Cable – has he hit the right notes here? What future is there for the center-left in UK politics?

The Guardian has a comment piece by Vince Cable on its web site – see link below

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/12/wealth-inequality-liberal-democrats-economic-reform

The left of British politics has struggled in recent times to put forward a credible alternative to the popularist right wing policies of the Tories/DUP/UKIP and this despite this same right wing cabal trying to drive through a Brexit which will hurt us all, make the poor poorer and lead to job losses and reduce investment in the UK. You would think this nightmare scenario would galvanise the left into action but sadly that has not happened.

Socialism and an economy based on private capital being invested in it never mix well

Yes Corbyn has his social policy agenda which could look good to voters at face value, but of course he is also wedded to the the right wing policy of Brexit! He’s in that rather bizarre political fix because many of his so called ‘working class’ supporters voted for a Brexit that will sadly shoot us all in the foot (but the poor more so) if it is followed through. So Labour is not presently credible because its policies of the left will be knocked out by Brexit. What’s more socialism and an economy based on private capital being invested in it never mix well. On that basis Corbyn’s lot would probably be a very unhappy one if he was given the opportunity to implement his policies. Indeed, he would be unlikely to be able to deliver his agenda other than in the very short term because economic trouble would surely be stalking him.

Influence the thinking of those across the left

So how do the ideas of Vince Cable stack up? Well he’s leading a party with a low support base so being able to implement his agenda looks to be a significant challenge. I suppose his best bet is to try to influence the thinking of those across the left, but not of the hard left of course. His agenda seems liberal, progressive and even radical. I particularly like his ideas to try to tackle the area of land value as it is of course the basis of the huge imbalance in wealth in the UK.

Back to the days of fascism?

British politics has been turned on its head since the 2016 Brexit vote. The Tories are all but UKIP under a Conservative flag these days and worryingly they have people amongst their leading lights who hark back to the days of fascism. Bluntly a political party with only around 100,000 members, many of them of the elderly, rich and far right are running this country into the ground because they will benefit from such a move. Brexit is the vehicle to achieve their aims and the left has not found a way to combat them because there’s no one of stature (with widespread credibility) on the left to lead that charge.

Breadth of support across the political spectrum

It’s as though our two major UK political parties have both gone into crisis at the same time and this really has not happened before. Labour under say David Miliband would be widely credible, Labour under Corbyn is hugely popular with a section of the British public but it does not in my view have the breadth of support across the political spectrum as Blair did to carry the day it seems.

Realignment of the left

Now don’t get me wrong Blair made some huge mistakes. Iraq obviously and trying to bring private companies into the NHS come to mind as examples but there was a much softer issue of huge importance which he let slip. It slipped ironically because of the huge majority he was given by our rather warped electoral system. That result made him think that realignment of the left need not be pursued further. His talks with Ashdown came to nothing because he thought he did not need to pursue them any more and his party was far from keen on those talks too. That was a huge error of judgement and an easy way out in my view and it probably started the decline (although no one realised it at the time other than a few enlightened folk) into the mess we presently find ourselves in.

The super rich will indeed become more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us

I have deliberately written this posting in a reasonably even handed way as I am convinced that progressives across all the parties of the center and left (although this would almost certainly have to preclude the hard left) need to find a reasonable common agenda which they can coalesce around. This needs to be done to face down the the rich and presently all too powerful right wing. If the left fails the right will reduce workers rights, environmental protections, food standards etc. on the back of Brexit and the minority of the super rich will indeed become more wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

Put tribal politics to one side?

So having gone though these sobering issues is Cable on the right track? Will anyone be listening to his ideas to re-balance our fractured society? Or will the center and left continue to beat itself up whilst letting the need for great reform in the UK flounder on the back of Brexit? My view is that Cable is putting a credible progressive plan out there which others could work around and build upon if they could just put tribal politics to one side.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

What universe are the Government living in – Child-like challenge to EU!

Back May’s Brexit plan or risk no deal, David Lidington tells EU

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-45344203

Frankly I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, this mess is all of the UK’s making. We said we wanted out and now we want ‘out’ to be on our terms. I’m not even sure that the Government or indeed the Official Opposition, who also back Brexit, know what kind of a deal they actually want anyway!

We must look an odd self-destructive lot to our soon to be ex-European partners as they clearly can’t work out what we are up to or even why. Then again you only have to listen to the drivel that comes from the lead Brexit politicians in both the Tory and Labour Parties to realise they don’t have a clue what they are talking about most of the time.

If I were the EU I would treat the UK like a naughty petulant child. Send our Tory and Labour Party Leaders (who seem to be having an attack of the Terrible 2’s) to bed early and ground them until they are capable of behaving anything like the adults we are supposed to have as our political leaders.

The UK has been taken over by political lightweights who think that whatever they think must be fact so they continue to repeat their nonsense whilst the UK economy goes to the dogs. The poor are going to be made poorer, we are all going to be made poorer yet those who promote Brexit just keep ploughing on as though all is going to be well. It’s NOT, there needs to be a peoples vote on the outcome of the negotiations with the EU. We can’t leave it to our MP’s as the vast majority of them will just go along with whatever their ‘other universe’ leaders tell them. The people need to speak before we consider whether we really should go over the cliff edge or not.

That Corbynism thing – An American perspective

I’ve been trying to get a better understanding of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers who idolise him so much. By chance my good friend Bob sent me this link to an article about him and wider UK/USA political matters. It comes from an American perspective and its a very long read indeed, but it is one of the best insights into what Corbynism is all about that I have come across:-

nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/08/andrew-sullivan-on-jeremy-corbyn-face-of-the-new-new-left.html

Yes I know, if you have read it by now, some of the points are a little odd from a UK perspective. A Radical, for example, in British political terms is a socially progressive Liberal – Corbyn is no Radical but of course the word is used in American terms.

In turn I asked Bob and another deep political thinker, my daughter Jen, what they thought of the points made. This is what they said:-

Bob‘this [is an] excellent essay on Jeremy Corbyn and the influences that shape his views. The Tories appear to think in the same way although from a right wing perspective. It is both interesting and disturbing that terms such as “entryism” now are being used about both of the major parties in this country.’

and

‘I had not read such a coherent analysis of Corbyn’s strengths and weaknesses before. The danger is not so much that we become a polarised country but that we become bi-polarised – in the hands of parties that appeal to populist sentiment by detaching themselves from economic realism.’

Jen

‘I do not understand people who find Corbyn charismatic, sincere or meek.

The parallels between him and Trump are interesting, they do both seem to be the product of populist politics that values slogans over substance and seems not to care who their chosen saviour allies himself (because it’s always HIMself) with, no matter how misogynistic/racist/homophobic they turn out to be.

Corbyn is exactly the kind of man to start invoking the idea that all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing and yet when those who identify themselves as his tribe hurl misogynistic and racist abuse that is exactly what he does.

But seriously what the hell is it with the British public suddenly deciding they want to run by characters from a knock-off PG Wodehouse novel?!

“When he isn’t politicking, he gardens on the British equivalent of a Victory Garden. He loves animals, particularly pigs. He has a passion for cricket, the football club Arsenal, and railways (he refuses to drive a car for environmental reasons). He also has an obsession with manhole covers and takes photos of them across the country.”

Between him and Rees-Mogg we’ll be living in the bloody 1920s never mind the 1970s! I love Wodehouse, but let’s be honest his is a world of white men, class divides, and women being viewed as distant figures of lust or terror that can never be understood. Not a world I really wish to inhabit.’

From my own perspective I get why Corbyn’s social policies are so popular even though they may well be economically unworkable particularly with the Labour Leadership also bizarrely backing a Brexit that can only make the poor poorer. The money that they would struggle to find for their huge spending plans in good times will certainly not be there in the bad times that Brexit is bringing to our table. So big social spending whilst backing Brexit simply does not add up and it never will.

The point I really see though is that Jeremy is a 1970’s-type left wing politician and like some socialists that I have known (many of whom I would consider my friends) through my many years working in the trade union movement he seems to live almost to re-fight the battles of the political past. Thatcher and Thatcherism is the usual go to for socialists who spend more time looking back than forward. It’s not that those times were insignificant, they were indeed very significant but harking back to those dark days does not really help solve the political challenges of today. To put it simply Jeremy seems to me to think that if everything that was done under Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown was undone then all will be well. Indeed, he may even want to undo things Harold Wilson did too! But I think you get my drift here; re-fighting the battles of past will not cure our troubles of the present.

And yet despite all these issues there are many who would walk over hot coals for Corbyn.

Jeremy what would you do with him?

When Jeremy Corbyn got himself elected as Labour Leader my first thought was, at last Labour will become the socialist party that it should always have been. I also felt a little sorry for him as the right wing press and the right wing of his own party tried to undermine his leadership. Of course I’m no socialist and no supporter of the Labour Party but Labour moving to the left is where they belong to my mind.

Now don’t get me wrong Jez is a second division politician who got himself elected almost by default but he clearly has what one could call a cult-type following, which I have blogged about previously. That he is a second division politician has been born out though by his approach to the two big issues of our time.

Firstly, no leader of a progressive party could in any way back the right wing policy that is Brexit, yet he has done so whilst seemingly believing that there will be no job losses due to it! A detachment from realty is obvious as Brexit will lead to job losses and the poor will be made poorer. What kind of socialist or progressive stance is that?

Secondly, he’s got Labour up to it neck in antisemitism! How on earth has he managed to engineer a situation where such allegations can be made and why has he failed to address those most serious allegations of racism that are now being aimed at Labour, often from its own members. His cult devotees say it’s all a right wing conspiracy against Jez but really, saying that may comfort them but they must know it is a hole of the Labour leadership’s own digging.

Someone needs to take the shovel off Jez or he’ll soon dig another hole for Labour to fall into whilst the Tories continue to bumble on towards a most appalling Brexit for us all because they benefit from having no serious Official Opposition.

Brexit – Why are our political leaders prone to embarrass us?

Today I woke up to hear that the Tories had nearly lost a couple of Brexit votes last night but that they had scraped home with majority of just 3. But it turns out that a handful of Labour MP’s had voted with the Government and 2 Lib Dem MP’s were missing in action during the vote.

The Tory Government was there for the taking, the Labour Leadership had finally sobered up and decided to do what they should have been doing months ago i.e. be the Official Opposition, but even then 3 of their MP’s went into the Government lobby (whilst other Labour MP’s abstained) to vote for the Tory Brexit plan. Then to put the tin lid on it 2 anti-Brexit Lib Dem MP’s, who should have known better, were absent on other business.

Frankly, along with many other progressive politicians, I am livid with those Labour MP’s who were not willing to kill off the Tory’s Brexit and indeed sided with the Government! I’m also livid with the two missing Lib Dem MP’s for not ensuring they were in the House of Commons Chamber to have their votes counted.

I have no worries that the two Lib Dem MP’s (Cable and Farron) would have voted against the Government had they been there but not being there was a big, a very big error of judgement. I also realise that had they recorded their votes the Government would still have had a majority of 1 because of Labour’s Brexit 3 but none the less they should have been there.

I’ve been in politics for 38 years now and have been a elected local councillor for 33 of those years but rarely have I felt so angry about a matter as I do today with regard to these 5 MP’s.

NHS funding and Brexit crisis deepens – What would Beveridge say?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44665560

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44672873

The BBC has two articles on its web site – see links above

www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/beveridge_william.shtml

And above is a link to a BBC page all about William Beveridge the Liberal MP who wrote the report which the 1945 incoming Labour Government implemented.

Apart from a few nutters on the fringes of British politics (although I’m beginning to wonder if political nutters are now becoming mainstream!) we are all supporters of the NHS. But what on earth would William Beveridge make of the mess that our present-day politicians are making of it via under-funding and putting it at huge risk via Brexit. That the leader of the Labour Party is a part of that huge risk because of his support for Brexit would surely make that reforming Labour Government of 1945 turn in its collective grave!

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting