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

  • Featured Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Gordon Brown to announce departure as an MP “within days”

    Former Labour leader and Prime Minister Gordon Brown is set to resign as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath “within days” according to a report from the Sunday Mirror. Brown, who played a key role in the Scottish referendum campaign this year – giving a barnstorming speech on the eve of the vote that defined the case for the union. Brown’s rumoured departure follows his long-time ally Alistair Darling’s decision to quit Parliament in 2015. The Sunday Mirror reports: “Gordon Brown will […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Findlay says information going to party members for leadership vote is “insulting”

    Neil Findlay MSP, who is running to be leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is calling on the Labour Party to clarify what information will be given to members with Leadership ballot papers. At the moment it looks as though the booklet with candidate statements in it only lists the nominations each candidate received from Parliamentarians and not from Constituency Labour Parties, trade Unions or socialist societies. In response to this, Findlay has released the following statement: “Over the last […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    It’s Ukip that offends working class sentiment

    After this week’s Twitter row at the Rochester by-election, I am using my keynote speech to the Labour East Regional Conference today to say that it is UKIP who truly offends working class sentiment and represents a party which is fundamentally un-British. Today I am lucky to serve as a Euro MP but, like many in our movement, I grew up on a council estate living in poverty, so don’t need any lectures from UKIP about snobbery. First, we can’t counter UKIP […]

    Read more →
  • News Balls says money raised from banking fines should go to the NHS

    Balls says money raised from banking fines should go to the NHS

    In a speech today at Labour’s East of England regional conference in Ipswich, Ed Balls has announced that £1bn raised from banks who are fined for manipulating the markers should go to the NHS. He is calling on George Osborne to include this in his Autumn Statement, due to take place on the 3rd December. This also comes after many health care professionals said due to funding cuts, “the NHS and our social care services are at breaking point.” Balls […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Join the 1,000 – building a movement for Labour’s future in Scotland

    Join the 1,000 – building a movement for Labour’s future in Scotland

    Last Tuesday I stopped by a Team Findlay phone bank in Glasgow. I was expecting to see a half dozen people making calls. There were close to 40. And that was just in Glasgow. More people were hitting the phones from Aberdeen to Ayrshire and from Dundee to Dumfries to take part in what we’re calling ‘Call 4 Change’. It’s been like this since my campaign kicked off two weeks ago. We launched ‘Neil 4 Scotland’ in the Miners’ Welfare in […]

    Read more →