Monday, 6 September 2010

Labour leadership

Diane Abbott:
Ed Miliband:
Ed Balls:
David Miliband:

No surprises really with that, though it should contain a question about voting reform. Balls has spoken up well on the economy, one of the few to challenge the absurd prevailing 'logic' put forward by Osborne and media cheerleaders regarding the need for cuts of an ideological scale.

It remains to be seen just how genuine Ed Miliband's supposed reclamation of social democracy is; in itself, it may not be enough, but it would be a significant improvement on New Labour if truly felt and enacted.
N.B. The site does not include Burnham, as apparently he didn't submit answers to the full set of questions.


  1. Was quite surprised there that my views were matched most closely with the Scottish Green Party. I say surprising because I didn't put down the environment as a priority (of course I think it is, but I do think many of the people who represent environmentalism seem to be purposefully self-destructive in their lack of populist/ social democratic solutions).

    Maybe I should try to find out more about the Scottish Green Party. I expected the SNP to be my top match though they were low down. Again, I didn't put national independence(forgot how they phrased it) as an important issue for broadly similar reasons. I don't want national independence to be a definitive issue: that neo-liberalism will soon implode and a social democratic alternative will come up. But if things keep going the way they are, with neo-conservative and neo-liberal unquestioned hegemony I think that Scottish independence will be essential.

  2. Could Scotland sustain independence easily? Perhaps with a changed mindset; without the English to blame (the English who disproportionately subsidise them), perhaps Scotland could renew itself... it is a fascinating question. A 'sustainable, self-sufficient Scotland' would have to be the argument - and people may have to accept some harsh changes, initially...

    Funny you should raise the issue of the Greens being social-democratic / populist. There has been some interesting debate on the North-East GP discussion list regarding that very issue - i.e. whether the Greens are an explicitly 'left-wing' party. Broadly speaking - and to simplify a complicated debate - some took the ecological view, others that current social concerns should be addressed - and that we should take an active role in anti-cuts campaigns.

    If growth and abundance are not sustainable in the long-term, then this will likely have an impact on the public-sector too. I am understanding more of the ecological arguments now, having previously encountered little other than people like Paul Kingsnorth and George Monbiot (and resonances within quite a lot of the music, film and literature I like).

    I think a fusion of ecologism and socialism is essential; a careful fusion, that does not disregard humanity but does see humanity within the frame of a broader context.

  3. More on Scotland - did you see Jonathan Meades' excellent BBC4 documentary series "Off Kilter", which took a long, hard look at Scotland, sometimes from the expected angles, sometimes less so. Any word on how Scotland is likely to be affected by the public-sector cuts?

    More on the GP - there has to be social concern, that much all are agreed. I would argue that saving the planet will depend on communicating with the public, and will have to involve addressing social issues. I do see the ecological argument, however, that social issues will have to be considered within an overall frame of less human consumption and activity.

    The biggest leap is to make for the left is to go beyond the post-WW2 paradigm of abundance and entitlement. I am not saying by this that we shouldn't prioritise the "good things" - health, education, etc. But we have to understand that everything - business, the public-sector, private life - will be effected by the changed climate and loss of the earth's resources and ability to support life.

    Of course the socialist answers, of making the polluter pay and introducing a more progressive tax system, apply. This may go some way to addressing the social justice side of things. From the ecological perspective, we need to think more fundamentally about the way of life.

  4. Hi Tom
    It is correct that independence would be very difficult for Scotland, especially from an economic point of view. However, I also think Britain is going down a very self-destructive path. Culturally I feel British, as the majority of Scots do, but I also think Britain as a country is eroding and faces an uncertain future both in foreign policy and economically.

    However, I do feel that there is a political idealism in Scotland, which perhaps wouldn't be found in any other part of the nation.

    As for environmentalism, it does seem to me that a top priority should be cheap public transport to reduce car use. As you say this might not be sustainable in the long term, but as the private companies are milking the taxpayer whilst charging exorbitant fees and letting the infrastructure rust, I think it is essential.

    As for broader issues of environmentalism and populism, I have to be very careful in my terminology, because I know that there is no official 'environmentalist' movement and that the Green party is separate altogether. Most of all I'm afraid of sounding like Brendan O'neill or Julie Burchill. But it does seem to me from a largely ignorant viewpoint that many environmentalists are self-consciously upper middle class, fond of grandstanding theatrical gestures, writing smug editorials about 'scientists'/ 'science' and their achievements (as if the worlds scientists have elected these people as voice pieces and 'science' is a monolithic ideology rather than a system of discovery) and generally lack charming or charismatic leaders or a working class presence and tend to have a patronising attitude towards developing and third world countries and often a romanticised pastoral vision. I'm not saying this as a swipe at the cause of preserving the planet or saying that these are good excuses to neglect the environment, but to try and explain why I think that more populist strategy and broader ideas are needed.

    I think that Caroline Lucas's support for the people who opposed Trump's golfcourse was a step in the right direction.

    With regards to changing lifestyle, I agree. I find it ironic given that smugness that some British atheists show about apostacy how awful treatment of animals is in Britain and how so many Brits can eat fast food knowing how these creatures are kept. I read one noisy atheist once saying that he loved eating cheap fried chicken. I rarely eat meat, but I would never buy it from a fast food restaurant: these chickens are probably kept in horrific conditions.

    I will try to read more about the Scottish green party; might join if I find sufficient common cause. A friend from the Orthodox Church is already a supporter...

    I don't have a TV so I didn't see that documentary (will look on youtube) but it sounds interesting. Speaking of 'impressions' I think to some English people Scots nationalism might seem a bizarre circus of hey jimmy hats, Corries songs and bagpipes. But I do think that most Scots find this embarrassing and the move towards independence is partially due to modern neo-liberalism/ neo-conservatism.