I have often pondered on the dilemma that faces socialists in UK politics because they seem to find themselves in a cycle of hope and despair in equal measure.
At each general election they try to convince themselves that voting Labour and trying to get others to vote Labour will lead to socialism in government. Of course it never does as there are few if any real socialists in the Labour leadership these days. Indeed, to hear recent appalling statements from some leading Labour figures about those who are unfortunate to need to live on benefits makes you wince.
What I think that real socialists actually end up doing is voting negatively i.e. they vote Labour because they hope that in government Labour will be not as Tory or as bad as the Tories. A kinder form of capitalism is all they can hope for but with people like Rachel Reeves and Harriet Harman leading the Labour Party kinder capitalism, especially for those on benefits, hardly seems to be on Labour’s agenda in 2015.
And don’t get me wrong here I do respect genuine socialists even though I don’t agree with them. I suppose you can say that we see many of the same problems but have radically differing solutions to them. I say that after working for 25+ years in the trade union movement and seeing at first hand the agonies of socialists at the actions of Labour in Government pursuing such things as NHS privatisation, the war in Iraq and ID cards. Like me, socialists abhorred these Labour policies and they campaigned against them but when a general election comes along some of them then campaign for the very Labour Party they have been fighting against.
Some will say that they are not supporting the Labour Party but they do have a great respect for their local Labour MP who in their view is a true socialist. A worthy aim but it still potentially puts into government a Labour Party they will have to campaign against.
Others hope that one day true socialists will take over the Labour Party and it will once again become what it was when first formed out of the trade union movement all those years ago. They will of course be sadly disappointed.
I have noticed that some socialists are gravitating towards the Greens and you can see socialist authoritarianism creeping into the Greens as a consequence.
But what surprises me most is how some socialists can turn a blind eye and or a deaf ear when the Labour Party is promoting things like NHS privatisation, the Iraq war or these days more greater and deeper austerity cuts in public expenditure. If you genuinely oppose such things how can you campaign against them but then vote for the Party promoting them?
As I say a real dilemma for socialists who privately must be thinking about such matters regularly, especially near a general election.
The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.
The big problem with Labour’s manifesto launch is that it reminds me of New Labour’s days under Blair and Brown – spending up but how’s it going to be paid for with all the guarantees of no tax rises? If people like Rachel Reeves and Harriet Harman are to be listened to could it be on the backs of the poor via huge welfare cuts? Both seem to me to be advocating bigger welfare cuts than the Tories have made so far.
And what about the NHS? Labour have still not guaranteed the £8b that it needs and which the Lib Dems and even, somewhat belatedly, the Tories have put on the table. Having said that the Tories pledge is uncosted so only the Lib Dems have a genuine response to the NHS needs.
Sadly, Labour are looking like the masters of spin that they were when last in government; little substance but a lot of spin. Trouble is they could well crash the economy with uncosted spending and they have already had a go at that hence the mess that we are in now.
Mark Pack has the story – see link above
Labour must think that by sounding ‘Tory’ over benefits and welfare that it will bring them votes but to me some of their utterances are getting to the point where even Tories must wince at their remarks.
One thing the Labour party can’t be accused of these days is being Socialist, the speeches of Shadow Cabinet members Ed Balls and Rachel Reeves prove that. Labour is openly talking about bigger and deeper welfare cuts if Labour gets re-elected and them sticking to Coalition spending limits etc.
Yet on Council’s such as Sefton the Labour members, or at least a significant number of them, are Socialists and they say they stand for a very different set of values to those the Labour Party very clearly now stands for. The obvious question is how can Labour move forward with such fundamentally opposing views within it? But also, why do true Socialists who are Labour members want to get their party elected when it is openly saying it will do what they abhor?
The Sefton budget meeting last Thursday saw all this in the raw as the Council’s Labour Leader was barracked by Socialists in the public gallery, who have left or maybe were never in the Labour Party and cries of ‘Tories’ were heard ringing out as Peter Dowd proposed the Labour Budget.
I know that Labour is said to be a broad church but frankly how can Labour politicians who propose bigger and deeper welfare cuts sit side by side in the same Party as those who still espouse the the testaments of Militant? Answers on a post card…………………….
I wonder how Bill Esterson’s Office will spin this (see link above)? Probably by ignoring it and hoping it will never happen.
Labour’s stance on anything to do with the economy and the consequences of the recession, that they helped to create, is little short of bizarre. They started out in opposition from two opposing positions – Liam Byrne (their former Chief Secretary to the Treasury) openly saying there was no money left in a note to his Coalition successor, whilst Balls and Miliband tried to give the impression that they were all but unaware of a recession and could not understand the need for savings to stop the UK sliding into depression! Of course they have significantly changed their position now vowing to keep to Coalition spending cuts if they get re-elected.
But we also had Labour’s opposition to reducing the welfare budget which has now morphed into Labour can and will cut the welfare budget more than the Coalition!
What on earth do Labour stand for? On the economy anything you want them to stand for it seems.