Jon Cruddas has given us an alternative meaning for aspiration

February 7, 2013 7:52 am

Do you remember when Jon Cruddas was appointed to run the Policy Review? I bet that from pretty much whatever wing or section of the party you feel is your home – it made you smile. That’s because Jon is a free, radical and clever thinker. He has values based roots, the direct experience of what globalization has done to the people of Dagenham, combined with a sense of fun and rejection of dogma and closed minds. He has always been close to Compass, the organisation I Chair, but he has always been his own free sprit. At home politically with David Miliband as he is intellectually with Raymond Williams. It is what makes him interesting.

Last night – he made a speech that will make you smile again – because it is clever, clear, well argued, contains hope and vitality. It’s on the subject of ‘earning and belonging’ which he says are the two verbs that will act as the building blocks of the Policy Review

The speech takes its cue from Alan Millburn’s comments back in January 2005 when he was head of Labour’s election strategy when he said “What we want is for more people to be able to earn and own. That is what people want. It is what Labour policy in the end is all about.”

Labour ended up with 36% of the vote and 20% of the electorate as whole. The rest, as they say is history. The early vibrancy and promise of New Labour, which Jon was a part of, had shriveled into a crude materialistic notion of aspiration. Alan, I would tentatively suggest, had lost his way. Jon gives us an alternative meaning for aspiration – one full of hope because it is based on a much richer, deeper and more complex view of what it means to be human.

Yes people want and needs things – but that in our turbo-consuming times become a monoculture which eats away at the fabric of solidarity Labour needs in society. Yes Labour would give the people more than the Tories – but more of what? No just things but time, control, respect, identity – both individual and collective.

Jon roots all this in the institutions people built to make their lives better – the societies, unions and associations. This is the middle way – between the state and the market in which people can come alive and be the authors of their destiny. We got lost in believing that economic efficiency delivered social justice. But Wonga is economically efficient – but lacks any moral sensibilities – that can only come from cooperative and credit union finance – which are the real examples Jon wants to see and hear about as he coordinates the review – not the dry policy.

None of this means we should forget the state – far from it. It matters locally, national and globally. The separation of power from politics into global financial flows means the state must be stronger in some respects – but only on a more democratic basis.

To earn and be afforded respect – not just to earn to buy. To belong to a community, a workplace, a society and nation – not just to have ‘belongings’. These do indeed feel like good building blocks for the Policy Review. Turning them into hard policy will be the difficult bit and to do that we need to be brave.

Many think the election is Labour to lose. This just induces complacency. Taking no chances is a strategy – but one that is unlikely to help us into office and certainly not into power. The economists predict growth in 2014. That’s time enough for Cameron and Osborne to say ‘we told you so – now don’t let Labour ruin it’. Without a convincing story of the nation we want to rebuild and how we will do and why we should fear not just losing but winning in 2015. There is a mountain to climb between now and then. But Jons speech made the path just a bit clearer.

  • Jeremy_Preece

    As someone who has worked for over 20 years in the area of training and e-learning, I would say that the best way to get your point across, particulalry if it is concept based, is that examples are given.
    Without the examples it gets very theory based.

Latest

  • Comment What will Labour do about this deadly epidemic?

    What will Labour do about this deadly epidemic?

    There’s an epidemic sweeping the world. It destroys families, snuffs out hope and opportunity and hurts those who least deserve a painful death. I’m not talking about Ebola (though that’s an unspeakably horrifying plague), nor am I talking about Malaria or TB (both of which cause a death toll that dwarves Ebola every single year). I’m talking about something that kills every five minutes. Violence against children. Unicef UK have a new report out today (“Children in Danger”) that highlights […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The UKIP Calypso should be number one

    The UKIP Calypso should be number one

    On the 1st March 1945, a reggae legend was born. Two years later, on the 1st March 1947, Mike Read was born. Unfortunately, a birthday is no longer the only thing that connects Mike Read and multiple Grammy-winner Burning Spear. They are now both purveyors of politically charged Afro-Carribean songs about independence. By now, you should all be aware of the new UKIP single. Sung by former Radio One disc jockey Mike Read, it is a rare foray by the […]

    Read more →
  • News What does the new Shadow Europe Minister mean for Labour’s position on free movement

    What does the new Shadow Europe Minister mean for Labour’s position on free movement

    The biggest story of last night’s mini-reshuffle was the return of Pat McFadden to Labour’s frontbenches, as Shadow Europe Minister, four years after he left his post at Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills. While much has been made of his Blairite credentials, what may be more interesting is his position on free movement within the EU. The Labour Party has been talking a lot about “fair movement, not free movement” in the EU – most recently Shadow Immigration minister Dave […]

    Read more →
  • Featured If you care about the rise of Ukip, go to Rochester and Strood

    If you care about the rise of Ukip, go to Rochester and Strood

    If you care about the rise of UKIP’s populist right-wing politics and you want to do something to stop it now, there is one place you need to make a trip to and campaign for Labour between now and 20 November: Rochester & Strood. Polling guru Mike Smithson has said it “will have a dramatic affect on the political environment in the six months to the May 7th general election.” He’s thinking of the impact between UKIP and the Tories, […]

    Read more →
  • News McFadden rejoins Labour front bench as Europe Minister in (mini) Labour reshuffle

    McFadden rejoins Labour front bench as Europe Minister in (mini) Labour reshuffle

    Update: Pat McFadden becomes Shadow Europe Minister, replacing Gareth Thomas. Thomas moves within the Shadow FCO team to become Shadow Minister for North Africa and the Middle East. Ian Lucas moves from Foreign Affairs to Defence – he’ll be covering international security strategy. And last but not least, Yvonne Fovargue moves from Defence to Education replacing Rushanara Ali as Shadow Minister for Young People. That means McFadden is the one new recruit for Miliband’s front bench, speaking this evening, he said: “I’m […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y