Labour’s deficit doves are on the march….
Following on from Saturdays result the biggest, and perhaps the defining debate, that will take place within the Labour Party is a classic dove v hawk match-up on the deficit. Harriet Harman, after doing a brilliant job as our stand-in leader, has today inched towards the dove camp:
“The economy in a year’s time is going to be in a different situation so you know that was our manifesto if we got into government in May, which we didn’t. So we will have to reflect on what we’re going to be arguing in the future.”
Ed Balls, who is something of an unlikely figurehead for a doveish wing, has been articulating the case against kamikaze cuts for some considerable time. Harman’s intervention and the news from Ireland suggest that even if a hawk is elected leader, ie, David Miliband they will probably be forced to reconsider their position. My feeling is that the doves would carry a vote within the Party and unless they were actually spoiling for a fight with the wider Party, a hawk would be unwise to try to impose their line.
However, to seal the deal the doves need a coherent alternative and here I believe ‘the mutual moment’ has arrived. I think we have already seen in its derisory offer to Royal Mail workers that this government talks about empowerment but in reality has no real desire to empower people at all. The argument should be made for state investment in building a new economy from the ashes of the old one. Arguing for the extension of mutual, co-operative and all forms of ownership that extend the power of stakeholders would be an inspirational, forward-thinking way for Labour to seize the economic initiative from the Coalition. It would address the sense of anger and frustration people feel about suffering the consequences of a crisis they did not cause and would be an agenda that could find broad political support. Along with state support for those in poverty and serious action to tackle inequality (like a living wage) and regulation that nurtured this new economy and protects it from the predatory nature of the old this is a real agenda for change.