This site will be shutting down due to unfair competition from reality
Thank you to everyone who has in our few months of operating this site
- left comments
- contributed material
- threatened to report us to Sheila Murphy and/or Hazel
- sent death threats
- said that we should get lives
- attempted to conceal their identity from us incompetently
- generated material for us to satirise
- been completely humourless when satirised/pilloried/roundly abused
- taken it in good part when satirised/pilloried/roundly abused
- recommended the site to others
- shared our views on Compass
- sent us lengthy and misspelt diatribes about Ben Chifley
- or otherwise enjoyed the site.
We’ll be spending more time with the grandchildren, and for those that are interested, we’ll be here in The Crescent on the evening of Friday 2 March, and we hope to see you there.
For those who can’t make it next Friday, forgive us this once a brief sermon. The purpose of the Labour Party is to win elections and to use the power thereby gained to change the world. That power is greatest, and does most for the people who we were all elected to serve, when used to transform our society here in Britain: not that we should ever fight shy of debates on foreign policy, but that it should never be the primary way in which we define our politics or spend our time.
Remember too, that the principal problems which affect people here in Britain are not in any sense problems of their own making, as the Government’s policies and rhetoric sometimes imply. Neither are they problems which a mere rejigging of the way services are delivered or some change in the behaviour of Britain’s most vulnerable people will solve. They are problems to do with the shape and nature of our society: they are problems intrinsic to our social and economic model and they will be ended only by changing the basis of that model.
Step by step, year by year, we need to be making the changes that do the most to change our system, to break the cycle of poverty that cascades unnecessary misery and avoidable suffering down the generations. Children’s centres, the National Minimum Wage and tax credits are all part of that, but they are only the beginning. It is time to face up to the fact that over a third of families with children growing up in poverty are in public-sector jobs, that the private sector is not a panacea which runs more efficiently but too often a social menace which pushes costs down by pushing wages down. It is time the government realized that its own pay policies, and those of local authorities, are one of the biggest causes of avoidable suffering.
It is time too to realize that it is unacceptable and over-costly housing, more than any other aspect of our society, which acts to transfer the misery of poverty and the poverty of aspiration to new generations of children. The problem is not one which will be solved by small-scale development, by brownfield sites, or by endless intensification. Our cities have grown in population: it is time for them to grow in size. Only a massive increase in supply will turn housing from a speculative market people use to make money to a genuine market for accommodation, and only a massive increase in investment will turn the Decent Homes Standard from an aspiration to a reality in what remains of our lifetimes.
The coalition needed to sustain and perpetuate the power of a centre-left government, over a number of parliaments, is a necessarily complex one, one whose formulation for every election is not merely a matter of class and demographic interest but of history and contingent chance. Shouting simplistically about the needs of our core vote, pontificating on the views of Guardian readers, and demanding an ever greater obeisance to the supposed needs of the voters of the Thames Estuary marginals who probably don’t like Brown anyway are all, in their different ways, equally unhelpful. The effort to build a coalition for the next and subsequent elections needs to be considered with all the careful planning of a military operation. Who do we want in that coalition? What are their greatest needs? What do different coalitions look like geographically? Which of them stack up to a majority? Which of them can be most straightforwardly achieved with organisation as much as policy?
The great genius of New Labour since 1997 has been the matching of expensive US-style professional organisers in key seats with a policy-built electoral coalition appealing to a wide base of people who don’t reliably vote, but if they will vote, will vote Labour, and with whom therefore organising a strong election campaign locally has a huge effect. For other segments of our vote, they might vote Labour, but they will definitely vote, and therefore that happy relationship does not hold so simply, and the difference organisation makes relative to policy in winning their votes is much lesser. What model of organisation the Party and what policies Brown adopts will structure together the terms on which we will fight - and hopefully win - the next election. We need to start thinking about the two together, not in the arid terms of CLPD or STLP but as two sides of an electoral rather than a procedural coin.
That’s all for now. See you next Friday.