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.

Better Days Ahead – Well there has to be surely

www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMr3_5bO8fU

Above is a link to a most wonderful tune by jazz guitarist Norman Brown.

Hey things are more than a bit grim at present. The NHS is falling apart at the seams, the police are so under funded they struggle to protect us from crime, our schools are at breaking point with budget cuts, Northern would rather run buses than trains, Government is all at sea and their Official Opposition doesn’t seem to know how to oppose them. Trump keeps going bonkers, global warming is going to create a living hell for future generations and Brexit is going to see job losses, an economic downturn (yes we can keep going down!), less environmental protections…………. But you get my drift, as a progressive times have never been so tough – Thatcherism and Reaganomics were grim but we are are potentially on the road to far far worse.

So what do you do in the face of all this misery? You realise that there will be better days ahead as the electorate are sure to slam the brakes on whose they put in power and U-turn the political juggernaut away from the march towards fascism back to a progressive way forward. Well we’ve got to hope so because staying on the course the UK is presently on means a very poor outcome for us all but for the poor it does not bear thinking about!

But until May is put out of her misery and until Corbyn learns to oppose try listening to this tune by Norman Brown entitled Better Days Ahead, it will lift your weary soul…..

It’s about time that the Liberal Democrats really did propose radical solutions to poverty

‘We are remarkable but so helplessly stupid’ was a remark made to me by Jen Robertson the other day. The context of the remark was in relation to the UK being able and willing to design and build the magnificent new Widnes – Runcorn bridge whilst we are at the same time incapable, or is that unwilling, to tackle poverty effectively.

And it got me thinking because you know that whilst many of us are reasonably well provided for many others, in our supposedly civilised but less so every day country, are not. At the same time our government is turning its back on refugee children, along with anyone from the EU, and they are in effect all but cheerleaders for that nasty brand of racism which tells people who have come to live here and work for our vital public services to go home.

I don’t know about you but I am rather ashamed of where our country is going as its steps towards some kind of fascist state where alternative opinion is shouted down and the rich and powerful increase their grip on our economy.

It’s time we fought back because Labour will not as they have inexplicably backed Teresa May’s hard Brexit government and all the right wing dogma that goes with it. Labour is an embarrassment as our official opposition.

So what do radicals, Liberals and progressives do to turn the tide, because if we don’t turn it no one else will. I start with the preamble to the Lib Dem Party Constitution where it says ‘no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.’ Well hey many of our fellow citizens are enslaved by poverty, ignorance and conformity and every step of this wretched government and their Labour lackeys takes us further down that rather sickening road.

No one benefits from the 3 things above apart from the rich and the powerful yet our society seems to be moving ever nearer to belittling the poor, valuing ignorance and demanding conformity. If we are to ever again consider ourselves civilised in any meaningful way this has to be reversed.

Firstly, we need to seriously consider promoting a citizens income/universal basic income policy as opposed to the pitiful minimum wage that underpins an underclass of the poor and keeps them from rioting in the streets.

Secondly, we need a first class education system that teaches our young people real skills for work and life, not a box ticking bureaucratic, form filling system that brings academic successes for the middle classes and failure for that troublesome under class whilst driving teachers around the bend.

Thirdly, we need a fully functioning health and care system that values those who work for it as much as those who depend on it. Instead, we have a barely functioning health and care system that the well provided for can skip via their ability to buy the kind of care we all deserve but only they can afford.

And whilst doing this we need to be putting the environment we live in at the heart of all we do because it will create meaningful jobs, clean up the places where we live and work and mean that we are passing progress onto future generations, not pollution and illness and death.

And for those who say ‘this is too radical an agenda, no one will support it or vote for it’ I say well go out and fight for it and against the vested interests who promote poverty, fight for our struggling NHS, our crisis ridden elderly care services, fight the poisonous air we breath, the inadequate education that poor children get. Things will never change unless progressives, Liberals and radicals grab the agenda and promote it.

We have been through social revolutions before but we probably need one now otherwise the poor will get poorer and the rich will get richer. And don’t kid yourself that this is a socialist agenda that can easily be dismissed; it’s not, because our so called socialist party of opposition will never take it on as they are part of the problem not the solution. They need enslaved people to support them, their Councils have presided over too many poverty ridden communities without making much if any headway. They are the politics of the past where poverty ignorance and conformity was how things were and like the Tories they have all but accepted that such will be the case forever.

It’s time for radical thinking, not moderation and muddling on. We can address poverty, ignorance and conformity if we really want to. So do we want to?

Labour are sadly now a regressive party

That is the rather sad and just about only conclusion you can draw from the Copeland and Stoke by-elections of yesterday. But then there’s always been a tussle in the Labour Party between progressives and regressives.

Strangely at a time when Labour ostensibly has a left wing leader, whom you would expect to take his party in progressive direction, the opposite seems to be the case.

Have you seen the UKIP-lite literature that Labour put out in Stoke! Yes they beat UKIP but only by being UKIP-like. In Copeland the Tories simply out UKIPed Labour.

British politics is now seemingly re-settled into two groupings,

UKIP,Tories and Labour representing regressive politics

Lib Dems, Scot Nats and Greens representing progressive politics.

Yes, I am absolutely sure that there are still progressives in the Labour Party but their voice has been lost as the party has marched to appease the troublesome views of it’s right wing ‘working class’ supporters. And let’s face it there’s a worrying hint of racism where Labour is marching to.

Labour have jumped into the Brexit bed of Teresa May and UKIP and that’s no place to be for a party that once claimed to be progressive.

Labour are UKIP semi skimmed, the Tories are UKIP full fat.

Jo Cox – Thoughts on the consequences for UK politics

I have to be honest and say that I had not heard of Jo Cox MP before she was murdered but what I have learned about her since leads me to think that in a Parliament with few shining progressive stars these days she must have been one of them.

With the Lib Dems severely reduced in numbers, a Labour Party that is inward looking, authoritarian and at war with itself and the SNP looking like an uncomfortable marriage of supposedly social democratic and narrow nationalist values the left of British politics is frankly in a mess.

Jo Cox, we are told was far from being in the usual Labour mold (tribal and authoritarian) so she is both a big loss to Labour and to progressive politics in general. This was well summed up by Nick Clegg (not someone I would usually quote) when he said in a Tweet on the day of her murder – Jo Cox was unusually free of the tribal pettiness of politics – always friendly, cheerful and kind to friend and foe alike.

But as we have all read since the murder people in public office do receive threats. Yes, often they will be from nutters who have no intention or ability to carry out their threats but at the fringes there are the genuinely dangerous crack-pots.

I think I have posted previously about some of the crank mail I got when I was Leader of Sefton Council and how I was warned about it by my predecessor – Labour Cllr. Dave Martin. Indeed, I will never forget his advice ‘Within 6 weeks every nutter in the Borough will know who you are’.

I also recall how my colleague and former Sefton Councillor Andrew Blackburn got some very odd and worrying letters during his time on the Council so threats, hate mail, etc. are sadly what elected folks can and do get at any level of governance.

Where this latest tragedy leaves politics is difficult to say but it must not lead to those who hold elected office becoming more remote from the people who put them there. That is the road to democratic ruin. We must strive to be more open, less tribal and more inclusive in our politics.

And a final word about Jo Cox. I wondered more and more as the story of her all too brief life unfolded in the media how despite her being a Labour MP she came across more like a radical Liberal.

So sad that that this bright star was killed seemingly because of some irrational hatred issues in the head of one man.