Posts Tagged ‘Social Democracy’
British social democracy is dying a slow death
The Scotsman, June 8th 2013
Ed Miliband and Labour have been busy this week making policy announcements, marking out political terrain, and in the eyes of opponents, making unprincipled U-turns.
Labour has announced it will not reverse the end of winter fuel payments for wealthy pensioners and child benefit for top rate taxpayers, as well as imposing an overall ‘cap’ on welfare spending for the first three years of a future Labour Government.
There are short-term factors at work. Labour are increasingly keen to reposition itself and challenge the widespread perception that it is ‘soft’ on welfare. The party also has anxieties about the narrowness of its overall lead over the Tories, and its inability to close the economic credibility gap with the Conservatives, for all the problems of the coalition. Read the rest of this entry »
Time for a Radical Scotland to challenge our forces of conservatism
The Scotsman, June 1st 2013
Scotland has long prided itself on its radical and socialist traditions, from Red Clydeside and UCS to rent strikes, occupations and the campaign which achieved the Scottish Parliament.
This week Alex Salmond faced more criticism over his corporation tax policy from predictable quarters such as Johann Lamont and less predictable ones such as pro-independence supporters and economists Jim and Margaret Cuthbert and Council of Economic Advisers member Professor Joseph Stiglitz.
This raises all sorts of questions: about the nature and dynamics of the independence project, Labour-SNP competition, and the characteristics of the Scottish left. Underneath this is the dilemma of who really speaks for and represents Scotland’s radical traditions? And who is looking at turning these into thinking and policies for today? Read the rest of this entry »
Can Scottish politicians understand that social justice is about everyone?
The Scotsman, May 25th 2013
There was a revealing exchange on Newsnight Scotland this week which got to the heart of the matter of the substance (or lack of) in much of the independence debate.
Asked to elucidate on what social justice measures an independent Scotland could advance SNP MSP Kenny Gibson first stuttered and then at second attempt offered as a contribution, the abolition of the bedroom tax. Then it was Labour MSP Ken Macintosh’s chance to show his mettle on social justice and what his party would do and he equally offered no real specifics just generalisations.
Social justice is what part of Scotland prides itself on. How many Labour and SNP politicians and media commentators have you heard over the years congratulate themselves on our supposedly different, superior, egalitarian values? Read the rest of this entry »
Games with Shadows: Living in Thatcher’s Scotland
Open Democracy, April 10th 2013
We live in Thatcher’s Britain, yet that statement is obvious, contentious and deeply divisive. And this is all the more true of Thatcher north of the border.
Thatcher is simultaneously both history and present day. You can hear this in the differing accounts on TV and radio; with conservative figures claiming she remade the modern world from knocking down the Berlin Wall and freeing Eastern Europe, to preventing a future ‘socialist Britain’; while elements of the left wail in pain and agony at how events have turned out and their inability to come to terms with the country and politics she created.
We live in an age as much shaped by Thatcher as the previous political era: the so-called ‘post-war consensus’, a phrase seldom used in that era, and only invoked at its fag end. The date of Thatcher entering office, 1979, is exactly halfway between 1945 and today. Therefore, we are 34 years from Thatcher’s first victory; and 34 years from then to Clement Attlee’s historic mandate. And given that there are detailed studies of ‘the post-war consensus’, we should be able to begin to do the same with Thatcherism, but instead we are still arguing over what it means. Read the rest of this entry »
What do we do when we talk (and don’t talk) about Power?
Scottish Review, April 9th 2013
The story of modern Scotland is an obvious one: we are a nation and a community, increasingly defined by these two terms and from this comes our sense of difference and identity.
Beyond that it begins to get complicated and contested; our prevailing account of ourselves is that we are centre-left, egalitarian, inclusive and radical, and the missing word in front of each of these is more; meaning more than England, which for many is the crucial ingredient.
All of the above contain elements of truth but they are also our modern myths, the stories we tell ourselves to understand who we are, which are part-fact, part-fiction, but which make us who we are. And to fully comprehend this we need to try and have some honest, reflective conversations about this, the nature of our public life, and the challenge of power, namely, who has it and who doesn’t, and how we understand it.
Let’s start with power. It is one of the central ingredients that makes the world go round. There are at least three versions of it in modern Scotland: hard power, intermediate power, and soft power. And for some reason we don’t want to talk too much about these in modern Scotland. Read the rest of this entry »