Monday, 18 May 2015

People of the left your attention please

I wasn't entirely surprised the Labour party didn't win the election. Milliband over performed but expectations were at an all time low. I was gobsmacked by a Tory majority though. What was more surprising is how left leaning people generally have reacted.

Most seem to be blaming the Tories for well, being right wing. So believing in the individual before the state, for believing the market will provide, you know that sort of stuff.  Many commentators went so far as to cast the Tories as evil. Evil being something supernaturally bad that right (left) thinking people cannot understand. I'm really not sure that helps. Getting on for 37% of the electorate that could be arsed to, voted for "evil". Some people then blamed the green voter for voting for change when that was obviously pie in the sky. Not really accepting that maybe they liked their policies. A few at least blamed the Labour party for it's own failings and that is a start.

Most Tory voters probably didn't see it like that though, they weren't electing Beelzebub. They were either life long cultural Tory voters or they looked at the Cameron's governments economic record, compared it to the hard to read, complex Labour offer and thought. You know what the Tories are rubbish, but Labour seems more rubbisher. I will play it safe or vote for what I believe in.

I have seen lots of people preaching Armageddon from the forth coming administration and doubtless things will be less than ideal but. Most people will work and be paid well compared to the rest of the world, most will get a good education and world beating healthcare and  the very poorest will suffer relative to the majority. They would have suffered a little less under Labour, perhaps inequality would have decreased, but I didn't see the proposed tax increases necessary to make this happen and pay down the deficit as well, and that is what they thought we should do. It is not though a great burning, it is just people you disagree with winning an argument and being allowed to run the country. What matters now is how we reframe the debate so that next time we get a different outcome. I want a progressive government whatever it is called on the ballot paper, I accept it requires hard work.

What scares me is the lack of new ideas. Labour went for austerity-lite, when all kinds of thinkers from both left and right perspective internationally reckon we should be investing in capital projects to boost the still fragile recovery. The Yanks and Germany did that and bounced back higher and faster.

We need to spend more on healthcare, this will mean more taxation or charging at point of use for those in work, so we can support an elderly population. This is actually a sign of societies' success that we have all these old people who are not dead, we should be happy instead we wring or hands.

We have to take decarbonising our economy seriously and make a good few quid whilst we do. We have world leading universities that should be driving this, not to mention the boost to construction industry from fixing our Victorian housing stock, so it stops leaking money into the sky. Mainstream left and right are advocating too little of this and both of their transport policies are laughably 20th Century and car centric. House building needs to happen if you don't want your children to be living with you in their thirties and when they leave home paying all the money they don't spend on student debt, on their mortgage.

In fairness to the Conservative party (the clue is in the name here). They generally favour the status quo, or often a return to imagined past glories. The left though, you are doing terribly at the moment. If the left is where progressive politics lives, it need to offer hope and change not a watered down, less harsh version of what the other guy stands for.

We might not need to replace Trident like for like, but Vladimir Putin is a bad man, other bad man are not unknown. Some kind of limited symbolic nuclear deterrent might be useful when dealing with other people with nuclear bombs. Nuclear power is bad, burning stuff is worse, we need either a shed loads of renewables very quick or nuclear energy is an interim solution. It is not as simple as pro nuke or anti nuke, but we relentlessly have a trivial debate over quite important strategic, capital projects.

A more progressive politics will require progress, this means abandoning some of the things that actually built the Labour movement despite all the good it did. Unions are a great idea for their members, but as less and less belong to them, because they are self employed, or employed in casual, part time or transitional work many working people's needs are ignored. The enduring view of a workforce with a male breadwinner and a job in one industry for life looks daft. Whilst I want to stop big corporate entities driving down standards, terms and conditions. I am not sure a government elected on the back of union subs is morally valid more.

Perhaps we need to look at a different way of supporting the needs of working people. If we get more power devolved locally as I think we will. Local representation for the people that make the wealth should be easier to bring about. UKIP were in favour of a local legislative ballot like in America. I don't like the messenger, but the message that you can effect democracy more than once every five years by voting for laws rather than parties has merit. Some kind of worker based trading standards system could work, it needs regulation and support from the legal system but we need some mechanism to speak for those that our system ignores currently.

Scotland, devolution, Northern Powerhouses and all that, well Federalism works well for most of the rest of Europe, lets crack on with it and suck some more funding out of London, that seems to be about reducing inequality. Would devo max and independence in all but name for the SNP, in exchange for a Labour pre-election pact be such a bad option for progressive UK politics? If so why did the Labour party campaign against it so heavily?

Europe, it is a bit of the pain in the arse but worth its weight in gold economically and politically get over it. Their are more important debates. Lets have a quick referendum, admit Farage was wrong and move on.

Now you can disagree with some or all of the above, but if you, people of the left are not prepared to get involved, through work, or campaigning, or standing for office or trying to reform some of the organisations that can influence the next election, don't be surprised if "evil" triumphs next time.  All the whinging in the world on the echo chambers of social media to people who agree with you, will not change that.

You vote every five years but you can change your nation every day if you want to.


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