When the post war boom ground to an end the initial response was to turn left for solutions. Somehow the capitalists managed to thwart this trend and convinced enough people that neo-liberalism was the way to reenergise economic growth. These ideas prevailed in most developed nations. The promise was that growth was good for all, and if the rich got richer that was fine, so long as the poor got less poor.

The promised growth did not happen. The main outcomes were increased predominance of capital over labour and greater inequality. The rich got richer but not through any great contribution to anything worthwhile. There was privatisation, minimal public services, attacks on democracy and the farce of deregulation.

Fast forward to now and again there is almost universal disillusionment with the established order.  You might reasonably argue that it is neo-liberalism that has failed not public institutions and that capitalists are not to be trusted. Markets didn’t work so again some shift to the left appears possible.

But the capitalists don’t want less capitalism or better capitalism so they have again to dupe us all. So they attack all the institutions like politicians, local and national government, regulators, trade unions as they did last time. The mainstream press leads the campaign, happy to denounce every failure. What is astonishing is the basic premise that neo-liberalism has failed so the solution is less democracy and, you guessed it, more neo-liberalism. The rise of the anti-politics, anti-government, anti-Europe and anti outsiders  politics is just a device to deflect attention. When the capitalist class sets out to claim it really represents the (white) working class we have really hit the bottom of reasoned debate.

But here we are. To win the most important argument in three decades requires convincing people that public is usually better than private, that politics is better than markets, that politicians are mostly honest, that democracy is worth the effort, and even that trade unions are valuable. And that increasing inequality is never a price worth paying.

As in the 80s there has to be a credible coherent alternative backed by the many not the few. As ever splits and internal politics on the left make that hard. Convinced conspiracy theorists assume the neolibs have infiltrated everywhere. When you look at some of the shouters from the opposition groups (not the mainstream political parties) and see the nonsense they espouse through their slogans you think they must actually be in the pay of the capitalists!

It is also clever of the capitalists to engineer the weakening of government; some spatchcock coalition is not going to be reformist and will be more likely to toe the line spread by the mainstream media. Sadly, and another point for us conspiracy theorists, there are attacks from left as well as right on the main parties.

So what chance of a new deal for our care system? Will there really be a removal of markets from our healthcare? Will integration trump competition? Will power shift to patients and communities? Will public provision prevail and privatisation be reversed? Can the values articulated in the 40s not just hold fast but be extended to social care as with health? Will the public pay the tax cost of a modern care system free at point of need?

Not if the Tories retain power. Hopefully if we try really hard then Labour or a leftish coalition can be made to do what they claim they want to do. Or we wait for the revolution.

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2 Comments

  1. Irwin: Agree with most of what you say but beg to differ over the extent of Neo-Liberal infiltration within the Labour Party.

    Sadly I believe most do not understand the definition of Neo-Liberalism.

    The Labour party began sounding Neo-Liberal policies out in the mid seventies when Milton Friedman’s ideas of monetarism were beginning to take hold, Dennis Healey introduced cuts to public services in 1976 as a means of so say Balancing the Books.

    We suffered great turmoil during this period to due the OPEC countries taking control of oil prices, quadrupling the price of oil, this naturally had serious economic repercussion. That was the excuse then and to this day for reducing public expenditure, the capitalist solution that has always failed to cure inherent problems of capital itself.

    As Labour moved to the right so more elitist elements gained power and gave birth to New Labour, which became full blown Neo-Liberal with an unspoken privatisation agenda. Who in fact would have thought a party that called itself Labour would introduce the private sector into our NHS?

    The present leadership will never admit that they are in fact Neo-Liberals but their past management in the Blair and Brown governments prove beyond doubt that they are, in fact at every opportunity to prove the contrary they positrively embrace it, and their adoption of the TTIP agreement is a major indication of direction of travel.

    Ed Balls was responsible under Brown for creating the Liberalisation of the financial institutions, which then crashed about their ears, Ed Miliband has surrounded himself with like minded people such as Chukka Umnna who proclaimed in the Guardian that we are all capitalists now, Ed Miliband’s secret memo bringing back Alan Milburn on to his election planning team speaks volumes as to what they intend with the NHS; he after all claims the NHS is an industry just like any other and should be managed as such, not forgetting that he is a board member of a private health company.

    If Ed Miliband was genuine, he would surround himself with left wing leaning politicians that were committed to our public services, not as has done, and whilst the Tories are now privatising the only profitable sector of the rail network on the east coast, which shows up the private sector for what it is, Ed just promises to look at the possibility of allowing the public sector to tender against other private franchises.

    This clearly demonstrates, along with a multitude of other examples, of Ed’s true allegiances, which are rooted in the private sector, when the country is crying out for the opposite.

    The evidence is all there, all you need to do is google Gordon Brown’s 2006 Mansion House speech to hear him boast of his achievements at liberalising the financial markets and how his team were encouraging others in Europe to follow suit.

    We need genuine radical socialist solutions to survive the coming Neo-Liberal onslaught which will further increase levels of poverty and division in our society.

    New Labour have been disaster to the Labour movement, and have forgotten their real constituency; believing they can survive as in the passed on spin and deceit.

    There are though a few in Labour are solid such as Dennis Skinner, Michael Meacher and John McDonnell, Michael Meacher’s blogs are well worth a read.

  2. Ricahrd B. says:

    We have to try and look forward, even if we learn from the past. The choice in 2015 is not between radical socialism and neo-liberalism its about Labour against Tories as always. The Tories will destroy or NHS. Labour today is not Labour from 1997 or 2006 and much of what it says it believes as regards health and care aligns with what we have been arguing for; that’s a good start anyway. The alternative of revolution in ideas not in violence appears a long way off, but we should support and engage with those working on better ideas. Nostalgia for some golden age that never was does not help.

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