It’s not just Ed Miliband. Labour’s on the wrong side of history

Thanks to globalisation, ‘progressive’ politicians have nowhere to turn

15 November 2014

9:00 AM

15 November 2014

9:00 AM

Ed Miliband is the least of Labour’s problems. Its troubles go far deeper than any individual. They are structural and, potentially, fatal. It is certainly easier for Labour MPs, and ultimately more comforting, to concentrate on Miliband’s deficiencies as a leader than the existential crisis facing the left. But until somebody comes up with an answer to the question of what the party is for — in an era of austerity and globalisation — it will be stuck in a death spiral.

The Labour party has always believed in spending money for the common good. Public spending was the glue that held together the traditional Labour coalition and the New Labour one. Tony Blair increased public spending from 41 per cent of GDP in 1997 to 44 per cent in 2007 — the second largest rise in the developed world in this period. By the time Labour lost power, 53 per cent of GDP was being spent by the state.

Miliband is far more left-wing than Blair, but he can’t promise increases anything like that. As he meant to say, but infamously forgot to, in his conference speech this autumn, ‘There won’t be money to spend after the next election.’

An absence of public money makes it that much harder to promise people that if they vote Labour, their lives will improve. Miliband is having to try to keep the party’s electoral coalition together without the key binding ingredient. This opens up space on Labour’s left, which the SNP and the Greens are busily trying to occupy.

These difficulties are compounded by globalisation, which severely restricts governments’ freedom of action. If governments try to raise taxes too much, businesses and people simply move elsewhere. Socialism in one country isn’t an option any more.

When François Hollande came to power in France, Miliband hailed the new president as someone who understood ‘that something can be done’. Two-and-a-half years on, unemployment in France is up to 10.5 per cent, only 12 per cent of voters approve of what Hollande is doing and the economy is flatlining. Most damningly of all for Miliband, Hollande has had to abandon socialism and appoint a reformist prime minister, Manuel Valls, who is overseeing €40 billion of tax cuts for business, paid for by €50 billion of cuts in public spending. So much for Miliband’s claim that Hollande would prove that ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’.

Hollande’s difficulties can be traced back to his commitment to introduce a top tax rate of 75 per cent. In this era, when people are more mobile than ever and governments rely on a decreasing number of income taxpayers for a larger and larger share of their revenues, national leaders can’t afford to have dramatically higher tax rates than other countries. If you try to squeeze the rich now, they leave long before you can hear the pips squeak.

Politicians can’t be heroes any more. Instead, they have to operate within the tightly drawn tramlines of the global economy. This is true for those on the left and the right, but the pressure that this places on countries to adopt a low-tax, light-regulation regime is something with which the right is far more comfortable.

Labour’s electoral position is under threat from parties that reject the economic constraints of globalisation. The Greens, according to the latest ICM/Guardian poll, now command 6 per cent support — a sixfold increase on what they polled at the last election and, to put it in perspective, twice what Ukip scored then. Even more alarming for Labour is what is happening in Scotland, one of the party’s traditional strongholds. Polls suggest that Labour’s number of Scottish seats could fall from 40 to ten, or even as few as four, next May, with the SNP garnering more than 40 per cent support. Labour’s position is probably not as dire as that, but its iron grip on Scotland appears to have been broken.

Scotland is a demonstration of what can happen when a nationalist party moves to the left. The worry for Labour is that Ukip could be undergoing the same transformation. Ukip has, since its foundation, been far more of a problem for the Tories than Labour: it was a libertarian, Euro-sceptic splinter from the Tory party, after all. Its one MP used to be a Tory, it draws more votes from the Tories than any other party and it is almost certain to win a second seat from them in the Rochester by-election next week.

But Ukip is changing rapidly. It is no longer a libertarian party. Instead, it now opposes efficiency savings in the National Health Service, the US-EU free trade deal and the so-called bedroom tax. These positions are combined with the most popular policy on voters’ biggest concern, immigration. If Ukip continues on this journey, it will become a serious threat to Labour in its heartlands in the urban north. Indeed, in the recent Heywood and Middleton by-election, Ukip cut Labour’s majority from almost 6,000 to a mere 617.

Then there is Russell Brand. It might seem absurd for an article on politics to discuss a priapic comedian best known for making an obscene crank call to an elderly actor. But Brand is fast becoming one of the most popular street captains of the left-wing mob. When he recently urged his followers to sign a petition calling for a parliamentary discussion of drugs, one of his specialist subjects, it sailed through the 100,000 barrier needed to secure a Commons debate. But what should most alarm the parliamentary left about Brand’s emergence as a political figure is that he believes people should not vote: a self-defeating electoral strategy if ever there was one.

Miliband’s aim when he became Labour leader was simple. He believed that by uniting the left as the right split between the Tories and Ukip, he could win power and overturn the Thatcher-Blair consensus.

As the most left-wing Labour leader since Neil Kinnock, and the greenest, he seemed well placed to bring the left together. He was comfortable honouring its tribal traditions in a way that his recent predecessors have not been. Unlike John Smith, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, he attended the Durham Miners’ Gala. He also made a point of going on a trade union anti-austerity march, comparing it to the civil rights protests that Martin Luther King led in the United States in the 1960s. But despite this no-enemies-to-the-left approach, he is still faced with a fracturing of his support.

As if these problems were not enough, Labour finds itself trying to straddle the growing divide between London and the rest of the country. Half the Labour membership lives in the capital and the importance of this has been radically increased by Miliband moving the party to a one member, one vote franchise for leadership elections. But London MPs only make up 17 per cent of the Parliamentary Labour Party. This wouldn’t be a problem if London and the rest of the country thought alike. But on immigration the capital takes a radically different view to the rest of the country. Polling by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory in 2011 showed that less than half of Londoners — 46 per cent — favour reducing immigration, while the figure is 70 per cent in the north and 75 per cent in the Midlands and Wales. It is hard to see how Labour can please both its London members and its voters elsewhere in the country on this crucial issue.

Normally, a party in Labour’s situation would look around the world for inspiration, for a model to copy. This is what Labour did in the 1990s. The Clinton Democrats inspired their presentation (New Democrats/New Labour), their campaign techniques (the war room), and their policies (tax credits). But the centre-left is in disarray across the industrialised world: there is no model to copy. Indeed, in Greece and Spain parties of the radical left have usurped the role of the traditional centre-left parties and now lead in the polls.

To be sure, the Tories are not short of problems either. The fracturing of politics has hit their support, too; it is impossible to see how they can hit 40 per cent with Ukip polling so high. They have not won a majority for 22 years and, even against Miliband and Labour with all their problems, are highly unlikely to do so next May. But austerity and globalisation do not pose existential questions for the centre-right. Rather, austerity presents them with an opportunity to shrink the size of the state. Also, the pressure to keep corporate and top income tax rates down strengthens the right’s hand — offering a justification for positions that are bound to be unpopular in the current populist political climate.

Labour could still eke out a win next year. A combination of the rise of Ukip, the decline of the Liberal Democrats and favourable constituency boundaries could see them stagger back into office. But this would be a self-defeating victory. A Labour government making massive cuts to public spending would simply speed the rise of the Greens, the SNP and Ukip, and Labour’s decline. In 2020, Labour could find itself being supplanted in Scotland by the SNP and its hold on the urban north significantly weakened by Ukip.

Ed Miliband may not be a natural leader. But those who think that getting rid of him would solve Labour’s problems are deluding themselves about the disaster that the left faces.

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  • Franklin_Delano_Roosevelt

    Socialist Scandinavians are doing quite nicely.

    Current account balance (% of GDP)
    Norway 13.07%
    Germany 7.16%
    Sweden 7.07%
    Denmark 6.04%
    Ireland 3.30%
    China 1.37%
    Japan 1.13%
    Greece 0.83%
    Spain 0.15%
    Iceland -0.69%
    Finland -0.77%
    France -2.15%
    United States -2.16%
    United Kingdom -3.76%

    • mammal

      Yes, Scandinavia is conveniently forgotten. Socialist France is always doomed, but never is. South America is collectively moving to the left. Bolivia, especially, is doing very well economically. You know they are doing well, because nobody talks about them. Socialist China is battering USA economically. It’s all horseshit.

      • Andrew Smith

        China is Socialist only in name. Hollande has abandoned all pretence of tax and spend. That leaves us with that economic powerhouse and alround excellent country Bolivia. Let’s become Bolivia tomorrow!

        • Brimstone52

          I’d be happier if we could become the UK today. The only way to achieve that is to regain our independence.

        • JimHHalpert

          Bolivia: where communists go to die.

      • coalitionkid

        So Miliband will put forward the tax rates, the eye-popping welfare monitoring, tax transparencies and cultural conformity required to effectively run a Scandinavian style social democracy?

      • Pootles

        ‘Socialist China’. Uh? You mean capitalist (and not just ‘state-Capitalist’), nationalist, expansionist China.

      • Ringstone

        China is not battering the USA economically, in fact it is bankrupt. There are enough non performing loans swilling about in its “crony capitalist” banking system to pull down the entire economy – and more importantly ours with it.
        The link attached is just one of innumerable similar in the financial journals.
        They also have a demographic time bomb ticking away, as the saying goes – China will get old before it gets rich.

    • JimHHalpert

      Dude, where are you getting your numbers? Here are the real ones: Greece @ -12.7%; Sweden @ -1.3%; Spain @ -7.1%; Denmark @ -0.9%; Norway @ 11.1%.

      As you may know, Norway is a tiny country sitting on top of an ocean of oil. Give it time. Denmark and Sweden until their recent elections had centrist or right-wing governments (Sweden gave us “free schools” after all). Give it time.

      Source: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/government-deficit_gov-dfct-table-en

      • you_kid

        Love your facts, dude. What about the UK and US figures tho, dude?
        Too much to take in?

        Norway – give it time. It will never run out of hydro.
        Sweden – we gave it time. The largest ‘free school’ provider went bust last year. Who do you think picked up the bill? Dude.

        • JimHHalpert

          FDR mentioned “Socialist Scandinavians”. I think even an imbecile like you would agree that neither the UK nor US qualifies. But if you want, the data is at the OECD link I provided. (Press that clicky thing on that mousey thing on your desk.)

          Norway is a nation of green hypocrites ( http://www.economist.com/node/12970769 ). Nice fjords, though.

          So what if a free school provider went bust. It’s a market. Crap companies go bust; good companies thrive. Result: more good, less bad. That’s why capitalism works and communism doesn’t. Econ 101.

          Who picked up the bill? The state. Who do you think picks up the bill for all the other state schools? (Clue: it’s in the name.)

      • HousingOnFilm

        Thank you for pushing Norway out of the picture. They are unrepresentative to a fault.

        • JimHHalpert

          I haven’t pushed Norway out of the picture. The economic laws of gravity have been temporarily suspended for it while it mines the natural resources it was blessed with. These will eventually run out and those laws will reassert themselves. Can a spendthrift modern economy survive by selling timber and electricity (assuming it has any to spare)?

          As ‘The Manchesterist’ notes below, the Norwegians recently elected a right-wing coalition. Perhaps they see that something that can’t go on forever won’t.

          • HousingOnFilm


          • JimHHalpert

            “Shut up,” she explained.

    • Guest

      The state of the current account doesn’t measure the general health of the economy even slightly.

    • The Manchesterist

      Er…isn’t Norway governed by a Conservative/Progress (libertarian) Party coalition? Isn’t Germany run by a conservative CDU/CSU coalition? Wasn’t Sweden run by the conservative Moderates until their vote was split by a UKIP style third party this time?

    • balance_and_reason

      Norway oil wealth, country not ruled by socialists now.….Sweden turned around by new conservative gov which recently lost to a coalition. Denmark, population size of croyden, is a socialist paradise but it’s rules on immigration, tax and free loading would make our socialists tremble.

      Further current account balance is notoriously inaccurate because invisibles and oversea’s earnings are difficult to accurately quantify….is one of many stats to judge success.

  • mammal

    We all know that the real reason for his so-called ratings failure is his criticism of Israel.

    Secondly this article goes around in a circle. It starts by somehow wishing away the opposition (they are never going away) and then acknowledging that isn’t going to happen.

    • Jim

      It’s The Jooz I tells ya!

      • balance_and_reason

        Standard socialist tactic when faced with evidence of the bankruptcy of their doctrine; dissemble, distort, press the buzz word button, divide, lie…..until the economy is sufficiently recovered to then offer massive bribes to a sufficiently large section of the population to get back into power…..then the cycle starts again when they have cratered the economy again.

        • Wessex Man

          Let’s try to be blanced and reasonable about this.

    • saffrin

      I doubt very much many give a rats ass about what goes on in Israel or Miliband’s rantings on the subject.

    • madasafish

      We all know that the real reason for his so-called ratings failure is his criticism of Israel.”

      No we don’t.

      So you start with a lie . Don’t bother to reply.. liars are not worth arguing with.

    • Pootles

      Uh oh! Sounds like a global Zionist conspiracy take on things. You probably need to explain a little more what you mean by your opening sentence.

    • wudyermucuss

      He got to the youknowhoooos in 2 posts!
      Mammal indeed.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Aren’t we all mammals?

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “An absence of public money makes it that much harder to promise people that if they vote Labour, their lives will improve.”

    In other words it makes it harder to bribe people with other people’s money.

    • HousingOnFilm

      Given the billions borrowed on our behalf by Gordon Brown and paid out to prop up the miscreant banks your is a comment of quite staggering stupidity and carelessness.

      • Diggery Whiggery


        Bailing out rich people with public money, isn’t the same thing as bribing voters with public money. GB chose to do the former so now there’s not much left to do the latter. Take that up with him.

        • tolpuddle1

          Almost all of us in Britain are sitting on the faces of the world’s poor (which is why millions of them are heading here). So Rightists fuming about “bribing electors” are merely humbugs.

          And British plebs have no prospects at all other than public money; without it they’d be sleeping in the streets.

          • DanV

            Seriously ? You’ve been on the earth long enough to figure out how to use the internet, but not long enough to develop the intelligence to understand that the rich/poor thing is NOT a zero sum game ? You can mouth off all you like, but no one has ever demonstrated, rationally and objectively, a direct causal link between the fact that some people have a decent standard of living, and other people don’t. In simple terms, it simply isn’t always true that person x is poor because person y is rich, and therefore person y is evil because their richness is causing person x’s poorness. The only times that’s true is when person y directly employs violent means to forcibly remove person x’s property (as governments do, when they tax ‘their’ citizens.) And yet, in the minds of Leftists this simplistic rendering of reality is held as an article of faith that is ALWAYS true, in ALL contexts. Until you’ve been weaned off this infantile morality, you’ll always be wrong, in all things.

          • Alex Williams

            Having been both very very poor and reasonably comfortable, I can confirm that the only reason I was poor, was because the system shafted me and the only reason I became not poor, was because I refused to let it shaft me any further. I have never needed to steal from anyone, cause anyone else harm or loss and I have never needed to shaft the system back, in order to turn my life around. I simply needed to get smart, learn why, where and how I was getting shafted, then prevent it from continuing to happen.

          • DanV

            Congratulations for turning your life around. I’ve also been both poor and comfortable – but having had a smart father, when we were poor I was never allowed to develop the bitter and envious attitude that our situation was a direct result of the comfort of other people. That belief fulfils all kinds of psychological and emotional needs for many people, but that doesn’t make it true. As for ‘the system’ – well if, as you claim, it ‘shafted’ you when you were poor, now you are rich, surely you are a contributory factor in the same system ‘shafting’ other people ? You may not be harming anyone directly, but by your own zero sum logic, if the system shafts poor people to the benefit of rich people, if you are no longer a shafted poor person, then surely you must be one of the rich people on whose behalf the system does the shafting ?

          • rtozier2011

            We on the left do not claim that the poor are poor because the rich are rich. We contend that there is a certain level of poor which is morally intolerable, and a certain level of rich that is morally unnecessary while a level of morally intolerable poor remains. Until we have international governmental systems, this moral issue can be addressed easily only on a national scale.

          • Tom M

            “…We on the left do not claim that the poor are poor because the rich are rich…..”
            I don’t know where you’ve been for the past 40 years if you believe that. Have you actually listened to the Labour Party’s rhetoric?
            I used to have a newspaper clipping pinned to the message board in the kitchen. It was from a GP in the North East somewhere written in the Telegraph about 25 years ago.
            She wrote complaining that people visited her surgery with a “Martini life style” (it was an ad on the television at the time) expectation of life which was a right denied to them by the people who lived like that.

          • red2black

            The working class household I was brought up in had no such expectations. If you couldn’t afford something, you went without. People wanted enough to be able to live on, with a bit spare to save or spend as they wished. Credit in any form was anathema. I’m sure your lady GP also had working class visitors that lived happily enough along more realistic lines.

          • Tom M

            You were brought up in the same way as I was it seems. The lady GP I referred to wrote the piece precisely because the virtues you quote exist less and less. She no doubt had those patients you refer to but those apparently were in a diminishing minority.
            Daily I hear Labour politicians and adherants rant on about evil business not payng enough or directing the pubic attention to the worst aspects of business practices whilst ignoring that business is where the money comes from.

          • red2black

            I’m not in favour of an overbearing State, but the worst aspects of business practices you refer is one of the reasons regulation becomes necessary. Of course businesses are important, but there does seem to have been a shift in favour of short-term shareholder returns at the expense of actual jobs. It seems to me that ‘shareholder level’ is now the line below which resides the ‘new’ working class. My dad said he was lucky that he’d always been in work since leaving the Royal Navy a few years after World War Two. Now there is no job security, which means many people are unable to plan anything long-term.

          • Tom M

            Regulation of businesses is and always has been necessary. We expect business people to be innovative and push the technical and comercial boundaries. We expect them to take risks (with their own money) and be successful for the country’s benefit. These are all things the state should not do (in the case of the UK cannot do)
            We need regulation because their risk taking and innovation also extends to things that we, society, might not like and may well be to the advantage of the business but quite the opposite to everybody else.
            The businesses you quote are all stock market listed I see. Most of the employers in Britian do not fall into that category and for the most part each of those employ only a few people. Unfortunately for them they are also tarred with the same brush as the businesses you mention and they also carry the weight of the resulting imposed regulation.
            I also had the luck of continuous employment from leaving school. I also watched it go bit by bit because of bad management, greedy unions and profligate governments and these are all still around although somewhat smaller these days.
            We in the UK still think we are a world power in some categories and retain notions that public services must and will be improved. Ignoring the fact that we need money to do that and that only comes from financially sucessful world-wide commercial activity.
            As I said at the beginning the Left continually criticise all business activity. To the typical Labour voter that is not just the bankers but anybody at all in business. It’s all a plot against the working man. Just have a listen to Len McLusky for five minutes and you will get the picture.

          • red2black

            I agree with most of what you say. Labour seem to be pretty much pink-fading-to-blue these days, having ushered in more of what’s come to be termed Neoliberalism, in Mrs Thatcher’s wake. Small businesses will always struggle because of what they are, but this new system favours businesses of all sizes. The Unions are arguably a spent force, or at most, a shadow of their former selves. Things like zero hours contracts and being on call 24/7 on an as-and-when basis would have been unthinkable not so long ago.

          • tolpuddle1

            Few businesses genuinely create wealth – usually, only new inventions and those who sell them do so (though often at the expense of the environment or the world’s supply of raw materials).

            If people in the developing world were paid what their labour is worth, two good consequences would follow
            – the world would be a fairer (and thus more contented and peaceable) place
            – the West would recover from the ravages inflicted on it by globalisation; industries would return here, whilst the tsunami of migration to the West would lessen.

          • DanV

            ‘Few businesses genuinely create wealth’ – wow, even by the standards of internet discussion, that is a pretty wacky assertion. So who creates wealth then ? Governments ? Armies ? Priests ? Academics ? Poets ? As for your second point – the eternal question remains to be begged – who decides what that ‘fair’ price is ? There have been numerous attempts to create an economic system where central authorities tried to maintain complete control over what was considered a ‘fair’ price for workers’ labour – all of which have involved a combination of ruthless state control, intellectual and cultural repression, shortages and starvation, and mass deaths in labour camps. If that’s the more kind of contented and peacable place you would like to live in, there really is nothing stopping you moving to Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea right this minute.

          • red2black

            Other examples of tried alternatives include companies like Mondragon, originally set up along what can fairly be described as Anarchist lines, albeit somewhat ironically, by a Catholic priest in the Basque region of General Franco’s Spain. It seems that as the company has become bigger and international, it’s become more conventional. The way the present-day village of Marinaleda in Spain is run is now being adopted by other villages close by. Funding for these places is European, but I think it’s fair to say that the money is being put to far better use than elsewhere. As far as possible, working people run things for themselves, as was done successfully in the Anarchist-influenced areas of Spain before and during the Civil War. There was no State to do any repressing and people were housed free of rent and mortgages. Abraham Guillen’s ‘Anarchist Economics’ is an interesting though somewhat subversive read.

          • DanV

            Oh, you had me right up until ‘funding for these places is European’….

          • red2black

            I believe the main part of funding is initial, providing for later self-sufficiency. This is something that had to be campaigned for over many decades, involving the eventual purchase of land from extremely reluctant reactionary landowners who, already extremely wealthy, continue to benefit from substantial EU funding. The local economy of Marinaleda is mainly agricultural and consciously labour-intensive in order to provide work. Houses are built by local residents and very reasonable rent is paid to cover labour and material costs and maintenance. Private enterprise is allowed for, including bars and restaurants, and there’s a Catholic church which people are free to go. My main point is that there are workable alternatives other than the Left Authoritarian type you described.

          • DanV

            Excellent – and if they work, and if people are left to freely choose to live and work in such places, then they would have my absolute support, and probably no small amount of envy.

          • red2black

            It does seem that their system works, and no-one is coerced into joining or leaving.
            Thanks for your replies.

          • tolpuddle1

            Only production creates wealth. Most UK firms aren’t productive, merely parasitic, producing (unnecessary) services, not goods. And there’s not going to be a “march of the makers.” The UK economy is merely a bubble, a swollen middle-class resting on a base of cheap-labour migrants.

            The idea of fair prices for labour and goods originated with the Medieval Church; it is a good idea, but can only be implemented by individuals. Communism – created by the greed and injustice of Capitalism – tried to introduce fairness by brute force, with tragic results; but that’s an argument against brute force, not against fairness.

            Without fairness society collapses. Similarly doomed is a society filled with grasping individuals (and corporations) eager to hog everything for themselves. Our society is going under (“is”, not “will” go under) on both counts.

            Who is prepared to die for the wonderful Capitalist system you so much admire and worship ? Not you, not anyone else. In today’s paper, I read that the MOD is being forced to create a Dad’s Army of over-50’s, because Capitalist Britain has no defenders (unlike the semi-socialist Britain of the 1940’s).

          • DanV

            ‘Without fairness society collapses’ – seriously ? What about the many examples of hierarchical, aristocratic societies that have survived and flourished, often for hundreds or even thousands of years. In fact, can you name one large scale civilization anywhere, at any time, that has been run on genuinely egalitarian lines ? (And the Soviet Union doesn’t count – the gap between the richest and most powerful members of the party hierarchy and the rest of the population in terms of wealth and power gave the lie to all that ‘Communist’ nonsense they espoused.) Also, the idea that Britain was a semi-socialist country in the 1940’s is wish-fulfilment verging on the deluded.

          • tolpuddle1

            Societies can only be held together by agreement or by brute force. The former requires a good measure of fairness – that is, of social justice.

            Fairness doesn’t involve everyone being dressed in a Maoist boiler suit. But it does mean everyone being given (something like) a fair deal.

            The 1940’s were of course the golden age of British leftism, with Labour in the Cabinet of a (very collectivist) wartime government which felt it necessary for purposes of morale to promise the British people a post-war Welfare State (Beveridge Report 1943).

            The socialism of the Attlee government of 1945-51 is undisputed.

          • DanV

            And right there in your first line is an insight into the problem with leftist thinking – ‘Societies can only be held together…’ -which implies that a society can never be a holistic, emergent embodiment of the voluntarily-shared values and cultural symbols of a group of like minded individuals and families, but must instead be ‘made’ and ‘held together’ by an external force. And this way of looking at things is precisely why much of the worst political violence of the last century has come from the left – believing themselves to be the living embodiment of the abstract notion of ‘fairness’, allows them to then believe that anyone who doesn’t share their particular vision of fairness must by definition be one of the ‘brute force’ brigade – and therefore all that needs to happen for fairness and peace to reign is for ‘those people’ to be destroyed. And although the socialism of Attlee’s government may not be disputed, your original claim was that it was Britain that was ‘semi-socialist’ – conveniently ignoring the fact that having given Attlee one term in power, the British public then voted him out in favour of the ‘warmonger’ Churchill – and continued to vote Tory for the next two elections – a fairly clear indicator of what Britain thought of the Socialist ‘golden age’…

          • tolpuddle1

            I was of course talking about societies held together by agreement, rather than force. In the fast-moving modern world – where everyone except Bible-punchers and Islamists accepts pluralism – the “organic” societies you mention now scarcely exist and (as everyone agrees) modern societies lack “cohesion”, i.e. tend to fall apart.

            This has been made worse by the gradual disappearance of the Middle (both blue and white collar) under the impacts of technology and globalisation. The resulting Latin American-style societies, starkly divided between Rich and Poor (say 15%:85%, with the latter group having zilch stake in society), are now causing alarm on the Right as well as the Left.

            The political violence of the last century wasn’t caused by a quest for fairness, but the quest for a Utopia, right- or left-wing. Utopians kill in pursuit of their dream.

            The Tory governments of 1951-64 and 1970-74 were careful to maintain the Attlee consensus; only from 1979 was it dismantled. But the Thatcher consensus that has ruled since, isn’t immortal either.

          • DanV

            Oh dear – a lot of ‘everyones’ in your first paragraph. You do know that appealing to what ‘everyone’ knows is usually a sign of innate fundamental weaknesses in your argument ? But giving you the benefit of the doubt, let’s examine your assertion that everyone (apart from the Bible punching or Islamist loonies obviously) “accepts pluralism” in the ‘fast-moving modern world’ Firstly, last time I looked, the Earth still revolved at pretty much the same speed it always has done – give or take 1,000 kmh, so I’m not entirely sure what modernity has to do with the speed at which the world moves. Secondly, does ‘everyone’ accept pluralism, really ? Because I don’t see much evidence of that in the Arab world, where people are busily slaughtering each other over minor liturgical variations, or in many parts of Africa, where tribalism is still a more powerful social force than pluralism. Not much pluralism to see in China (one party State, forced cultural assimilation of Tibetans, Hong Kong Chinese etc). Then you’ve got the biggest country in the world, Russia – well, they may have paid lip service to pluralism in the Soviet days, but that’s not really what they’re about now, is it ? In fact, I’d argue that the only places that even pretend to have a commitment to ‘pluralism’ (whatever the hell that actually means – the more I type it, the less sure I am that it actually means anything) are Western Europe and the US – so by saying that ‘everyone’ accepts pluralism, are you secretly asserting that only the liberal West count as people, and everyone not a fully paid up member of the Western liberal progressive club is either a Bible-thumper or Islamist ? Because, you know, that’s not very….well….pluralist.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            And we have been paying the price ever since. We were , contrary to popular belief, recipients of the greatest amount of Marshall aid. This money should have been used to convert and modernise industry back to peacetime activities and to rebuild infrastructure. Instead it was poured into creating an ill considered socialist nirvana. The disaster which is the NHS is a case in point. Redevelopment of industry, infrastructure and the service economy might have generated the wealth needed to create a decent and sustainable health service whilst inculcating a more productive work ethic and an appreciation that good services have to be paid for. Instead we live in a something for nothing society where debate about the NHS etc is shouted down in the name of fairness. A fairness which produced Mid Staffs etc. May Attlee and the other socialists rot for what they and their heirs such as Brown have done to this country.

          • tolpuddle1

            From 1945-79, the whole country – resting on its wartime laurels – wallowed in complacency, forgetting we couldn’t live forever on our past capital and that the world didn’t owe the UK a living.

            And this complacency, on Right as well as Left, with all classes revelling in consumer goodies, would have lasted much longer had not the Trade Union militants of the 1970’s inadvertently brought the whole thing crashing down.

            Scandals such as Mid Staffs show the frightening selfishness of many in the public sector – but in the Britain of post-1945, selfishness has been close to universal. Haven’t both Left and Right preached it, in different ways ?

            And its hardly for the politicians of any shade to preach noble ideals. For myself, I believe Britain’s return to the Christian faith to be the only option now – even at the political level !

          • Inverted Meniscus

            What idiotic deluded crap. Capitalism is a means of distributing finite resources efficiently. It is not a creed, political doctrine etc. Of course nobody would die for a pricing mechanism you blithering idiot.

          • Chris Morriss

            Modern ‘service’ industries that are simply the equivalent of everyone taking in their neighbours washing and charging for it in a massive game of pass the parcel does not create wealth, although it does keep money in circulation, which is a lesser benefit. Old fashioned industry created genuine wealth in that at each stage of the process from digging raw materials out of the ground to selling to the end user a fully functional product added value as it passed along, therefore creating the wealth required to pay the workers at each stage.
            Thatcher did many things right, but believing that you can make real wealth out of service industries was not one of them. (Unless the clients you are servicing are all in other countries, so that the payments do bring real wealth into the UK of course).

          • Village idiot

            What is their labour worth. Who decides. You I guess ?

          • “No one has ever demonstrated, rationally and objectively, a direct causal link between the fact that some people have a decent standard of living, and other people don’t. ”

            WONDERFUL – and correct.

          • JSC

            “most prosperous people in Britain are crooks who use their education, brains and business / professional flair to cheat and rob lesser mortals”

            Surely you jest sir, surely?

          • tolpuddle1

            As a 60-something accountant who’s lived almost his whole life in suburbia, I’ve become ever more disillusioned with the whole middle-class way of doing things, which is largely a way of paying unfortunates to do the dreary tasks which middle-class people are too dainty (or too incompetent) to do themselves. How does one pay ? – by jumping round the exam steeplechase when young, so as to become an inhabitant of the Middle-Class Bubble.

            Similarly, “peace loving” people pay young soldiers (in today’s West, largely young proles with no other chance of escaping the mean streets) to fight battles on behalf of the comfy “peace lovers.”

            As a naive young man, I saw myself as a professional; in my fifties I realised “a professional” = a performing seal. And moreover, a performing seal who is part of the whole middle-class racket of needless paperwork and IT, needless litigation, pensions “advice”, etc, etc.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            You really are a sad individual.

          • LastmaninEurope

            I empathise with the sentiments expressed in your final paragraph; many become jaded and disillusioned with age.

            However, this paragraph “Similarly, “peace loving”… young soldiers (in today’s West, largely young proles with no other chance of escaping the mean streets) ” etc is an ill informed insult to service personnel.

            The current high physical, moral and educational standards required of applicants to H.M. Forces refutes this characterisation absolutely. I suggest you pay a visit to an AFCO and find out for yourself.

            In addition I am surprised to see you use language like this in regard to the youth of this country posting under the pseudonym of Tolpuddle and, elsewhere in this thread, urging a return to Christian values.

            Or am I.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            No he is a socialist nutter and thus serious.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Socialist nutter alert. It’s everybodies fault by mine and it is impossible for working class people to be greedy, wicked and stupid so let’s blame the middle class. The same middle class that works hard and pays for most things and then gets kicked in the teeth and abused by unproductive, moaning idiots like you for the privilege.

          • tolpuddle1

            No, all classes and races are selfish; the Rich exploit the Poor and the Poor exploit the Poorer still.

            But that doesn’t make social justice an option – the only alternative is tanks in the streets. I don’t think any political fix can bring it about, though – only a national rebirth.

            When young, I was sold the middle-class dream of “pass your exams, then get ahead.” With the benefit of hindsight, I should have gone in to something rather more blue-collar (and productive), but back in 1970, Britain was too class-ridden for that to be an option.

            I’m not digging at middle-class people as individuals – many are horribly trapped in a nightmare of commuting, long hours, alarm clocks, mortgages, job insecurity and so on. (I was spared a mortgage, but have experienced the others).

            But with the UK exporting little but financial services and globalisation still roaring ahead, the situation is, to put it mildly, fluid.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Thankfully globalisation for all its faults will rid us of the murderous cancer of socialism.

      • Moodoo

        George Osborne has borrowed much more than Gordon Brown did, incredible really given how he has only been chancellor for 4 years and Brown did it for 10.

    • Hegelman

      It’s what kept civilization going so far.

    • Hear hear hear!

  • Rhys

    A pedantic point: There is no such thing as the “wrong side of history”. What those who repeat this mantra seem to mean, is that the future is uncertain and past experience is unlikely to be a useful guide in the matter being discussed. Not a particularly shrewd observation.

    For reasons it would take too long to explain, there is a dearth, in the UK, of politicians of even average intellectual ability. Many people see through the shabby posturing of drones in every political party. A scrabbling mob of office seekers whose only ambition is to be in power, deserves the public contempt that it gets.

    According to James Forsyth, there are structural changes in the offing that will render our current political arrangements obsolete. ‘Twas ever thus.

    • Ringstone

      Of course there is a wrong side of history. In the long run there comes a settled view, normally that of the “winners”, as to what the true and manifest course of history was. The “losers” by definition are on the wrong side of history.
      The fact that to declare this result purely because someone disagrees with you, and before the necessary century or so has passed, is both premature and presumptuous is another matter altogether.

      • Rhys

        Being “right” and “wrong” are moral judgments. Being on the “wrong” side of history is meaningless in that context.

        There is no reason to suppose that a “settled view” will endure and never be modified. One settled view after another appears in the process of historical enquiry. It may transpire that yesterday’s “loser” will turn out to be tomorrow’s “winner” – when different criteria are applied in a new analysis.

  • amir.sadbury

    Lord Peter Carrington talks on UKIP and Miliband (on 7:00):

  • Robertus Maximus

    Russell Brand looks as though he is waiting for something to be rammed up his rear end. A red hot poker would suffice.

    • Malus Pudor

      Russell Brand is a disgusting, common s..t… the red hot poker treatment, as used in the murder of Edward II is far too noble a fate for this ludicrous poseur….

      • Robertus Maximus

        I remember seeing Marlowe’s play on the television some decades ago. It starred a young Ian McKellen as Edward the Second, and the screams which accompanied his end (if you’ll forgive the expression) were dreadful. I seem to recall a horn was used through which the poker was thrust to conceal any outward signs of foul play. Nice family viewing!

      • tolpuddle1

        The hatred Rightists direct at Russell Brand, proves that there’s much to be said for him.

        • MikeF

          Not hatred – that is a leftist emotion – just disgust.

          • rtozier2011

            I think Godwin would disagree with your central statement.

          • tolpuddle1

            Rightists don’t hate ? Purrrlease.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Not really. Right of centre people tend to think you wrong headed, stupid, mad etc for holding leftist views. Leftists hate anyone who disagrees with them and think you are evil for holding views that don’t coincide exactly with their own. Just as Tony Blair concluded of the idiotic Clare Short.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        So how are those anger management classes going, Malus?

      • Nanko Costers

        Yes, I’m sure you’d like to stick something red hot up Russell Brand’s fundament, you uphill gardener 😀

    • Wessex Man

      He’s even more worried that it’s Bacon buttie lurking there!

  • paulthorgan

    It is also significant that Miliband minor’s frontbenchers have to be the most cowardly and craven politicians for a generation. Their party is in the toilet, but no-one is willing to brave the gunfire and go over the top.

    • JimHHalpert

      Don’t you mean “over the rim”?

  • Pootles

    Mr Forsyth, I suspect that the key factor is, as you mention, the inability of politicians to actually make things happen. They are not only constrained by ‘the global economic tramlines’, but also by political structures that lay outside our country and which they signed up for in the mistaken belief that somehow they would give them more power to act. In fact, those structures – the EU being the major one – actually enhance the loss of national sovereignty. However, they do offer enfeebled politicians the illusion, and the personal benefits, of global or regional power – they give all the little emperors even finer clothes. However, there are plenty of us ordinary folk who still think that national sovereignty still matters.

    • Lydia Robinson

      “the inability of politicians to actually make things happen.”

      They still do have the ability to make mischief in far off lands creating wars, greatly to the cost of the voters who put them in office.

      • Pootles

        Yes, I wonder if one of the ‘drivers’ (politician’s word!) for that is that it enables them to strut around on the ‘world stage’ for a little while?

  • mattghg

    austerity presents them with an opportunity to shrink the size of the state
    Then why haven’t they done it?

  • lailahaillallah

    A lot of English Labour Voters will defect to UKIP, because at heart they are working-class fascists who never really had the chance of voting for another party, because, to all intents and purposes, there wasn’t one for them, except the Liberals. Now they have, and I suspect we will be surprised by the number of defections. (Votes- not MPs of course.)

  • Bobby Mac

    This article is an exercise in wishful thinking, since Conservatives and Labour are struggling equally to deal with the negative consequences of globalisation. Libertarians may not be so challenged, but the Conservative party is far from being a Libertarian party. That’s why it is determined to show that it will defend the NHS, for example. The challenge for both – all – parties is to deal with the growing inequalities wrought by globalisation and to reverse the current trend towards the UK becoming a low-wage, low-quality economy. Conservatives and Social Democrats in such countries as Germany have done much better in this regard than Conservatives and Social Democrats in the UK. Both Labour and Conservative present an unconvincing face to the great majority of voters and whichever can reinvent themselves first can become the dominant party again.

  • Ambriorix_Le_Belge

    Not just Labour who are finished long term


  • Jim

    The old parties are dying, and not a moment too soon. Some people just haven’t accepted it yet.

  • Lawrence in Arabia

    Author quotes a survey saying only 46% of people in London favour reducing
    immigration. what he doesn’t say is according to 2011 census only 44.9% of
    London is now ethnic British!

    • JohnCrichton89

      Black Africans and muddy Arabians were apparently among the red headed Celts of Ireland when the romans came and Britannia was created, making all Africans and Arabs equally British as everyone else.
      Could you imagine the uproar if millions of Scots and Celts were demanding a right to live in Africa at a net lose to Africans……….. could you imagine the Monty Python-esque role reversal;
      Some pasty white guy in a kilt, with flaming red hair, claiming to be as African as any anyone else from Africa. Marching against their cultural norms and screaming racism whenever someone points out his underachieving and net cost to African society as a whole. Someone should do that.

    • post_x_it

      Yes, however one doesn’t necessarily follow the other. You’d be surprised by how many settled immigrants are strongly opposed to further immigration. Those most in favour tend to be white middle-class lefties

      • Alex Williams

        Very true, many Indian, Pakistani and African immigrants especially, considering the hard time they had coming here themselves, are very much against giving an open door to half a billion people, for what appears to be absolutely no reason whatsoever.

      • Lydia Robinson

        “You’d be surprised by how many settled immigrants are strongly opposed to further immigration.”

        I´m one of them, from Irish stock. What enrages the settled immigrants even more is people moving here to sponge which wouldn´t have occurred to us.

        • JohnCrichton89

          Technically your (‘Irish’) indigenous to the region, more so than any ‘Briton’, whom do you think occupied the British isle before the Romans came along ?
          The Celts !! Pagans and Boudicca etc.
          Tell me by what backward reasoning is a Pakistani or an African in any way British ?
          The only real interaction was when the slave trade of the middle East and African nations navigated their way across to enslave the Irish. I’m not kidding, on one occasion sacking the entire town of Baltimore and enslaving the residents……………absolutely disgusting.

    • Bonzo

      Or, indeed, that 37% of the population of London were born outside the UK.

      • Duncan

        That’s why it’s such a great place.

        • Brogan75

          except Tower hamlets and Lewisham, of course.

  • John Carins

    Anyone with 2020 vision can see that 2020 will be the year of UKIP’s victory.

  • rtj1211

    I’m minded to say that if you want to marginalise tax-avoiding billionaires, you have to get the people to make personal decisions, in their tens of millions, not to do business with those tax avoiders. I won’t buy books through Amazon any more, because I diaspprove very strongly of their tax avoidance. I buy plenty of books online, but I shop through different channels. When Arsenal FC’s owner started ensuring that he never paid any corporation tax, despite net cash inflows of £50m+ a year, I stopped spending any money on Arsenal FC.

    I’m not saying I’m right on any of those individual decisions, I’m saying I’m acting according to what I, personally, believe to be right for me.

    If you want a society to achieve the sorts of the things the Labour Party has traditionally tried to do top down, then it’s going to have to come from bottom up, voluntary actions by millions of people. They need to found enough businesses which put their workers first to stop being dependent on capitalists who will get lost like that if the workers get paid more than a pittance. That won’t happen in less than 15 years. There needs to be enough responsibility taken by the middle classes to invest responsibly through crowd funding to change the nature of the contracts between shareholders and business to reflect the ethical values of society. Traditionally, the values of the City, private Equity, hedge funds and VCs has dominated, along with the cartel of high street business banking franchises. Things can change if businesses can raise money from people who have the same values as them and can sell their proposition using those values, rather than focussing 100% on narrow P+L projections.

    Totnes has done some interesting experiments in community building this way. Maybe Brighton has tried a few things too.

    The other way is of course to choose which established businesses should thrive. It appears that the Brits have currently backed Aldi and Lidl over Tesco, for whatever reason. Maybe Aldi and Lidl make less profits?? Or maybe they serve the less well off better than Tesco, who have moved into Waitrose/M+S territory?? You are seeing societal choices being made….

    My personal view is that political parties can only be effective in the modern world where the majority of their MPs are like social entrepreneurs, catalysing and promoting business and community growth in their local communities. Building small credit unions (not necessarily running it themselves, but co-ordinating local people through the daunting process of starting to become self-reliant and inter-dependent).

    How you do that will depend on what kind of constiuency you have. Newham would be very different to rural Hampshire. The challenges will be different.

    But if I were any of the major party leaders I’d be focussing on social entrepreneurship training rather than media lessons in preparing PPCs to serve their constituents.

    Bullshit might get you elected. But being seen to help create the conditions which sets a community on a path of prosperity must surely be the surest way to remain incumbent with an increased majority??

  • ted_2012

    One thing that irritates me about Brand is his condemnation of tax avoidance as opposed to condemning a government (or governments in general) that’d waste most of the money on inefficient policies, or worst, themselves.

    • post_x_it

      Or campaigning for a simpler, more efficient tax system with more reasonable rates across the board and fewer incentives for avoidance.

  • tolpuddle1

    As Simon Heffer pointed out recently, globalisation is a disaster for all thinking people on the Right, as well. Globalisation has, after all, pulled down and crippled the West.

    The future certainly doesn’t belong to Capitalism, since no one will ever die for it. The future’s Islamist, most probably.

  • paul

    Actually he is on the wrong side of a thoroughly nasty orchestrated campaign by the right wing press who are hell bent on destroying him echoes of Neil Kinnock & Michael Foot so here we are this is what Ed Miliband stands for which is thoroughly decent :-

    An £8 minimum wage.

    An end to the exploitation of zero hours contracts.

    Freezing energy bills until 2017.

    Putting our young people back to work.

    Paying down the deficit and doing it fairly.

    Reforming our banks so that they work for small businesses.

    Cutting business rates.

    Apprenticeships alongside every government contract.

    Building 200,000 homes a year.

    Abolishing the bedroom tax.

    Tackling tax avoidance.

    Hiring more doctors, nurses, midwives and careworkers, and putting the right values back at the heart of the NHS and repealing the Health and Social Care Act.

    I am disgusted that the treatment that Ed Miliband has received from the right wing Press in this Country it is shameful !!!

    • Simon Fay

      “Putting our young people back to work.”

      “Our” as in the entire world’s offspring. 200,000 new homes won’t be nearly enough to shelter them all.

      The article itself does a good job of rehashing Blair’s schtick about his hands being tied in the face of speculative capital in/out-flows. Seen from here, the “Right” referred to above is just a faction of the nation-dissolving Cultural Left that rode in on the coat-tails of that epochally-useful-idiot, Maggie.

  • tolpuddle1

    People in 1913 said war was history. Why do people think Capitalism is the future ? It was, once.

    • Swanky

      Got any better ideas? Wealth is something we create, it’s not a standard-issue pie of unchanging size and the only question is how to slice it up. Socialists evidently don’t understand this. How they account for the fact that we no longer live in caves and eat gruel for dinner is a mystery. The idea that humans create more and more abundance for themselves is something to which they are constitutionally blind.

      • tolpuddle1

        You suffer from the illusion that, because the world has become more affluent this last three centuries (in many places, this last three decades), it will continue to do so.

        An absurd assumption. Notably because no one knows what the next fifty years will be like. “Fraught” is the likeliest term for them.

        Whenever there has been excessive Abundance in the past, it has proved self-destructive – Ancient Rome being the best known case of this.

        • Swanky

          No, I don’t suffer from that illusion. Times can get harder as well as better; as the stockbrokers say, ‘past performance is no guarantee of future profits’. That’s elemental.

          However, what I say about the Left’s Chicken-Little attitude to wealth — it’s fundamental misunderstanding about what wealth is and how it is built — is certainly true. These are the people that talk about ‘peak’ everything, such as ‘peak oil’. But the Stone Age didn’t end because people ran out of stones, nor did ‘the Mechanical Age’ end because we’d used up all the mechanisms!

  • davidofkent

    Labour have always used the same old method of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. They believe in spending money on their clients whether they have the money or not. I think all politicians have now been found out. People with brains know that this welfare binge on borrowed money has to stop. Sadly, there are many thousands of people who will always vote Labour even though admitting that they have no idea where the money will come from. Labour isn’t dead yet, unfortunately.

    • rtozier2011

      The way the economy works is that people spend what they feel they can get away with spending. The purpose of the Labour party is to go as far as possible towards ensuring an end to unnecessary poverty, ill health, unemployment and self-insufficiency. The economy is an insubstantial concept and as such I care about the state of it far less than I care about creating a society where people have a safety net preventing them from the above four conditions when it’s not their fault. As long as that safety net is under threat (which, thanks to the law of entropy, it always will be), Labour will never die, whether you consider that fortunate or not.

  • Swanky

    it will be stuck in a death spiral
    Oh goody, I can hardly wait.

    Love the cartoon, but who’s the chap on the literal far left?

    • Damaris Tighe

      It’s the ‘descent of Labour’: upright old Labour, Miliband, Russell Brand.

      • Right, so it’s not a specific person then?

        • Damaris Tighe

          The middle one & the one on the right are (doesn’t represent left & right wing). Middle is clueless Mil, right is Bland representing the ultimate destination of left wing politics. The one on the left is the decent upright man of old Labour, described by another poster.

          • Swanky

            Thanks, yes, I recognized them instantly. Just not the first chap — obviously because he’s not a real person. But I’m not knowledgeable about figures in Labour’s past to have known that.

          • Damaris Tighe

            No of course not Swanky, nor am I – maybe he does represent someone specific. 🙂

          • AlexanderMacedonia

            Stop mutually backslapping you’re both idiots who know NOTHING about Politics.

          • AlexanderMacedonia

            It’s Blair you cretin.

    • AlexanderMacedonia

      It’s clearly Blair….. Jesus.

  • mikewaller

    Does it ever occur to the writer that globalisation is on the wrong side of history? We have had a wonderful 30 years or so in which the West has sold of the family silver by shipping masses of technology out East and keeping the prols happy by shipping in thousands of tons of cheap goods. However, now the money and credit capacity are running out and the chickens are coming home to roost. There are two killer facts: the number of new industrial workers is pushing towards 1 billion and what has recently been calculated as the minimum income for a reasonable standard of living in the UK – about £15,000 p.a. – puts the recipients in about the top 5% of the worlds wage earners. Sadly what used to sustain this differential – the West’s technological edge – has been massively eroded by out-sourcing manufacturing. To neo-liberal economists the answer is simple: drop our wages to a competitive level; but if we do it will be civil war. The only viable answer is good-bye globalisation come-back trade-blocks. Then to be outside the EC will be suicide.

  • tomgreaves

    An astute and insightful analysis. It is true that the LP has serious structural and ideological problems: a party born to fight for justice for working people has been usurped by the middle class intellectuals and it’s traditional supporters have woken up to this fact. Working people were utterly betrayed by New Labour, and the architect Blair now roams around the world like a narcissistic idiot, thinking himself far more important than he is. Kier Hardy must be looping the loop in his grave.

    My parents generation who supported the LP all their lives would scarcely recognise what it has become. And this is not all about globalisation but about values. The LP has lost its sense of value, what it represent ideologically and how to communicate with those who are its traditional supporters. This is the betrayal that the LP will pay dearly for. And to be honest, as a Marxist at heart with a pragmatic capitalist in my head, my intuition tells me that politics as we have known it is about to undergo a massive shift to the dangerous extremes. And there is no stopping it. Miliband is almost an irrelevance in the bigger picture of the changes the LP faces.

  • global city

    What a crazily outdated article? Forsyth must have had this one filed away for at least three years.

    I also notice that he finds it impossible to think outside the left-right spetrum, and sees opposition to the Bedroom tax and privatising the NHS as socialist…….. the dufus.

    The world is more nuanced than the old political ideology 101, one learns at uni. The UKIP baseline is as libertarian as it always has been, they have just had to adjust their ground in a couple of areas….which is no bad thing. Doctrinaires are the ones who always lead to appalling government.

  • Steve Briscoe

    The rightwing media are only pushing the Green cause to take votes off labour like UKIP are taking of the Tories..

  • @BobTwoHats

    The claim half of Labour members are from London is completely unsubstantiated and appears to derive from a UKIP spokesperson. Labour don’t publish region numbers.

    Full Fact estimated from leadership vote published figures that London membership is more like 21%.

    This for me undermines the validity of the argument made by the author of this post.

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  • Gwangi

    The Labour strategy is to cosy up to immigrants and minority ethnic voters and get them all to vote Labour by insinuating that all other parties are racist (though most Asians I have met have deeply conservative views – and are often racist gay-haters who want women to wear one-woman tents and be baby machines – which is hardly progressive, innit?) Then, when in power, their strategy is to let more Labour voters (ie immigrants) into the country.
    Plus it is attempting to bribe women to vote Labour by using all women shortlists to select mediocre mumsy types to stand in marginal seats, plus offering blatant bribes to women: Vote Labour and you’ll get EVEN MORE free money and time off to spawn thanks to taxes paid mostly by men. Desperation really.
    And the Tories are no better in their beano give-away to already well-off women and mothers.
    Fck Mumsnet! That’s what I say. Let’s have policies for people – not just one gender. No wonder so many men vote UKIP…

  • Sean L

    Brilliant cartoon – talk about a picture painting a thousand words. . . . The descent of Labour: the mammalian a metaphor for the moral descent, from duty to depravity. From the upright stalwart obliged to family and community down to the crouching Russell Brand with no allegiance to anything but his own gratification. Only someone like Roger Scruton could do justice to that image. But you’d never publish it for being too “right wing”, that’s to say truthful . . .

  • Alan McPhail

    When public money is tight you have to live within your means. This is something every housewife knows throughout this country. Rather than cut essential services the UK should have a reality check and stop the unfettered military spending. Stop going to war at the drop of a hat to please the Americans. Stop spending billions on nuclear weapons. Stop building navy ships that we cannot afford to run. Abolish the unelected House of Snorers, and cap MP’s expenses. Pursue more rigorously those companies who avoid paying taxes in the UK. Stop paying benefits to foreigners who have not contributed to the system. Charge foreigners for using the NHS like other EU country’s do to British people. If these simple measures were carried out billions would be saved, so why don’t they?

  • thomasaikenhead

    “An absence of public money makes it that much harder to promise people that if they vote Labour, their lives will improve.”

    Simply not correct.

    There is a very easy way to increase the public money available to spend, and it is not even a left-wing/right-wing issue.

    Get the companies and corporations to pay more taxes by ending the financial chicanery that allows them to generate massive revenues in the UK and yet not pay a reasonable amount of tax?

    You don’t need an army of tax inspectors to identify the culprits, just read a few issues of Private Eye to see the usual suspects!

    • red2black

      But the point was made in the article that these companies and corporations are able to register their displeasure by locating elsewhere. In effect, they are more powerful than governments – something that is arguably one of the aims, or consequences of, globalisation.

      • Sean L

        A business can’t be more powerful than a government. Once a government ceases to be the most powerful entity in the territory it governs, then by definition it no longer governs that territory.

        • red2black

          Strictly speaking, you’re right, but I think it’s more a case of to what extent the government really governs. I’d suggest that certain aspects of our lives are governed more by global business interests than they are by our elected government.
          Big companies have ‘agreed to talk to the government about paying tax’, etc. They now seem to be in the same position as some people claim the Unions once were.

          • Sean L

            Yeah good point.

          • pdhan

            Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight their tax dodging – enough public pressure and the spotlight on this issue will prove more uncomfortable for amazon et al

          • red2black

            I agree with you.

      • thomasaikenhead


        The companies can be registered where they like, simply tax them on turnover or sales in the UK.

        • red2black

          Perhaps there would be instances where companies would remove themselves ‘lock, stock and barrel’ if taxation was more rigorously enforced? I think some of the chicanery you mention is possible because companies are multi-national or global, and consequently not dependent on any particular country as a headquarters or marketplace. You mentioned Private Eye above; I think this was where I read about companies being ‘prepared to talk to the government about paying tax’. That made me wonder who was in charge.

          • thomasaikenhead

            The trick is to ‘name and shame’ the companies that want to do business in the UK but not make a fiscal contribution.

            Someone has to pay tax if the country wants roads and schools and the like, companies that do not pay a reasonable amount of tax should be barred from central and local government contracts, that would make them have a think about talking to the government and paying tax!

          • red2black

            What you say is realistically about as far as it will ever go. Thanks for your replies.

  • Peter Stroud

    Every Labour government since WW2 has over taxed, and overspent. Why should Miliband’s be any different?

  • Good article, hope it turns out like this. Ed could just pile up the debt, to buy those votes.

  • Hegelman

    It’s a disaster for the Right, too, is it not? Just think a bit further why.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Would it be impolite of us to issue a call for a bounty of, say, £25,000 on Russell Brand’s head?

  • E Hart

    Yeah, and you’re on the wrong side of logic. We make history, therefore, we can do with it what we choose. At the moment, we’re pretending that history is over and the neo-Norman form of vassalage we are embarked upon is the best we can hope to aspire to. It won’t last. Like all heresies which pose as truth it will eventually be called in to see the headmaster, Dr Nemesis. In the intervening period we’ll probably be remembering the millions who fell in name of the preferred ideology.

  • Philsopinion

    It’s certainly interesting to read the Right – the patriots – gloating at the impact of globalisation when it is slowly hollowing out the nation and its productive capacities. As was warned by strident socialists like the billionaire James Goldsmith.

  • Lina R

    People still hold Labour responsible for a lot of the problems facing the country. The fall in wages, high levels of immigration, lack of affordable housing, the debt culture (governmental and personal) – all this happened on their watch – and during a booming economy. The Labour party under Ed Miliband only seem to offer quick gimmick policies which always involve more taxes and more government spending. If you want to help the poor – and in this country the poor are mainly in work – then the best thing you can do, is stop taking their money for endless government spending.

  • Good article – depressing though.
    Perhaps the country needs another Labour Government to REALLY remind them where government spending comes from.

  • hyufd

    True until a surplus is achieved, but longer term voters want sustainable investment in public services too. The 50% top tax rate may be too high + uncompetitive but the 45% is competitive + the same as Germany, Australia + China. SNP oppose the 50% tax + want corporation tax cut while UKIP want top tax rate of 40%, both more libertarian, albeit Greens more left

  • Try this on for size: Lefties are the most sanctimonious creatures currently on the face of the earth.

    Take a look at this from the west side of the pond: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/11/15/rex-murphy-contest-of-the-liars-bill-clinton-vs-barack-obama/

  • ItinerantView

    This is getting absurd,my comment that the SNP were not traditional
    Nationalists,is pending,my explanation and sources for such an opinion
    is now pending also.
    Tom Gallacher opined
    “The SNP is using multicultural levers
    to manipulate religious identity in Scotland for electoral advantage,
    which I believe is likely to revive inter-confessional tensions as well
    as those between secular and religious interests.”
    I merely explained why the Nats are not traditional Nationalists and some of the allegiances they had made, all in the public domain.

  • “No one has ever demonstrated, rationally and objectively, a direct causal link between the fact that some people have a decent standard of living, and other people don’t. ”
    So very true.

    Ethics, morals and ideals have no place in the market, though their principles may assist in reducing the pendulum swings.

  • foxoles

    ‘But Ukip is changing rapidly. It is no longer a libertarian party. Instead, it now opposes efficiency savings in the National Health Service …’


    *citation required*

  • ADW

    The basic problem is that Miliband has never had a proper job in his life. Straight from university into the party machine where he has stayed ever since. Just like Cameron and clegg and Mandy etc etc etc. none of these people understands running a small business or manufacturing processes or mathematics (required to grasp the numbers involved in energy generation etc). Thus, none has a clue how to help business generate wealth to pay for all their lavish spending promises.

  • Neoconcritic

    “These difficulties are compounded by globalisation, which severely restricts governments’ freedom of action”.

    In other words, democracy is being undermined by unaccountable multinational companies and international mega-organisations. This, it seems to me, is an existential threat to the Right, and is the underlying reason why people are losing faith in politics: it is really becoming true that voting doesn’t make much difference, because governments are slowly becoming powerless.

  • leongillingham

    Really? Looks like there won’t be another Republican president in the US for decades, the Tories couldnt get a majority against Gordon Brown and are sailing to defeat, in Australia Tony Abbott has proved disastrous and is polling that way, and in Europe the social democrats are returning.
    Where exactly is it that progressives are in trouble?