This fascinating article appeared on the UK Guardian’s website on Sunday 29th January 2017. It is a very clear analysis by an American professor on the challenges facing the British Labour Party since their general election defeat in 2015. In particular, it tears into the idea that Labour must choose between the economic interests of its traditional working class base and the new fashion for identity politics.
The author writes about the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, a place I know well as I worked there for more than a decade in the 1990s and 2000s. This area has been devastated by the loss of secure, well-paid manufacturing jobs at the Ford factory. The Borough also underwent rapid demographic change after the EU accessions of 2004. This was not popular with some locals and for a while the BNP was the opposition in the Borough with more than a dozen councillors.
My own contribution to the debate was this ten point plan as an answer to the author’s question “how can it [the Labour Party] reconnect with its roots?”
Some thoughts (no particular order). The Labour Party should
1/ End its support of the right-wing economic policies that (except briefly under Michael Foot) have dominated its thinking since 1976.
2/ Put the needs of people before the needs of the economy. Loudly proclaim this policy. In particular, look closely at a maximum wage and a universal income.
3/ End the scandal of some people (the Royals, Victoria Beckham, Wayne Rooney, etc) living in obscene and unearned luxury whilst others rely on food banks.
4/ Renationalise the railways without compensation.
5/ Ban all organisations from paying their top earners more than (say) five times the pay of its lowest earners. Fine offenders in the millions of pounds.
6/ Stop the fetishisation of the NHS and work on a health system for the 2020s not the 1940s. Stop paying people hundreds of thousands of pounds for doing what is essentially administrative and secretarial work.
7/ Stop instinctive support for corrupt and incompetent bureaucracies like the BBC, the EU and the UN. End the BBC poll tax.
8/ Invest in free university and polytechnic education. Stop sneering at people who get their hands dirty at work.
9/ End the alliance with far right Islamists.
10/ Return to proper constituency work to find out the views of actual people and ignore the ravings of “celebrities” like Brand, Allen, Streep, etc.