Saturday, 10 April 2010

Election 2010

My initial enthusiasm for New Labour after they drubbed the Tories in 1997 didn't last very long: it suffered a deep wound over the Bernie Ecclestone affair and then a took a fatal head shot from Blair's promotion of the Iraq invasion (I don't take the attitude that he was Bush's poodle: he pushed rather than followed Bush). Since then I've remained in a state of quiet fury as the party proved entirely incapable or unwilling to throw off the ideological mantle of Thatcherism that it donned in order to be returned to power.

Again, I don't take the orthodox Left line that New Labour entirely wasted its term in office. As I ride the 29 bus, free thanks to my Freedom Pass, past the eye-catching green tower of the new University College Hospital it would be deeply dishonest to claim that New Labour wasted all my tax pounds. No, what has infuriated me for the last 10 years is that while spending on worthwhile projects like these, the party has absolutely refused to properly explain its belief in the positive power of the state, to promote social democratic values, and exploit such projects to extend and entrench its support in the country. New Labour still suffers from an almost psychotic dread of the social democrat label, at a time when those free market nutters who deploy the label as a term of abuse are themselves utterly discredited, having in effect looted and crippled the world economy.

I'm a radical social democrat, pretty much along Scandinavian lines: I believe in a mixed economy in which those things most efficiently delivered by the state (medicine, heavy infrastructure etc) are left to the state, everything else is left to private enterprise, but  regulation is applied to mitigate the most unfair outcomes and to maintain public safety. Free marketeers are right, by and large, about the unintended and undesirable effects of intervening in markets - ergo, if some good like medical care (or even housing) is too important to leave to market forces then it must be removed in part or whole from the market.  

I also believe in shrinking the influence of finance capital with a Tobin Tax along with many equally draconian measures. I've read all the free marketeers' arguments about why social democracy is no longer affordable and I don't accept any of them. Social democracy is the only form of social organisation that might just get us through terrible times ahead, and we must make it affordable.

Big business and conservative politicians gave up the practice of free markets years ago in favour of looting and pillaging ("bonuses" being the respectable term) but they still find the rhetoric politically useful. Barely a year after the world narrowly escaped total financial meltdown (dead ATM machines, empty supermarket shelves, fighting in the streets over dead cat carcasses) these morons are already attacking the Keynesian rescue measures that Alistair Darling - one of the less hapless New Labour figures - applied to save it, and it would be a disaster were their allies to be returned to power. None of the three main parties at this election is standing on a social democratic platform but what I do know is that for all its face-lifts the Conservative Party remains the sworn enemy of social democracy. I'll be voting Labour without enthusiasm as I live in a safe Labour seat, and I urge everyone to vote for the party - Labour, Lib Dem, Plaid or whoever - that stands most chance of stopping Cameron in their seat.


  1. Hi. Can't you get the Guardian and Independent to publish this. We might then be saved at least some of the interminable flood of pointless drivel about to inundate us in the coming weeks.

  2. The only things I get in the Guardian nowadays are obituaries, unfortunately.


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