Posts Tagged ‘Social Democracy’
The crisis of Britain’s institutions is one of the labour movement too
The Scotsman, November 23rd 2013
One of the defining characteristics of the Labour Party through the ages has been its moral dimension – its indignation at the inequities and injustices of a rotten, economically and socially divisive capitalist system.
It has critiqued this via its early socialist, radical and religious roots – more Methodist than Marx, more the Bible and ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ than ‘Das Capital’.
As politics and society have changed – the post-war consensus, Thatcher, New Labour – these strands have weakened but remained. There was a hope amongst some that post-Blair and Brown Labour would recover its core principles and purpose and make the case against an economic, social and political system which has clearly lost its way.
Events have proven to be a bit trickier than that. The crisis of British capitalism, its traditional establishment and the world of clubland and ‘gentlemanly capitalism’ are deep rooted. The forces of new capitalism and its brash elites in the City, hedge funds and outsourcers, has proven even more anti-social, selfish and brutal than the old one. Read the rest of this entry »
History in the Making: The Battle for Scotland’s Future
National Collective, November 20th 2013
The campaign on Scottish independence has reached new levels – a battle of competing specialist documents – firstly, there has been an Institute for Fiscal Studies report, matched by a Scottish Government paper on the economic independence, and next week the much anticipated White Paper on Scottish independence.
The latter is a milestone in the pro-independence debate. Whatever its content, style and persuasiveness things will never quite be the same again. A devolved administration in part of the UK lays out the case for independence and for formally ending the 300 year old union which has bound Scotland and England together.
Yet beneath these is a contest between two competing technocratic versions of the world, shaped by faith in conventional economic growth models which are globally growing more threadbare and discredited by the day. This is the rationalist mindset, illustrating by the actions of both campaigns the limits of such an approach and politics.
Then there is the mainstream media. The IFS report was greeted by what can only be called near-hysteria by some of the pro-union newspapers. The Scottish edition of ‘the Daily Mail’ shouted ‘BLACK HOLE: Report exposes SNP economic gap: They’ll have to raise income tax or slash spending’ on its front page; the ‘Daily Telegraph’ that ‘Separation would deal £6bn blow, impartial study finds’. We have had two and a half years of this one-sided Pathe News style propaganda and clearly it is only going in one direction: towards a date with Armageddon on September 18th 2014. Read the rest of this entry »
The continuing relevance of solidarity and class
The Scotsman, November 16th 2013
Scotland has been informed by the experiences and memories of working class life and culture since the time of the industrial revolution.
A majority of Scots see themselves as working class and more people do now than over a generation ago in 1979.
In a strange turn of affairs, being working class post-crash is all the rage nowadays. It might not be the sixties when being working class was associated with the age of meritocracy and tearing down the old elites, but change is in the air.
The mantras of the long British bubble now seem from another age: the prospect of ‘a classless society’ invoked by John Major and Tony Blair’s delusion that ‘we are all middle class now’ look even more preposterous. Even Major has woken up to the new realities of class and privilege. Read the rest of this entry »
Who is the Real Gordon Brown and Why It Matters?
The Scotsman, August 3rd 2013
Gordon Brown dominated Scottish politics for several decades. Now gone from the stage, he has only left memories and the issue of his legacy.
Brown is a fascinating figure – a very public person, but private; moral in his deliberations yet filled with caution; supposedly radical but profoundly conservative.
Kevin Toolis’s new play ‘Confessions of Gordon Brown’ (on at the Pleasance during the Festival) attempts to get inside the mind and psyche of Brown. This is a potent idea and something writers previously explored with Blair, perhaps most notably in ‘The Trial of Tony Blair’, where he is seen to be haunted by the ghosts of Iraqi war dead.
Toolis portrays Brown’s personal tragedy – as a man of idealism being lost in the compromises and challenges of politics. Yet to imagine Brown’s plight as primarily one of personal demons involves reducing the political down to just the individual, and issues of motivation and conscience. Read the rest of this entry »
Britain has become an Unequal and Unfair Society
The Scotsman, July 13th 2013
Britain has been mired by scandal this week: MPs proposed pay rise, BBC Executive payouts, and the controversy of G4S and Serco engaging in corporate abuse of power.
Yet through all this people tell themselves that one of the central characteristics of being a civilised country is progressive taxation and the degree to which we successfully redistribute resources from those who have the most to those who have the least.
This week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures which showed what many have intuitively known – that the UK no longer has a progressive taxation system.
Their figures showed that the top 20% of households paid 35.5% of their income in tax while the bottom 20% paid slightly more, 36.6%. The top 20% paid 24.7% in direct taxes and the bottom 20% 10.2%; the top 20% 10.8% in indirect taxes and the bottom 20% 26.5%. This is a regressive tax system. Read the rest of this entry »