Friday 13 August 2010

Labour needs an anti-masochism strategy, says David Miliband

David Miliband says that Labour needs "to build our own story of political economy that embraces neither the masochism of George Osborne nor the denial of economic reality."

In his contribution to the Fabian Society's ongoing series of leadership essays, he argues Labour needs a more distinctive approach to the economy, and calls for a broader reformed capitalism that involves more than the financial services. Only by getting this right will Labour have the ammunition to take on the coalition’s brutal cuts regime.
"An absence of a shared creed, of an ideology that can unite our movement, is a problem for Labour. In the good times it matters less... but when historic choices need to be made it is a weakness... Voters – many of them our voters – spent the election wondering whose side we were really on."

Read the full essay over at the Fabian website.

He also writes that Labour failed to seize its moments in power, particularly after the financial crisis. “We saved the City of London but we did not reform it”, he says.
”Under Mrs Thatcher the public benefits of North Sea Oil were used for tax cuts. The Norwegians used theirs to build a sovereign wealth fund. But we did not learn the lesson of that history. New Labour changed the direction of travel from the Conservative years but did not change the motor, which remained the financial services sector. The benefits were not distributed to the wealthiest in society, as under Mrs Thatcher and Nigel Lawson. We helped the poorest and those on modest incomes. But we need a model of economic growth that is right for our time. The truth is that outside the south-east and the London magnet, there was not enough capitalism. The banks received our money in the bail our but have not re-invested it in our country. And now there is a Conservative government that is confused on the banks, hard on the poor and threatening to growth.”

Ed Miliband with complete the set early next week, and the full collection will be available online.


George said...

It's great to hear a left wing politician that doesn't pretend cuts aren't necessary. I'm fed up of the lack of credible opposition to the government. DM certainly has gone up in my estimations!

Anonymous said...

I think David has been the most effective contender in terms of outlining a radical vision of a new political economy for Labour. And it's not easy to characterise it as "Blairite".

Unknown said...

Actually, there's an element of denial in this whole approach. It's not limited to David, but he writes most eloquently on the topic...

The denial is of socio-economic reality. All of this talk about "what kind of capitalism we want" is absurd. We don't decide that - capitalists do. That is why we are a democratic socialist party, FFS! All of the things that make life better for ordinary people disrupt profit-maximisation - child labour laws, environmental protections, employment rights.

When David says that "there has not been enough capitalism" in his constituency, for example, it's because the capitalists can more profitably operate elsewhere in the world thanks to the wonders of deregulated finance - a model of capitalism that Labour did not and could not choose or challenge without running the risk of destabilisation.