• How Did It Come to This?

    It is easy to conclude, as we watch Labour’s internecine warfare, that we are witnessing the party’s death throes.  There seems to be no escape route, no compromise solution, that will achieve a resolution of the bitter dispute between the parliamentary party and a leader who was voted into office by the membership but is regarded as anathema by his parliamentary colleagues and accordingly refuses to vacate the leadership.  Such is the depth of that schism, and of the ill-feeling it has engendered, that a parting of the ways seems the only possible outcome.

    The question usually debated is as to who is responsible for the party’s current plight.  But if a split is to be avoided, either after or in the absence of a coup by the parliamentary party, a more fundamental question has to be asked and answered – how did it come to this?   How did such a division emerge between those who are supposed to be working for the same objective – the election of a Labour government?  Or, to put it more tendentiously, how did Labour MPs become so divorced from the wishes and ambitions of those they claim to represent?  Both, or perhaps better to say all, parties to the dispute need to think about the answer to these questions about the roots of the dispute.

    The answers from all quarters will of course be coloured by the failure to win the last two general elections and what are seen as the dismal prospects of winning the next, whenever it might arrive.  But we need to go back further – right back to 1979 and further – if we are to understand what has really happened.

    The first point to register is that an enquiry that takes us all the way back to the advent of Mrs Thatcher and to the origins of what we can now confidently describe as the 40 year-long neo-liberal revolution will mean little to anyone under the age of about 50.  Only someone born before about 1970 can understand the extent of the change that was ushered in by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and that had been prefigured in the writings of Hayek and Nozick and Milton Friedman.

    That change meant a huge transformation in the politics of most western countries.  It meant that government was no longer seen as the bringer of hope and succour, as the guarantor of a shared understanding of what membership of society implied by way of decent standards of living, and health, housing and education.

    “There is no such thing as society,” Mrs Thatcher famously declared.  We were instead to repose our confidence in the “free” market.  That market was infallible and was not to be second-guessed.  Government intervention in its workings could only be counter-productive.   For most of our current politicians, the society in which they have grown up implicitly accepted these propositions.

    Even on the left, these nostrums proved seductive, especially when society as a whole seemed supportive of them and when accepting them seemed to offer the only way to electoral success.  New Labour was a clear manifestation of this acceptance; the role of the left was thought to require only a more competent and compassionate human face to be worn by what were – if not eternal – at least verities for our time.

    That is the world in which most members of the PLP have grown up and fashioned their politics.  By definition, they seem themselves as the vanguard, the thinkers and the professionals in the party.  They are convinced that they know better, and their experience of the electoral and parliamentary battle convinces them that this is so.

    What they do not seem to know, however, is the extent to which their views have been conditioned by the neo-liberal revolution, unannounced, that has taken place around them for the past 40 years.  It has, after all, created the world they know.  They are unaware, not only of this, but of the fact that for many Labour voters, the harsh realities of the “free” market have not produced an appreciation of its supposed virtues but a sense that no one understands or cares about the losses they have suffered as a result of its ministrations.

    They are also unaware that, just as the way to neo-liberalism was cleared by an intellectual revolution which became visible only when the politicians got into the act, so there is a new revolution under way – a reaction against the increasingly evident deficiencies of a society that has undervalued its democracy and allowed it to be subverted by those who have used the “free” market to deliver an unfair and widening imbalance in power and influence.  Their task now, surely, is not to bemoan that counter-revolution but to give it practical help and political effect.

    So, what does this analysis mean for Labour’s current troubles?  It means that the blame cannot be placed on someone who, without necessarily being ideally cast for the role, has found himself as the chosen spokesman for those who have been neglected – even by their self-proclaimed champions – for far too long and who now recognise the possibility that the longstanding neo-liberal orthodoxy, that has harmed them so much, can be brought to an end.  The PLP must ask itself how it has missed the opportunity and responsibility to help that process along.

    Bryan Gould

    16 July 2016.





  1. Tom Hunsdale says: July 16, 2016 at 3:42 amReply

    Very good analysis.

    Corbyn has been chosen quite simply because he is the only one in the party who actually speaks for the Labour members. It is obvious to most that people are sick of political parties whose only real difference is the colour of the tie they wear.
    If the PLP can’t see this then it is they who are responsible for the death of the Labour Party. Corbyn is at the vanguard, those treacherous fools trying to depose him are Luddites.

    Andrew Little would do very well to wake up, study what is happening in the UK and the USA and take appropriate action. Neoliberalism is in it’s death throes. It might be a long, slow and possibly very painful death but it is underway. Sadly this is likely because those who are currently in charge cannot believe they are fatally diseased. The PLP had a wonderful opportunity to unite behind Corbyn and destroy the Conservatives for quite a few years while they are in total disarray. Instead they turned the gun to their own heads. The New Zealand Labour Party are currently doing the same thing.

    There is no “centre ground”. That shifted to the right a long time ago.

    • Janet Beale says: July 16, 2016 at 6:55 pmReply

      Thank you Tom,a great response to Bryan Gould

    • Derek Smith says: July 16, 2016 at 8:37 pmReply

      Good throughout, with stunning final point

  2. Sanctuary says: July 16, 2016 at 5:39 amReply

    The only explaination I can come up with for the behaviour of the PLP in the UK is it seems to be afflicted by a messianism that is peculiar to late era Blairism. Tony Blair himself has become messianic since he found God praying about Iraq, and amongst his acolytes in the UK PLP and it’s cheerleaders in the liberal media (http://www.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/pdf/JeremyCorbyn/Cobyn-Report-FINAL.pdf) it seems a similar dogmatic demagoguery has taken hold.

    Mr Gould you will be better placed to comment on this than me, but I also think that in the UK the Westiminster system has become deeply decadent. The Chilcot report reveals a political establishment that is shambolically amateurish and semingly no clue as to it’s proper constitutional functions. The institutions of the unwritten constitution seem to no longer function effectively in day to day government. The revolt by the membership against the PLP seems to be just part of a wider story of a general revolt against a corrupted, decadent, and sclerotic political class that increasingly exists only to prop up the zombie economics of neoliberalism.

  3. L. Blaney says: July 16, 2016 at 8:44 amReply

    Let us say that neo- liberalism was well suited to elements of the media whose right wing swerve has proved so influential . But will this diminish in the digital age as the upcoming and somewhat left behind generation become activists as much by the push of a button collectively as their forebears were influenced by the the sun wot wunnit !

  4. Joe Anderson says: July 16, 2016 at 10:01 amReply

    “Or, to put it more tendentiously, how did Labour MPs become so divorced from the wishes and ambitions of those they claim to represent?” MPs claim to represent their constituents. They are their constituencies’ representatives, not their CLPs’ delegates to the PLP.

    Whilst opinion polling is not perfect, MPs’ views are often probably more in line with (or at least more aware of) their constituents’ views than members are.

    There appears to be a divide between MPs and the membership. But there is also a big divide between the membership/selectorate and the electorate. If MPs priorities being representatives of the selectorate above being representatives of the electorate, as many members and Corbyn supporters imply they want, the latter divide is going to lead to disaster. How do you reconcile that?

    • Chris horsfield says: July 16, 2016 at 8:25 pmReply

      I wonder about the size of this schism between the party and the electorate. In independent polls, there is always a large majority in favour of strengthening the nhs, and renationalising the railways. More recently, renationalising the utilities is becoming popular. It is true that unilateral nuclear disarmament is much less popular, but apart from that, Corbyn’s policies are more in tune with the electorate than those of the PLP. The press, of course, never present his policies to the electorate. They just tell us that he’s unelectable.

    • Bob-B says: July 16, 2016 at 11:19 pmReply

      There are perhaps two divides rather than one here. The first divide, describes why the left do not see a ‘disaster’ as you describe it.

      The view of the moderate left, such as Corbyn and his allies; is that having power is meaningless if you do exactly the same things your ‘opponents’ would have done. You might as well let them be elected to do it themselves. By creating a clear and distinct opposition, then staying on-message and persuading people to support it; you give people a distinct reason to vote for you instead of them. In addition, you may force your opponents to alter policy toward your popular viewpoint.

      Thatcher succeeded in this by driving Labour to the moderate and hard-right of the Blair years. May has declared an end to the current Austerity policy; if this is true, is a success by Corbyn.

      The moderate-right and hard-right of labour view electoral majority as the endgame, and not simply as a method of achieving the implementation of policy.

      The other divide more directly relates to your last point. Labour MPs were voted for by constituents, and they have a mandate from those constituents to be an MP. However, their mandate to be a /Labour/ MP is derived by their support from the CLP and national memberships. If they cannot represent both of these groups, they need to either leave the labour party, or trigger a by-election to allow their constituents to decide whether they accept the new policy direction.

      To attempt to sabotage either side of this perceived conflict to benefit yourself or others, is to act without integrity. This inherently demonstrates one to be unfit for public office.

      • Joe Anderson says: July 19, 2016 at 8:30 amReply

        Except it is just literally not the case that a moderate or soft left Labour government would be the same as the Tories’. I have always found this one of the most bizarre claims from the hard left (or whatever you want to call them) We wouldn’t have had a EU referendum had we won – our economy wouldn’t be tanking because of Brexit. Local government would have a fairer settlement. Had we won in 2010, you wouldn’t have had the slash and burn in public services. If we lost in 1997, you’d have had no rebuilding of schools and hospitals, no minimum wage. We could and should of done more, but it is a nonsense (although one repeated so often that people believe it) that there’d be no major difference between a non-Corbynist Labour Government and a Tory one.

        • Bryan Gould says: July 19, 2016 at 10:11 pmReply

          Except that that is not what I say. I do not argue that New Labour was as bad as or the same as the Tories. What I do say is that they were so conditioned by the neo-liberal intellectual framework that they implicitly accepted that they proved incapable of thinking beyond it. The best they could manage was to soften the edges of the “free” market; they could not even stomach a moderate Keynesianism as an alternative to austerity. Many of them did and still do promise to be as tough as the Tories in cutting benefits, cutting public spending, and putting the deficit first. They couldn’t even understand why these positions were anathema to many who remembered what Labour was like before the neo-liberal revolution. Kind regards, Bryan

    • Assem Khouzam says: July 16, 2016 at 11:19 pmReply

      Bryan Gould was right that the mood in the country especially among working and middle classes is changing. neoliberal policies have failed the 90% of the population with progressively widening gap between the richest and the poorest. The vote to leave the EU was a message to the ruling elite more than a vote to leave. And the surge in membership of the Labour party is a confirmation of that. The majority join to support Corbyn who is a promise of a change. So you might find that the disconnect between Corbyn and the wider electorate is not as wide as you think. I do agree completely with Bryan Gould that MPs have lost touch with their constituents. They behave as if they know better than their constituents what’s best for them!

    • Phil O'Keefe says: July 17, 2016 at 12:06 amReply

      I don’t think there’s one electorate in play. Labour have lost their underlying support in a broad section of the working class. Scotland may be lost to Labour forever, though bizarrely while Corbyn is popular with SNP voters in Scotland, Scottish Labour are calling for him to stand down. Perversely blaming him for their own failings. But many vote for UKIP out of frustration and protest, or do not vote at all and it is not these votes the PLP look to. They are looking to win votes from the right.

      Corbyn has encouraged many from the lost Labour base to rejoin the party, feeling the Blair era is dying out. He seeks to appeal to regain lost Labour voters and the fact that 1000,000s have joined the party is a sign he may be successful in getting even more to put a cross in a box.

  5. @ambientmike says: July 16, 2016 at 10:07 amReply

    In the same way that Corbyn cannot be blamed for finding himself in the position of being the most popular electable asset the Labour Party has and the reactionary backlash to that from one large section of the PLP, so too the PLP should only be given so much of the blame. In that sense this article doesn’t go far enough. The inertia that is caused by a parliamentary candidate system that doesn’t automatically initiate a reselection process for MPs between election needs to be tackled next. To continue to allow this inertia to let a Labour parliamentary candidate go unchallenged for 20 years or more just because they’re an MP is an affront to democracy. Labour members need to change it quickly.

    • Phil O'Keefe says: July 17, 2016 at 12:10 amReply

      Unison have voted in favour of the principle of mandatory reselection. Hopefully this will be passed at conference. The NEC election going on now is critical in my opinion.

  6. Mike says: July 16, 2016 at 10:20 amReply

    Exactly. Makes the narrative of left v right no longer valid. Neo liberalism v new/ civic politics. Difficult concept it seems especially for the current PLP to get their heads round. Listen to John Macdonnal and economists advising him. Only hope for the poor and disadvantaged and unequal. This is what the debate is about not any personality lead politics.

  7. Steve says: July 16, 2016 at 11:22 amReply

    This is an excellent article which everyone should read. Unfortunately, I suspect it will only be read by those least in need of its message.

    Maybe it’s because I’m a newbie to the party – joined in 2015, started voting Labour in 2010 – but to me, this doesn’t look like an endemic or inherent problem. There is a tendency to treat it as one – to describe Labour as “a broad church” and decry anyone who suggests that such a church would still need walls. But to many of us, phrases like “the right wing of the Labour party” are just uncomfortable, almost oxymoronic.

    What we’ve seen over the course of the neo-liberal project is a Labour party that has convinced itself that moving to the right is the only way to win elections. The problem is… they never have. Sure, people will point to Blair, but Blair sold himself as a moderate socialist in 1997. Once he was in power, his true politics began to trickle through and people were angry about it, but at that point, all he really had to do was to convince them that he was better than the Tory alternative (which he was). So a centre-right Labour government can avoid losing elections, but a centre-right Labour *party* cannot really win them.

    I suspect that the individuals within the party who want Labour to stay away from the left even if it makes them less electable are relatively few. There are a number of figures who wield a lot of clout and have been quite ruthless in pushing candidates out so that their preferred candidates have a seat to stand in (see the history of Angela Eagle to see who I’m talking about in this case).

    The point though is that, however much these people might want to present the transformation of Labour as something that’s so arduous as to be impossible, in reality, it wouldn’t even be that hard. It’s just a matter of identifying the individuals and making sure that they don’t have disproportionate influence.

    I suspect that these people know that we’re (non-violently, non-threateningly, entirely legally) coming for them. They are coiling and spitting and chucking the furniture at us, not because they expect to win, but just in the hope that we’ll decide that getting rid of them is too much trouble. Recent efforts at mass disenfranchisement suggest a scorched earth approach – we have seen anti-democratic conduct from the NEC that is only going to leave the party irrepairably damaged if it succeeds, so one must conclude that that is what they want. Blair himself said that he wouldn’t want a left-wing Labour party in government – I can’t think of anything much more damning than that.

    Whether or not people think Corbyn is the best leader for the Labour Party, I hope people can recognise that, right now, he’s the only future they have. Not because he will be a great leader, but because he represents a real will among the membership to clean up the grubbier parts of the party. If he doesn’t win, we will be no more electable, no more credible, but we will be facing the wrong way and heading further into the abyss.

  8. Liz Smith says: July 16, 2016 at 11:39 amReply

    Wish you were here to help. I live in Dagenham and I’m sure you are aware of Ms Hodges role in all of this. Many of us are heartbroken that this opportunity is surely lost.

    • Phil O'Keefe says: July 17, 2016 at 12:18 amReply

      I don’t think it’s lost. Corbyn will win, so long as the High Court doesn’t decide that democracy really is at an end in the UK. Of the 172 MPs many are keeping their powder dry and 20 MPs took no part in the no confidence vote. 40 sided with Corbyn. Given the choice before them it’s far from certain that a decent number will not work with him. Others may give up the whip. It can’t be helped but it can be positive. Eventually.

  9. Helen Bentley says: July 16, 2016 at 12:29 pmReply

    Well said Bryan.
    This is just what I have been attempting to articulate.
    Hope all is well with you.

  10. Terry Kelly says: July 16, 2016 at 4:23 pmReply

    Whatever happens over the next couple of months the genie is now out of the bottle and it will not be going back in, “armies cannot stand against an idea whose time has come” Victor Hugo. Whatever twists and turns we see from the party elite, no matter how many underhand stunts they pull with the eligibility to vote rules, the time is fast approaching when the membership of 600,000 and growing will all be eligible to vote and the Labour Party will be rebuilt and refreshed. Those who don’t get on board will be left behind, bring it on.

  11. Alan Robinson says: July 16, 2016 at 5:29 pmReply

    Good analysis. The reason the right in the PLP and media is so entrenched is that the Blair populism didn’t take the opportunities to claw back ground on issues such a public ownership, so easier battles were engaged, and the generation which grew up with that in Westminster, or took office under Blair, were usually going with the grain of what the neo-liberals and Capitalist apologists were content with. All that began to change when the ruling class began blatantly to make the poor pay after 2008.
    This is a new phase of class warfare, and the bulk of the PLP are used to appeasement when it’s no longer available as a strategy for their professed objective of serving the less well off.

  12. Stephen says: July 16, 2016 at 5:52 pmReply

    Hello. I agree with the analysis on all but one point: I’m 33 and far from these concepts being foreign, they seem to me more salient than ever. My issue is, I still assume members of the PLP must know something I don’t. If I can see the obviousness of your arguments Bryan, surely MPs can too?! So why do they do what they do? could they really be so uneducated?
    I’m left thinking they are either entirely self interested or there really is a problem with JC and JM.

    I struggle to believe they don’t understand this analysis. I prefer to think they disagree. But you suggest they’re too entrenched to see outside the box.

    I’m no intellectual heavyweight; but if what you say holds true, I might just start campaigning myself.

    Any response gratefully received.

    • Bryan Gould says: July 16, 2016 at 7:59 pmReply

      I think Labour MPs are unable to free themselves from an ideological straitjacket that they have gradually assumed over the years. Bryan

      • Henry Johnson says: July 17, 2016 at 6:42 amReply

        This debate is a breath of fresh air, so thankyou for that. On this point, though, I too have a nagging sense that there must be something else at play here. I realise that one of the main thrusts of the article is that most of the PLP cannot think outside the “market knows all” box, but I also know from my own experience that sometimes people can be almost impossible to work with. The disgraceful press coverage means we just can’t find out.

  13. Alexander Muir says: July 16, 2016 at 7:27 pmReply

    Eric Arthur Blair foresaw this debauchle more than eighty years ago. Anyone who’s read his documentary: The Road to Wigan Pier, should be familiar with its warning about Labour Party politicians educated at private school level. Just as he was right about everything else.

  14. William Taylor says: July 16, 2016 at 8:12 pmReply

    Stimulating piece and I agree with the ideas it expresses. I think too the lobby industry has far too much power and these MPs and, indeed lords and ladies, put vested interests before the people. Socialism is about decency and fairness but ‘Greed is good’ has been replaced by ‘Greediest is best’. Its not just the younger generation that subscribes to this distainful greed, older MPs and Labour members have willfully chosen to embrace it, together with austerity and conflict, war overseas and divisions at home.

  15. Amanda says: July 16, 2016 at 8:18 pmReply

    Good article and I so wish those in PLP fighting Corbyn’s push to get us all out of a continued decline for the majority as wealth inequality sky rockets (along with banking and corporate hegemony) would let go of their egos and open their minds to reality.
    This discussion between Chris hedges and John Ralston Saul is very enlightening on the subject of Neoliberal Capitalism and it’s God of the free market. History and ‘memory’ erased so the followers of Neoliberalism don’t know any other way.

  16. Jim Matheson says: July 16, 2016 at 10:01 pmReply

    A brilliant well thought article that clearly discusses the issues that drive and divide. Whether the main premise, an inevitable split, will actually occur has yet to fully reveal itself. However, talk of PLP members joining with pro-Euro Tories to form a new Party would prove my often used remark correct, ‘they may well be New Labour, but they are definitely old Tory’.

  17. Oscar Wheeldon says: July 16, 2016 at 11:05 pmReply

    So, the Labour rebels want to ‘reach out’ to ‘ordinary’ voters?

    Labour ‘moderates’ are undemocratically determined to alienate, expel, disenfranchise and denigrate hundreds of thousands of the Labour Party’s new mass-membership who represent their potential army of foot soldiers come election time; they also routinely refer to these same people as ‘dogs’, ‘text-a-crowd’, ‘socialist revolutionaries’ and violent bullies. Paradoxically these same supporters are dismissed as child-like, misty-eyed idealists; youthful innocents who are being manipulated by a darkly malign Stalinist clique around Corbyn. In reality, they are young and old, rich and poor, black and white, they all use public services and pay taxes and are only motivated by a desire for change.

    Labour ‘moderates’ have also been busy alienating Labour’s other potential well of support, the working-classes, in thic case by neglecting them for two decades under the assumption that they had nowhere else to go. At best, these ‘white-van-men’ and Gillian Duffy types were misguided and ill-informed, and at worst borderline racist for wishing an exit from the EU. Simultaneously, the entire PLP establishment were screaming at them with one voice and in full-throated uncritical celebration of all things European Union. Three New Labour-type MPs in Stoke, alone, couldn’t convince them they were wrong, so distant are the PLP from ordinary people’s concerns.

    Between them these two rather important groups of people represent the ‘ordinary voter’; the same people that the likes of Angela Eagle and Owen Smith are so keen to alienate and antagonise. But this is very different from the demographic they have in mind; those ‘ordinary voters’ no doubt coined by Focus Group Consultants and Polling Experts for Tony Blair as he worked-out how to appeal to a few thousand people in forty or fifty marginal constituencies. In other words, the ‘aspirational’ middle-class or would be middle-class , as oppossed to those millions just trying to survive and get by after years of Tory austerity, or those just wanting to see a more eqitable society. The ‘moderates’ are now at war with both groups, whilst clinging to the belief that the ‘ordinary voter’ of Tony Blair’s imagination is just mirror-images of themselves.

    I assume, when the ‘moderates’ use the phrase ‘ordinary voter’ then, that what they mean is all those ‘extraordinary’, aspirational’ and successful people out there in the Country, who, like themselves, are so murderously ambitious and driven that they are willing to split the Labour Party and kill it. Sounds suspiciously like the Tory Party minus the political nous.

    Meanwhile the ‘ordinary voter’ looks on with open mouth.

  18. Paul says: July 16, 2016 at 11:40 pmReply

    I believe that the rot set in way before 1979 and at least as early as 1976 with Callaghan and Healey, and the decision to go to the IMF for financial support. See the following blog posts for why this is the case:

  19. Andrew S Hatton says: July 17, 2016 at 12:24 amReply

    This is about the best commentary I have read about the dilemmas of so called ordinary Labour Party members & Labour Party nominated MPs.

    The below the line comments are also useful.

    However, what we really need is someone tlead us out of the mess.

    I am not inspired by Angela Eagle or Owen Smith Smith & the PLP seem to have split too far from Corbyn to be able to fall in behind his policy leads.

    I still back Corbyn as Leader until a way can be found to get a more charismatic person of his ilk, to be nominated to challenge him.

    • Juulia says: July 18, 2016 at 6:09 amReply

      Excellent article and comments. I would just add my opinion that Corbyn would be thrilled to hand over the leadership to anyone who shares his policies and is also better suited to leadership. IMO one factor in the timing of the PLP rebellion is to try and get him out before he has a chance to develop and promote the younger MPs who share his policies.

  20. Kenneth says: July 17, 2016 at 2:52 amReply

    Confucius : “I have heard that the feudal lords who preside over states, or high officials who owe family estates do not worry about poverty but they worry that the distribution of wealth may be uneven. They do not worry that they will have too few people but they worry that they may not be able to live in peace. For when distribution of wealth is even, there will be no poverty . And when harmony prevails, there will be no scarcity of people.When there is such a contented repose, there will be no rebellion. In this spirit, if people from afar do not submit, civil culture and virtues are to be cultivated to attract them. Once they have been so attracted, they will be made contented and be able to settle down at ease.”
    The PLP MPs lost themselves of the moral compass. In the US, voters on both sides of the divide, be they Democrats or Republicans turned/ turning against the establishment. In the UK, Labor voters have a lead over the the Tory, in this enlightment.

  21. Tricia Duke says: July 17, 2016 at 8:28 amReply

    It’s really good to see this piece being widely shared on social media here in the UK, including by a number of Labour MPs on Twitter. We should listen to Bryan. He was an excellent politician with a first-rate mind who stood against Labour’s embrace of neoliberalism and was clever enough to articulate a radical economic alternative that appealed to both the traditions of the party and the wider electorate. It was a sad day when he returned to New Zealand. The Labour party is much the poorer without him. I think Bryan is absolutely correct about Labour’s new generation of MPs. Many of them (especially those under 45) have no historical understanding of how neoliberalism became conventional wisdom, hence they are aghast when someone like Jeremy Corbyn comes along and argues that it doesn’t have to be this way, and that Labour should stand for something radically different. For various reasons, Jeremy might not be the leader of choice for those of us who support a radical economic alternative, but in the leadership election last year he was the only candidate with the courage to argue that Labour should oppose austerity and put the case for an alternative. In other words, he was absolutely right on the main question in British politics today – the question of whether austerity is an economic necessity or a political choice. That’s why I support Jeremy, and it’s why I would support any other Labour politician with the courage and confidence to argue for an alternative to neoliberalism and austerity. I really hope Bryan continues to contribute to this debate. We need to hear more from him.

    • Jeremy Callaghan says: July 18, 2016 at 5:17 amReply

      It might have been a sad day for the UK, but it was a very good day for New Zealand and its tertiary education sector in which Bryan Gould served with distinction for a decade before his retirement. And he continues to make important contributions to NZ life and thought, as well as more widely. But I know what you mean!

  22. John Stubbs says: July 17, 2016 at 12:33 pmReply

    I agree that the analysis is clear and refreshing. But it’s always been a feature of left wing politics that the diagnosis reads better than the cure. The corruption at the heart of our system, something which will always defeat a genuine aspiring Labour administration, is that the constitutional and electoral sytem is not fit for purpose. I have no sympathy for the views or tactics of UKIP but it is scandalous that they had no proper representation in parliament after the last election; deniying them a parliamentary platform to argue their case, and expose their falsehoods, allowed them to take their lies to the pub and the marketplace – with consequences we are all having to live with now. Labour has been too wedded to an unfair electoral system, and that is what will deny them power in the world of pick-and-mix politics.
    We need a bold progressive manifesto. I suggest:
    – a reformed electoral system to allow representation to smaller parties, and abolition of the House of Lords, to be replaced by Regional Assemblies which elect their Representatives to a Senate
    – regional investment planning with the Senate required to approve the relevant budget measures
    – compulsory voting in general elections for all citizens over the age of 16
    – a national investment policy which prioritises conversion to green and high-tech peacetime industries
    – the creation of nationalised entities to take over failing private sector vital services
    – removal of privileged tax status to lobbyists, pseudo-charities and schools with restricted entry requirements
    – a proper system of regulation overseeing the ownership and conduct of press and polling organisations.
    …..or something else which fits the needs of the time.
    At all events, if the Labour Party cannot generate joined-up ideas, it will never get a hearing for its policies.

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