Saturday, 22 November 2014

Steve Appleton reviews "One Nation: Labour's Political Renewal"

New Labour has produced a document explaining what "One Nation Labour" is. Despite the title, there is nothing "renewing" about it. 

Whilst high on abstractions, its practical political content for working people is virtually nil. Instead of showing how austerity (for the 99%) can be ended, it is full of pseudo-religious allusions combined with sociological claptrap, 1990s "management-speak" and nationalist overtones. It is red, white and blue. (You can see it at the link below).

The document is another clear marker that New Labour has abandoned socialism and the working class. Stripped of its clever intellectualism, the text makes plain that a One Nation Labour government will operate strictly within the constraints and permissions of big business. 

These are its opening words - “Labour stands for big reform without big spending”. Barely two sentences later it says that they have rethought what Labour stands for, especially "when there is no money to spare”. (My emphasis). This mantra - there is no money - is repeated throughout. This is a “dog whistle” message for the rich - that their bank balances will be safe if One Nation Labour is elected.

It beggars belief that these people can talk about "financial restraint" when the richest 1% own as much wealth as the poorest 55% combined!

Despite the fact that there are clearly two nations here in the UK, the document insists on referring to "the nation" or "the people". It refers to things like "our land", and "our country". But this is not "our" country. How can it be, when 90% of the population owns only 10% of it?!

No less than 30% of "our land" is still owned by the ancient aristocracy!

The famous socialist Clause 4 was deleted from New Labour's constitution under Blair - as an earlier mark of fealty to capital. Ever since, they have been searching for a new (renewing!) philosophy. And they have found it; it is called "individualism" - the perfect philosophy for capitalism! 

By way of explanation, they quote Roberto Unger (a Brazilian philosopher) who says  that, "socialism today is about the individual", and that politics is about, "the human capacity to transcend our context and so transform our world". What use is this abstract rubbish to an unemployed young worker? - it almost suggests to him that somehow his plight is his own fault. He hasn't been able to "transcend" himself!

To further emphasise this individualism, they even quote the Bible! They don't, of course, choose Matthew (19:24), who quotes Jesus as saying it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than it will be for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. No, they choose an obscure quotation from Luke about God's kingdom being within each of us!

As to actual policies, the document is a model of ambiguity. There is much talk about "transforming" things, much sharing and devolving, plenty of, "helping people help themselves", promoting model citizenship, and even, "developing character for individual reliance". There is mutuality, inclusiveness, reciprocity.

But there is no proposal to re-nationalise the utilities or the railways. No £10 an hour minimum wage. No reversal of privatisation in the NHS. No rent controls. No halt to big business tax evasion. No end to austerity and cuts in public services.

This document makes it crystal clear, were there any doubt, that what was once the mighty Labour Party, is dead. Let us bury it!

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