Tuesday, 8 September 2015

British Labour Leaders

by Les May
IN the just published 'British Labour Leaders' by Charles Clarke and Toby James; Tony Blair is quoted as saying:
'If you take things like the minimum wage and some of the constitutional changes – people forget that we introduced the Mayor of London and all that – on a whole set of issues like civil partnerships, these changes were not reversed'

'One of the things that I think is good about the country today is that there are not – between the main political parties, at any rate – any real rows about race or sexuality; things that, frankly, in the 1970s and 1980s were very prominent political issues. I do think we have created a new consensus around that.'

And, of course, he is absolutely right.  But only one of these things is a distinctly 'socialist' measure, the setting of a minimum wage.  Nonetheless being seen to promote sexual and racial equality allows individuals who are by any objective measure significantly privileged to claim to be 'of the left'.  The gross inequalities in income which only increased under New Labour are never discussed.

Tony Crosland, who was pointing out that Clause 4 confused 'ends' and 'means'  when Blair was just out of nappies and would probably be regarded as being on the 'Right' of the Labour party, was well aware of this problem.  David Lipsey who was political advisor to Crosland 1972 to 1977 wrote that he grew increasingly out of sorts with, 'the fluffy liberalism of other colleagues, who saw rights for homosexuals and membership of the EEC as a sufficient dose of radicalism'. Crosland was a passionate believer in the importance of promoting economic equality alongside other forms of equality. Which would put him very far to the 'Left' of Blair and New Labour.

The 'new consensus' of which Blair is so proud is one in which he and Cameron are indistinguishable. A Labour party worthy of the name would make tackling extreme income inequality one of its priorities. How many of the leadership candidates will do that?

1 comment:

Mark Hollinrake. said...

Real left wing politics, or socialism, IS about making a more equal society in regards to economical situation of people. AS a Green I believe in Economic, Environmental, and Social justice. We need all of these to have a fair society, which gives all of the citizens a decent life, with decent home, education, jobs, health care, heat, food, access to sports, arts etc. We need proper safeguards for workers, with a guaranteed right to decent levels of pay-at least £10 a hour, with strong Trade Unions, and strong health and safety laws, free from ugly things like blacklisting and free to be active political activists including trade unionists without being discriminated against for these activities.

As far as the last Lab government, yes it did some good things, but things like the minimum wage were set far too low, not enough housing was built, privatisation and contacting out to the private sector etc was brought in. Also ATOS was brought in. Much of what the Tories have been able to do, is as a result of the last Labout government. We need a proper, and decent Labour/Green, government, that will support Economic, Social, Environmental justice, unlike the pale blue Tory governments seen from 1997 to 2010, that failed to address the needs of the people, including the scrapping of anti Trade Union laws brought in by Thatcher, and soon to be made even worse by Cameron, unless the new Labour leader can successfully lead a fight against the government.