The Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday, warned of the social consequences of ending naval shipbuilding in the city, including that jobless families could turn to loan sharks as the lenders of last resort. Cue Labour’s latest, greatest initiative.
And what an odd policy announcement it was: Ed Miliband commits a future Labour government to ban the advertising of payday loans on children’s television. Socialism in our time! What will the Daily Mail say?
Since the Thatcherite takeover of Labour in 1994 there have been nearly 20 years of pretend politics, in which the Left and Right of the new consensus argue over minutiae rather than each offering a radically different prospectus. The Right, as Thatcher’s true heirs, believe the State to have a wholly negative role in domestic politics and wish it rolled back. The Left, as Little Miss Echo, believe the State to have a wholly negative role in domestic politics and wish it rolled forward. The New Labour analysis is always that there is a lack of regulation. Its response is to look around for something to ban. Always a symptom, never a cause; Labour doesn’t do causes now.
Neither side can grasp the positive potential of the community-benefit State in tackling the roots of a dysfunctional economic system through redistributing the power and the wealth currently hoarded by the London elite.
George Monbiot, writing for The Guardian (a London newspaper) this week, gave a damning account of the corporate takeover of what is supposed to be the public’s power. Lamenting that the main parties are all complicit, he lists the last remaining bright spots in a darkening universe: the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and a few ageing Labour backbenchers.
The Labour backbenchers are not obvious allies. They are, as he says, ageing, and, we would add, clearly committed to that brand of socialism that distrusts the masses, especially the masses organised in geographical communities. They would rather fight centralism with centralism. The Greens and the Blaid have a rather different outlook. It’s one that we equally embrace. So too do Mebyon Kernow, at whose 2013 Conference this weekend we hope to be represented. So had George dug a little deeper he could have nearly doubled his list of the good guys.
What is remarkable about the list as revised is its decentralist character. Even the most (relatively) centralist party on this new list, the Green Party of England & Wales, is not organised on the basis of the UK, or even Great Britain. The movement for communities and againstcorporations is structured not on the basis of the politics that exists but the politics that is sought. It recognises that the UK and the Labour Party alike are gutted shells, held together by history but containing nothing of future relevance. The alternative is taking shape outside. Miliband’s gimmick of a policy, protecting the poor from temptation instead of tackling those who have made them poor, makes a grand epitaph for a party and a system corrupted beyond redemption.