Building inclusive capitalism

I had this on the Progress website this week.

The challenge of our age, wrote Chuka Umunna in the June edition of Progress, is to generate growth that is sustainable over the long term, balanced across sectors and regions, and inclusive so that all can benefit. This is not capitalism red in tooth and claw. Indeed, it recalls the definition of socialism offered by Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager: ‘Everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.’



How will Cameron respond to One Nation Labour?

I had this on Labour Uncut last week:

Damian McBride is right. Jon Cruddas is too. Even Phillip Blond is.



Labour needs to be clear and confident on the case for EU membership

I had this in the European earlier this year.

“This is about democracy. This is about respecting the people. Successive generations have not had a say on the European debate. All parties have promised a referendum over the last couple of years. And all three are now against one. That is not right and undermines trust in the political process. This will fester until a proper open discussion is allowed. If we do not have a real referendum then anger and resentment will grow. We have to be bold and let the people into this conversation.”



What we talk about when we talk about Tony

 I had this on Labour Uncut earlier this year.

Labour’s new policy supremo, Jon Cruddas, says that Tony Blair got worse the longer he was prime minister. Phil Collins, the Demos chair, not the Genesis drummer, says the opposite: Blair improved in office.



David Miliband looks to Labour’s future in DC

I wrote this for Labour Uncut when I was on holiday in the USA recently.

On the day before his brother’s attendance at the royal wedding, David Miliband was in Washington DC. This followed his tentative steps back towards the philosophical front line with a speech at the LSE on the decline of the left in Europe. Then, at the centre for American progress, he addressed the politics of identity and fear. On both occasions, therefore, he tackled in an international context issues of profound domestic significance.



Let’s focus our attacks on the Tories, not the Liberal Democrats

That the Liberal Democrats are in a very different position is not in doubt. I think they’ve figured this out for themselves. Labour people don’t need to remind them that not only are they in government with the Conservatives but that this creates a risk of them splitting in some way. Defections of Liberal Democrat MPs and voters to Labour could be part of this mix. But the best way for Labour to encourage this is to concentrate on publicly putting forward the most impressive and progressive alternative programme for government possible and privately launching a Liberal Democrat charm offensive. To rub the noses of the Liberal Democrats in their difficulties is just to come across as crass and unlikely to build the confidence necessary for them to cross the floor.    

Jon Cruddas addresses these issues in his New Statesman interview:



Labour Party: The view from Virginia Beach

I departed the UK for a family holiday in the US the morning after the night of James Purnell’s resignation. I have been desperately trying to keep up with events in the UK, despite the time difference, family obligations and the lack of Adam Boulton. But, in effect, though the much anticipated meeting of the PLP is still to happen, my sense is that Labour’s fate was sealed before I boarded Virgin Atlantic. The Cabinet’s failure to follow Purnell’s lead means that Gordon Brown remains Labour’s destiny. 

Throughout the debates about Brown’s leadership, I have always maintained that Labour has three options: 1.) Back him, 2.) Replace him, 3.) Allow him to continue without backing him. The third of these options is the worst for Labour but the choices made by key figures in the Party over recent days have placed us definitively with this option, while effectively closing off the first of these options and not quite reaching the second. So, the transatlantic view from Virginia Beach is that of a “wounded elephant” – as a Labour MP described Brown to the Guardian – continuing to lead Labour.



Where now for Labour?

The Sunday Mail reports that support for Labour has fallen to 23 percent – the lowest since opinion polls began in 1943. If Labour polled this badly at a general election, the party would lose 200 seats to the Conservatives, who would hold a massive, carte blanche majority of 220. The survey was also the first to record that the majority of voters want Gordon Brown to stand down now as PM.

These are desperate times, indeed, for Labour and while the expenses revelations “will hurt the reputation of all politicians”, argues Andrew Rawnsley, “the damage is likeliest to be greatest to Labour at the next election”. Another poll supports Rawnsley’s view. There have been many highs and lows under PM Brown. But each low seems lower and more desperate than the last one. I didn’t think it was possible to go any lower than the McBride affair but recent days have probably managed it.



The Gaullist ascendency? I still prefer cross dressing

Richard Reeves is typically thought provoking in the current Prospect. He quotes an interesting line from a recent Liam Byrne speech. Labour’s “mantra should be really simple. We want a country of powerful people”. Given his excellent biography of John Stuart Mill, I wondered whether Reeves also found this line evocative of a famous line from Mill: “with small men no great thing can really be accomplished”.

“On the one side” of the Labour Party, argues Reeves, “stand those for whom the economic crisis demonstrates the need for a more muscular state; on the other, a diverse group”, including Byrne, “who want to use the state to give more power to individuals”. Similarly, Jesse Norman has previously divided Labour into Trimmers, Romantics and Deniers. Remarks from Matthew Taylor and David Miliband are said to define the Trimmers. “Instead of a Government-centric model of change in which we assume our rulers should be given the blame for what goes wrong and the responsibility for making it right”, claims Taylor, “we need a citizen-centric model in which we reinstate ourselves as the authors of our own collective destinies”. In other words: we want powerful people.



Equality Now

David Laws, Greg Clark and Jon Cruddas crossed swords over equality in the UK tonight at an event in parliament to launch a new Centre Forum publication. A cross party consensus emerged in favour of equality but Cruddas demands John Rawls’ democratic equality, while Laws and Clark seemed satisfied with the less exacting principle of equal opportunities. In fact, the dividing line in British politics over equality may come back to Rawls to such an extent that it is entirely captured in the second principle of justice offered in A Theory of Justice (1971). This principle holds that social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that:

a) they are to be of the greatest benefit to the least-advantaged members of society (the difference principle).



The future of the Labour Party

“This was the week in which Labour lost the next election”, according to Matthew d’Ancona. A coalition between Labour and the Lib Dems is the best response, thinks Sunder Katwala, while Matthew Taylor suggests a, “radical departure from past practice. How about declaring a unilateral political ceasefire?” John Prescott was spitting feathers in a wholly absurd and unnecessary fashion with Taylor. Presumably, he is at least as angry with Katwala. But, at least, Prescott wants to fight this war; the next general election.

Danny Finkelstein suggests that Ed Balls is briefing against Ed Miliband as part of the next war; the race to be the next leader of the Labour Party. Balls, allegedly, wants to be the candidate of the left in this contest, though I can’t see him usurping Jon Cruddas from this position. Given that Labour could well swing leftwards in opposition, as a Blair/Brown backlash occurs against a backdrop of continued economic struggles, this is a position from which Cruddas could be victorious.