From across the Pond: Will the crisis lead to the rebirth of the Labour left?

Original article via Socialistworker.org (UK):

Now, I know what you’re thinking (well, maybe one or two of you):  rjones2818’s gone off the deep end now, trying to connect the Labour party in the UK with the Democrats in the US.  The comparison is good in the sense that both parties are the one’s who are said to represent working people.  The difference is that there actually is a Left in Great Britain, so a return to the left is not out of the question for Labour.  If the Left actually took control of the Dems, it’d be something of a revolution (the Left, as it is in the US, has been tromped upon by the Dems since at least post-1972’s election).  The comparison is valid in that both Labour and the Dems have come under the thrall of neoliberalism.  So…

Some in the Labour Party believe that the economic crisis will herald a revival of the party’s left wing.

Tony Blair was never a left winger.  He is cut from much the same cloth as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  He was in the pocket of the money grubbing financiers, just the same as (as it’s pretty clear now) many (if not most) of the Dems on the national stage are.  Gordon Brown is committed to the financiers also.

Neal Lawson, of the centre-left Compass think-tank, told a fringe meeting at this week’s conference that the era of free markets could be over, effective management of capitalism was on the agenda and the crisis has given Labour a lifeline.

Much the same as the financial meltdown should be giving ‘progressives’ a lifeline in this election.

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Barking & Dagenham, told a fringe meeting that Labour had a chance to have a radical policy rethink and “return to the values and ethics” of its past.

Labour, at one point, flew the flag of Socialism.  The Dems never really have.  And yet, we look back to the New Deal, Great Society and other such programs in much the same way a left Labourite would look at the era of Socialism.  The financial meltdown gives us a chance for a new “New Deal” for America’s hard pressed poor, working and middle classes.  We won’t get it, of course.

Cruddas called for a new 45 percent top rate of income tax to fund tax cuts for low and middle income workers to stop the Tories winning the next election. He wants those earning over £175,000 a year to be taxed at a higher rate.

After a decade and a half of being marginalised, this has been hailed as the best chance the left has had to stage a come back.

Having just used an online currency converter, I know that 175 k pounds sterling equals $321,998.97!  So, a 45% top rate with exta taxes over $321,998.97.  Sounds good to me!  Even better to use the money to, in addition to the money coming from not letting Bush’ tax cuts for the rich go permanent, to fund a low and middle income tax cut.  Imagine the howls of the the bosses, and imagine the support from the poor, workers and middle class.

Yet Cruddas is one of 20 Labour MPs to sign a letter urging other MPs to back Gordon Brown. This is part of a campaign launched by John Prescott.

Well, there goes any reason for support there.  Maybe Gordon Brown is actually an OK bloke.  Perhaps it is just that he has to pick up the pieces from Blair’s mismanagement of Britain.  From what I read, it’s not.

While the left talks of unity in the party, chancellor Alistair Darling was telling conference delegates that workers have to swallow below-inflation pay rises.

Ummm…we do that all the time in the US.  This is coming from a chancellor who’s a member of the party that’s supposed to support workers.  Yeah…right!

He also made it clear that working people would have to pick up the bill for the government’s plans to increase its budget deficit to cope with the financial crisis.

Hmmm…sounds like Barack ‘Fired up and ready to sign off on the bailout of the financial system’ Obama, doesn’t it?  In fact, it is the vast majority of people in both Britain and the US who will be paying for the depravity of the financiers, while the financiers get to go on their merry way!

Tony Woodley, the joint general secretary of the Unite union, received a rousing response when he said, “If the power companies don’t get the message, this government should consider taking these essential industries – gas, electricity, water – back under public ownership.”

Imagine how such a call would be met with in the US by the national Democratic party.

But the motion was then referred to the party’s policy forum.

This has consistently killed off and buried motions disapproved of by the leadership, under an undemocratic procedure that the trade unions conceded last year.

Just as Dennis’ impeachment calls have been shunted off into the black hole known as the Senate Judiciary Committee.  You see, there are similarities between Labour and the Dems.  Not similarities I’d like to claim for any political party I’d support, but similarities nonetheless.

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Here’s the key:  This article could have been written about the Democrats here in the US (other than the idea that a left could actually retake control of the party).  The Blairite national party has walked all over the left, much as the Dems have done to ‘progressives’ and the left here in the US for years.  Labour sold it’s soul for power and finances, just as the Dems have done here.

The rebirth of a Labour left, which would be a good thing in Britain, is analogous to a birth of such a left here in the US.  If such a rebirth in Britain is not to happen, then the Left should abandon Labour and restart it’s own party. If such a birth is not to happen in the US with the Dems, then the Left and ‘progressives’ should abandon the Dems, even if Obama gets elected.

We’re in some deep economic shit right now.  The same holds true on the foreign policy front.  If what Obama says is to be beieved, the Dems are not going to veer away from the current economic and foreign policy model (except for some window dressing).  We can ‘hope’ for ‘change’ all we want, but until we are not willing to settle for anything but real structural change in our economy and society, we’ll be wasting our ‘hope.’

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  1. I remember reading this in April and wondering what was going on in the UK… sounds like they have some of the same problems as the Democrats. I always knew Tony Blair was a Tory in disguise. Much like like Clinton and the DLC were an off shoot of Reagan, Blair and his sidekick/adversary Gordon the neolibs were the Labor versions of Thatcher.

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/n

    The Labor/Democratic Parties are unwilling to let go of the free market greed is good for us all concepts that have destroyed labor and allowed capitalism unfettered to rampage under the concept of free. How can this philosophy be maintained when there is no money other then what we are supposed to pony up to support either these corporate wars or the phoney market?

    Another New Deal may not be wanted but sometimes when things fall apart and people have been subjected to this much turmoil to support the unsupportable it is inevitable. Obama may have to come to terms with the fact that the fat cats broke it and all of the Kings men can’t put it together again. Bubbles cannot be fixed. To his credit he does talk regulation and philosophy but when it’s this extreme we need more then jump starting the same process.          

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