More concrete policy in 2013 Ed? We’ll hold you to that…

December 28, 2012 11:54 am

This morning Ed Miliband released his (One Nation) New Year Message. It’s quite interesting, and you can watch it here. But what was perhaps most noteworthy for Labour supporters was this sentence:

“I’ve set out a vision of what this county can be, one nation, and in 2013 we will be setting out concrete steps on making that vision a reality from business to education to welfare.”

So we should expect more concrete examples of what a One Nation Labour government would do in 2013? That would certainly be welcome, as at present Labour activists are, at times, being sent somewhat naked onto the doorstep. An alternative vision of Britain is neccessary if the party is to build enthusiasm ahead of the next election.

And yet only a few days ago Ed Balls told The Times(£):

“Until we know the state of the economy, the state of the public finances and how bad things have turned out, it’s very hard for us to know what we can possibly say.”

I was a little disappointed that anything concrete was going to be held back – and I said so – so it’s pleasing just six days later to hear Ed Miliband confirming that concrete policies are on the agenda for 2013. But if both statements are correct, what we’re looking at in business, education and welfare, are policies that don’t cost any money.

(Perhaps something a bit relational?)

One thing is for sure – education, business and welfare are all sensitive areas for Labour supporters. Policies in those areas that have been successful in the past have usually cost money. And anything that looks like a cover for cuts, rather than a genuinely transformational approach in these areas, will likely set some noses out of joint – especially in terms of welfare.

Tread carefully, Ed. But don’t let that put you off. 2013 is a year in which Labour needs to develop a genuine offer to the electorate.

(And if you want to know what might be on the agenda in 2013 – don’t forget to sign up for our One Nation pamphlet launch in January)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    Some easy policies

    Bankers bonus tax

    close as many tax loopholes as possible

    investigate a land tax that makes it difficult for multi nationals to avoid their tax duty

    stop all free schools and allow schools to opt out from academy status (will be a massive problem)

    reverse all NHS policies where affordable but ensure not private company has a commissioning role. Stop all contracts about to be given out and make it clear none will be renewed. If this is against EU law, sod it … lets break it or get out

    promise an in/out EU vote

    stop ATOS role ASAP and replace with a signed document by a GP and specilaiset declaring a person unfit for work

    stop all private involvement in job vacancies work if for profit

    encourage co-operative working between public and private

    ensure all private companies involved in public work are under the FOI act as per Grahame Morris’s EDM

    not much cost there …

    • Timmo111

      “Stop atos role asap and replace with a signed document by a GP and specialist declaring a person unfit for work “

      That’s how it used to be, the last labour government changed that and gave atos the contract to retest every single person who receives disability benefits, and I don’t remember any labour mps saying that this is wrong at the time.

    • Dave Postles
    • aracataca

      Could we have no further privatisation of the prison system please (ie stop mates of the Tory Party making a fortune out of other peoples’ misery)?

      • AlanGiles

        Let’s have no further privatisation full stop.

        There have been complaints about the Royal Mail increases in stamp prices this year, which has resulted in charities selling less Xmas cards. Just imagine the price rises when it is “Virgin” mail or “Stagecoach Mail”

        • aracataca

          You will of course know that the last Labour government stopped privatisation of Royal Mail under significant pressure from the CWU.
          You will also know that there is the privatisation of everything in the prison system at the moment except the opening and closing of the prisoners’ doors. A significant portion of the new private contracts are being given to such noble companies as A4e and G4S.

      • AlanGiles

        Let’s have no further privatisation full stop.

        There have been complaints about the Royal Mail increases in stamp prices this year, which has resulted in charities selling less Xmas cards. Just imagine the price rises when it is “Virgin” mail or “Stagecoach Mail”

      • AlanGiles

        Let’s have no further privatisation full stop.

        There have been complaints about the Royal Mail increases in stamp prices this year, which has resulted in charities selling less Xmas cards. Just imagine the price rises when it is “Virgin” mail or “Stagecoach Mail”

      • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

        I like the Guy Opperman approach to prisons – stop further privatisation and instead bring in other providers such as churches, community groups, charities or even the armed forces to run prisons. Personally, I think the Prison Reform Trust would be better providers of prisons than the state or the market.

    • aracataca

      Could we have no further privatisation of the prison system please (ie stop mates of the Tory Party making a fortune out of other peoples’ misery)?

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      In other words, shift to the left. Sadly, Ed Miliband has kept Labour rooted in the centre ground which is the right thing to do. Bonus tax, land value tax, tackling tax avoidance and EU referendum are all good ideas but don’t solve key issues such as the deficit, unemployment, welfare reform and public service reform.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    want a policy to save money on the first day of a new Lab administration ?

    scrap the PCC’s

  • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

    want a policy to save money on the first day of a new Lab administration ?

    scrap the PCC’s

    • robertcp

      Ian, I agree with your list. My worry is that I will disagree with the detailed policies when we know what they are. Ed Miliband is good at giving the impression that he has moved on from New Labour but has he?

      • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

        yes Robert because Blair could never have said and done some of the things Ed did, for example going against Murdoch

        • AlanGiles

          Ian, TBH Miliband et all only went against Murdoch after most of the public had – the Milly Dowler scandal was the last straw (at least for the original NoTW although Ed Miliband’s bruv writes for it’s successor).

          What concerns me is that if EM is going to set out a new path on welfare, the would-be Mayor of Birmingham is still the Shadow Minister. Would Byrne execute a volte-face?. I honestly expect it will be more of the same and a fresh roll of wallpaper on the New Labour walls to cover up the cracks. In short, I don’t expect very much very soon.

          • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

            you should note Byrne’s recent comments, he has had a uturn on views. Yes we brought in ATOS and we should be ashamed at that, like the academies.

          • AlanGiles

            I wish I had your faith, Ian. I find Byrne one of those shallow politicians who would say anything to hang on to his job -he’d say the earth was flat if it was expedient.

            A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots, though Byrne is a master as dissembling

          • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

            No Ian, there has not been a U-Turn and no one is apologising for academies. ATOS was wrong, and everyone accepts that.

        • robertcp

          I think and hope that you are right.

      • http://www.facebook.com/ian.robathan.5 Ian Robathan

        yes Robert because Blair could never have said and done some of the things Ed did, for example going against Murdoch

      • reformist lickspittle

        I think the neo-Blairite tendency certainly think he has!

      • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

        Well that is because the political environment has changed, Robert. He is still operating in a very early New Labour framework hence the appointment of Jon Cruddas as policy chief and many of the shadow ministers, such as Liam Byrne and Caroline Flint.

    • robertcp

      Ian, I agree with your list. My worry is that I will disagree with the detailed policies when we know what they are. Ed Miliband is good at giving the impression that he has moved on from New Labour but has he?

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Or we could have the zero-budget spending review, ending free perks for rich pensioners, freezing child tax credits and child benefit to pay for SureStart, directing NHS spending towards acute services – that saves money. PCCs only save a few million and should at least run their full-term before abolition.

  • http://twitter.com/daphne_80 lucy

    From speaking to people who waver between parties Ed needs to deliver on the concrete policies. Voters are on our side when it comes to education & the NHS but the economy needs to be our prime concern. We can’t rely on a universal hatred of the coalition to win the next election. As difficult as it is to predict and plan economic policy without a clear picture, if we don’t deliver a strategy we will lose.

  • Amber_Star

    One idea that Labour might consider is an inverse relationship between employers’ national insurance & wages, up to the point at which the employer is paying the living wage. The less the employer pays in the wages, the more they pay in NIC.
    The present system means that workers on low wages cost the state more & their employer less; that needs to change. And inverse employer’s NIC is one way to keep the net cost to the treasury virtually the same whilst discouraging large corporations from paying poverty wages. Ed Balls’s team can do the maths & see whether it’s a practical idea; maybe they’ve done it already & it’s being considered!

  • Amber_Star

    One idea that Labour might consider is an inverse relationship between employers’ national insurance & wages, up to the point at which the employer is paying the living wage. The less the employer pays in the wages, the more they pay in NIC.
    The present system means that workers on low wages cost the state more & their employer less; that needs to change. And inverse employer’s NIC is one way to keep the net cost to the treasury virtually the same whilst discouraging large corporations from paying poverty wages. Ed Balls’s team can do the maths & see whether it’s a practical idea; maybe they’ve done it already & it’s being considered!

  • Amber_Star

    One idea that Labour might consider is an inverse relationship between employers’ national insurance & wages, up to the point at which the employer is paying the living wage. The less the employer pays in the wages, the more they pay in NIC.
    The present system means that workers on low wages cost the state more & their employer less; that needs to change. And inverse employer’s NIC is one way to keep the net cost to the treasury virtually the same whilst discouraging large corporations from paying poverty wages. Ed Balls’s team can do the maths & see whether it’s a practical idea; maybe they’ve done it already & it’s being considered!

    • aracataca

      Sounds like a good and plausible idea Amber.

    • http://twitter.com/renieanjeh Renie Anjeh

      Agree, that would save about £6bn. Personally, I think reforming National Insurance so that the over 55s pay less in order to boost employment and National Insurance should become a mutual scheme to finance the welfare state.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Labour should start planning immediately on what it intends to do to pick up the pieces once most of the plans hatched by IDS and Freud inevitably crash and burn.

    Universal credit will never be “digital by default” and extending draconian conditionality demanded from the unemployed globally to sub-minimum wage earning part-time workers, to try to force them to search remorselessly for better jobs, or second jobs, or to secure more hours as per their current job in order to retain their right to top-up benefits will be a disaster. Capping housing benefit hasn’t curbed and never will curb rising rents in a market with to little affordable accommodation. Capping benefit claimable at some arbitrary number, plucked from thin air, won’t save much money either but does have the potential to cause immense suffering to families who are for whatever reason not “average”, while simultaneously robbing local authorities of the power and latitude to help genuinely needy people locally in appropriate ways. The Work Programme is not working and never will work as expected because it seeks to drive its participants into whatever work is extant based on their current skillset, which may be out of date or no longer be relevant, rather than retraining them and reskilling to enable them to take up alternative positions in the new economy. Passing the Atos test will never springboard the majority of sick, disabled, and even terminally ill men and women back into well-paid, rewarding careers, but may well end the lives of many.

    I could go on.

    In about two and a half years Labour will have to deal with these issues and put them right wherever and whenever possible. The party needs a capable, brave, honest and compassionate non-careerist politician as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions supported by a similarly admirable staff if/when the party is returned to power.

    As a first step Liam Byrne should be dumped poste haste.

    If not a “happy new year” 2013 could then at least be a “happier new year” for many.

    • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

      “As a first step Liam Byrne should be dumped… ”

      I was an L.P. member when Sainsbury bankrolled the SDP flounce-out in the early 1980s – if Ed moves against their even better organised successor/s there may well be a repeat performance at the most damaging time – in the run-up to the 2015 election.

      We saw what they were prepared to do in order to prevent a democratically selected Labour candidate winning the London Mayoralty – how much further might they be prepared to go to prevent the election of an un-SDP-like Labour government?

      • Monkey_Bach

        Byrne is a bad lot. Typical New Labour. Ambitious (without knowing why): meddlesome (seeking to have a legacy): amoral (no principles, core beliefs, or loyalty to anyone or anything): incompetent (limited egotistical abilities and intellect). He should go. As should Yvette Cooper and several other big cheese atavisms from the Blair years, although in reality I suppose they won’t. Byrne I suspect could be as hopeless and dangerous as Iain Duncan Smith; if he can’t be shuffled out of the pack altogether he should be moved sideways into another less important role.

        Eeek.

        • AlanGiles

          If Sports didn’t have culture and media added to it these days, I think the ideal post for Byrne would have been Sports Minister.

          I suppose, just for him, we could recreate the late Dennis Howell’s 1976 job as Minister for Drought. Given the downpours and deluges of 2012 that is a job that shouldn’t tax his brain cell too much :-)

          • http://twitter.com/waterwards dave stone

            I wouldn’t wish him on any department. Unfortunately, probably because ambitious politicians are without interest in sport, the sport portfolio (unimaginatively in my view) is often regarded as the option for idiots – though it shouldn’t be. But I feel the personality aspect is being over-emphasised – we would do better to think in terms of policy.

            However, if Byrne and other Blairite zombies remain in shadow cabinet then there’s no escaping from how little has changed and the inability to learn lessons will be all too starkly apparent.

            And we’ll know what’s in store if Labour is re-elected.

    • aracataca

      A lot of certainty about the future here- note the overuse of the word ‘will’.

      You don’t know what will happen over the next few years any more than I or anyone else does and it is incredibly arrogant to assume that you do.

      Yet another person laying claim to the role of Mystic Meg’s less successful twin brother perhaps?

      • AlanGiles

        Ah, the old Mystic Meg “joke” – it’s obviously an old favourite having been employed by you 4 times since last week. Perhaps time for a little break from it?. Overkill, and all that…

        Before anybody gets too excited by Miliband’s “concrete” policies, it might be well to remember crazy paving is made of concrete, and that sometimes, it is not all it is cracked up to be.

      • AlanGiles

        Ah, the old Mystic Meg “joke” – it’s obviously an old favourite having been employed by you 4 times since last week. Perhaps time for a little break from it?. Overkill, and all that…

        Before anybody gets too excited by Miliband’s “concrete” policies, it might be well to remember crazy paving is made of concrete, and that sometimes, it is not all it is cracked up to be.

      • AlanGiles

        Ah, the old Mystic Meg “joke” – it’s obviously an old favourite having been employed by you 4 times since last week. Perhaps time for a little break from it?. Overkill, and all that…

        Before anybody gets too excited by Miliband’s “concrete” policies, it might be well to remember crazy paving is made of concrete, and that sometimes, it is not all it is cracked up to be.

        • aracataca

          My point is that capitalism constantly tells us how things are and always will be – socialists should be suggesting that that isn’t necessarily the case and that things could be different.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Except that socialism can only exist in some “parallel” universe. In the real world, it has been tried (normally at the point of a gun, brutality and mass murder), and never yet succeeded. So socialists can suggest whatever they like, but the mass of people’s reality – founded upon human nature – will reject it.

            I do not mean to be dismissive, or suggest that only “raw” capitalism has any applicability. What there is, as yet undiscovered, is some form of “caring capitalism”. That is where Labour should be going, in my opinion.

          • aracataca

            I’m simply asserting that the future is unknown and uncertain. There have, of course, been periods in history when ‘people’ as you put it (as if the ‘people’ was a homogenous mass) have embraced socialism rather than rejected it.

          • aracataca

            I’m simply asserting that the future is unknown and uncertain. There have, of course, been periods in history when ‘people’ as you put it (as if the ‘people’ was a homogenous mass) have embraced socialism rather than rejected it.

          • aracataca

            I’m simply asserting that the future is unknown and uncertain. There have, of course, been periods in history when ‘people’ as you put it (as if the ‘people’ was a homogenous mass) have embraced socialism rather than rejected it.

          • aracataca

            I’m simply asserting that the future is unknown and uncertain. There have, of course, been periods in history when ‘people’ as you put it (as if the ‘people’ was a homogenous mass) have embraced socialism rather than rejected it.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            If, as you claim, “people” embraced socialism, did their children survive their parents’ mental aberration? A glance at history shows that many did not. Try to live in the Ukraine of 1932 to understand the reality of socialism. And those same ideas found their way into Labour manifestoes under Foot and Kinnock. In the last 30 years, only when Labour discounted socialism under Blair was it electable****. And you should also check since 1924 how many years there have been of Government of Labour socialism. Precisely none.

            The people may not normally be a homogenous mass, as you try to portray, but if you offer them socialism, watch them homogenise, nearly instantly. It is because socialism is an existentialist nonsense, and we all know it.

            If you want to be a socialist, you can easily waste your vote with Arthur Scargill’s little nonsense party, or the Tommy Sheridan if you are in Scotland.

            **** The ruinous Gordon Brown does not count, as he was never elected, but merely strong-armed his way to leadership, and when he had to submit to the electorate was rejected. Before him and Blair, you have to go back to the 1970s to find a Labour leader who connected with the public

          • aracataca

            The term socialism like the term capitalism is a broad and elastic one.One might argue, for instance, that Victorian Britain had a capitalist system and so does modern Sweden but of course the general conditions of life between the two variants of capitalism are completely different. Here you are referring to Revolutionary Communism, which was only one very specific strand of ‘socialism’ and then plastering it on to the general term of socialism as a whole. Of course capitalist systems have also had homocidal governments- Chile’s Pinochet regime or South Africa’s apartheid government spring to mind. History also suggests for instance that certain capitalists were complicit in Hitler’s regime in Nazi Germany ( See IG Farben’s involvement in the Birkenau Auschwitz concentration camp or Krupp’s involvement in arms production for the Wehrmacht for example).
            History shows that literally anything in the political, economic and social sphere can happen. History also shows that human nature is not universal or unchanging or encompassed by capitalist ethics but rather it is determined by social, political, economic, moral and historical contexts ( the Ancient Persians for example did not (IMHO) view the world through the dominant precepts of liberal democracy).
            Sometimes it is hard to accept one of the few things that can be said with some degree of certainty- namely -that the future is unwritten and unknown and that is perhaps what makes it so interesting.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            You make some good – and widely read, even academic – arguments Bill, but I think we are not approaching the debate from the same common basis. You are correct in observing that I refer to “revolutionary” socialism, but what I believe you miss is my point that it is only revolutionary socialism that has actually ever delivered a proper socialism anywhere, ever, in the world. And that was at the point of a gun, or worse, and at the cost of hundreds of millions of lives, which is unlikely to be a popular manifesto these days. The least lethal form of socialism is in Cuba, but it is still pretty lethal if you do not agree with it. And of course real live socialism never proved popular enough to survive a democratic vote.

            Of course, I acknowledge this also happens on the “other” side, with socialism’s twin brother of fascism. Goodness, I grew up for most of my childhood in a quasi-fascist state, and I have no love for them.

            As a result, all other “flavours” of socialism (democratic, social democratic, or whatever) are completely irrelevant, because they have never succeeded in the real world. My second point is that in a liberal western democracy, I do not believe they ever will, because of the acquisitiveness and self-interest of human nature, and the fact there are not enough selfless angels in the general population. Even the Scandinavian nations – with so much to admire in their social models – have GINI coefficients not radically different from the UK, at the cost of a tax burden that is significantly greater for the average citizen than the UK’s.

            (Sadly, quasi-fascism seems theoretically likely to be more “successful”, as it plays to the self-interest of the majority group, so it works “with the grain” of human nature (so long as the human concerned is part of the majority), and not “against the grain” as socialism does)

            Therefore, anyone advocating socialism now is either prepared to accept the sort of psychopathy associated with revolutionary socialism, as a “means to an end”, or they have not properly thought through the probabilities or consequences.

          • aracataca

            Couple of points Jaime:

            ‘of course real live socialism never proved popular enough to survive a democratic vote’……..

            Incorrect I’m afraid. Revolutionary socialism was voted for by the Chilean people in 1970 when they elected Slavador Allende’s government to power in a ‘free and fair election’. This government would have won a second term (IMHO) had it not been violently overthrown by you know who. IMHO there are a number of instances where revolutionary socialism has attracted popularity among the majority of a country’s citizens. I would argue for instance that Castro’s communists commanded majority support in 1959 in Cuba for instance and that a similar kind of majority supported the revolution led by Ho Chi Minh’s Communists in Vietnam against the French.(See Algeria etc,etc). I’m not advocating revolutionary socialism I’m simply stating that anything can and has happened in history from Pol Pot to Hitler.

            Secondly, I don’t subscribe to the view that human nature is uniform and/or universal. IMHO it is socially, politically, economically and historically determined. Therefore, I don’t personally subscribe to the view which states that human nature is wholly encompassed by the tenets of liberal democracy or capitalism which is why I suggested that the Ancient Persians did not view the world in the same way that a 21st Century liberal in an advanced industrial society might view the world. ‘Human nature’ is highly dependent on context (IMHO).

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Bill,

            Salvador Allende was never a revolutionary socialist, by any definition at all. He stood as a Presidential candidate in 3 elections before finally winning a very close 3-way vote. No bullets were fired, no one killed, no capitalists thrown from their windows to die on the pitchforks of peasants below(***). It “beggars belief” that you can describe a popular election and subsequent 3 year peaceful set of legally correct legislative proposals and subsequent actions as “revolutionary socialism”. I will not quote it extensively here, as the source is both old (1987) and also in Spanish, but a history of Allende’s time in power written by a leading academic in Santiago offered the opinion that Allende’s programme was so virulently opposed by the US and Kissinger (inspiring all sorts of covert and overt assistance by the USA to Pinochet) was precisely because it was so peaceful and reasonable, and thus a dangerous example to other countries in Latin America.

            Perhaps your definition of “revolution” is different to mine? The most “revolutionary” (in a different, modernistic sense) concept which he implemented was to install a network of early computers to take production data direct from factories to aggregate in the Ministry of Social Production. It was not largely successful, but this was in the days of “punched cards” for computers.

            Secondly, you are certainly correct that human nature is not uniform, but you fail to acknowledge averages and majority trends. In the “context” of both the small window of the last 100 years, and of western liberal democracies, there are not enough selfless people to make socialism work peacefully.

            (***) Not so when Pinochet launched his coup in 1973.

          • aracataca

            We’re in a labyrinth here Jaime. IMHO your definition of socialism is too narrow for me.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            It does not seem a labyrinth to me, in fact it appears to be a clear open field. But I take it you no longer wish to test your hypothesis against mine, and thus withdraw?

          • aracataca

            Do you mean my hypothesis that the future is unknown?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            No, your hypotheses that (1) Salvador Allende was a revolutionary socialist, and (2) your countering of my view that human nature will in the aggregate (which is what counts in elections, particularly over years in a settled democracy) tend toward rewarding non-socialist parties.

            As for the “future is unknown”, well you are correct of course. I have observed your “sparring” with Alan Giles and Dave Stone on this, and myself take no side. However, if I must, can I offer that the future is in some way probabilistically predictable, based on the past, and in the absence of any fundamental changes?

  • robertcp

    Renie, I just have a feeling of dread when I hear the words welfare reform and public service reform. In the New Labour years it was usually followed by right-wing nonsense.

  • robertcp

    Yes, I am hoping that he continues to ignore them.

  • robertcp

    Renie, I am just hoping that we never return to the awfulness of late New Labour from 2003 to 2007.

  • Monkey_Bach

    “… churches, community groups, charities or even the armed forces to run prisons…”

    If this wasn’t a joke it would be truly monkey nuts!

    Eeek.

    • aracataca

      Completely right Monkey- this is a complete joke. He’s never been in a prison in his life. Churches and charities are in prisons anyway – it’s just that they are not running them. I can see it all now- 25 local vicars in Mufti gear (shields, helmets, tasers, smoke bombs,batons etc) controlling a full scale wing riot.

      • Monkey_Bach

        After reading Renie’s comments I suspect him of internet trolling, i.e., deliberately writing provocative and ridiculous things in order to rile and get a rise out of readers. These silly antics are enough to drive any primate ape sh*t! Eeek.

        • aracataca

          On this one he has lost it. Can you imagine the Mufti (riot control) squad at Wormwood Scrubs being led by the Bishop of Rochester -The Right Reverend Simon Barclay -with the bishop having special responsibility for the supply and deployment of pepper spray? It is like something out of a Monty Python Sketch.
          How about we leave the running of all aspects of our prisons to………….er The Prison Service?

  • aracataca

    Sorry Renie have you ever been in a prison?

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