The battle to shape our society never sleeps – it doesn’t end on election night and lie dormant for five years, its a daily struggle that the wealthy and powerful are 100% committed to.
The corporate media works tirelessly to define and assert the narrow range of acceptable worldviews within which debate can take place.
Politicians chime smoothly with ‘on message’ confirmations that neoliberal values are all we should aspire to.
Popular culture, often vacuous and shallow, acts as an echo chamber for the prevailing moral climate – individualistic, selfish, pitiless.
Advertising assails us from every quarter – urging us to reward ourselves with worthless consumerism in one breath and stoking our fears in the next to assure conformity.
It takes a strong soul to stand up to this oh-so-modern barrage of amoral tropes and messages. Many of us do – despite the enormous odds against it, but I have a strong and growing dread that the battle for the soul of our society is being lost. A big indication of that defeat lies in the modern Labour Party, which for too long has represented nothing more than a constantly overworked brand name – not a grass roots movement for social justice.
Labour no longer tries to argue against the disastrous hegemony of right wing neoliberal values – instead it has given up and ‘modernised’ itself. Now the Labour party tries via its tiresome focus groups, central office diktats and media spin to get elected via a series of confidence tricks – this constitutes what it now thinks of as electioneering.
In the election just past, two things were extraordinary :
(a) Labour fell over itself to endorse austerity, implicitly supporting the (entirely fictitious) tory narrative about the causes of the 2007/8 economic crash
(b) Its carefully stage managed campaign made no argument about anything, offering no hope to millions battered by benefits sanctions, precarious jobs, low wages and the bedroom tax.
Labour instead aped tory rhetoric about a ‘triple lock guarantee’ and signed up to every post election cut in services that the tories had planned. Just in case anyone was in any doubt that Labour now stood for nothing and fought for no-one, they carved a few meaningless phrases onto a gravestone while doleful supporters waved mauve mini-flags (the colour red has been outsourced) .
The only people Ed Milliband did appeal to directly were (predictably enough) tory voters, “let me be your champion” he pleaded , confirming for many that the tories were right about the economy, justified in bashing the less fortunate and that they may as well vote tory.
Sadly, the Labour P:arty seems to have gained neither humility or insight from their election defeat and wipe out in Scotland.
The Scotland debacle is blamed on blind nationalism, ignoring entirely the fact that a party campaigning heavily against austerity has just trounced them at the polls.
Every single candidate for the Labour leadership is a member of what Diane Abbott calls the ‘spadocracy’ a rump of former special advisors bereft of socialist DNA.
Labour needs leadership and vision as never before, but these clueless suits mumble about ‘aspiration’, appealing to middle England and standing up for that other oppressed group – corporations.
The media is obsessed by the fluctuating fortunes of Labour, its policy mutterings and power dynamics – but when it comes to challenging the right wing drift of Britain, denouncing austerity or fighting against the demonization of the poor- Labour are irrelevant, aloof and in the way.
The modern Labour Party allows the corporate media to foist a contradictory head fuck upon the public. Labour is offered as evidence of democracy, but its suited politicos offer the same neoliberal sound-bites as the Tories - this uniformity of narrative only reinforces the status quo. The only alternative is no alternative – North Korea would be proud of such mind control.
As right wing conformity consolidates, thus the Labour spadocracy agitates for further ‘modernisation’ - the name ‘Labour’ may soon be abandoned entirely, replaced by ‘Aspirational Democrats’ or ‘Progressive Waitrose Shoppers’.
Sodium Haze is aghast at the corporate capture of the Labour Party, it might be better if this faux alternative to the tories was killed off…
…but just in case anybody still cares, here are ten things Labour should engage with right now to begin a process of renewal and healing for both party and country.
1. Fight for those facing eviction from their homes.
The threat of Evictions is at a ten year high with courts dealing with 525 repossession orders every day:
The vast majority were made by social landlords, including local authorities and housing associations, which took the first steps towards eviction against more than 31,000 tenants – up 13% on the same period last year. Private landlords made nearly 6,500 claims, up 11% on 2013.
Daniel Fitzpatrick, a partner at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen who represents social tenants in possession cases, said they were being squeezed by cuts to welfare payments and councils seeking to reduce housing lists.
The bedroom tax, sky high rents, job insecurity, low wages, benefits sanctions and rogue landlords all contribute to a perfect storm for desperate families all over the UK. Many now face an uncertain future and Labour should be fighting for these people today and every day.
Evictions by Labour led councils should be stopped. Every eviction order should be fought, town by town and street by street – wherever people fear for their homes Labour should be alongside them adding moral support, advocacy and political clout.
If Labour cannot stand alongside people in such dire circumstances then what on earth is it for?
2. Stand up for people facing benefit sanctions.
With a tory majority in parliament there is now nothing to restrain the DWP as they punish and blame the poor for the excesses and failures of the rich.
Over 1.5 million people have had their only means of support cut off via benefit sanctions in the UK in the last two years – often imposed for draconian and unfair reasons that are politically motivated.
Destroying even the most basic support of the welfare safety net is against everything that the Labour Party should stand for - Labour should contest and fight against every instance of this despicable political tactic.
3. Name and shame greedy landlords.
Up and down the land, greedy landlords are hiking rents, ignoring repairs, renting sub standard accommodation and evicting tenants who dare to stand up for themselves.
Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see labour politicians stand up for tenants who are often the victims in a wild west property market in which they have no rights and little power?
4. Re-nationalise the railways and the energy companies.
This should be no brainer even for one of Labour’s spad politicos. The vast majority of the public want us to stop subsidising billionaires and overseas corporations by returning the railways to the public sector -a policy which is almost as popular as getting the energy companies back from foreign interests. Why aren’t Labour campaigning for it?
5. Support the anti-austerity movement.
The picture above shows a march against the political con trick of austerity, there was a similar march in Sheffield a few days ago. Attending was the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett – no candidate for the Labour Party leadership was in attendance or indeed any senior figure from the Labour Party.
This is not surprising – the fight against austerity has been left entirely in the hands of grass roots local activism – the kind of people who have a vision for the future that’s worth voting for. Labour has signed up to austerity lite and has its head in the Westminster / media bubble instead.
Its time for Labour to gets its head out of its Westminster arse and start caring about the rest of society again.
6. Cancel Trident.
It seems we cannot afford to feed people but rely on food banks, it seems we cannot afford to house people properly and look to evict 500 families a week from their homes and it seems we must punish the poor, disabled and the sick via benefits sanctions and the bedroom tax.
If we are this poor as a nation, then we cannot afford to blow up to £100 billion on a superfluous and dangerous weapons system controlled by the U.S. Any Labour movement worthy of the name would instinctively know this … and that we can afford a humane society anyway.
7. Catch the corporate tax dodgers
Every year we taxpayers lose tens of billions of pounds via the illegal tax dodges of wealthy corporations – who extract wealth from this country but want to put nothing back.
In the last two years we have lost £77 billion in this way. This figure doesn’t include sweetheart deals between HMRC and big corporates, the elaborate and quasi-legal tax dodging of companies like Amazon, Vodafone and Apple who route profits out of the country entirely – or the vast subsidies afforded the private train operators and the banking cartels.
But £77 billion is a huge number – if Labour wants to be taken seriously as a party of fiscal responsibility then it should lead on this – and lobby to close all the legal loopholes that corporates use to dodge paying their fair share of tax while they are at it.
8. Support electoral reform
It can be in the interests of no progressive thinking party to sustain support for an electoral system that returns a tory majority government based on just 25% of those eligible to vote.
Labour should endorse full proportional representation if it wishes to be taken seriously as a party committed to democracy and the common good.
9. Fight climate change and the fossil fuel industry.
Where were the debates during the election about climate change, the destruction of bio-diversity, soil loss, environmental degradation, fracking, the need to transition to a sustainable economy or divesting from fossil fuel companies?
I didn’t hear a peep from Labour on any of these topics and yet these issues should be at the absolute heart of the Labour Party’s vision for the future.
Instead all we hear from Labour is timid tinkering with the status quo – the battle to prevent catastrophic global warming and overlapping ecological disasters has been left to others – neoliberal Labour is too busy trying to get elected to care about such things.
10. Reform the monetary system.
Very few people realise that our monetary system has been privatised by stealth. Over 97% of what we use today as our primary means of exchange is actually bank credit – that only comes into existence when banks make loans.
Our current monetary system places enormous power in the hands of private banks who dictate how much money flows into our economy and what it is spent on.
The power we afford banks to create our money supply subverts democracy and makes building a sustainable economy impossible. Only one party – the Green Party included detailed proposals for monetary reform in their election manifesto – why on earth isn’t the Labour Party at the heart of campaigning for reforms to our monetary system?
Give us back our Labour Party!
If the entrenched neoliberal faction within the Labour Party wishes to abandon all mention of socialism, cut ties with the trade unions and fish around for a few catchy sound bites hoping to get elected – here is our message to them – leave - form your own party or join the Lib Dems.
Britain needs a strong political force that campaigns on the ground for the common good , that is the Labour Party’s proud tradition and one that must be returned to if they are to ever have any real relevance again.
Right now the Labour Party is a travesty of its own history and traditions – it is must regain its soul before it thinks again about how to regain office.