The Thatcher-introduced settlement is now under pressure as never before

14th April, 2013 9:30 am

I was elected to Leeds City Council during the miners’ strike, perhaps the defining domestic event in her period of office and I became leader in 1989. I was there when she left office having tackled head-on her assault on local government and communities, most notably the poll tax.

All who were politically aware, as I was, at the end of the 1970’s understood the relevance of W B Yeats’ celebrated line “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”.

The post war settlement introduced by Labour under Attlee was under increasing strain, partly as a consequence of a fiscal crisis brought about by the falling profitability of British capitalism. First Heath and then Wilson and Callaghan sought to maintain the 1945 consensus. By the end of the Callaghan Government Labour’s leaders were exhausted physically and intellectually as brilliantly captured in the play ‘This House’ which is currently showing at the National in London. Britain was trapped in an impasse. Something had to give. Gramsci had described such a moment as an interregnum. In our country, “the past was dying; and the new cannot be born.”

The 1979 election could not be like the others and the same is true of 2015. It had to be a moment of rupture in order to break the sclerotic British structures. Of course, we were aware that nothing in politics is certain. For the Left, the solution was clear and, many thought, inevitable. Britain should move beyond the Attlee consensus and into a more socialist society.

But when a country arrives at a turning point, as we clearly had, the direction which it takes is not pre-determined.

Mrs Thatcher had understood all of this too. As we now know, it was she who ended the interregnum into which the country had fallen.

She broke with the Attlee consensus and created a new settlement which has endured (albeit modified by New Labour) ever since. Thus it was possible for Tony Blair to say – in his comments immediately in the aftermath of Mrs Thatcher’s death – that: “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them”. But this Thatcher-introduced settlement is now under pressure as never before.

Indeed we can now see how Thatcherism contained a systemic design flaw. The certainty of the 2008 crisis was built into the post 1979 system. The ideas of market triumphalism meant that the normal process of government intervening in the economy to protect the wider community interests was suspended.

The country was treated to reduced regulation of an increasingly dominant financial sector without the counterweight of a strong manufacturing sector. And it was the failure properly to regulate finance capitalism which was precisely what was at the heart of the crash.

All elections are in part a contest between continuity and change. But, the next election cannot be about more of the same: a further modification of the existing economic settlement.

As Mary Riddell has suggested in her Daily Telegraph blog reflecting on Mrs Thatcher, the times call for “action rather than the stasis paralysing the politics of 2013”.

What is needed is a rupture with the last thirty years. But the question is which way should this rupture take Britain?

Even a brief glance at the political landscape reveals that the Tories and LibDems have chosen to respond to the crisis by seeking further intensification of all the characteristics of the Thatcher consensus. Thus we see austerity, more marketisation, a further assault on the public domain, growing inequality and so on. If this path prevails, then we can be sure that our economy will flatline for the foreseeable future and that a further crisis is inevitable.

Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats are hopelessly compromised by their period in office. The Tory modernisation project has been jettisoned partly due to the threat from Ukip, and the LibDems have irrevocably embraced divisive neo-liberal economic and social reform (e.g. the NHS reforms).

Therefore if there is going to be a government which will usher in a fresh start for Britain it will be the Labour Party.

Ed Miliband has shown that he understands the historic task which falls to the Party and his leadership. Last year he said:

“Consent for the old system has broken down…But, anger at the old system’s flaws is not enough to produce change. It needs the ideas and the political movement to transform discontent with the old settlement into consent for the new one.”

Mrs Thatcher fully understood the power of ideas and whilst in office and in opposition she carefully nurtured the growth of a new paradigm. When in office there was a steely determination on her part to bring about change. Thus although there was no single moment of rupture with the Attlee consensus there was a remorseless process change so that by the time she left office our country’s economic and social systems were configured in a way which endured through to the present day.

Labour’s task is no less than to create a vision of a new way of governing Britain. We need to build a movement which is capable of sustaining a One Nation Labour government of a new kind.

We will need steely nerves, inventive imaginations and new ways of communicating and governing. With only two years left, there is much work still to be done.

Jon Trickett is Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office

Value our free and unique service?

LabourList has more readers than ever before - but we need your support. Our dedicated coverage of Labour's policies and personalities, internal debates, selections and elections relies on donations from our readers.

If you can support LabourList’s unique and free service then please click here.

To report anything from the comment section, please e-mail [email protected]
  • AlanGiles

    ” By the end of the Callaghan Government Labour’s leaders were exhausted physically and intellectually ”

    Sadly the same can be said of all the major political parties today. The Conservatives trying for the sympathy vote by the continuing media manipulation of the death of Mrs Thatcher, devoid of ideas and talent, the LibDems on their knees after having to concede so much.

    Which leads us to Labour: Liam Byrne must have been quite exhausted last month to advise his party to abstain on the WRB retrospective law. That is the only charitable excuse I can make.

    • $6215628

      We might find a new generation of leaders coming up in the next few years, it worked in79 and 97

  • Good piece imo. But how are we to do it? With the Labour leadership increasingly falling back on the tactics of battering the poor and demonising immigrants to please the unpleasable, is there anything that can force them onto a decent path? Ed Miliband needs to understand that postmodern politics cannot work in the long term- we cannot continue to pander to perceptions, prejudices and ‘concerns’ because when problems have no strong material basis then they will never be fixed. For those minded to think so, there will always be too many immigrants and the poor will always be scroungers, that is their class position no matter what the objective facts are.

    • Ed isn’t demonising immigrants at all. The justification for immigration is largely down to globalisation from some who support it. As an opponent of globalisation as a perceived ‘good thing’, I think it is quite reasonable to consider its negative aspects as well, without being seen to ‘demonise’ anyone

      • So you are a protectionist? What do you agree with Ed on again?

        • $6215628

          This article has been reprinted on left futures and Trotskyite disunity. On the former there’s some interesting comments

      • Don’t you think the recent stance on immigration has been very knee-jerk and reactionary? Talking about ‘tackling immigration’, sounding out ways to restrict welfare from immigrants even further and focusing on keeping out the poor while welcoming the rich is completely wrong and insensible. Labour has conceded too much on immigration to the Tories and UKIP rather than attempt a positive argument and all it does is feed prejudice.

  • $6215628

    Apart from the financial crisis showing monetarism isn’t working, Thathcers greatest legacy is not New Labour, but the fact we haven’t seen labour go back to old labour.

    • montmorency

      Well said.

  • Very good piece. You are right to talk about the falling profitability of British capitalism, but of course this was reflected across the industrialised world. The neo-liberal era was a response to the falling rate of profit, which required unemployment and globalisation to shift production to more profitable parts of the world. Of course British capitalism has been in relative decline for a very long time now – growth rates in the 1980s under wonderful neo-liberalism were never as good as they were in the 1960s under Keynesianism.

    • aracataca

      Correct Alex. It is also becoming evident (increasingly beyond any doubt) that the current austerity programme can’t, and never will, work.

      • The best case scenario is that growth gradually picks up, however it has been doing so at a snails pace and the result will be a huge period of wasted time. Idle labour, idle factories, wasted spare capacity in the system – but capitalism is so efficient isn’t it? Meanwhile, inequality is rising. Seems like a big step backwards in human development if you ask me.

        • aracataca

          Correct. Instead of giving HBOS £215 million to pay bonuses to investment bankers who have lost billions and billions and billions of public money we should put this kind of money into a rejigged version of the National Enterprise Board to set up factories, offices and workshops that start making things again and involve everyone in the management of the companies by law.
          It reminds me of the way that the right use to slag off British Leyland in the 1970s for swallowing public money. The Morris Marinas and the Hillman Avengers may have been c**p but at the very least they served a socially useful function. When was the last time HBOS ever produced anything that was socially useful? The debts that they and their friends have created will take between thirty and fifty years to pay off and will be paid for by the sick, the disabled and the poor if we stick to austerity alone.Just like the Germans have done we should start making high quality and technologically advanced ‘widgets’ again and the State should be instrumental in getting this reinvention of the British economy going.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            When was the last time HBOS ever produced anything that was socially useful?

            The last time they sold a mortgage to a responsible family who had the capacity to pay it back. The last time they loaned money to a responsible business to invest in some new business venture. That is what banking should be about, not the casino that goes on in London, and not what HBOS should have been doing. If people want to gamble with their money, good for them, but do not let it be paid for by the man in the street.

            I am more doubtful about the rest of your text. We do live in a globalised world, and within the world, the UK is a high cost place to employ people and make things. I do not see that changing, because we do not want it to change. We like our social welfare and NHS and foreign aid, and it seems our Trident.

            If you look around your own house, what of the highest value things were made in Britain, apart from the house itself? I think my house and contents are fairly representative, and I cannot find a single physical object that might cost over £500 that was clearly produced in Britain. The intellectual content, yes, with books, probably some of the computer software, some films on DVD, and possibly a painting my wife bought from a dealer that may be worth something. Everything else is from abroad.

          • aracataca

            Is your car German Jaime? Mine is and guess what?When I come to renew it I’ll buy another German car. Because for the first time in my life I bought a German car 7 years ago I’ve done over 100,000 miles in it and guess what nothing has gone wrong with it. No exhausts scraping along the floor, no broken clutches,( that’s £500 mate), no sticking CD player or broken air con or broken turbo- nothing. Germany is a high cost place to make things and employ people. Can’t we at least try and emulate them? After all what have we got to lose – ( Well £215 million in bonuses to investment bankers in a zombie bank I suppose?)

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Mine is a Volvo from 1996. I think it was meant to be quite exciting for a Volvo, with headlights that pop up and only 2 doors, but the headlights are stupid when it rains and they go up and down independently. Anyway, it only cost me around £4,000 in 1999, and not much since. It is my wife who has spent a lot on cars, mostly Land Rovers, and they go wrong frequently. I tried to persuade her to buy a Toyota Hilux after it had a funny if ridiculous review on the Top Gear show (the “cockroach of cars” – it would survive a nuclear blast), but she did not like it.

          • aracataca

            Volvo, BMW, Audi = reliability. The extra money you spend on the initial purchase you make back over the longer term.Germany is the biggest exporting country in the world and Deutsche Bank didn’t go bust. Also we can do this kind of thing. Take Roberts radio/CDs/ docking stations for instance they’re not Bang & Olufsen or Ruark but they are not far off and they’re half the price. This country used to be the workshop of the world and we should at least try to be so again.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            I have a pair of “Ruark Swordsman 2” loudspeakers – I did not realise they are British. They sound quite reasonable to my ears, but I am no expert in the high fidelity. I only have them because a lodger in Darlington departed after his planned year of tenancy without paying his last month of rent, so I kept his loudspeakers and exercise bicycle, and burned the dirty laundry he left in the washing bin. He still owes me £300, but I expect to never get it. He is currently practising in Dublin.

          • aracataca

            Short of Bang & Olufsen speakers they are about the best you can buy IMHO.

          • Dave Postles

            Deutsche Bank was no different from the other banks which were in trouble. It allegedly concealed billions in losses in the financial crisis, received billions from the Fed as a result of its connection with AIG, and is under investigation right now in the US and Germany. Commerzbank received massive government support. So, you are not concerned about employment in the UK car industry, one of our most important industries. I applaud every time I see someone in a Jag. As a public employee at taxpayer expense, you should at the very least consider supporting UK employment.

          • aracataca

            Well that is one way of looking at it. Of course Tata owns Jaguar and BMW and Volkswagen do have assembly plants here in the UK. Deutschebank is no less horrible than any of the others but it didn’t go bust.
            I want us to get away from casino financial services and go back to making things instead.I also want an end to neo-liberalism and a restoration of Keynesian economics in order to get out of the crisis.

          • Dave Postles

            It starts right here with us if we want to go some way to correcting the balance of payments and stimulating UK employment. If your German car is imported (not from Cowley, for example), then you may be part of the problem. DB has made a series of losses recently. It is under investigation – in the US, it looks like the case will revolve around fraud under the AIG payments. In Germany, the investigation is about its allegedly concealing losses in 2008-10 to avoid compulsory government support of the type imposed on Commerzbank. So, do you want a Keynesian stimulus so that more people can import German cars? I want a Keynesian stimulus in which people will commit to enhancing UK employment. If there is infrastructural investment, it seems a shame to me that consumers will then p*ss away the gains on imported foreign cars.

          • aracataca

            Well I’m not a huge fan of protectionism if that’s what you’re asking. The Left argued for it in the 1970s as our manufacturing industry collapsed under the weight of first class management and a superb industrial relations culture. My own view is that the main issue was to do with investment. Italy is a basket case economy but its car and motorcycle industry is a success, think Ducati, Motoguzzi, elite cars such as Ferrari,Lamborghini etc. It was not always so. In fact in the 1970s the Italian automative industry was uncannily similar to our own. The difference was that the Italian government kept it going through a decade of crisis through the IRI which was initially set up by Mussolini at the end of the 20s- whereas our government ……well we know what happened.

          • rekrab

            Maybe not but you have to understand governments have been creating dummy businesses and mefo bills for a long time.

          • girlguide

            Roberts radios are owned by an Irish company and they switched a lot of their production to the Far East a while back because the UK products had become uncompetitive on price!

          • Alexwilliamz

            Well I have got a Honda built in Swindon and it drives well and its the second Honda I’ve owned and never had any issues with reliability. Excellent fuel economy too. But hey lets not move away from any stereotypes.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Was your Honda designed in Britain, or elsewhere? Reliability is fundamentally in the design, not in the building, which is low grade assembly line and machine work as far as cars are concerned.

          • Alexwilliamz

            Well the car factory is there as long as people want to buy cars made there. That does not always mean it has to be the cheapest, they may be issues of convenience and even fraternal sentiments (although I know you feel these to be very limited). Personally I’d rather have a mix of different industries including manufacturing, especially as the ‘low grade assembly line and machine work’ would no doubt fill a niche demand in the labour market. The other advantage of manufacturing is it can create a supply line so often has a much broader economic effect than an office of white collar workers.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            You buy your car based on which factory it comes from? Really? I think you must be unusual.

            I do not believe that car manufacturers plan which factories they open or close do so on people wanting to buy from a certain factory. I think they make these decisions based on the cost to them of producing an identical product in the UK, or Italy, or South Africa, or Mexico. Whichever factory is cheaper gets the job, and the others get closed, and if in 5 years another factory in Indonesia becomes cheaper, the earlier factory also gets closed and the production is switched. Is this not how capitalism works?

            (That slightly reminds me of some early advice my father gave to me and my sister. “Don’t ever work for a capitalist. Become a capitalist if you want, but don’t ever work for one”. He was right, and remains so.)

          • rekrab

            Nonsense, people will buy a popular make, the peoples car hung around for decades.Leyland produce quality trucks, Bedford and the BMC could still be producing quality vans and tractors. Can’t see why you’d think that it was an order like mentality to buy from abroad?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            “Can see why you’d think that it was an order like mentality to buy from abroad?”

            Can you translate that into english?

            The Leyland Trucks now appear to be owned by a company called PACCAR, which is not British, and simply in “marketing terms”, is it at all possible to sell a vehicle into a sophisticated market with the name of British Leyland?

          • rekrab

            Why, can’t you read it?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            It would be helpful if you asked something grammatically comprehensible to a human. What is an “order like mentality”?

          • rekrab


          • jaime taurosangastre candelas


            Well, that hardly helps, even if you had 4 goes at editing it.

            So here is your original question, updated with your new and 4-times edited word:

            “Can see why you’d think that it was a Governmentality to buy from abroad?”

            You are going to have to help me out on this question Derek. Really, put it into simple words for me, please.

          • rekrab

            Well, I guess your the classic neo-liberal and your thinking is all about the price and nothing about the value.On Industry you’d rather encourage buying from foreign ports because you can’t stand the thought of British workers advancing their causes. You don’t own say a vauxhall and your home is full of foreign made imports because there cheaper in your mind.I’d say that you continue the order like fashion of Toryism, in as much as I’ve outlined above, you simply hate Britain and British goods.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            That is quite some set of conjecture and non sequiturs that you outline. It won’t surprise readers of your other comments at all to find that you are completely wrong, as ever, in everything that you say.

            I’d say that you continue the order like fashion of Toryism…”

            Still a mystery, compounding your earlier nonsense about “Governmentality”.

          • rekrab

            I was hunching you’d bring up past posts!
            So lets talk about your past posts.
            1/ You always support the armed forces.Much like Thatcher because she could boss them around and keep their pay down.
            2/When you talk about British Industry you always say it’s to costly.
            3/ You’d rather that British workers were paid the same rate as Asian workers.
            4/ You absolutely detest trade unions
            5/ You say that you negotiate your own term and condition because you wouldn’t trust the union to do it for you.
            6/You don’t ever agree with any trade union dispute in your work place and will never take Industrial action.
            7/You have said that you agree with IDS on reducing housing benefits.
            8/It wasn’t to long ago you said you were going to Canada because Britain wasn’t worth living in.
            9/You think the British education system is of a lower standard than your Chile education.
            10/You constantly make mistakes in your posts and when challenged you tend to go off topic and start slagging peoples intelligence.

            I could go on but I spare you the pain!

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            1. Yes I do, because I value their intelligent service of a cause our country gathers around. Nothing to do with the Thatcher.
            2. It is costly, in comparison with the rest of the world. That is simple observation.
            3. Show me where I ever said that. That’s a typical Derek-ism.
            4. Yes, and for good cause. They are a great part in holding back free thought and the liberty of individuals.
            5. Yes. And?
            6. You cannot forecast what I may or may not do in the future.
            7. Well, housing benefits are out of control.
            8. We will go to Canada, but I never said immediately, or that Britain is not worth living in.
            9. Quantitatively, it is. Look at the OECD 30 records.
            10. Your opinion, which (in my opinion) is mostly misinformed, follows no logic, invents things to suit your purpose, and has low intellectual quotient.

          • rekrab

            And I stand triumphant!
            3/ You’ve said several times about British workers working for Asian type wages. I remind you that you’ve said that Vietnam workers get something like 20pence per hours and you suggested British workers should follow.You were challenged by several posters on that one.
            6/ Again, here you deny your words?
            9/So why Canada and not Chile? and why say you use your family allowance, child benefit to save for your children future university.Does that mean you’ll pay for their future tuition cost in another place?
            10/ You make my case…Thanks!

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Pointless. I will tell you what, why don’t you actually dig up some posts from me “proving” your retorts on (3) and (6).

            We’ll see what you come up with.

            Point (9) is slightly different. Yes, the children will have take advantage of the savings they accumulate from the stupid child benefit, which should pay for about 63% of my daughter’s university fees****, and something like 74% of my son’s, 5 years later. But then neither my wife nor I need to receive it for our daily lives, so we save it for the children. It is very popular among the more stupid among left wing people to support universal benefits, but in fact they merely enable middle class people to put their children further ahead. As a Labour supporter, you might think about that.

            **** Assuming current UK costs, scaled for age, and with 8% investment return annually until then

          • rekrab

            Pointless. I will tell you what, why don’t you actually dig up some posts from me “proving” your retorts on (3) and (6).

            We’ll see what you come up with.

            Point (9) is slightly different. Yes,” the children will have take advantage” of the savings they accumulate from the stupid child benefit, which should pay for about 63% of my daughter’s university, and something like 74% of my son’s, 5 years later. But then neither my wife nor I need to receive it for our daily lives, so we save it for the children. That is why it is a stupid universal benefit. It is very popular among the more stupid among left wing people to support universal benefits, but in fact they merely enable middle class people to put their children further ahead. As a Labour supporter, you might think about that.

            Jeez! and you question me on grammar? ” the children will have take advantage”

            On 6/Jaime your not a trade union member, who would you be taking action for?

            Jaime, you know those posts are there.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Sorry, Derek, “have taken”, not “have take”.

            I don’t think someone like you should be throwing stones at anyone else for poor grammar, or spelling. And why not try writing in your second language? Do you have a second language, or are you a typical product of the British educational system? I can do French and Italian reasonably, as they are romance languages and so similar to Spanish. German is more difficult for me – I have only simple words and the present tense.

            We can try chemical notation, or quadratic equations, if you like. Those are also valid means of passing information if you can’t cope with Spanish, as clearly you often cannot with English, particularly late at night when “refreshed”.

            Anyway, it is a waste of your time learning a second language to confront me, You should be trying to dig up my previous posts to try to disprove what I say,

          • rekrab

            Seems I picked up your mistake.
            I’ve never suggested I’m any thing other than a layman? are you suggesting I refrain from posting because I don’t hold a second language? or speak a different language other than English.Personally, I think I struggle with pronouncing words properly. I dunno, you could be correct, maybe I shouldn’t give my opinions?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Test of MathCAD:

            EDIT: No, it did not work I thought I could post the Gini co-efficent,

          • rekrab

            Gini co-efficient, isn’t it a measure of equalities? a zero based Gini co hasn’t really ever existed. Aren’t you in danger of just plugging some notion that the lowest common denominator will back you Gini co efficient effect?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            No, to your second sentence.

          • rekrab

            A measure of most things, wages, science, maths ect, what you produce and how you produce and what measure you apply to those production.

            If I’m wrong, I don’t mind the corrective action.

          • And amusingly, he still doesn’t recognise that those views place him very clearly on the Right!

          • rekrab

            No! you asked for an additive, I obliged? Now your writing my posts for me? Quack! Quack!

          • rekrab

            Well, I guess your the classic neo-liberal and your thinking is all about the price and nothing about the value.On Industry you’d rather encourage buying from foreign ports because you can’t stand the thought of British workers advancing their causes. You don’t own say a vauxhall and your home is full of foreign made imports because there cheaper in your mind.I’d say that you continue the order like fashion of Toryism, in as much as I’ve outlined above, you simply hate Britain and British goods.

          • rekrab

            It’s a subsidiary of Leyland brand, didn’t you say somewhere else that vauxhall British workers made vauxhall cars “Except you have not thought that the workers of Vauxhall are British, and get paid in the Luton factory” You might want to recant now?

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Your question is still opaque. What is an “order like mentality”?

          • Alexwilliamz

            Possibly unusual but I think quite a few people make those considerations as part of the overall decision making. As to relocating Car manufacturing I think you will find something like car manufacturing is far from a straightforward relocation. They are not making clothes here. despite you denigration of those who work in car plant it is not a set of skills sets that just arrives, there are also considerable logistical issues such as component sources, then the transport costs for all the components and the finished product. This requires string infrastructure etc. You have to make calculations based on risk also, since all the setting up and training means you do not want to be relocating every 5-10 years. Generally new factories are set up with a lot government financing. However I declare you the winner as I am getting a bit bored of your all knowing take on economics and finance. Neither of us has expertise in this field so we are probably talking out of our hats.

          • aracataca

            Correct. For example, Lucas who used to do the electrics, bulbs etc for British Leyland?

          • Something will have to give eventually. Britain can’t sustain itself simply on growth in the service sector forever if the developing world becomes increasingly attractive for manufacturing investment.

          • Dave Postles

            The first step is for British businesses and consumers to support each other by preferential purchases. Most purchases can be bundled up into less than the tender requirements of the EU – is it about £153k still? So, UK businesses could buy Vauxhall vans manufactured in Luton. They could buy company cars manufactured in the UK. They can buy IT equipment assembled in the UK. Consumers can do likewise. The problem is that we are all suffer from myopia.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            What is the motivation for supporting British business? Of course, that is a noble aim, but if a Vauxhall van costs £20,000, and a Citroen van £19,000 for basically the same thing, and there are dealers locally to get it serviced?

            You are right, in the suffering from myopia comment. But you also have to persuade with a “buy British” campaign.

            Actually, the Government could help. A tax credit of £500 per £100,000 purchase for buying from British companies would really move demand in the country.

            I imagine the EU would not like that, but then also the EU would also not like being told to “keep quiet, the UK are net contributors and on the verge of possibly leaving, and so do not irritate us any longer if you want the net contributions to keep arriving”. The EU will find a way of looking the other way, as they always do (to witness, the Italian power industry and the French yoghurt industry, both “strategic industries” in the EU, and so operating under different rules).

          • Dave Postles

            Nah, the problem with we people on the left is that we are just stupid. End of discussion.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Only equally stupid as the right, but perhaps more dogmatic.

          • You are right about the EU. Other member states routinely get away with it, but then they are ‘insiders’. Britain has always isolated itself within the EU, so nobody really likes us. I think we give the impression of being outside the tent pissing in, when to get away with it we should at least be inside the tent.

          • aracataca

            Vauxhall is of course owned by General Motors so it isn’t and never has been British so the analogy with Citroen doesn’t really work here Jaime.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Except you have not thought that the workers of Vauxhall are British, and get paid in the Luton factory, and that is not the same as Citroen, no matter where the ownership is.

            If you wish to pursue your analogy, I am not sure which British company to suggest. Perhaps Caterham? But I do not think they make the vans. If they do, they will be very quick on the “sales rounds”. I had a drive with a colleague in his new Caterham, and it was a thrilling experience to be so low down near to the ground at over 100 mph and with the wind in your face. But you could not put 2 tonnes of goods into the car, which is what you need a van for.

          • I certainly agree. Of course, if we had a more collectivised economy it would make sense to source goods internally. I suppose the question is is the long term trend going to be increasing globalisation, or are we going to see a turn to protectionism?

          • aracataca

            Are you referring here to a scheme that would be redolent of the ‘I’m Backing Britain Campaign’ which I remember as a kid in the 1960s?

    • 00MarkWood00

      I agree wholeheartedly regarding the negative effects that came about due to neoliberalism and globalisation, but also think it best not to underestimate the effect of the Oil cartels in the Middle East during this time, the rising price of oil, the fuel of growth in our system played a big part in the decline that followed. Strange that the West used the petrodollar as a means of controlling the global financial system, but may have inadvertently created a monster that destroyed any chance of a better life.

  • aracataca

    This article makes important points. The neo-liberal game is up and a system that pays investment bankers of a bankrupt bank (HBOS) £215 million in bonuses for losing £5 billion of public money has to be changed. If it isn’t we are going to experience 10 years of 0% growth ( more or less). The consequences of that for everybody including (funny enough) investment bankers but especially those on modest or low incomes or on benefits will be calamitous. It’s time to re-open the works of John Maynard Keynes and get economic growth going immediately.

    • Dave Postles

      It’s rather a strange and topsy-turvy world. In the USA:

      1 the Fed has had a self-imposed remit of adjusting monetary policy explicitly for fuller employment; and

      2 the authorities have subjected some bankers to the ‘perp walk’ and have now extradited a banker from London and convicted him:

      Meanwhile, over here, Osborne continues to pump money into the banks, now in a desperate attempt to stimulate the housing market for some sort of growth, no matter what kind.

      Finally, our current account deficit (balance of trade) continues to widen, despite the collapse of sterling. So, Osborne pins everything on another housing market stimulus rather than strategic investment.

      • Any chance of export-led recovery was doomed by neo-liberalism. Another aspect of Thatcher’s great legacy.

        • Daniel Speight

          So Jon there seems to be general agreement here that Labour needs to break from this neo-liberal economic consensus just like Thatcher and Reagan broke with the post war Keynesian consensus. Is that your feeling too? If so, any chance we are going to hear it from the leadership?

          • postageincluded

            Best that the cat doesn’t miaow before getting in among the pigeons.

      • aracataca

        Correct. The game is up.

      • aracataca

        The likelihood is that there will be another housing bubble which will be fully inflated by about……….er , Spring 2015.However, the bigger the bubble, the bigger the burst. Another ruinous credit boom is just around the corner.

      • AlanGiles

        A strange and topsy-turvy world indeed. Here from todays (15th April) Metro newspaper is a further list of guests for Wednesday’s pricey display:

        ” businessman Gerald Ronson, who was jailed for his part in the Guinness shares scandal, are among the latest confirmed guests for the funeral……
        Labour MPs Frank Field and Keith Vaz and Italian prime minister Mario Monti will also be attending.”

        A jailbird, a “Labour” MP who has more friends in the Conservative party (the Nicholas Soames double act comes to mind) and Keith Vaz, one of the original expenses fiddlers, who suffered long term laryngitis in 2001, and an overdose of silk soft furnishings in 2008.

        What a farce this is turning out to be!

  • postageincluded

    I was heavily into Yeats at the end of the 70s, but I didn’t see Thatcher coming, despite knowing “The Second Coming” by heart.

    But why just quote one line? The last lines are the killer:

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

  • Pingback: US Convicts Credit Suisse Bankster Of Contributing To Banking Crash | ukgovernmentwatch()

  • Pingback: News of the Nation » It’s time not just to bury Thatcher – but Thatcherism | Seumas Milne()

  • ChrisForen

    I’m disappointed to see that Jon Trickett has nothing to say about the environmental constraints to infinite growth. If the economy grows at 2% each year then it doubles in 30 years. We are already consuming 1.5 planets’ worth of stuff and exceed several safe boundaries (climate, fish stocks, deforestation).

    Labour needs to embrace the politics of Enough. That means we decide what makes life worthwhile and ridding ourselves of the growth addiction.

    The Earth is abundant enough to fulfill our needs if we turn our backs on capitalist consumer culture and move to a more equal society. This is why I left Labour and joined the Green Party.

  • Pingback: LED Lighting News » Blog Archive » It’s time to bury not just Thatcher()

  • montmorency

    One of the tragedies of post-war governments, especially the Attlee government, was that they didn’t take control of the creation of money. This would have been possible with the nationalisation of the BoE, but the chance was lost, and we have continued to be in thrall to the banking/finance sector ever since.

    This was perhaps not so bad (although it was never good) in the days before high-speed electronic financial transactions, but with that, and the “big-bang”, the stage was set for the crash of 2007/8, and the next one, which won’t be long.

    If progressive reforming governments had wisely used money creation only for productive purposes, it would not have been inflationary, and we would not be burdened now with the debt mountain (private and public). The property bubbles would not have happened, and there could have been more than adequate public housing at affordable prices, and affordable houses for purchase for those who wanted it. Not to mention a thriving industrial sector, the real creators of wealth, supported by well-funded top-notch science, engineering, research, development and education.

    Not to mention no cuts to libraries, and the only “cuts” in benefits would occur naturally as people found productive work – you know, like it used to be.

    The banking/financial sector would of course have had to be kept under control and made the servant of the people and not its master.

    I don’t speak for them, but Positive Money have a sound approach, although there are other ways of going about this.

    I’d strongly recommend the books, articles and videos of Professor Richard Werner of Southampton University (Director of International Development and founding Director of the Centre for Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development.), for anyone interested in looking at these things in more depth, especially the much-vaunted independence of the BoE (and other central banks). He questions whether this independence is a good thing for the country (although it’s certainly been good for those at the top of the banking sector). The BoE presided over the crash and were rewarded with more responsibility, then gave us QE, which gave £375 Billion to the banking sector which did almost nothing for the real economy.

    But the main parties (including Labour, sadly) are not really talking about this. Labour is afraid of “the City” if it takes on the BoE/ the banking sector. They should grow a spine and face them down. Bankers who are not happy are more than welcome to leave.


LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends