Saturday 9 January 2010

Worth reading this weekend

I doubt there is so much more to be said about the snowplot, especially after Gaby Hinsliff's very funny summary of this tragicomic pantomime for G2. I doubt the Sundays will agree, but let's see whether acres of coverage reveal anything much new.

So, if you'd like some political intelligence this weekend, try these ...

A new political economy ...

Peter Mandelson's speech on Wednesday morning (linked from the Work Foundation front-page) should, in most circumstances, have been as one of the most important early speeches of the election year.

His argument that ...

Reality demands that the centre left cannot and must not confine itself to the politics of distribution. We need a new and renewed politics of production

... ought to open a much broader debate about the new political economy of social democacy, which no doubt we will return to on Next Left.

High theory and low politics

John Gray on Raymond Plant's take on neoliberalism and social democracy for the New Statesman throws up several intriguing avenues, and sounds like one for Stuart White to interrogate further.

An increase in state power has always been the inner logic of neoliberalism, because, in order to inject markets into every corner of social life, a government needs to be highly invasive.

On the right, we've already noted The Spectator's must read, if unsuccessful, quest for Cameronism. (It may be fun to keep an eye on whether Peter Oborne continues to argue both sides of this 'much ado about something/nothing' debate).

Anthony Painter makes a cogent case, which The Spectator special issue tends to support, that there are more substantive ideological divisions about the future of the Tory party than inside Labour, and doubts a Cameron "politics of and" can avoid these choices. In the long-run, I think he is right. But that does not alter the fact that Labour will certainly appear more divided when it behaves as it did this week, as the Daily Politics polling carried out during Wednesday and Thursday shows.

Back to low skullduggery, Andy McSmith today asks where the anti-Steve Hilton plot is coming from, while Steve Richards makes the telling point that even the super-uber-moderniser is a deep Eurosceptic.

Obama's Afghan poker

Rory Stewart, in the New York Review of Books, makes the unfashionable case for the Obama strategy's rejection of both surge or exit in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Der Spiegel reviews the splits in the Merkel coalition over Afghanistan ahead of the London conference.

Out at the top

Time magazine contrasts European and US attitudes to gay politicians.

More blogs about blogs

Anthony Painter this week had one of the most interesting responses to date in the extensive blogging about blogging debate with which the political blogosphere began the new year, started by James Crabtree, and in which Iain Dale set out his advice and challenges to the left blogs from across the aisle.

In that debate, A Very Public Sociologist offered what I thought a very fair challenge about whether ideas of greater pluralism would extend to a willingness and effort among centre-left blogs to engage with good left-wing Labour and left of Labour blogging. That post set out the best-known links from the socialist left, followed up with some new left links too. Socialist Unity is another good hub of cogent left of Labour activism, albeit rather often having to dig into the apparent lack of what it is looking for on the tin.

Whether the left blogosphere will provide a 'swarm' of activism or a factional food fight, or both, remains contested.

That debate has been reignited by health reform in the US. Whether the bill marks pragmatic progress, given the need for 60 Senate votes, or a shameful sell-out, is linked to a broader debate about the role of movement politics and the blogosphere.

I enjoyed Joe Klein's Time magazine polemic, and suspect there is at least a grain of truth in his argument that:

In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers ... But there is a great irony here: villagery is a trope more applicable to those making the accusation than to those being snarked upon. The left-wing blogosphere, at its worst, is a claustrophobic hamlet of the well educated, less interested in meaningful debate than the "village" it mocks. (At its best, it is a source of clever and well-informed anti-Establishment commentary.) Indeed, it resembles nothing so much as that other, more populous hamlet, the right-wing Fox News and Limbaugh slum.

Kai Wright of The Nation rejected calls to Shut Up you lefties!

It's bound to happen, any time progressives have the audacity to demand brave leadership from a Democratic Party that asks for our money, our votes and our volunteer labor. The cry goes up from the self-proclaimed level heads of corporate media: You impractical, self-defeating lefties! Stop whining and let the adults run things! And so, as the leadership debacle that was health reform reaches its climax, it's little surprise that those of us who won't stop fighting for true reform are once again told to shut up.

Meanwhile, Markos of the Daily Kos (characteristically) tweeted last night:

I'm looking forward to giving the essentially dead DLC one last good kick in the face, for good measure.

If you know your history ...

Working-Class Tory certainly does, showing that the Tories were in office in every decade since the 1760s, until the noughties, rather impressively extending my point about politics since the Great Reform Act of 1832.

My own piece on the political lessons of 1910 has now been published on OurKingdom.

James Graham had a very interesting question about the future status of the Salisbury Convention in response, provocatively asking whether it could make Labour peers Mr Cameron's poodle over the Human Rights Act repeal. While digging up some links for my 1910 piece over the holidays, I stumbled across some very good history blogging at Westminster Wisdom: take this post on Baldwin and progressive Conservatism as an example.

There's snow business like snow politics ...

And finally .... Alex Massie at the CoffeeHouse offers a liberal response on the politics of snow to my post yesterday, which has sparked some interesting challenges and responses in the thread.

With John Redwood posting on snow policy this morning, I have asked him in the comments, whether he worries about Daniel Hannan's proposal of more state regulation to legislate for social responsibility in the snow.


Suggestions of other interesting posts, and new sites to add to the feed-reader, are always very welcome.

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