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 Fairness dictates that we show concern for both sides

    Fairness dictates that we show concern for both sides

    We have all been shocked to see the surge in violence between Israel and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. This conflict is causing enormous hardship on both sides. Particularly distressing is the sight of civilian casualties. The scale of human suffering in the current escalation is immense and every civilian casualty is a tragedy. The people of Gaza have the right to live in peace and freedom, just as Israelis have the right not to fear for […]

    Read more →
  • News Are Osborne’s spinners block journalists from asking questions they don’t like?

    Are Osborne’s spinners block journalists from asking questions they don’t like?

    An intriguing story emerged from a copy of the Express and Star last week, the regional newspaper that covers the West Midlands and Staffordshire. Daniel Wainwright reports that during a recent visit from the Chancellor, a radio journalist said she wanted to ask George Osborne about food banks, and was told that he simply wouldn’t answer it. Here’s the story: “Talking of George Osborne, here’s a little insight into what goes on in the run up to getting an interview. These […]

    Read more →
  • News Alexander intervenes on Gaza escalation that “shames our shared humanity”

    Alexander intervenes on Gaza escalation that “shames our shared humanity”

    Douglas Alexander, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, has made another intervention on the Gaza conflict as the crisis in the Middle East continues to escalate. Alexander condemns the attack on a UN school in Gaza, describing the deaths of children there as “[shaming] our shared humanity”. His latest comments seem to be aimed largely at lobbying Israel to stand down the level of the force, and to recognise that as a democracy with “vastly superior technological and military capabilities, comes particular responsibilities”. […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour changes track – and now it can win

    Labour changes track – and now it can win

    Labour has not generated many headlines this week. There haven’t been game-changers. David Cameron wasn’t trounced in Prime Minister’s Questions. The polls haven’t shifted. The meeting with a post-stardust Obama passed by without significant benefit or incident. Yet, this has been Labour’s best week for some considerable time – certainly in this Parliament. Heading into the final furlong of the election race, Labour has three strategic weaknesses: its perceived weaknesses on leadership, an absence of a strong governing story and a […]

    Read more →
  • News This is just one of the reasons why the Tories will never do well in the North East

    This is just one of the reasons why the Tories will never do well in the North East

    David Cameron has been on BBC Radio Tees – that’s the radio station for the Middlesbrough area, and the Tees is the name of the river there. Except this happened (via Buzzfeed): Presenter: “You keep mentioning the River Tyne. That’s not our region prime minister. I’m sorry, we are the River Tees.” Cameron: “I’m sorry, I thought I was doing….” Tyneside is of course around 50 miles North of Middlesbrough – it’s home to Newcastle, and Gateshead, and those of us who are […]

    Read more →