These days its rather depressing being a staunch person of the left. I wouldn't call myself a radical, because for me the distinction between radical and moderate is all process and i argue that progress comes from peaceful process, though at times violence is excusable like the Cuban, American and current Libyan revolution (though not so much intervention) but what i am is definitely an ultra lefty. Ultra liberal on matters of legality and staunch socialist on all matters economic (that being totally committed to equalization not an all things must be nationalized type socialist.) And looking at Britain there is not much to say that is good.
Oh i am not saying British people are right wing by any means, any country you take will have the same dividing line of people its just it comes out in different ways due to the PR abilities of whatever parties and special interest groups are prevalent but generally its a clean line. Also the recent Assembly and Council elections show that if anything most people support a left wing agenda, and a report launched several months ago showed that although people support the state less (probably due to their distrust of politicians) they support progressive taxation and equality all the more, a clear majority in fact. I also suspect that the Conservative's would have outright lost that election is the Lansley Reforms, the Forest Sell off and the rate of deficit reduction had been clearly spelled out. The problem then, lies in our politicians, and to a lesser extent the movement in general.
Right now voters have the right to choose the right wing nut jobs that are the conservatives, the right wing Social conservatives that is the Labour party (Or so most of their policies would indicate), the "whothefuckknowsbutmainlyrightwing" party that is the Liberal Democrats that put an emphasis on civil liberties. Then you have the small parties, but like what? The borderline fascist UKIP, which don't say that of course but run on the same basis of work for the English, conservative values and emphasis on law and order. Granted, you have the Center left, the all powerful center left of!... The Greens, with their one MP. Now granted, Labour are a left of center organisation, i believe they are made up of people who mainly desire to redistribute income and raise the living standards of the poor and made some gains in the last parliament, but really its not much different to the 1950's Christian Democrat party of Germany, which i will say really did raise the living standards of Germany in their time, but it was hardly a drive for equality, it ran on the same values of flexible Labour markets at low costs, civil liberties assured but tough law enforcement to follow with a supportive but ultimately deferential state.
So why is such a leftist party, that on the ground (as i know too well) is staffed mainly by strong willed socialists committed to the support of the working men and women of Britain so right wing in its policy. Well a big part of it is fear, and a small part is luck on part of the Blairites.
In 1993 Niel Kinnock lost an election to consternation and surprise of the country, in many ways this was down to the heavy attacks levied out by the Murdoch media, and too bold an emphasis on taxes, i will not deny that you cannot win an election, especially after 10 years of conservative rule with heavy virtue of selfishness propaganda pushed on people and expect to win on a policy of tax and spend. Still, the signal inside the party was to keep forcing forward the modernization programme, they had to put massive emphasis on justifying their financial credibility as well, what came about was the Blairite doctrine. Now that certainly assisted in propelling Labour in with a massive landslide, but i feel that Niel Kinnock could have won in 1997 with a reduced majority, since a lot of the victory of 1993 was down to stable economics and a victory over a tyrant in Iraq for major, in 1997 Black Friday had destroyed his economic credibility, half his cabinet had been routed out as sex fiends while running on effectively a family values campaign and the effect of victory in Iraq had dwindled by now. Certainly Blaire's charisma and program had helped get votes, but only in the short term, they did not loose votes in 2001 because of being left wing and introducing taxes, Ian Duncan Smith touted there leftwingishness all the time and still had a massive defeat, the only losses were to the Lib Dems and to people not voting, quite frankly Labour lost more because they were not being left wing enough. This had continued to date, sure, conservatives have picked up a few seats here and there, but their core voter base has been destroyed, very few people regard themselves as conservatives, and this has not changed since 1993 really, that win for the conservatives was a fluke. I mean ask yourself, why didn't the Conservatives win an outright victory in 2010? They had everything going for them, an umpopular Prime minister with no stage appeal, a disillusioned electorate and not to mention a financial crash falling on Labour. That election was handed to them on a plate and they still lost, the Clegg effect can't even be accounted for because by the time of election day Cleggmania had been blasted into the ground by the Conservative press, their national vote share barely rose and their actual number of seats decline, too the Conservatives!
As the current electoral cycle goes it appears that the Conservatives are going to be the wilderness party from now on, sure they have the money, but they don't have the winning argument, they are going to now be getting in measured on the short comings of Labour, not the other way round. Now that the ghost of communism has vanished there is very little actual fear around left wing politics, people want financial systems to be heavily regulated, most want equality and the evidence is only stacking up in favor of Left wing ideas like you know, not letting capitalism run amok? The only problem now lies in our main left wing party.
Don't let me get carried away though, it's hardly all the central parties role, politicians can really in the end only enable progress and goodness to happen, it requires more often than not the force of people to really make a difference and right now many have lost faith in politics to be a force for good in this world which is very dangerous. But conversely politicians do not do a good job and making people engaged, fact is both parties use the police like aggressive boot boys of the state which disillusions both committed protestors and regular folks who like to see their local police officers in a positive light, the consistent foriegn adventures only bring home the fact that we are the oppressors of the world, and to regular folks will only make governments seem uncaring in so quickly sending our boys off to fight for a pointless war, that sir is the gateway to the BNP and other far right groups. But there is a lot of guff and vitriol that tabloids tend to churn out that is often unfair, and i suppose that is the way.
Still, politicians, and especially those of the left need to get their act together. Ed Miliband, as much as i think has the right ideas, needs to actually start talking about those fucking ideas rather than turning the whole party into some kind of giant focus group. What he needs to do is start talking like a damn lefty, he needs to set a dialog of optimism that people can understand, and how hard is it to do? If i were a center lefty, which i am not but hey, lets pretend, here are oh... lets say 5 policies i could do to shape the future of Britain.
1. High Speed Broadband, welfare to work is a brilliant concept, the worst part of being off work is just that, even if you support one, you support them for long enough and as fine wine turns to vinegar these people become unemployable. Why not get these people laying the ground work for a high speed broadband system, most of the work is incredibly basic, it consists of trench digging and it would get these people out in the morning, it may cost something, but it will likely outweigh the social consequences of just outright not working and will raise their optimism so it could also strengthen buyer confidence.
2. Investment in Green Energy, not so much the whole thing right now. But why not invest in setting up tidal generators, they are far more focused in their positioning than most forms of renewable energy and could provide up to 40% of our energy when fully kitted out, not to mention the amount of long term and short term jobs this would create. I would also phrase this as an issue of national defense, we wont be held subject to Russia's monopoly on the oil pipes and we wont have to oppress the middle east every time oil prices go up, which means we can keep our boys back home.
3. Introduce a Robin Hood Tax, Very simple, place a tax on micro transactions between banks and use this to fund one and two, people hate bankers right now, might as well use it to achieve some good.
4. Encourage mutuals, If Blue Labour is to be the defining force for Labour in the next few years then i think the best idea would be to support local community business, you could do this with an investment bank, and that should certainly be encouraged, but i would rather suggest giving co-operatives a free corporate earnings tax, this way we could encourage small and medium sized businesses to turn into mutuals and as the wages for these tend to equalize far more than business we could pick up more of the earnings in income tax.
5. Propose total federalization of the United Kingdom. This one is radical, but i think it would be very popular among a lot of disaffected working men, and a lot in the North... well actually i think it would garner national approval, right now devolved institutions cannot collect their own taxes, it is set from Westminster. This means they cannot pursue their own agendas, and since Scotland wants to spend a lot more well, this causes resentment in the Scotland, but more importantly it causes resentment in the South where people feel they are paying for the Scottish excessive standards of living. This needs to be fixed, but there is something more important than this, England itself is more politically divided than ever, it was only by the 1980's and beyond that cities always vote Labour, and counties always vote conservative, a Unitary model was fine before then, because people's opinions where quite similar, but now we have clear cut political lines, this being the case, what sense is it for City people to be subjected to Heartland politics, and very much the same way round, People who live in the city tend to want state intervention, regulation and economic safety nets, people in the country tend to want economic freedom and a lack of regulation with a great aggrandizement of the self made man. If we were to properly federalize then we would not have a situation where the moment the government does anything 60% of the population are instantly pissed off excluding a few minor issues, if we give counties a greater degree of freedom then i think a lot more people would be satisfied with their politics as they could get what they are asking for.
These five represent strong center of left policies because they shows support for business with infrastructure and support for the poor at the same time, Green energies give us the option to be more moral in our foreign policy while taxing bankers will actually give the people of the country a sense of feeling that Labour is on the side of people not big business that looked so true by the time of the crash. Finally a federalization policy looks, and is a smart move, a lot of self styled intelligentsia swing voters would very much latch on to it, i am sure a lot of people, rather than seeing it as an attack on the United Kingdom would see it as a way of making our fucked up devolution system actually work, not giving disproportionate powers to anyone. From this you can build a massive narrative of the Left wing as being smart, responsible and caring all at once which is why Labour won in 1997.
Being a lefty today is infuriating because so few mainstream left wing parties insist on building a narrative to why they are doing this, and a narrative is always needed, you cannot argue on purely technocratic grounds because people will ultimately go with a gut feeling on most matters and invent their own logic to satisfy their choices, there needs to be more to being left wing, there needs to be a story, a heart.