Wednesday 21st January
Well, this is a hard one for me, as I have basically supported Social Democracy in one form or another my whole life. And it has been largely successful, in Europe at least, in creating a peaceful stable European Union with decent Education and Health services for its citizens. But the trouble with Political Movements is that when they are largely, or even only reasonably, successful – Complacency sets in. This has certainly been true of today’s Labour party, which unbelievably seems to pin its hopes on success in this year’s coming election on hanging on to about a third of the voters and because of the way those votes are distributed becoming the largest party, if not actually gaining a majority of seats. They are offering really nothing new, nothing that will radically alter the balance of power, nothing indeed to encourage even life-long Labour voters to vote for them, except that they may be marginally better then the Tories.
When I was in my twenties the arguments were about Nationalising Steel, or even the banks (big ideas indeed). Income tax was 33% and the higher rate 80%, and yet the country survived. Now if Labour were to propose a penny on income tax there would be howls of anguish from the City. What we need is a radical re-think of the way our whole economy is run. Everyone is so hung up on economic growth, as if GDP actually translated into investment in the NHS or in our schools. Even the arguments about cutting have largely been won by the Tories; Labour will hardly dare roll back any of them. Eric Hobsbawn argued that any Socialist party which won power must so change the landscape that no succeeding Conservative rulers would dare change things back. In 1945 Labour created the NHS, and the basis of the Welfare state. It has taken the Tories seventy years to even begin rolling that back, and yet in five years (and as part of a coalition at that) they have made changes which Labour with its present attitude will struggle to even consider, let alone change. They must have read their Hobsbawn.
I am probably going to reluctantly vote Labour. My reluctance isn’t because of Milliband, but because the whole party looks tired, too much a part of the corporate structure. In many ways my heart is with the Greens, though I cannot imagine them winning even a handful of seats. We will see.