The big picture revealed

Published on Progress online, by Luke Akehurst, Nov. 30, 2011.

There are some weeks when the coincidence of political events means anyone watching the news can’t avoid seeing the big strategic picture of what is happening to society, who is causing it, and what the choices are facing the country. This week is one of those weeks. 

Tuesday’s Autumn Statement will have blown a huge hole in the economic narrative and credibility carefully crafted by the Tories during the summer of 2010 when we were distracted by a lengthy leadership election.

It is now very clear that our accusation that the cuts were too far and too fast has been proven true. By depressing growth and tax receipts, and increasing unemployment and welfare bills, they have slowed the reduction in the deficit they were supposed to be part of. A further quarter of a million face unemployment … //

… No wonder, and thank goodness, someone is standing up and fighting the coalition’s policies.

Because if we didn’t have the second event this week, Wednesday’s strike, then the message the public would take away from the Autumn Statement would be that the economy and our public services are going to hell in a handcart and there is nothing we can do about it this side of a 2015 general election other than just take the economic pain. That would be a disaster for democracy: people have to know that they can participate in the political process if they are angry about the state of the country.

The centre-left has a responsibility not just to develop realistic and electorally popular policies to help us win back power in 2015, but also to provide people with the framework in their communities for practical campaigning now against what is being done to them by policies. For some people that will involve joining Labour and getting involved in our campaigns, both in the elections between now and the general election, and on specific issues. For some it will mean joining a trade union and campaigning through it on workplace issues. For some it will mean campaigning as part of a social movement, whether it’s a new one like the Occupy protests, or a more structured organisation like London Citizens, or a local single-issue campaign to save a community facility. Some will do all three, and Labour needs to look at how we persuade people involved in union or community campaigns to also engage in electoral politics so they help get a change of government.

This week’s combination of events will have crystallised for many people that the coalition’s policies are an economic and social disaster for Britain, but that the November 30 strikes have shown an example to us all that through united, collective action we don’t have to just accept what is happening to our country as a fait accompli. (full text).


Building the new economy

Public sector strike: in numbers;

How seven years of cuts will transform the political landscape.

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