands.
(even though they try to hide it with company name-changes after ‘buyouts’etc)

34. mylastpostwaseliminated

[The Jews] were the largest ship chandlers in the entire Caribbean region, where the shipping business was mainly a Jewish enterprise … The ships were not only owned by Jews, but were manned by Jewish crews and sailed under the command of Jewish captains.”

[Seymour Liebman, New World Jewry, 1493-1825 , in MARTIN, p. 113]

The vital connection between sugar and slave was the underpinning of the rapidly growing fortunes of the New World. The famous triangle trade consisted of slaves brought from Africa, exchanged for sugar from the Caribbean Islands and taken to North American ports to be turned into rum to be used for buying African slaves from African slaveholders and dealers. And the Jews played a vital part in this lucrative trade.

Brazil absorbed more slaves than any other location in the New World while the North American continent only took in under half a million out of a delivery of ten million

or more slaves.

“The West India Company, which monopolized imports of slaves from Africa, sold slaves at public auctions against cash payments. It happens that cash was mostly in the hands of Jews. The buyers who appeared at the auctions were almost always Jews, and because of this lack of competitors, they could buy slaves at low prices. On the other hand, there was also no competition in the selling of the slaves to the plantation owners and other buyers … Profits up to 300 per cent of the purchase value were often realized with high interest rates … If it happened that the date of such an auction fell on a Jewish holiday the auction had to be postponed.” [Arnold Wiznitzer, Jews in Colonial Brazil, in SEC. LIFE, p. 29]

35. So Much For Subtlety

31. Paul peter Smith

Pontius Pilate killed Jesus (briefly, depending on your religious inclinations). I dont get your analogy?

Well he did so because the Jewish leadership asked him. If you can believe the evidence. That is not the point. The point is for 2000 years the Jews were held collectively responsible for that execution. Do you really think all White people are to blame forever?

<i.I pointed out that we have a SHARE of the blame for slavery just like almost everyone else and you bring up a possibly fictious, possibly Egyptian, possible magician/rebel leader.

How precisely do you or I have any share of blame for the slave trade? And how does that differ from saying that every single Jew shares the blame for killing Christ?

Consider the apolyptic downstream consequences if Judas had not betrayed who Christ was.

37. Paul peter Smith

@35 SMFS
Sometimes text only conversations lack nuance leading to misunderstanding. My point was precisely that no particular race or culture has any greater responsibility for the continuing evil that is slavery than any other. Barbary pirates were exporting european slaves to Africa for centuries before we ever returned the favour. That doesn’t mean we don’t have to ‘fess up’ to our relatively minor role in the human races proud tradition of fucking each over for a few quid.

38. Paul peter Smith

@36 Bob B
I’ve always wondered why so called ‘christians’ get upset about who killed Jesus. Surely the whole point of their delusion is that he didn’t die. And so by their ‘logic’ Whatever tribulations Jesus endured were essential steps in Gods plan and those inflicting them were doing Gods work. Pilate is a saint in at least one apocryphal gospel as early Christians were much better versed in Greek logic than most people since.

Back to the OP. The centre-left has drifted towards the right. It’s lost its ideological/moral compass and is doing a passable impression of the Tories.

40. Paul peter Smith

The centre left never had a moral compass, it is defined by moral relativism.

“Back to the OP. The centre-left has drifted towards the right. It’s lost its ideological/moral compass and is doing a passable impression of the Tories.”

I doubt that much of the electorate cares about the Right v Left tags. What most want and will vote for IMO is competent government and “fairness”, according to their personal values. At present, the electorate is being lied to:

Danny Alexander, chief financial secretary to HM Treasury, on 26 June 2013:

When we entered Government in May 2010, we inherited from Labour an economy that was on the brink. We set out a plan to get our economy on the road to recovery by dealing with the largest deficit of our peacetime history. Three years on and the deficit is down by a third, 1.3m private sector jobs have been created, and by keeping interest rates low we have helped businesses and homeowners across the country. Over those past three years it is the Liberal Democrats who have worked in Government to deliver a stronger economy and a fairer society.
http://www.libdemvoice.org/danny-alexander-mp-writes-spending-where-it-matters-35087.html

Now for the truth:

On government borrowing: Government borrowing rose slightly in 2012-13 compared with the previous year, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. [BBC website 21 June 2013]

Sam Brittan in the FT on 28 June 2013: Britain let down by its bean-counting politicians

Compare the success of different countries in emerging from the Great Recession.

The clear winner among the Group of Seven rich countries is Canada, where output is 5 per cent above the its previous peak. (But I will not go on about it lest it look as if I am trying to curry favour with Mark Carney, the retiring governor of the Bank of Canada, who takes over at the Bank of England next week).

Next in line is the US, where output is 3 per cent above its previous peak. This is not bad going for a country whose much maligned constitutional arrangements split responsibility for economic policy between the presidency, the Federal Reserve and two Houses of Congress – themselves often divided in their partisan allegiance. Well behind is Germany with just over 1 per cent.

We strike negative territory with France, where output is nearly 1 per cent below its previous peak; and then descend to the UK, where the shortfall is almost 4 per cent. Bottom of the class is Italy, with a fall of nearly 9 per cent. The well known structural problems of that country are confounded by its being locked into the euro, with the escape route of devaluation shut off.

Good points – though let’s see what happens when Canada’s property bubble bursts!

As if by magic, a thread that started with a headline:

The centre left still has no idea how to become relevant again

Is swiftly sidetracked into a debate of ‘who killed Jesus’.

Beyond parody.

44. Charlieman

@26. Bob B: “I would certainly worry about the competence of local authorities to take control of local NHS spending and that would undoubtedly increase the extent of the existing postcode lottery in healthcare provision.”

I share your reservations about competence. The hospital trust where I live shares “responsibility” for social/health provision with eight local authorities. I doubt whether it is a good model of competence either.

As for the competence of local authorities to take on the running of NHS trusts in addition to their existing reponsibilities, try this news report of 10 May 2013:

– The 636 council officials who now earn more than the Prime Minister
– Some 2,525 council staff earned more than £100,000 in 2011-12
– 42 local authority employees are on more than £250,000
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2322277/The-636-council-officials-earn-Prime-Minister.html

Presumably, they would all demand pay rises for the extra work.

46. Charlieman

@45. Bob B: “Presumably, they would all demand pay rises for the extra work.”

Which is a good reason to stop running services in the way that we currently do.

The centre left has never been relevant. The word centre is a synonym for “capitulate”. It’s the left’s surrender to capitalism and abandonment of every principle that made the left relevant to the majority of non capital-owning citizens.

46
Charlieman: “Which is a good reason to stop running services in the way that we currently do.”

I’m deeply shocked at these grossly inflated salaries paid to senior local authority officials but don’t accept that statutory regulation is the way to go. The basic problem is the lack of electoral interest in local government and the miserably low turnout at local elections.

Local news media could do a much better job of naming and shaming – especially just before local elections – but failing that an ombudsman for local government or the NAO could issue regular reports which local media could respond to.

49. So Much For Subtlety

43. Jim

Is swiftly sidetracked into a debate of ‘who killed Jesus’.

Beyond parody.

Well the Left is obsessed with deaths in Palestine (and just in passing, more people have died in Syria’s recent fighting than in all the wars and terrorist attacks involving Israel. Put together. However the Left remains silent on those deaths) so it is not unusual to end up talking about *a* dead Palestinian. If not this dead Palestinian. But there is no denying many threads end up talking about who killed whom in Palestine.

50. gastro george

@Bob B

“The basic problem is the lack of electoral interest in local government and the miserably low turnout at local elections.”

Why should there be nay interest in local elections when local government has so little power?

“Local news media could do a much better job of naming and shaming …”

Local “news” media are really just a bundle of adverts.


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