Tasks of the Left

Published on Left Futures, by Andy Newman, April 8, 2012.

… In fact, the Labour Party has frequently needed to revise and reconfigure its political compass in response to changing events, that has confounded the divisions between left and right … //

… The current danger is that the Blairite party-within-a-party ‘Progress’ is seeking to prevent any radical debate about how Labour needs to respond to the changed world: they just want to party like it’s 1997.  

The left currently lack any organisation vehicle for pursuing such a debate, but we are aligned with the aspirations of the major unions. That is a huge strength. Ed Miliband’s leadership also provides a real opportunity for the left to again find its feet within the party.

The tasks should be clear: firstly, we need to develop an electorally credible but radical programme for a Labour government, that can build a sufficiently broad coalition of support to convincingly win a general election. The left must associate itself totally with the project of winning back power as soon as possible.

To do that we need to consider the changed world we live in; where neo-liberal economics are discredited, where the locus of economic power is moving from the USA to China; and where the states that have best weathered the current economic crisis are arguably those who have sustained economic some sovereignty and retained a state owned footprint in the real economy.

This is challenging because continued participation in the EU is likely to remain both necessary and desirable, so constructive engagement with the EU is also likely to require a pan-European campaign against the neo-liberal assumptions now embedded into the EU.

The left now needs to be as bold as Ernest Bevin was in proposing Keynesianism to the Party, and as bold as Tony Crosland was with his publication of The Future of Socialism in 1956. Perhaps our aim should be, like Stuart Holland’s 1974 book The Socialist Challenge, to set the framework for how a government committed to egalitarianism and social justice could use the available levers of parliamentary power to harness our economy to benefit and empower the majority of working people.

The Labour Party needs to dream of being truly Labour again. (full text).

Link: The future of the USA – 2012-2016 (Part 2) – The unstoppable US economic spiral: Recession/depression/inflation, on Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin, December 16, 2011.

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