Saturday, June 11, 2011

ABC's guest editorial in the New Statesman

There has been widespread reaction to the editorial by the ABC in last Friday's New Statesman but the one I most appreciate is that by Bagehot in the Economist. I am so glad we have just subscribed to the Economist!

1) Read it carefully, and it is not really a devastating new assault on the democratic legitimacy of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government. It is version 23 of the leftists' lament of the moment: why, why, oh why, when horrid global financial capitalism is on its knees, is the social democratic left not doing better? Pick your way through the swipes at the coalition, and you will find just as many sighs of despair at the left's lack of ideas. Here are just a sprinkling (the emphases are mine):
it seems worth encouraging the present government to clarify what it is aiming for in two or three key areas, in the hope of sparking a livelier debate about where we are going - and perhaps even to discover what the left's big idea currently is.
An idea whose roots are firmly in a particular strand of associational socialism has been adopted enthusiastically by the Conservatives. The widespread suspicion that this has been done for opportunistic or money-saving reasons allows many to dismiss what there is of a programme for "big society" initiatives; even the term has fast become painfully stale. But we are still waiting for a full and robust account of what the left would do differentlyand what a left-inspired version of localism might look like
there are a good many on the left and right who sense that the tectonic plates of British - European? - politics are shifting. Managerial politics, attempting with shrinking success to negotiate life in the shadow of big finance, is not an attractive rallying point, whether it labels itself (New) Labour or Conservative
To acknowledge the reality of fear is not necessarily to collude with it. But not to recognise how pervasive it is risks making it worse. Equally, the task of opposition is not to collude in it, either, but to define some achievable alternatives. And, for that to happen, we need sharp-edged statements of where the disagreements lie.
The uncomfortable truth is that, while grass-roots initiatives and local mutualism are to be found flourishing in a great many places, they have been weakened by several decades of cultural fragmentation. The old syndicalist and co-operative traditions cannot be reinvented overnight and, in some areas, they have to be invented for the first time.
This is not a declaration of war on the government. It is a cry for help.

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