Friday, 7 January 2011

Justice for All

I don't read The Guardian because quite frankly it's for people whose idea of politics involves discussing child poverty over canapés but it's equally hard to avoid people posting or emailing links with "you've got to read this" quoting some self-important truth from a journalist.

I refuse to read anything by Polly Toynbee, as she is to journalism what Gary Glitter is to seventies nostalgia parties, but I gave it a go with yet another piece [Labour & Lib Dems need each other] about why Labour and Lib Dems need to align themselves to advance the Guardian's beloved "progressive" agenda.

There are some good points in it such as "Labour continues to behave like a majoritarian party even though party alignment has declined." but essentially is suffers from the same mushy-brained thinking that affects left-leaning journalists. It's starting a point is that Labour and Liberal Democrats are essentially after the same objectives.

It does this by painting both Labour and Lib Dems as progressive. I acknowledge that some Lib Dem members from the SDP tendency may be perfectly happy to align themselves with that terminology (and I bet they ARE Guardian readers!) but I'm not. I want to see reform and a fundamental restructuring of chances and aspiration and that is not what Labour are about. It is hard to tell what Labour are all about. It certainly isn't socialism.

If I had to pick, it wouldn't be social justice or individual freedoms. For all their protestations it's hard to tell the difference between them and the Tories anyway. Qiniteq, PFIs and Post Office closures would all attract their bile if done by a Tory administration but they weren't. If I had to pin-point a defining Labour policy it is probably the redistribution of wealth. The irony though is that they don't believe in redistributing it to those who need it, but to those they hope will support them... and like we saw with capital gains tax and the "light touch" with the banking industry, that includes redistributing it to the wealthy when they see political capital in it.

Perhaps it's because unlike most Labour politicians, I grew up in a single parent family, on a council estate, on income support and know what it's like to have nothing that leads me to believe that one of the most important duties of a government is to ensure that no-one is stuck in poverty by accident of their birth. It's why to me the pupil premium is more important than arguments over VAT which we all know Labour would have increased anyway. You don't get social justice by tinkering about "redistributing wealth" which Labour did for 13 years and ended up increasing the gap between rich and poor. You need a fundamental change to achieve that.

You see, I'm not a progressive. I'm a radical. Something Labour cannot and will not be able to deliver on and something Guardian journalists should make at least an attempt to understand if they want to write anything about the Lib Dems that we're meant to take seriously.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I guess there are two factions within the Labour party. There are the people who broadly agreed with the SDP, but didn't leave to join them because either they didn't think they could hold onto their Labour seat under an SDP banner or because they wanted to reform the party from within. The other faction is socialist, but socialists have lots of different ideas about how to achieve their goal, so it is probably about 5 or 6 different socialist factions.

I guess there might be some overlap between the left wing SDP faction of the Lib Dems and the right wing Blairites in the labour party on economic issues, but not on defence, law & order and so on.

The thing that seems to unite the Labour party is the idea that big government solutions with detailed regulations, regional bodies and Whitehall diktat can solve the country's problems; and the thing that seems to unite the Lib Debs is that this only makes things worse.