Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The centre starts to break apart in Britain

by Grant Morgan 26 November 2008 The UK article below (by Polly Toynbee of the Guardian) talks about British Labour returning to its social democratic roots in the wake of a revival of "redistributive" fiscal policies, while the Tories revert to being the naked defenders of the ultra-rich. While the article's conclusions appear rather overblown, it does look like British Labour is veering towards a somewhat more redistributive stance, even if only driven by the worst economic crisis in living memory. Polly's article ends by asserting that both British Labour and the Tories are "abandoning their centre-ground hug of death". Again, while this end conclusion appears rather overblown, it does point to an important general truth in times of crisis: The centre cannot be held. Every crisis generates centrifugal pressures on politicians which forces them to move away from the centre, both to the left and to the right. That is one of the main points made in my recent paper Protecting the people from the market crisis. What does this general truth mean for the left? It means that our vital job is to "go to the masses" with a plan to protect the people which starts to gain a popular following and intensifies the centrifugal pressures on New Zealand's two main parties and their camp followers, so that a significant space opens up for a broad left alternative to market politics. That is the real test facing everyone on the left. Those who rise to the challenge of the times will be those who begin to exert a significant pressure on the course of history.
At last, the party of social justice has woken up by Polly Toynbee from The Guardian 25 November 2008 The New Labour era is over - welcome to social democracy. Following in Obama's footsteps, it is suddenly safe to tax the rich and spend to protect jobs. Keynes and Roosevelt are the world's spirit guides through this crisis, because in a crisis social democracy is what works. Yesterday that faith allowed Labour to shed its disguise and follow its nature in a £20bn shower of spending. Yesterday saw the Conservatives strip off their sheep's clothing too, as George Osborne tore into the "unexploded tax bombshell" with gusto, merrily defending the aspirations of the wealthy. Now we can see both parties naked as nature intended, and at last comfortable in their own skins.

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