UnknownSo, let me get this right: according to Yvette Cooper, Labour were far too left wing; according to Len McCluskey, Labour were far too right wing; according to Tony Blair it was a lack of aspiration; whilst according to Peter Mandelson, well, it was a lack of Peter Mandelson.

The reality, of course, is that at the last election Labour were neither too right nor too left, unaspirational or otherwise, they were confused and, at times, insincere. And that confusion and insincerity manifested itself most profoundly in their utterances about economics. What Labour did was embrace the Tory economic doctrine of austerity then try to put a leftish compassionate spin on it – they meant well, but the end result was that people either didn’t understand or didn’t believe what they were hearing, or, just thought, well, we’ll vote Conservative because they’ll do it better.

It is true that the party that tells the best story about the economy usually wins the election – and sadly until Labour adopt an economic principle that it genuinely believes in and can genuinely campaign around, then it will continue to flounder.

For some in the Labour movement, this means adopting the narrative of the right-wing – to be pro-business and enterprise, and talk about how they are at one with the aspirations of people to be rich.

They’re wrong. The role of the Labour Party is not to simply pander to what it believes will make it popular, it is more important than that, it must do better – and that means actually attempting to come up with a more imaginative message about the economy that actually accords with the values that most members of the Labour Party believe in, values which have sadly been lost in the desperate attempt to appear relevant to what it perceives to be those who are not instinctively empathetic towards it.

For me, it starts with basic principles and attempting to seize the initiative away from the Conservatives and neb-liberals. They peddle a particular narrative and are happy that to to the average person, economics is all about business and the economy should be judged by fairly crude figures such as employment rates, GDP and growth.

It’s a profoundly simplistic view, a bit like saying a football team is just about the strikers – sure, nothing wrong with having great strikers, but, it will only get you so far, but it won’t win you the league. Business is only a part of economics, and profit is just one particular outcome – it is not the outcome and it shouldn’t be the only aim of economic policy.

What Labour need to do is put together a set of economic principles and values that take it far beyond the simple neoliberal myths and persuades people that there is a different way, a better way.

Now, there are those who write on these pages who have greater knowledge of economics than me – but, I’d start with the factors of production by that I mean the traditional elements of land, labour, capital and enterprise.

With land (and I concede that what I’m about to say, doesn’t tally with the traditional economists view of land), Labour must remind the people that the economy is about the country as a whole – it is not about pockets of the South East and the City. Labour needs to be robust about having a national economy – it is not dangerously left wing to say that having 10-15% unemployment rates in the North East is unacceptable even if the City is doing well – nor is it dangerously right wing to say, I’m proud to be British, because as a nation we have a long and proud history of economic success – the British people are enterprising and hard-working and if they are given the tools they will thrive – Labour should embrace that principle and in particular the fact that it is the ordinary people who built this country.

Turning to people, or labour – the Labour Party has, in recent years, made heavy weather of representing either the traditional working class or appealing to entrepreneurs. Some in the Labour movement are still more comfortable with the concept of class war than they are class harmony, whilst others are happy to neglect the needs of the working class in their desire to attract ‘middle England’ – Labour must grow beyond this and become the party which is best able to forge a partnership between workers and management, middle England and everywhere else; it must come up with ideas for investment and training that will excite those who are deemed business leaders, and inspire working people. Training is vastly important – and although Labour had quite a few good ideas about apprenticeships and vocational training at the last election, what it failed to do, was put them across in the context of an overall economic message. The economy isn’t just about business it is about people. Personally, I am big proponent of works councils and other corporatist structures that will encourage people from different sectors of a company or organisation to work together – is this left wing or right wing? I’m not sure, but it sure as hell works in Germany.

Moving on to capital – Labour must establish that capital isn’t just about banking and that the banks aren’t there just to make massive profits and dish out bonuses, they are there to protect our money, invest it wisely and ensure that capital in various forms flows through an economy. Labour mustn’t flinch from explaining that investment by government is, often the most effective way of spreading capital and investing in all of us – bizarrely the notion of building hospitals and schools became almost something to sneer at during the last election – that is just wrong.

Nor, must Labour be afraid of enterprise, but, it must establish the fact that there is a difference between enterprise that benefits an individual at the expense of a community and enterprise that benefits all of us – Labour must embrace the green agenda in sustainable enterprise and it must foster a sense of community and society. When it comes to enterprise as well – Labour mustn’t shy away from the fact that the government can sometimes act like a entrepreneur, and that just like a businessman may seek to borrow and invest to make his business grow, a government can do the same to improve the lot of the nation as a whole – in the age of austerity, borrowing has become a dirty word – why? Nothing wrong with borrowing to invest, especially if the conditions are right, which they are now.

These aren’t left-wing ideas, this isn’t Marxist-Leninist theory, I’m not proposing that Labour suddenly adopts policies about mass-renationalisation and state control of everything – I’m suggesting that Labour needs to adopt an economic message that speaks to everyone, and has running through it fairness and equality of opportunity, because only then can it start to expose the unimaginative, greed based fallacy that is the economic policy of the right.

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#1022: 1980, The Undertones, There Goes Norman

by Ray_North on May 18, 2015

Say one thing about the Lib-Dems and their predecessor Liberal Party, they’ve had some spanking leaders – from Gladstone and Lloyd-George, through to Joe Grimmond marching to the sound of gunfire and David Steel, preparing for Government, even mad Captain Ashdown was a towering figure – ok, Nick Clegg has been a bit of a let-down, but you can’t say he’s been insignificant.

Now, it’s a choice between Tim and, er, Norman.

The poor bastards. Haven’t the Lib-Dems suffered enough without having to endure the indignity of being led by Tim or Norman.

As it happens I know them both a bit (not well, they didn’t make my tea) and I can definitely say that they are both thoroughly decent blokes – nice bloke Tim and nice bloke Norman. Tim is very, very enthusiastic and admirably (I’m struggling here), well, decent and nice. Norman, is also enthusiastic, though quietly so, and admirably worthy – he is also, sigh, pretty dull.

Which is something you definitely can’t say about the greatest band that ever came out of Derry City – I love this song, and I thank Norman Lamb for giving me an excuse to pick it as my STLAS.
He’s out tonight (there goes Norman)
He’ll poke out your eyes (there goes Norman)

Not, of course, Norman Lamb, because he’s too nice.
I dedicate it to him.

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What the Next Labour Leader Should Say…

May 18, 2015

As Labour faces an existential crisis after a disastrous general election, we now have four months of hand wringing as Labour make the important decision of choosing their next Leader and Deputy Leader. This new appointment is possibly the most important decision of the history of the Labour Party. At present, Labour are in tatters. […]

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Week 20: Hero – Steven Gerrard

May 18, 2015

This week’s hero is the retiring Liverpool and former England skipper – Steven Gerrard. I was listening to a radio phone-in the other week; the question being asked was ‘what would Steven Gerrard’s legacy be?’ and time and again, in response football fans from teams other than Liverpool were ringing up saying that Steven Gerrard […]

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Week 20: Prat – Chuka Umunna

May 18, 2015

This week, the Streatham MP wins our award for being the biggest prat of the last seven days A week ago, Chuka Umunna looked like the favourite to become the next leader of the Labour Party: clearly getting the nod from the Prince of Darkness himself, Lord Mandelson. Everything looked to be running in his […]

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Week 20: Villain – David Cameron

May 17, 2015

This Week’s Villain of the Week Award goes to Prime Minister, David Cameron for setting the grim tone of the next 5 years Back in 2004 when George W Bush was re-elected for a second term over John Kerry in a closely fought and in the end narrow election, he declared that he had ‘political […]

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#1021: 1969, BB King, The Thrill Is Gone

May 16, 2015

A legend is gone, that’s for sure. The sad news of BB King’s death at the age of 89, sees the loss of one of the last remaining blues greats.  Buddy Guy is still going strong, as is Taj Mahal, but as the years go by those with real connections to that extraordinary musical style […]

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What Next for the Liberal Democrats?

May 14, 2015

Paddy Ashdown. David Lloyd George. William Gladstone. David Steel. Jo Grimond. Nick Clegg…your boys and girls took a hell of a beating… The biggest loser on election night was the Liberal Democrats. A party that prides itself on its resilience was reduced to a parliamentary husk. The Lib Dems are now left with a meagre […]

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Welcome to the Tory Vision of Orwellian Britain

May 13, 2015

According to media reports, David Cameron is going to tell his National Security Council this as he announces plans to crack down on radicalisation:- “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have […]

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Shy Lefties and the Tory Assumption

May 12, 2015

This afternoon the place where I work is having a champagne celebration of the election result. I don’t work at Conservative Party Central Office, but sometimes it feels like it.  I have had to endure weeks of a straight up assumption that I vote Tory and that a Labour minority government in an arrangement with […]

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New Labour Criticises Ed Miliband For Failing To Be ‘Aspirational’ – But What Does ‘Aspiration’ Actually Mean?

May 12, 2015

It began with almost indecent haste – it was almost as though the Ed Sceptics in the Labour Party had already decided on their attack before we’d even had time to pick our jaws up off the floor after hearing the exit polls last Thursday. And, the thrust of their attack seems to be that […]

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#1020: 2014, Hiss Golden Messenger, Mahogany Dread

May 12, 2015

This is one of those songs that has got under my skin in a way I can’t quite fully explain. Bitter-sweet, resigned but hopeful, musically quite simple but with a real warmth and depth to it. I love the voice, probably most on that opening line ‘Well I can’t go back, I know that now’. […]

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Should Labour Go Short or Long?

May 11, 2015

Following the shortest resignation in history, Nigel Farage is back as the leader of UKIP this afternoon.   The Lib Dems (or what is left of them) have announced that they will resolve their two bald men fighting over a comb leadership contest by the middle of July.  But what of the official opposition.  What of […]

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#11: The Secret MP – A New Member Of Parliament

May 11, 2015

I am the new Secret MP. But, you can call me Douglas. My friends call me Deadly Doug, due to my eurosceptic views, pro fox hunting, pro austerity, One Nation Tory ideology. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I am now a Member of Parliament somewhere in the South West. I defeated my rival Keith, incumbent […]

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#1019: 1972, David Bowie, Five Years

May 11, 2015

Five years. We have the Tories for five more years… Take it away, David Bowie… Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in… We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes We’ve got five years, what a surprise We’ve got five […]

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The Labour Party Need 2020 Vision

May 11, 2015

The Labour Party is dead. Long live the Labour Party. As Labour faces an existential crisis after a shattering election defeat, a period of navel gazing and endless discussions about whether they are more electable as a left-wing or centre ground party has begun. Welcome to the battle for the soul of the Labour Party. […]

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Week 19: Prat – the Pollsters

May 11, 2015

This week’s Prat award goes to the Pollsters, yep, every last one of them. I don’t like polling much – I understand its relevance, but I fear that one of the reasons why our politicians are so unimaginative is because they spend most of their lives in terror of how the polls will react to […]

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Week 19: Villain – The Tory Press

May 10, 2015

This week’s villain of the week award goes to the Tory supporting, right-wing newspapers, who once again manipulated and scaremongered the British electorate into voting for a Conservative Government. And so it came to pass. The Tories have won the election, with considerable help from their friends in the media. The British press coverage of […]

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#1018: 1970, John Lennon, Working Class Hero

May 10, 2015

A post election song. I don’t know whether John Lennon wrote this as a reaction to the Conservative general election victory that year, but the raw hurt of this song sums up my mood following Thursday. The Etonian toffs have won: “Know your place, little man“. It is a great, bitter-angry song: Lennon at his most Dylan-esque. […]

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Week 19: Hero – The Alberta New Democratic Party

May 10, 2015

This week’s Hero of the Week Award goes to a centre-left party who shows how the left can win in the most unlikely places This has been a grim week for those of us on the progressive left in the UK.   Polls which had promised that an election on a knife edge might produce a […]

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General Election 2015: The Guilty Men

May 10, 2015

We’re not comfortable on these pages pointing fingers and wringing our hands – nor do we gain any satisfaction whatsoever from stroking our beards (metaphorically and literally) and saying ‘we told you so…’ but we did. Indeed the first thing I did after the coalition was formed, was resign my Lib-Dem membership, I then tried […]

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Election 2015: Pollsters, Dashed Hope and the Bigger Picture

May 9, 2015

If you’ve read the ‘Why’ post on the blog you will know that the deep origins of this blog are in the trauma experienced by those of us who founded it, in the 1992 general election result.   After what had seemed like an unending Tory government 1992 seemed like it would be the watershed moment […]

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The Great British Political Divide

May 9, 2015

Thursday 7th May will be remembered as the day where the electorate gave the British political map a huge shake up. We have witnessed a brutal set of election results that saw many of the established Lib Dem and Labour figures of this generation lose their seats (Alexander, Cable, Murphy, Laws, Kennedy, Davey and Balls). […]

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Pollsters Are Full of Shit

May 8, 2015

Honestly.  They should all fuck off.

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Shit.

May 8, 2015
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#1017: 2014, George Ezra, Budapest

May 7, 2015

Election night, election night, election night???? What to pick??? Er, er, er??? I know – something contemporary, something that the kids quite like and something that sort of defines 2014 – George Ezra does the trick. It’s a lovely song this, and George Ezra seems like quite a talented guy, his voice is rich and […]

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How I’ll Be Voting in Bermondsey and Old Southwark

May 6, 2015

Of the five of us writing on how we will vote in our individual constituencies, my piece will come as the least surprising: I’m a dyed-in-the-wool progressive democratic socialist. I also believe that the forces and resources of privilege in this country are so great that unless those with progressive values unite, we will always […]

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How I’ll be voting in East Devon

May 6, 2015

I’m a liberal-green-social democrat, or something like that, so how to vote? And how to vote in a Tory seat where there’s little prospect of removing the pretty repulsive sitting MP? To get to the point, I’ve decided to vote Labour. On paper a futile vote in this constituency but in this election, where the […]

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How I Will Be Voting In Wrexham

May 6, 2015

Voting at the general election has always been a special thing for me – the first vote I cast was for my Dad, the second was for my boss. And as it happens every vote I’ve cast since, has been for the Lib-Dems. That won’t be happening tomorrow. In some ways, I’ve been thinking about […]

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How I Will Be Voting In Hackney South and Shoreditch

May 6, 2015

There isn’t much doubt as to the outcome in my constituency.   Labour’s Meg Hillier will win comfortably.  In 2010 she was some 33% ahead of her nearest rival, the Lib Dem candidate.  Given the polls indicate that there has been a decent swing to Labour in London, her result tomorrow may be even more impressive. […]

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