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T_i_B

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Owen Jones hits the nail on the head about the moderate left's current woes

A very good article about the problems facing the moderate left, especially in the Labour leadership contest. Whilst I will admit that Jeremy Corbyn is too left wing even for my taste, I can see why he is doing well. Positive policy ideas, expressed clearly and simply. Which is something the moderate left struggles with far too often at the moment.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/03/jeremy-corbyn-new-labour-centre-left

How have the Labour left, from arguably its lowest ebb in the party’s history, apparently ended up on the brink of taking the leadership on a wave of support? If you listen to many self-described “centre-left” voices, it’s because the Labour party has gone quite, quite mad. Cod psychology now abounds to describe the rise of Corbynism: narcissism, people wanting to show off how right-on they are on Facebook, mass delusion, an emotional spasm, and so on. Corbyn supporters are having a temper tantrum against the electorate, so this patronising narrative goes, they think voters have “false consciousness” on a grand scale. Some sort of mass psychological disorder has gripped one of the great parties of the left in the western world, and the only real debate is how it must be cured or eradicated. And the tragedy is this: the great “centre-left” condescenders are able to identify any factor for Corbyn’s spectacular rise other than the culprit: their own political cause, or rather its implosion.

Some of these commentators huddle together on social media, competing over how snarky and belittling they can be towards those oh-so-childish/unhinged/ridiculous (delete as applicable) Corbynites, unable to understand that rare thing, the birth of a genuinely grassroots political movement. And that’s the problem: this snarkiness is all some seem to have left. Much of the self-described “centre-left” – I’d say Blairism, but some embrace the label more than others – now lack a clear vision, or a set of policies, or even a coherent distinct set of values. They increasingly define themselves against what they regard as a deluded, childish left. They have created a vacuum and it has now been filled by the Corbyn left.

Their plight is quite straightforward. The battered remnants of the left in the 1990s – cowed by the global onward march of free-marketeers – often critiqued New Labour as being indistinguishable from Toryism. “Tory Blair” and all that. They were wrong, despite the terrible failures and even disasters of New Labour, from the Iraq war to deregulation of the City. New Labour delivered large-scale public investment, in contrast to the underinvestment that characterised Thatcherism; that would mean not only more money for health and education, but also transformative projects like SureStart; the public sector would be expanded; the state would set a floor in workers’ paypackets, in the form of the minimum wage; the gap between low pay and the reality of life would be subsidised through tax credits; child poverty would be confronted; LGBT people would be emancipated from legal harassment and discrimination. New Labour may have accepted many of the underlying assumptions of Thatcherism, but it clearly had a vision that was distinct from that of the Tories.

George Osborne may have legislated to make the working poor poorer, but his pledge of a £9 minimum wage by 2020 outbid Ed Miliband’s paltry offer by a pound; the Labour leadership supported a scaling back of tax credits and a benefit cap that will achieve nothing but an increase in child poverty; and austerity has been embraced, and Labour’s past spending record renounced. What is left for the New Labourites to call for that is distinctive? As things stand, very little. If you are a budding New Labourite, there are plenty of prominent media commentators to look to for inspiration. But while you may find an abundance of negativity, sneer, and pseudo-Freudian psychoanalysis, you’ll struggle to find any coherent vision.
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