Blue Labour? Purple Book? We seem to be getting very populist arguments coming from some in the parliamentary party and our think tank gurus. It’s worth remembering that majority of PLP members voted for David Miliband, the recognised Blairite candidate. So when we get policies being pushed which are far from what we have seen New Labour governments practice we should have a fair amount of skepticism.
One damming fact from our thirteen years in power is that the reputation of MPs is the worse it has ever been in recent history. I suspect we would have to go back to at least Ramsay MacDonald’s treachery to find such a public dislike and mistrust of our elected politicians. Now I know that most of the expense loopholes were put in place during previous governments, but like ducks taking to water, some of our Labour MPs were behaving as badly if not worse than any historical Tory rotten borough MP.
So let’s force those spouting a populist agenda to get specific, to give us real policies, after all they are quick enough to join the Tory press in asking for real Labour policies on deficit cutting. For now I’m going to look at something that every one seems to support in one way or another. Yes, everyone loves the Co-op don’t they? Especially when the Co-operative Party is having its annual shindig I guess. And while we are at let’s throw in the other bright ideas of our newly self-discovered socialists in the party of mutualization and stakeholder representation, because make no mistake, we are talking socialism when we talk about these ideas. This isn’t third way nonsense, these are hard-nosed old Labour ideas.
I have a love affair with the 1945 government. Most of our social safety net was built by those Labour MPs, but if a mistake was made it was over how they set about the much needed nationalization of Britain’s damaged core industries. Note the mistake wasn’t in the nationalization but in how they set about doing it. We set up state industries that were copies of the previous capitalist owned industries without any input from the workers in those industries.
So to specifics. Let’s hear from our leaders a policy on say the mutualizing of the railways. How could that be anything other than a vote winner? Let those commuters have a say in these businesses that rip them off so boldly year after year. Want some middle England votes? Seems like a winner.
How about workers representatives on the boards of private companies, after all it seems to work in Germany and who is going to argue that German industry is a bad one to copy? We could have a policy that rewards companies adopting this policy with lower corporate taxes while increasing it for those that don’t.
How about lower VAT for co-op retailers that return their profits to their customers? Can’t see there being much to argue against that in the red tops. How about the takeover of the power utilities? Have they made that many friends since they privatised?
There are vote-winners here if the Party does get specific, but it’s also a test to see if our PLP and leaders really do believe.