‘The Lessons Labour Must Learn’ : Our Response to D Miliband & D Alexander’s Article in This Weekend’s Observer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Response to THIS ARTICLE in THE OBSERVER written by David’s Miliband & Alexander from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte N. Carolina.

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I’ve posted on David Miliband before and will continue to do so every time he opens his big mouth to make public announcements attacking the Labour Left – I feel it is a duty as these arguments endanger sick and/or disabled people who are suffering the largest proportion of cuts – 25% falling upon 2% of the population and weaken our cause.

So when they talk about ‘fiscal responsibility’ – they are talking about US. 

  

Response to D Miliband & D Alexander’s Claptrap in The Observer

1. Labour should stick with the script of Cuts and Austerity 

We can win the argument for fiscal responsibility – as long as we distinguish short-term Keynesian stimulus from medium-term prudence.

In fact, as François Hollande is discovering, only medium-term prudence and reform gives you the policy space for short-term Keynesian stimulus.

Ed Miliband was right this week to dismiss the demand for promises we can’t guarantee to keep as “crackers”.

No change there then.

2. Labour should continue to outsource public services and shrink the role of the State

Miliband D argues that ‘we need to be state reformers’.

Why? Where is the empirical evidence that public services are better when they’re provided by private companies? All the evidence suggests the opposite to be the case.

This classic neoliberal response to financial crises has all been done before and it leads to mass inequality.

Witness the care homes scandal, G4S, Serco, the privatised utilities who squeeze us for every last drop of our ever-dwindling incomes.

As hundreds of thousands of our public sector workers are being laid-off and our NHS is being sold – Miliandroid argues for further ‘reform’ of the State. It is code for classic neoliberal privatisation of public goods and services. 

In the US it is striking that the anti-government Tea Party has so much more staying power than the anti-market Occupy movement says Miliband Senior.

NONSENSE.

What exactly does he mean by ‘striking’? 

Our Movement, UK Uncut, Occupy and our brothers and sisters in our Trade Union movement have stood alone these past two and a half years in making the case for the alternative.

Listening to this prat you would thing that TINA (There is No Alternative) was still the only show in town.  

Our arguments for Tax Justice and the complete reform of our monetary and banking systems to put our economy and world on a sustainable basis at the service of humanity and not vice versa are completely ignored by this Labour Right android.

We have news, David!

We are the opposition and we’re not going anywhere.

Our movement is rising, is growing in strength across civil society day by day and our sound, ethical and just arguments for a genuine and workable, sustainable alternative to neoliberalism stand and will stand the test of time.

These are ideas whose time has come.

Deal with it. 

David goes on to say, in his inimitable style: 

It is true that there is not a single successful economy today in which government does not play a vital role in driving forward market economies and standing up for the public interest. But there is another truth in the wake of the financial crisis: that government is on trial as well as markets.

Eh? Government is on trial as well as the markets?

One must assume that he means that he accepts that public spending under the last Labour Government was excessive. Funny, not even the Tories argued that at the time. Go back and look in Hansard or on Youtube. Public spending was not at all excessive by historical standards as many academic studies have established.

No, it was the global financial crisis that began with rampant speculation and the securitisation and repackaging of sub-prime mortgages sold with fraudulent ‘AAA’ credit ratings that caused the crash. This is why the market crashed. Miliband seems to be saying that public spending in the UK was somehow a major factor in bringing about the current crisis.

His analysis is false.

We, the sick and/or disabled people of Britain, the poor in and out of work and indeed anyone who does not belong to the top 1% of society are being forced to pay for the banking bailout. FACT.

So we need to be the people doing things differently when there is less money around 

Says he. 

What he undoubtedly means is that in order to decrease our debt and the Public Spending Borrowing Requirement it will be necessary to cut benefits and public services by selling them off or outsourcing them to private corporations. Let’s have a ‘fire sale’!

He says as much:

Like Labour in local government in the UK, they are refashioning the way the state does business – decentralising power, incentivising job creation, switching spending and engaging the voluntary sector – to achieve progressive outcomes.

Progressive outcomes? He’s dreaming!

We fought a successful campaign in Edinburgh last year to fight off exactly the sort of thing he’s on about – outsourcing of our city’s services and privatisation through the back door.

Miliband’s argument is a clearcut case of using the excuse of the financial crisis to drive forward neoliberal ‘reform’ that will in the long run increase costs payable by the citizen for public services, increase inequality and ensure that private enterprises will be able to engorge themselves further on public money while statutory duties and standards of quality control drop and regulations are ditched in a wild west free market free-for-all.

As regards his statement the anti-government Tea Party has so much more staying power Miliband needs to remember that this is not America. We are very far from the prevalent cultural preference for individualism and laissez-faire economics characteristic of the American conservative Bible-Belt Right. Stateside that’s a big ‘theme’. Even so, it ought not to be an argument for a neoliberal sell-off of state assets merely because of popularity among certain sections of the population who would for the most part never vote for you anyway. Miliband seems to be saying that ‘we’ need to bring these T-Party types with ‘us’ in order to win elections.

We ask him: “Where is your ETHICAL line in the sand“?

It all seems to be about winning and precious little about principles and deeply held values based upon ethical conviction.

He seems to be saying: “This is the financial situation. The markets have spoken. Deal with it!”

3. Labour must be all things to all people

There’s story in the Book of Esther in Bible, read every year at the Jewish festival of Purim when folks dress up in fancy dress and get drunk (even if they’re very Orthodox and hardly touch a drop the rest of the year!) to celebrate the lifting of a royal death decree over the Jewish people of Persia that I think is particularly apposite and instructive for the Labour Party today in 21st Century Britain, and to David Miliband and the Blairite right in particular and you don’t need to be ‘religious’ to appreciate it.

Being a usurper, King Achashveroshwas constantly seeking new ways to strengthen his kingdom and to become popular with his subjects and with the powerful Persian statesmen who surrounded his court.

So he had a royal feast, which lasted one hundred and eighty days, nearly half a year. He invited representatives from all the nations (think bankers and big business) of his vast empire. Then at the end of the half-year, he made a special seven-day feast for the entire populace of Shushan. At this feast, designed especially to win the favor of the masses, common men were given seats of honor (think a TUC delegation!) and their slightest request was immediately granted.

There was an old Persian custom (of great benefit to the brewers and vintners) of providing at every important repast a huge goblet of wine, nearly five-eighths of a bucket, which every guest was required to drink to the bottom. But King Achashverosh, who wanted to satisfy everyone, disregarded this custom, because he was unwilling to impose upon any of his guests (think bankers and big business again) or force them to do anything against their will.

Seeing this God said:

“You conceited fool! How can you seek to satisfy everyone? When two ships are sailing in opposite directions, one needing a south wind, and the other needing a north wind, can a human being make one wind speed both of them on their way? Tomorrow two men will come to you, Mordechai and Haman, and you will not be able to please both of them. You will need to exalt the one and debase the other. Only G-d alone can satisfy everyone.”

To cut a long story short Mordechai (the good, kind and wise man) and the people lived happily ever while the scheming wicked, power-crazed Haman, who hated the people without a cause, met a very sticky end.

Labour cannot win elections by being all things to all people as David seems to suggest.

It will make a choice that will satisfy one and kill another. 

If Labour continues down the path of satisfying the heartless, amoral ‘market’ and our corrupt financial system while remaining passively neutral or tacitly supportive of unconscionable, deadly cuts to many of our poorest and most vulnerable people (many of whom will meet an early demise as a direct result of this policy of ‘passive euthanasia’) ; then it is ‘Labour’ who deserve to die.

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that come the next general election the Scottish national Party SNP could hold the balance of power at Westminster. Labour voters in Scotland have deserted Labour in droves – witness the unprecedented landslide victory of the SNP at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. 

Miliband writes that: 

Labour, cannot rely only on the New Deal coalition of the organised working class. ……we have to find new ways to connect our politics with the small businesswoman in Ipswich, the GP in Fleetwood, the personal trainer in Gloucester.

These are not considerations for traditionally Labour-voting electors here in Scotland.

In fact, they are reasons why many have deserted Labour in droves in favour of the SNP who have advocated and implemented policies here that are far more left-wing and progressive than anything Labour has come up with in recent years.

Scottish Labour is in crisis. It will continue to haemorrhage support further if it continues on the path it has been following and listens to neoliberal quislings like Miliband.  

It may well be argued that people will revert to voting Labour at the next UK election in line with previous voting patterns but with 80% of the cuts to come and poverty in Scotland reaching ‘Dickensian’ proportions how can you be so sure?

And with Labour still refusing to offer us the sound alternative to cuts and austerity which we all advocate and which is being adopted by people all across Europe – you’d be foolish to bet your money on it.

Without Scotland returning its usual share of Labour MPs to London the chances of it forming a majority administration at Westminster is practically nil. 

 4. Labour must reach out to the Lib Dems

I don’t know where his head is at, but he needs reminded that the Lib Dems are now one of the most hated organisations in British history. I don’t think I need to qualify that statement.

5. Labour has left a vacuum in British Politics

A politics that talks louder and louder to fewer and fewer people creates only a dangerous vacuum. We win when we offer a politics of building and not just blaming.

This is a very vague statement. However, I would say that ‘talking louder and louder to fewer and fewer people’ it precisely what David Miliband seems to be doing.

It would be best for everyone if he would simply shut up and piss off.

6. Obama 

God help the world if he doesn’t! War with Iran. The mind boggles. But let’s not pretend he’s delivered much in the way of economic and social justice either. His administration has been a very great disappointment. Nevertheless, at least he’s not evil. Good luck to him and let’s hope he does better in future.

  

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The Observer

The lessons Labour must learn from Barack Obama and the Democrats

‘For anyone horrified or mystified by aspects of the Republican Tea Party, the Democrat convention would have been a relief. It was to us’

 and  

For anyone horrified or mystified by aspects of the Republican Tea Party in Tampa, the Democrat convention would have been a relief. It was to us. Democrats are hungry to win – and to choose a different path.

Labour’s route to government requires us to learn from around the world. Obama is trying to move the Democrats on from the Clinton years, without making Gore’s error of disavowing his own legacy in government.

The radical right – Paul Ryan in the US; David Davis and Liam Fox in the UK – are on the march, demonising the state, especially the welfare state, as morally and economically bankrupt. We went to Charlotte to learn lessons for our fightback.

First, Clinton’s demolition of Romney-Ryan economic credibility was a masterclass.

We can win the argument for fiscal responsibility – as long as we distinguish short-term Keynesian stimulus from medium-term prudence.

In fact, as François Hollande is discovering, only medium-term prudence and reform gives you the policy space for short-term Keynesian stimulus.

Ed Miliband was right this week to dismiss the demand for promises we can’t guarantee to keep as “crackers”.

Second, in the wake of the crisis, we need to be state reformers as well as market reformers.

In the US it is striking that the anti-government Tea Party has so much more staying power than the anti-market Occupy movement.

It is true that there is not a single successful economy today in which government does not play a vital role in driving forward market economies and standing up for the public interest. But there is another truth in the wake of the financial crisis: that government is on trial as well as markets.

So we need to be the people doing things differently when there is less money around.

That was the lesson from Democratic governors and mayors at the convention.

Like Labour in local government in the UK, they are refashioning the way the state does business – decentralising power, incentivising job creation, switching spending and engaging the voluntary sector – to achieve progressive outcomes.

Third, we win by looking like the whole of the country not just part of it.

The Democrats, like Labour, cannot rely only on the New Deal coalition of the organised working class.

So they are embracing the rising classes and groups in society such as Latinos and middle-income women.

It helps that the Republicans are so aggressively wrong on issues of gay rights, women’s rights and minority rights.

We won’t have that luxury in the same way in Britain – unless the Tories really lose it culturally as well as economically – so we have to find new ways to connect our politics with the small businesswoman in Ipswich, the GP in Fleetwood, the personal trainer in Gloucester.

Fourth, America shows that money can still buy votes – and the right have got a lot of it.

Romney will outspend Obama in the next two months, just as the Tories outspent Labour 2:1 in the last election. This matters.

In Britain there is a structural imperative for Labour to take down the influence of money in politics – not just as a high- minded recognition of voter concern but out of sheer self-interest. Party funding reform is going nowhere. Labour should again try to reach out to the Lib Dems with the aim of working together to get big money out of politics. Some parts of the current system help us, but overall the Tories are the Party that stands to benefit most from stalemate.

The fifth lesson is about how we respond to the overwhelming sense that politics is small when the issues are big. People are fearful about the future. The convention came alive when the politics and speeches were worthy of the scale of the problems.

Winning the argument does not win support if the voters have walked away.

A politics that talks louder and louder to fewer and fewer people creates only a dangerous vacuum. We win when we offer a politics of building and not just blaming.

Finally, Obama should win on 6 November. But we need to get the incumbent here out. We can’t rely on David Cameron to throw away power like Nicolas Sarkozy in France.

Douglas Alexander is the shadow foreign secretary and David Miliband is a former Labour foreign secretary

The Observer

 

Comments
  • kelpimare September 10, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Wouldn’t the Tory party take the Millibands, the Blairs etc, that they alighted on Labour for a career???
    Do we need another political party who looks to America, the country whose financiers STARTED the worlds’ monetary house of cards to collapse, for inspiration???? Inspiration to-what? Assist the wealthy to bankrupt our country? To increase, yet more, food parcels to the poor of the UK? Perhaps to build the workhouses to give the homeless a roof over their heads, food in their bellies….in return for working a 40 hour week, over an indeterminate timeperiod????
    The answer is SIMPLE, it stares us right in the face….GET THE DUE TAXES FROM THE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS WHO OWE IT. The argument that they’ll move…..so the hell what-WE, the 99% keep them as it is. WE pay thru the nose for their greed. For the greed of politicians.
    It’s time to ditch American half-baked ideas and return to Labour of old…PROTECTING THE WORKERS, DISADVANTAGED AND VULNERABLE. Not the rich, the Tories already do that.

  • Laz September 10, 2012 at 9:46 am

    The trade unions should threaten to withdraw all support for the Labour party as it has been hi-jacked by the very people it was set up to defend the people from .It is intent as is the present Con Dem coalition of putting to ruin all rights fought so hard for by previous representatives who acted for the people and not corperate buisness.At present we have no party that truely represents the best interest of the people or otherwise we would have sacked and imprisoned the bankers that have caused by their recklessnes the Boom and Bust system that they can lay off against and make money whilst the worlds population suffer as a result.Their assets should be seized including their overseas cash hoards.The Industries moved out of reach should be returned to this country for the benefit of all.

    • pete September 10, 2012 at 9:51 am

      the TUC is calling on everybody to support it. When did the TUC ever offer to support disabled people?

  • pete September 10, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I’ve written twice, recently, to the labour party about the abuse of disabled people – NO REPLY

  • DAVID A SHAW September 10, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Labour right are a disgrace to the party, and should leave NOW

  • pete September 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

    and can you please get those faces off the top of the article – they’re highly injurious to me

  • Bill MacLeod September 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Vote Labour, get Tory.

  • Humanity2012 September 10, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I can See why Politicians make me Feel Sick

    Blue Labour is No Good Redistribution of Wealth from Rich to Poor Labour
    would be much Better

    Down with Neo Liberalism

  • Socrates September 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    I think my disgust is topping out. Perhaps when it does I’ll be able to comment.

  • jeffery davies September 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    labour with the other one blue to the teeth why doesnt he join the torys leave labour alone to be labour lets kick them out blair rights all of them jeff3

  • Joanna Terry September 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Kick out “Progress”, just like Militant Tendancy they are destroying Labour from within, since when did it become a dirty word to believe in Socialism and Egalitarian politics, Ed you are rapidly losing the next election.

  • Humanity2012 September 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    This Pathetic Era is Not Britain’s Finest Hour Rather this Sick Era is Britain’s Feckless
    Hour

    Walking About I see Lots of Beer Cans about Testimony to the Evil of Alcoholism
    but I do Not see a Single Person out Demonstrating Symbolic of the Selfish Society
    and the Lack of Life in People in Tory Zombie Britain

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