Skip to main content

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.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Blimey, it could be Brexit!

It's a year since I wrote a new entry on this blog, and that isn't because I have nothing to say, merely that the world is getting crazier faster than I can focus on it. Now though, faced with an imminent EU referendum, it would be remiss not to say something. Boris, Gove and the other Brexiteers have the scent of victory in their nostrils, a scent wafting from a silent majority who don't share their real thoughts with pollsters. This scent is part xenophobia – the Brexiteers are convincing many people that leaving the EU would reduce immigration, which it won't – but also partly from their simmering rage against liberal media and cultural elites who have for several decades been fiddling while they were robbed of security, dignity, jobs. Unfortunately the Remain campaign relies on precisely those elites for advocates, which simply turns up the heat under the simmering pot.

So what of a "Left Case For Brexit"? There isn't one. Even if you sneakily share s…

What I've learned this week.

That insecure, narcissistic, retarded-adolescents who can barely distinguish between reality and computer games, are inventing and controlling technologies on which the future of civilisation may depend (Andrew O'Hagan's "The Satoshi Affair" in the LRB, 30th June). That a majority of working people are being written out of this future, robbed of dignity, security and jobs, and they're so furious that they'll lash out right and left at institutions they blame - like Parliament, the EU, and perhaps in November the USA. And that we lack any politicians who have clue what's going on, the nous or the backbone to handle it. It will take some time to digest these lessons.

To be absolutely honest, I did know all this already but, hell, I don't get too many opportunities to exercise my rhetoric nowadays...

A New Age of Sabotage

I haven't posted much recently because every time I think of something to say, the extraordinary pace of events makes it sound lame by the next morning: New York under water, Obama re-elected, News International in the dock, rockets falling on Tel Aviv, and that's even before we reach the Mayan apocalypse on Dec 21. However I've finally plucked up courage to wade into the torrent of the miraculous-horrific thanks to a fortunate discovery on the web. In this previous post I confessed an increasing interest in the radical Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen, but that interest was quite narrowly based on reading only three of his works, namely The Theory of the Leisure Class, The Theory of Business Enterprise and his important essay The Socialist Economics of Karl Marx and His Followers. This wasn't just due to laziness but to the difficulty of obtaining many of Veblen's books, which have been out of print for a long time.

But I re-read Veblen's Wikiped…