Show us the beef

We all love the Co-op

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.

  • Robert the crip

    Here is an uneducated view:

    Cable is basically agreeing with you now with share holders being put onto boards to ensure some agreement in wages and bonus payments, it is being stated wages at director level is now standing at 10 to 15% and then they are telling workers you will not get a wage rise.

    It’s like he golden age of labour when we had recessions in the past in which Thatcher allowed wages to spirall, it’s going to be interesting as the Liberals end up looking more socialist then labour, which is not hard really is it.

    Blue labour members would be enough to make a socialist run a marathon to get away.

    Lord Maurice Glasman, a lost soul who would love to gain some respect and write a few books, sadly after his last comments it’s best to say as little as possible.

    Cruddas, bloke who was seen as a light in the Labour sky, sadly the gas went off and he’s now a dim light.

    Purnell, once wrote to me about welfare to tell me he did not like my words or my inference he was a Tory, he said I’m a full blown socialist, by the time I had stopped laughing he was gone, sadly what he left has been like gold to the Tories with his welfare reforms, he is now attempting to find a safe seat, which will be hard with so many people being put to the knife with boundary changes, we must keep Ball’s in power.

    Blears, what can I say about this women which would not end up with me bing locked up.

    Jowell another who has no idea about socialism, all she knows her wages are nice.

    We have a few others of the lower level like academic but they basically are interested in writing books .

    Purple labour is a new labour ideology hoping to see new labour live again with David Miliband simple as that.

    As for socialism your better joining the Tories you’d have a better chance of getting something down.

  • John Reid

    From John Stonehouse to Wilson’s lavender list of resignation honours, there were A lot more resignations duing the 74-79 government, the expences did generate a low level of repsect for the last gov’t ,but most of them were back benchers or hardly those who went into politics as for anything else than a career, Don’t Know about ramsey Mcdonald in comaprsion with other Labour governemtns, can’t really see why Mcdonald crossing the floor is a sign of corruption,and the fact that Labour isn’t doing better in the polls now isn’t really to do with the expences scandal

    • swatantra

      I must say I have a touch of sympathy for MacDonald.
      He faced the most collassal crisis ever and genuinely believed that the only way out was a ‘National Govt’.
      Its a pity the others Parties couldn’t agree and suspend hostilities in Britains hour of need. A consensus was needed. And he would still have led a real coalition govt. Instead he was betrayed.
      If they had, then the solutions might have been better and more quickly implemented.

      • LesAbbey

        Swatantra I suspect that it was MacDonald doing the betraying rather than being betrayed. That was the opinion of a large majority of the Labour MPs at the time.

        In order to drive through austerity measures MacDonald decided to join with the Tories rather than go into opposition. In fact a good comparison could be made with Clegg, but then again Clegg wasn’t the leader of the Labour movement.

        • swatantra

          The Crisis unfortunately occurred on Labours watch, after having been successfully elected in 1929. The meltdown came unexpetedly and quickly just like our 2008 collapse.
          What if Brown had similarly called a National Govt, even though he had amajority of 50, which Macdonald never had.
          What if today we go into double dip as seems likely, and Cameron calls for a National Govt. Could we Labour afford to sit back and let Britain slide into chaos and misery, and say the Tory Coalition has a 80 seat majority so should be left to get on with it.
          Its a difficult one.

    • LesAbbey

      I have never known such low public respect for MPs as it is now John. Maybe MacDonald was a bad example as his loss of respect was inside the labour movement.

      And the greed shown by MPs in maxing out allowances wasn’t just among the backbenchers but right to the top of all the parties. Clegg, Cameron and Osborne can be included in that and who could forget Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith.

      I’m not including either of the Milibands because I can’t remember what they claimed.

  • swatantra

    Good article Les!
    I didn’t realise the RACS has been around since 1800.
    The one thing that attracted me to the Cooperative movement is that its members are committed to working together to bring about change for themselves and society. They don’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it for them.
    Its about a get up and go attitude, self responsiility and doing things for yourself and your colleagues. The Rochdale Pioneersreally started something collossal which spread worldwide. Other countries developed Ccooperatives better than we did. But Britain is now catching up. We have a lot of catching up to do.

    • LesAbbey

      That’s 1900 I think. It was commemorating the building of a large housing estate in Abbey Wood with houses for working men. there is great article about at the link below which is where I found the picture. I should have given credit to the author, R.F. LeGear.

    • fred

      I will agree once upon a time the Co-op was a good solid socialist group that’s now gone to many of the Blairites have invaded the group to bring it around to the ethos of the new Labour camp.

      I went to my last meeting six month ago, and had to listen to people right out of the New Labour camp, telling us they know what went wrong, we did not look after the hard working tax payers,.

      We have allowed to many to live on benefits sucking the life blood out of hard working tax payers. Then he went on to state labour had made mistakes with Immigration to many were allowed in, again placing pressure on hard working tax payer, we did not go far enough or fast enough with Welfare, sound familiar does it not, it’s the words used by Miliband for the last year and repeated on this week.

      Those hard working tax payers are the life blood of new labour it would seem. What happens now that the Liberals and Tories have removed a large number of people from paying tax what do these people become, because if your not a tax payer then what are you a scrounger.

      • swatantra

        There’s many in the Party who don’t know the difference between ‘a Cooperative’ and ‘the Cooperative Party’. Many Labour members who have joined the Coop Party recently know little about the Coop Movement and attend Coop Party Branch meetings to talk about nothing but Labour Party issues! We are not an off-shoot of the Labour Party!
        The problems lies in the nature of the agreement with the Labour Party which was signed 100 years ago! You would have thought they would have rethought and revised that agreement by now to reflect the change in times and the change in both Labour and Cooperative Parties.
        My view is that it should be reviewed, revised and the relationhip loosened. Yes we remain a Party of the Left and have a reltionship to te Labour Party, but on our terms.
        And yes some of our policies and views are different from the Labour Party.

  • akademix

    Thanks for sharing