Saturday 21 February 2009

The new right was ready for the 1970s crisis: the left is not ready for this one

Hetan Shah - formerly of NEF and Compass - challenged Nick Bosanquet's rejection of universalism.

We need a narrative which is about us all being in this together. That was in the minority report: universalism. The policies that will take us forward are universal policies. Can we have free social care and bring the middle-class into that extension of the welfare state?

But he also wanted a more self-critical left, which was not ready to seize a political opportunity in the way that the New Right had been in the 1970s:

There is no shortage of policy ideas. What there is a shortage of is political will.
The economic crisis is an opportunity to rethink the economic model: we now that the neo-liberal economy doesn’t work. The danger is that there is little sign that we are going to take those steps.


The trouble is that there is no sign that we are going to take that step. Part of the fault lies in the progressive community: we have not been organised enough intellectually, and especially politically, to take advantage in the way that the right was at the time of the oil shock of the 1970s.

Both Hetan Shah and Sian Berry thought there were important shifts - particularly around the idea of a 'green new deal' - in the US and in Britain and Europe.

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