An earlier version of this article was published under the name of David Talbot. We apologise for this error.
The recent GMB-Progress debacle is enough to disillusion even the most hardened Labour member. Those who spend hours campaigning across the country for Labour councillors/MPs to represent people suffering from an incompetent, heartless Government must watch on with a mixture of rage and incredulity. The economic crisis has created the chance for change. Fundamental change in the way the global economy operates. We can either fight to change the Labour party to whichever mould we support or we can fight to change the country.
I was once a member of Progress. Ostensibly, because it was cheaper to join and go to the annual conference than just to go to the conference. I once did the same with Compass. They are both important forums for debate who make useful contributions to the Labour policy sphere. Sometimes I agree with things they say, sometimes I disagree. I have the same relationship with the Unions. If the Labour party conference debates whether to disaffiliate Progress it would become an even more irrelevant, non-event than has transpired over recent years.
The global economy is in turmoil. Lets be in no doubt that neo-liberalism has failed. Low global growth over thirty years has been compounded by the global financial crisis currently engulfing us. The route out is unclear but the crisis creates the chance for change. It is almost unfortunate that great electoral assets for Labour rose at the end of the twentieth century in a time of consistent growth and rising prosperity. The last Labour Government undoubtedly made a significant difference, introducing policies to be proud our party implemented. However, governing at that time made changing the flawed nature of our economy insurmountable. The opportunity for the current crop of talented Labour politicians led by Ed Miliband is greater.
We could continue as we are. We could finance our debt and deficit through decreasing living standards and accept that the portion of the pie will need to be smaller in future years. A dormant population can be easily mollified by the rhetoric of fear. The neo-conservatives have devastatingly demonstrated this case in America by declaring war on the unknown. The Tory Government have successfully followed the theory by using the Greek economy as the barometer for success. We have avoided our dramatic inevitable bankruptcy by a knight (or Prime Minister) on a white horse (formerly of the Met Police) whose austerity has safeguarded our international credibility. Codswallop. It’s worth noting that the supra-national institutions that we all vie for political support from have shameful track records on forcing economies to reform with devastating consequences for the inhabitants.
Our staid political system needs an injection of ideas from across the Labour party. I don’t have a suite of solutions to all our ills but I have the desire and interest to debate with all the people huddled under our umbrella. Many activists are discussing innovative ideas for creating a fairer, more equitable economy and society. The chance for change is now. We can either grasp the nettle or attack each other.