UKuncut represents the triumph of New Labour over the old Left
February 19, 2011
I remember the joy of student protesting; possessing an ineffable ‘ironic’ righteousness against systems which transparently (at least as far as I could see at the time) wasn’t working in the way it should. It was only later on, when I’d had the chance to understand the position my proto-opinions took in the great sweep of argument that is our nation’s political discourse; that those notions were informed not wholly by my own judgement but by the aggregate of opinion within that discourse along with my own economic position.
It is that positioning within the greater narrative which has relevance here today. The condemnation of Barclays for their minimal tax rate is the product of a particular worldview from which most lefties would instinctively recoil: that of New Labour.
I have previously written about how New Labour was based upon a subtle moral repositioning, away from the notion of all working for the common good which is the foundation of socialism, and towards a worldview in which capitalism is virtuous inasmuch as it produces profits which can be put to use for that same common good. Capitalism is moral inasmuch as it services that common good, and is immoral if not.
This moral distinction lies at the heart of the Tax Justice movement – at the heart of the work of people like Richard Murphy, UKuncut, and elements of the New Economics Foundation. I’m sure they believe that they are at the vanguard of an exciting movement for social change, when in reality they are the end product of a shift in the discourse of the Left effected by the progenitors of the New Labour project.
Somewhere, Tony Blair is laughing at people who profess to despise him while simultaneously doing his bidding.