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About time… June 5, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is useful, from Steve Richards in the Guardian where he notes that:

Labour’s manifesto was always going to be a big break from the party’s recent past. In some respects the leap is liberating, moving on from previously understandable but paralysing attempts to navigate the mad UK pre-election “tax and spend” debate: “Every penny of the £10.50 we plan to spend on reducing class sizes in a trial scheme for five nursery schools is carefully costed by charging owners of £2m homes 10p more to park their cars.” That never appeared, but wouldn’t have looked out of place in any Labour manifesto between 1997 and 2015.

And what of this?

For Labour’s current leadership, armed at least with a clearer sense of purpose than some of its bewildered internal opponents, the manifesto in part becomes an argument about a different set of values and priorities rather than an accountants’ manual. When the former SDP leader David Owen read the manifesto he was reminded of SDP election programmes, and made a donation to Labour.

But there’s more. Richards asks…

Though the two main parties are miles apart, the questions being posed by both are unrecognisable from recent elections. What taxes should rise? How do we pay for social care? What form should an industrial strategy take? What markets work, and what should a government do if they fail? How do you meet a housing deficit as well as a spending deficit?

And he concludes that British politics has, perhaps counterintutively, swerved leftwards again. Not very far, admittedly. David Owen is testament to that. But some way.

Some commentators try to make sense of the scattering of their own powerless heroes: David Miliband would have become Labour leader if he had wooed a few more MPs; Jeremy Corbyn would not be leader if Labour MPs had not nominated him; if Cameron and Osborne had chosen a different date for the EU referendum, they would have won; the only reason why the Conservatives’ manifesto moves away from Reagan/Thatcherite liberalism is because May’s adviser, Nick Timothy, holds freakish sway.
But at some point even the most determined backward-looking custodians of the “centre ground” must acknowledge that a new pattern has belatedly formed in response to the 2008 crash and the challenges of globalisation.

He’s spot on. It really is time that people moved on from this delusion. For a start the ‘centre’ hasn’t worked. Elections have been lost here there and everywhere by left parties or even residual left parties attempting to contest that terrain. Furthermore there is an appetite for more leftwards solutions. Richards himself notes that the UK political agenda has moved leftwards. But not just there. Continually in this period we see left of centre parties appearing. Some are left social democrats, others older parties attempting to contest more leftward ground. Still others democratic socialist. But what’s striking is the numbers that they’re beginning to stack up in terms of support. It is genuinely remarkable to see the BLP contesting, at least in polls, such high figures. Of course it’s been lucky, so far, that May has proven a less adept politician than expected and that Corbyn has played so well. But it seems to me that all this indicates a larger dynamic where voters can be convinced – in certain circumstances – that centre right politics isn’t the only show in town.


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