The Incredible Morphing Left

August 16, 2010

While I still think of myself as nominally left-wing (although my despair at the insanities perpetrated by both sides of the political spectrum is pushing me into being an avowed centrist), I am nonetheless taken aback by the sheer scale of the vitriol that has been visited on the coalition government by the likes of the Guardian. It reminds me of nothing other than the petty little madmen who haunt the comment threads of Daily Mail articles, spewing venom about the dreadful things those foreigners are doing to our green and pleasant land. There’s something particularly pathetic about the intellectual laziness of simply opposing that which you don’t like while offering nothing positive by way of exchange.

That’s why Sunny Hundal’s decision to join the Labour Party came as something of a disappointment. I’d always rather liked the standard of debate on LibCon, and went so far as to submit an article of my own to it last weekend. The project of providing a proper alternative to neoliberalism – a real contribution to the national debate – is one that’s close to my heart. Instead, Sunny has decided to oppose, giving opposition to the coalition as the prima facie reason for joining the Reds. This visceral opposition has been playing out across the pages of the Guardian since the election, and thus far has done nothing but attempt to downplay any achievement (witness the BBC’s description of falling unemployment as ‘unemployment has so far failed to rise) and hypothesise awful futures based on nothing more than that opposition.

This is not the left. Like many young people, I viewed myself as left-wing because I believed it referred to a politics of constant change, constant revolution – not vicious reaction against it. The left puts forward ideas, the right opposes on the grounds of their love of stasis. This is what I believed the political wings represented. This is clearly no longer the case.

I choose to remain radical. I choose to remain for, not against. I choose to remain a Liberal Democrat.

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17 Responses to “The Incredible Morphing Left”

  1. Cat said

    I was writing a long reply but think that I can understand your position better if you answer the following question: Thatcher – hero or villain?

    • declineofthelogos said

      Both at the same time, although with a clear leaning towards villain. Union officials had too much power in the 70s and 80s – no-one without a popular mandate should be able to shut the country down for their own gain, this is clear. However, the way in which Thatcher did this eviscerated the economy of much of the country, reducing many communities to despair.

      I think the mistake made by many on the Left is to assume that this generation of cuts will have a similar impact as those of Thatcher. This is not yet clear, and to assume otherwise is to totally misinterpret Cameron’s intentions. Working in renewables sector, I know that it’s likely that private industry will be rebuilt in the North and in various other locations around the UK.

      I find this very exciting, as it’s vital that we diversify our economy. Labour failed to do that. Instead, they tried to ensure that much of the country became in essence client voters by massively expanding the public sector, and relying on the City to provide growth. This failed.

      The Conservatives destroyed the capability of the North to look after itself. It seems fitting that they be the ones to restore it.

  2. Cat said

    The 70s have been cast as a period of union barons holding the country to ransom, economic mis-management, etc. This is the tory narrative, in reality things were a lot more complicated than that; for instance, the 70s was the decade in which society was most equal it had ever been.

    That narrative served the tories well and one which the tories are attempting to construct about the last 13 years. By entering into a coalition and using the tory attack lines the LibDems are playing their part in re-writing history. Hence, the lefts loathing of the LibDems.

    Its naive in the extreme to believe that the cut program being pursued by Osborne is not about shrinking the state. Vince Cable himself attacked the tories for that very reason. Cutting the state is the tory dream, a second recession is a necessary evil if it leads to reducing the size of the state.

  3. declineofthelogos said

    It’s difficult to re-write economic & political facts. Inflation was rampant in the 1970s, and efforts by the then Labour Government to tame it – with good reason, as inflation hits the poor the hardest – were fiercely resisted by the unions, leading to the Winter of Discontent. Now, given that you like either/or questions, should unions have supremacy over the will of a democratically elected Government?

  4. Cat said

    The winter of discontent happened because Labour attempted to extend pay restraint for another year. From 76-78 the unions had been very cooperative in tackling inflation by accepting pay restraint, it wasn’t until 79 when Labour went to far with it that unions resisted. It was a mistake of Callaghan to attempt to hold pay down when it he didn’t need to.

    “should unions have supremacy over the will of a democratically elected Government?”

    No, but government shouldn’t infringe on people’s right to withdraw their labour. And shouldn’t side with fat cats to subvert the will of a democratic union, it should act as an impartial referee prepared to smack down robber barons as well as union barons.

    I’m asking question, and thanks for answering, because I’m trying to understand why somebody who would describe themselves as left wing would defend a right wing government. I think many LibDem supporters have not realised how right wing Clegg actually is, he may talk in the language of a progressive but his policies are ardently thatcherite. Those same policies created the unequal society we have today in the 1980s, why will they do anything different when implemented by Clegg?

    • declineofthelogos said

      They attempted to extend pay restraint for another year by asking unions to limit pay increases to 5%. If inflation really had been tackled, that would represent a real-terms increase. Again, inflation has the most impact on those out of work – a fact which the unions at the time ignored.

      Callaghan wasn’t siding with fat cats – the pay restraint he was urging was in public-sector jobs. Unions are great in the private sector, as they provide an effective way of balancing the needs of the business with higher wages and better conditions for workers. In the private sector, both workers and bosses are in the same boat – if workers ask for too much, then the business goes down and everyone loses their jobs. The Government can’t go bust, however, so the only way it can ensure that public services are delivered to the people who voted it in is by controlling public-sector unions to a certain extent. I strongly believe that public services should be run for the benefit of the public, not the special interest group of public-sector workers. Any policy position that overwhelming benefits a special interest group is right wing, in my opinion.

      Thatcher, of course, went too far – in attacking public-sector unions she damaged private-sector ones too. There’s a real need for trade union legislation reform to reflect this.

      You’re going to need to give me an example of an actually Thatcherite policy that Clegg is in favour of. I don’t mean just ‘cuts’, I mean a specific policy that aims at promoting the interests of corporations over those of the poor.

  5. Cat said

    “Callaghan wasn’t siding with fat cats”

    Yeh, he wasn’t, he was trying to show that he was the man who could hold down inflation and keep the unions onside.

    – the pay restraint he was urging was in public-sector jobs.”

    No it wasn’t, it was across the entire economy. Little heard of nowadays but governments used to have an “incomes policy”, the first employer to break the 5% limit was the Ford Motor Company – very much a private company. Once Ford had broken the voluntary 5% limit other private employers followed suit rather than face strike action leaving the public sector the only employers sticking to the limit.

    Labour’s replacement for an incomes policy has been immigration, it has helped keep pay for the many down. While the fat cats pay inflation has been massive, leading to greater inequality. Labour attempted to reduce that resulting inequality with the tax credit system which strangely the LibDems have had a policy to the right of the tories on. It has been the lack of salary inflation in low paid jobs that has lead to the so called poverty trap that the quiet man is supposedly going to solve – easiest way would be to raise the min wage but that’ll never happen under the tories.

    “Unions are great in the private sector”

    Yes, I agree unfortunately only 15% of private sector workers are unionised and that is mainly in former state-owned companies.

    “The Government can’t go bust, however, so the only way it can ensure that public services are delivered to the people who voted it in is by controlling public-sector unions to a certain extent.”

    No, I fundamentally disagree that there should be one rule for private sector workers and another for public sector workers. A policy of that sort would never work in practice and would end up in no unions, which are the only organisations that work for better workers rights.

    There is a reason why employers hate unions with a passion and have tried to discourage workers joining them since they were first conceived. Limit their power and make union leaders personally responsible.

    “Any policy position that overwhelming benefits a special interest group is right wing, in my opinion.”

    I’d agree with you but I don’t believe unions are special interest groups they’re democratic and represent millions of workers. As opposed to the astroturfing tory front group the taxpayers’ alliance.

    “Thatcher, of course, went too far – in attacking public-sector unions she damaged private-sector ones too. There’s a real need for trade union legislation reform to reflect this.”

    I’d agree with you on the need to reform but Thatcher didn’t just attack public sector unions, she attacked all unions. She reduced union power across the board, allowing employers to erode workers rights, supporting employers through the use of brutal police thugs, etc.

    “You’re going to need to give me an example of an actually Thatcherite policy that Clegg is in favour of. I don’t mean just ‘cuts’, I mean a specific policy that aims at promoting the interests of corporations over those of the poor.”

    Thatcher wasn’t just about business over people, she was about the rich few over the many. However, the most glaring Thatcherite/neo-liberal policy in the budget was the reduction in corporation tax. Paid for by cuts to public services which low and middle income people are relent on.

    Also, the LibDems centre-piece economic policy was raising the personal allowance. Which coupled with the VAT rise is a classic thatcherite policy of reducing a progressive tax by increasing a regressive one.

    The LibDem manifesto is full of wonderful sounding policies but that is all words, it is actions that count. Nick Clegg’s biggest action to date has been to choose to enter into a coalition with thatcherites, that says a hell of a lot. And reflects his personal political ideology a lot more than the LibDem manifesto.

  6. declineofthelogos said

    The pay restraint Callaghan could control was only in the public sector – a ‘voluntary agreement’ is pretty much meaningless if by following it a company puts itself at risk of going bankrupt. In the case of Ford, the fat cats sided with the unions – they gave in to their demands.

    Inflation in 1979 was 13.4%. Imagine the impact on the unwaged if it didn’t begin to come down. As it was, inflation in 1980 was 18%. It’s a shame that the unions decided to continue doing over the poor in favour of their own members – I can’t see how you can claim nothing needed to be done. What would you prefer to have happened?

    You’re right about immigration being Labour’s replacement for an income policy, although the rise in illegal immigration is largely the result of the minimum wage – there’s a demand for workers who’ll work for less than minimum wage, and people smugglers aim to fill it. May I ask which party you do support, if you disagree with Labour’s immigration stance?

    Labour’s attempts to reduce inequality have been pathetic – the tax credits system was an overly complicated and bureaucratic waste of money. Far better to simply raise the lower threshold of tax – everyone benefits, rather than the groups that Labour decided it wanted to favour. If you want to reduce inequality, you need far better education – not just building new schools and allowing standards of education to decline. You can’t rely on the proliferation of McJobs to provide work for the unskilled – you need extensive business-led training, analogous to the German system.

    “No, I fundamentally disagree that there should be one rule for private sector workers and another for public sector workers. A policy of that sort would never work in practice and would end up in no unions, which are the only organisations that work for better workers rights.”

    You have two options if you want people delivering public services to belong to a union without unreasonably harming the delivery of that service. Either the legislation for public sector unions differs from that for private sector unions, or you privatise the public service delivery method. Labour in practice went for a combination of those methods – the police can’t strike, and Labour continued the Tory policy of privatising public services. Unions have not disappeared, which means your argument is not correct.

    Unions are special interest groups – they’re not democratic, as the entire UK demos doesn’t get a vote on their actions. The members of the CBI vote on their approach to policy, but that doesn’t make them democratic. In 1979, the interests of the unions diverged from that of the larger demos, which is why Thatcher was elected. Without their intransigence in the face of inflation, it’s unlikely she would’ve ever reached office.

    Actually, the cut to corporation tax was largely paid for by raising capital gains tax. This is a lot more progressive than you think it is – lower taxes for companies means that they have more cash for expansion, while higher cap gains means that the rich don’t necessarily profit from it.

    The VAT rise was a Tory policy through and through – I loathe it myself. Unfortunately, coalition involves compromise – I’m sure Tories loathe the cap gains rise as much as I hate the VAT rise.

    What would you have preferred Clegg to do following the election? A coalition with Labour was numerically impossible. Going back to the country would’ve resulted in a Tory majority. We have the least bad option at present. I would also urge you to not call the Cameron government Thatcherite – as I said in my previous post, to do so would be to radically misunderstand the nature of what Cameron is trying to do. In many ways, the cuts agenda is an enormous trap for Labour – departments have been asked to prepare plans to cut up to 40% of spending, and many Labour activists have been consistently painting this as an ideological attack on the state. It’s not, and the cuts will be significantly less than 40%. When the Comprehensive Spending Review is over, and the electorate realise they haven’t had to suffer as much pain as they thought they would, Labour’s cries of doom are going to look ridiculous, and the Tory brand will be rehabilitated. That’s the plan behind all this, and I worry that the left is playing right into Cameron’s hands.

  7. Cat said

    Pay restraint had been in operation since 1975 across both public and private sectors. The unions cooperated under the terms of the social contract, in 79 after Ford and a few other companies broke the voluntary agreement Callaghan did try and introduce sanctions but didn’t have the parliamentary majority required. Both public and private sector organisations experienced strikes during 79 over pay, you’ve swallowed the tory/thatcherite/neo-liberal narrative hook, line and sinker.

    Inflation was high all throughout the 70s following the oil shocks, but by 78 Britain was, in terms of income, most equal. The poor, ie jobless, were protected by rises in benefits and price controls. The unions had been very cooperative, are you seriously arguing thatcher’s inflation policy, mass unemployment, was a winner?

    I don’t disagree with Labour’s immigration policy, but they should have increased the minimum wage to a level where immigrant workers weren’t so much cheaper than British workers.

    Your deluded about the effect of raising the personal allowance threshold, of the £17bn needed by the LibDems to implement their policy only £1bn is spent taking people out of tak altogether. Most of the money is spent on the a tax cut to the rich and it does *nothing* to help those on incomes lower than the personal allowance already. Also, it flattens the income system, making it all the more likely a future tory government would introduce a flat income tax. Have you ever lived on benefits? Do you work with those living on benefits? To say Labour’s attempts to reduce inequality have been pathetic shows your making a fatal error in believing the LibDem propaganda. If the tax credit system is so shit why is IDS trying to replace everything with tax credits?

    Where have you got this bullshit from about school standards falling? Have you been reading the daily mail? You need to look at the real world objectively not through the prism of party tribalism – schooling has been massively improved over the past 13 years. Don’t start quoting tory attack lines at me, only X children on free school meals got to oxbridge, because if that is your only measure of success your a snob.

    “You have two options if you want people delivering public services to belong to a union without unreasonably harming the delivery of that service. Either the legislation for public sector unions differs from that for private sector unions, or you privatise the public service delivery method. Labour in practice went for a combination of those methods – the police can’t strike, and Labour continued the Tory policy of privatising public services. Unions have not disappeared, which means your argument is not correct”

    WTF? Your seriously suggesting that public services cannot be run “well” by a unionised workforce? I’m sorry but that is uninformed anti-union bollocks.

    “…This is a lot more progressive than you think it is – lower taxes for companies means that they have more cash for expansion…”

    I thought you didn’t agree with Neo-Liberalism? Yet your spouting one of its key tenets, even embellishing it, here. Just because a company keeps more of its profit doesn’t mean it will expand, more likely the owners will pay themselves biggest salaries, dividends, etc. You seem to think people start businesses to help other people, they don’t they start them to make money. And generally those that are successful already have money already. Also, businesses reap the benefits of our welfare state looking after their workers, so they should help pay for it. Corporation tax cut progressive – LOL, thats a warped definition of progressive worthy of Osborne!!!

    If a LabLib coalition was impossible why did Cameron go to bed Monday night thinking he was going to stay in opposition. This is not the least bad option but the worst option, by joining the coalition Clegg has severely damaged the LibDems creditability. And given cover to Cameron’s ideological attack on the size and rule of the state. There is no good outcome for the LibDems as a party, if things go well the tories get the credit and if it all goes tits up LibDems get blamed.

    The tories are thatcherites, Cameron is no wet. While I understand your comments about the spending cuts not being as bad as all that, and it is an intelligent position to take. I thought the same thing before the budget, pundits all over the place were saying Osborne won’t stick to the 80:20 rule, but he did. Osborne’s budget speech down played a lot of his changes and made it sound like it wasn’t that bad but it was worst than expected. His assault on the poor, who you seem to care about, was classic thatchrism. Just look at the distributional analysis compared with Labour’s last budget by the IFS. While 40% cuts probably won’t happen there will be significant cuts to projects to which the tories are ideologically opposed. When announced things won’t seem as bad but from bio-diversity to universities money will be slashed and the state made smaller. In time for the next election Osborne will slash taxes on the well off, engineer a boom and hello another decade of thatcherism.

    Your misreading Cameron as a Heath style tory, he isn’t and his party is well to the right of Heath’s tory party. The ideology of Cameron has more in common with Bush’s Comppassionate Conservatism, ie its the poor’s fault for being poor. People such as Carswell and Hannan are his blue skies thinkers, he is just a slick PR man.

    If you really are against neo-liberism, do you support the tories education and NHS policies because they are textbook examples of privatization and marketization – putting public services under the control of private companies how is that democratic?

  8. declineofthelogos said

    ‘Pay restraint had been in operation since 1975 across both public and private sectors. The unions cooperated under the terms of the social contract, in 79 after Ford and a few other companies broke the voluntary agreement Callaghan did try and introduce sanctions but didn’t have the parliamentary majority required. Both public and private sector organisations experienced strikes during 79 over pay, you’ve swallowed the tory/thatcherite/neo-liberal narrative hook, line and sinker.’
    Alternatively you’ve swallowed the hard-left narrative – but accusing people of being victims of a narrative is not useful in persuading someone of your position. Why on earth should unions privilege themselves by saying they’re co-operating under the ‘social contract’ rather than at the will of the demos? The dictatorship of the proletariat is exactly that.
    ‘Inflation was high all throughout the 70s following the oil shocks, but by 78 Britain was, in terms of income, most equal. The poor, ie jobless, were protected by rises in benefits and price controls. The unions had been very cooperative, are you seriously arguing thatcher’s inflation policy, mass unemployment, was a winner?’
    Actually, in 1978 inequality began to increase (http://www.iser.essex.ac.uk/publications/working-papers/iser/1999-22.pdf) – before Thatcher took office. Benefits don’t protect against inflation, even when index-linked – they don’t rise week on week, and high inflation will cash out in food prices before it’s reflected in benefits. A pound or so more on food every few weeks can make a real difference, as I’m sure you’re aware. Mass unemployment was a side-effect of Thatcher’s attack on the unions. I hate to say it, but their unwillingness to support the policies of the democratically elected Callaghan government led directly to Thatcher, and so they bear some responsibility too.
    ‘I don’t disagree with Labour’s immigration policy, but they should have increased the minimum wage to a level where immigrant workers weren’t so much cheaper than British workers.’
    I don’t understand this. With a minimum wage, both immigrants and British workers would be paid the same. Are you saying people should stay on benefits if they can’t find a job they want to do, rather than simply find a job?
    ‘Your deluded about the effect of raising the personal allowance threshold, of the £17bn needed by the LibDems to implement their policy only £1bn is spent taking people out of tak altogether. Most of the money is spent on the a tax cut to the rich and it does *nothing* to help those on incomes lower than the personal allowance already. Also, it flattens the income system, making it all the more likely a future tory government would introduce a flat income tax. Have you ever lived on benefits? Do you work with those living on benefits? To say Labour’s attempts to reduce inequality have been pathetic shows your making a fatal error in believing the LibDem propaganda. If the tax credit system is so shit why is IDS trying to replace everything with tax credits?’
    No need to be rude. The IFS report you’re indirectly referencing only considered the impact of that single policy rather than the aggregate of coalition policy. The addition of IDS’s welfare reforms will help those right at the bottom of the scale – and comparing the tax credit system under Labour to the one currently proposed is inaccurate – http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/21st-century-welfare.pdf.
    I have been on benefits, because I’ve been unemployed. I’ve worked with people on benefits. Even if I hadn’t, that wouldn’t disqualify me from commenting. I might as well say that you can’t say it’s fine to tax the rich because you haven’t been rich.
    Labour were in government for thirteen years. They had nearly unlimited scope to reduce inequality, and they failed to do so. Their policies in this regard were pathetic. I have no idea why you can’t accept this, seeing as you’re advocating the policies that actually led to income inequality reduction in the 70s at the same time. You can’t hold both positions.
    ‘Where have you got this bullshit from about school standards falling? Have you been reading the daily mail? You need to look at the real world objectively not through the prism of party tribalism – schooling has been massively improved over the past 13 years. Don’t start quoting tory attack lines at me, only X children on free school meals got to oxbridge, because if that is your only measure of success your a snob.’
    From the almost inevitable grade inflation resulting from competition between examination boards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_inflation. This wasn’t Labour’s fault – they just failed to reverse the process and instead made random and haphazard tinkerings to the system.
    ‘WTF? Your seriously suggesting that public services cannot be run “well” by a unionised workforce? I’m sorry but that is uninformed anti-union bollocks.’
    You’re misunderstanding what I meant. The public sector can’t go bust, so union members won’t bear the result of their actions in the same way they would in the private sector. Instead, the costs will be pushed onto the taxpayer, which is unfair. Again, is the purpose of the public sector to deliver public services or to provide employment for its workers?
    ‘I thought you didn’t agree with Neo-Liberalism? Yet your spouting one of its key tenets, even embellishing it, here. Just because a company keeps more of its profit doesn’t mean it will expand, more likely the owners will pay themselves biggest salaries, dividends, etc. You seem to think people start businesses to help other people, they don’t they start them to make money. And generally those that are successful already have money already. Also, businesses reap the benefits of our welfare state looking after their workers, so they should help pay for it. Corporation tax cut progressive – LOL, thats a warped definition of progressive worthy of Osborne!!!’
    The welfare state doesn’t look after workers, it looks after the unemployed. You’ve got that the wrong way round. You have a strange understanding of business – on one hand, you say that the owners will simply take the higher profits as dividends, and on the other you say they’re only in it to make money. Any businessman will tell you that the way to make money isn’t to take a bigger and bigger share of the cake each time, but to take the same and make the cake bigger. You’re right to say that you can rely on businessmen to be self-interested – you just need to understand what that self interest entails.
    ‘If a LabLib coalition was impossible why did Cameron go to bed Monday night thinking he was going to stay in opposition. This is not the least bad option but the worst option, by joining the coalition Clegg has severely damaged the LibDems creditability. And given cover to Cameron’s ideological attack on the size and rule of the state. There is no good outcome for the LibDems as a party, if things go well the tories get the credit and if it all goes tits up LibDems get blamed.’
    The Cameron thing appears to be a myth: http://order-order.com/2010/08/24/the-hand-of-god/. And your ‘ideological attack’ line is odd – Darling had already committed to cutting ‘deeper than Thatcher’ – would a Labour Government’s cuts have been ideological too?
    Clegg has only damaged the credibility of Labour supporters who thought of the Lib Dems as some sort of Labour-lite. This was never the case, as I wrote about here: https://declineofthelogos.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/hey-the-left-liberalism-isnt-what-you-think-it-is/.
    ‘The tories are thatcherites, [snip]
    Your misreading Cameron as a Heath style tory, he isn’t and his party is well to the right of Heath’s tory party. The ideology of Cameron has more in common with Bush’s Comppassionate Conservatism, ie its the poor’s fault for being poor. People such as Carswell and Hannan are his blue skies thinkers, he is just a slick PR man.’
    Provide me with a single policy that actually demonstrates this conclusively. I have asked you to do this once already.
    ‘If you really are against neo-liberism, do you support the tories education and NHS policies because they are textbook examples of privatization and marketization – putting public services under the control of private companies how is that democratic?’
    The free schools thing is rather silly, I agree – a waste of resources which could’ve gone to other schools. I wouldn’t call it a classic example of marketisation as it was originally derived from Sweden – hardly a Thatcherite paradise. The NHS reforms are not privatisation – they merely shift the commissioner of services role to GPs. As GPs are the gatekeeper for NHS services and they’re fairly easy to change between, it’s a logical place for the role to lie. What part of the reforms constitutes privatisation?
    Not that it would matter – you mustn’t have contracted a firm to work for you before. When you do, you control them. When the state contracts private companies to deliver services, it controls them. Control by the state is democratic control.

  9. Cat said

    RE: Free Schools

    Okay, cool, we agree on something. Free schools are bollocks. But just because it comes from Sweden doesn’t make it left wing, the guy that invented the policy said that it doesn’t raise standards and that it only works if you have private companies touting for business. That is why its a thatcherite policy, its about privatization of schooling, if Gove implements it in its only workable form your’ll have private companies running about the country offering to set up schools in well off pockets surrounded by less well off areas.

    RE: NHS Reforms – GP Commissioning/Fundholding

    Sorry, no, these reforms are all about privatization. GPs, the majority of them, don’t want to “commission” patient care; so they’ll pay private companies to do it. Currently, GPs who want to take part in commissioning have the option of sitting on the PCT. It is illogical to replace ~150 PCTs and ~12 SHA with ~550 GP consortia and ~12 regional board. Especially, at a time of unprecedented funding squeeze this reorganisation is going to cost at least £3bn this year alone.

    “Not that it would matter – you mustn’t have contracted a firm to work for you before. When you do, you control them. When the state contracts private companies to deliver services, it controls them. Control by the state is democratic control.”

    WTF? Sounds ever so logical but in reality its rubbish, they’re numerous examples of private contractors brought into run public services which has lead to costly fuck ups, e.g. prisons, mental homes, social services, hospital cleaners, water boards. Private companies contracted to provide services are responsible first to their shareholders not the public.

  10. Cat said

    “Provide me with a single policy that actually demonstrates this conclusively. I have asked you to do this once already.”

    Cutting income tax and raising VAT, classic thatcherism.

    Free schools & Academies – grant maintained schools. Allowing already good schools to opt out of LEA control and receive a bigger cut of education funding.

    Abolishing RDAs – RDAs had mainly been good value for money and helped strengthen regional economies. They’re first for the chop to be replaced by funding decided by cosy groupings of local fat cats.

    Cutting corporation tax with no strings attached.

    Replacement of professional public services with nothing/big society. The idea that somehow the “state” is the thing keeping people in poverty and if only the state would stop providing professional community services, i.e. child care, adult education. And instead volunteers provided it all the poor would rise up and break free from their chains…yeh that’ll work.

    Cameron’s disgusting attack on the hard up who are claiming benefits – classic divide and rule the working class by making those on benefits scapegoats for societies ills.

  11. declineofthelogos said

    I think before we continue this debate it’s worth asking you exactly what you think Thatcherism entailed. For me, it’s a combination of monetarism and Hayek-style libertarianism. This is very different to one-nation Toryism, as the latter entails the recognition that the state can be a force for good.

  12. Cat said

    Thatcherism draws on some monetarist and Hayek-style ideas but basically, imho, its old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism. Just like we’re seeing from the coalition today, Clegg defends the budget as being progressive not because the richest pay the most. But because it waves a big stick at those on benefits, “encouraging” them off benefits and into non-existent jobs.

    Are you suggesting that the above examples are not Thatcherism but instead one-nation Toryism?

    You seem very enamored of one-nation Toryism, bit strange for a self declared leftie!!! One-nation tories were still right wing, they voted against the NHS at every reading. They ran on racist anti-immigrant slogans, etc.

    Look, pal, you can intellectualise the debate and we can argue over the history but the budget showed where Cameron & Osborne’s priorities lie. Cameron’s policies are a mixture of failed tory policies from the 80s/90s, e.g. schooling, environment. Opportunistic rubbish, e.g. cancer drug fund – savaged in the Lancet as a return to the post code lottery. And PR-driven bollocks, e.g. big society – designed and named entirely to repudiate “there is no such thing as society”.

    The overriding ideological thread is one of a reduction in the size of the state, from the audit commission to jobs, this government believes that government is the problem not the solution. Anybody on the left of the political spectrum can’t support these policies that could lead to mass unemployment and destruction of the welfare state. And still consider themselves left wing.

    • declineofthelogos said

      If that’s your view of Thatcherism then I have no idea how you can distinguish it from everything Labour’s done over the last 13 years. They certainly didn’t attempt to properly regulate the financial markets; they didn’t remove restrictions on the unions and they gave away a lot of state investment to the private sector in the form of PFI. You’ll be unable to distinguish it from practically any other political philosophy currently in use unless you add some subtleties to your argument.

      Thatcher honestly believed in raw Hayekian-style capitalism, with no role for the state beyond enforcement of property rights. Cameron appears to see the state as the mechanism by which the unity of the nation is facilitated; the point often missed about the Big Society agenda is that he’s employing tens of thousands of community workers to engender it. Those two positions are not identical, and by conflating them you run the risk of irrelevancy to contemporary politics.

      I am not in any sense enamoured of Cameron’s politics, but calling them Thatcherism reborn is to completely misunderstand them – and to misunderstand their likely impact upon the country. You seem to have decided for yourself that their impact is going to be dreadful, without taking the time to consider the alternative. You’ve actively made things up (I’ll only say this once: THE WELFARE STATE IS NOT GOING TO BE DESTROYED AND TO BELIEVE OTHERWISE IS RIDICULOUS PARANOIA). Much of your party appears to be going down the same route, as this article discusses: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/08/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-engage-with-the-progressive-left-on-the-issue-of-poverty-and-social-mobili.html.

      The great tragedy of all this is that Labour does still have exciting new ideas to bring to the table: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/26/land-value-tax-labour-party, but they’re ignoring things like that instead of mindless anger. To illustrate this, I ask you one question: what is the ideal size of the state?

  13. Cat said

    “If that’s your view of Thatcherism then I have no idea how you can distinguish it from everything Labour’s done over the last 13 years.”

    Oh please, wake up buddy, the massive reduction in child and pensioner poverty? Building over 100 hospitals, (re)building over 4000 schools. I could go at length but can’t be bothered, if you think Labour were *anything* remotely like the tories your fucking deluded. FFS even St Vince Cable used to attack Labour for over regulating.

    That is not to say I think Labour were all good, they fucked up on numerous things. But having seen the state of council estates, hospitals and schools during the early 90s. Having worked as a social worker when 30% of children were born into poverty, I fucking know how much Labour has improved quality of life. I didn’t see many LibDem candidates dishing out their focus leaflets on the estates then, even now they only turn up to tell people Labour can’t win in this seat and only they can stop the tories – what a fucking joke.

    “Thatcher honestly believed in raw Hayekian-style capitalism, with no role for the state beyond enforcement of property rights.”

    Like I said old fashioned laissez-faire capitalism.

    “Cameron appears to see the state as the mechanism by which the unity of the nation is facilitated”

    The key word is “appears”, his personal politics are said to be more right wing than he admits in public. Your missing an important issue and that is the make-up of the tory party itself, todays tories are well to the right of the 1950s tories.

    “You’ve actively made things up (I’ll only say this once: THE WELFARE STATE IS NOT GOING TO BE DESTROYED AND TO BELIEVE OTHERWISE IS RIDICULOUS PARANOIA).”

    Total Fucking Bollocks!!! Clegg is leading the charge on cutting universal benefits, once the welfare state is based entirely on means testing it is dead and buried. Removing benefits to all but the absolute bottom of the pile will bred resentment in those above them. Cameron already stokes this resentment with his scroungers rhetoric, the number of low income voters I’ve encountered whose only concern is these supposed scroungers. They wouldn’t be happy unless children whose parents they deem scroungers were running around with bowed legs and swollen bellies. Classic tory divide and rule tactics; all the while the fat cats in the city are laughing.

    You’ve got your head in the sand if you can’t see that the coalition are enacting regressive policies. Do you actually think the “big society” is actually a new idea? Its a return to Victorian ideals of Christian volunteering. The same with Cleggs bollocks on work and parenting, return to Victorian ideals of the needy poor and a big fucking stick to beat those undeserving beggars.

  14. Cat said

    “To illustrate this, I ask you one question: what is the ideal size of the state?”

    I don’t know, I don’t think the state became too big under Labour not including the bank bailout obviously.

    What does that illustrate? Do you think the state is too big? Are you a orange book small state’er?

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