Neither left nor right – Britain is just confused

The right-wing made much of the recent British Social Attitudes survey which showed a toughening of attitudes towards welfare recipients etc. Dan Hodges called for Ed Miliband to ‘listen’ and follow the public mood. Well, I wonder if he will be making a similar plea regarding the poll in today’s Independent .

The poll showed a clear mood for putting people before profit and action by the government to address the gap between rich and poor. Something tells me Mr Hodges might be quieter with regard to this particular poll.

Some people will see these contradictory findings as proof of the useless nature of polling when it comes to reading the complex rubric of the public mood. However, I believe both could be valid, which tells us quite a plain truth – Britain is confused about what to think. It’s seemingly not alone – across Europe election results zig-zag seemingly with no rhyme or ideological reason.

People know, broadly speaking, that neo-liberal capitalism has failed. Recognition of this can be found in the pages even of the Daily Telegraph and the rest of the right-wing press. However, they are unsure about what, if anything, should be put in its place. They also want somebody to blame but are not sure who should carry the can.

It is possible the entire political system will. In parallel to the crisis of faith in economic orthodoxy, a crisis of faith exists in representative democracy which is blighted by the inter-connected evils of corruption and public indifference.

This is therefore both a moment of danger and opportunity for the left (and indeed the right). Public faith in what is has been shattered but their faith in orthodox solutions has evaporated. The left is still tainted by the failure of the USSR and the obliteration of its traditional centres of power – like the trade unions. Nature abhors a void and soon fills it – we should be weary of what the right would fill it with and a concerted attack on what little democracy we have – also, we should avoid the trap of joining in with these attacks.

Instead, the left would be well advised to first acquaint itself with the weakness of its own position and the fact its orthodoxy, as well as the rights now, are discredited in the public eye. This should tell us of the need to reinvent itself urgently; for the winner of the next ideological contest will be the side that reinvents itself quickly and more coherently – traditionally the right has been much better at this than the left. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

If, rather than returning to ‘sacred texts’, the left returns to core values – for example, consistent democracy, aiming to empower and free people rather than focusing solely on a big state etc, etc it could find itself the victor. Out of chaos must, eventually, come order, and if the left is alive to the opportunities of the current situation it can be the one that shapes the current mood and changes the world for good and all and much for the better. If it isn’t, well then we should all have reason to shudder…

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About darrellgoodliffe

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10 responses to “Neither left nor right – Britain is just confused”

  1. ianrobo says :

    good post Darrell and first, Merry Xmas to you and yours !

    you have hit the nail on the head, there is a massive gap for a policy that is ‘responsible capitalism’. The right are determined to portray anything other as ‘laissez-faire’ as communism because they are aware of there is an alternative then the public will go for that and the bankers will lose out.

    By the end of 2012 we have to have this policy and be at 45% in the polls, that is the test. The massive advantage we have is that for the first time in 2 generations the left is no longer divided the Lib Dems are not an alternative anymore and we have a base of around 38% from which to build. This can be done by peeling off ‘one nation’ tories who are not rabid homophobes, anti Europe, anti benefit. FI they see we have a policy that is ‘responsible’ then that will be the breakthrough.

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  2. ianrobo says :

    next year will be so difficult that we have to offer hope and not despair.

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  3. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Happy Xmas to you and yours too Ian.

    I think your right about next year, we do have to offer some vision of the future that is hopeful…

    Responsible capitalism may well be it but this has to mean more than regulation – it has to mean things like co-ops etc and a sustainable economy

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    • ianrobo says :

      As a co-op member Darrell I could not agree any more !! that is why when I look at the Private members bill about the NHS, Creasey’s bill and others, we have the germs there that would be very popular.

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      • darrellgoodliffe says :

        We could indeed…we just need to cohere it into a consistent platform of policies and a media narrative…

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  4. john Reid says :

    but what’s the solution

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  5. john Reid says :

    Dan Hodges orignal view that Ed could somehow appeal to the “charity rather than tax”view that people would pay for better serivces but they’d like to have a say how,that’s why they do it through their own ways rather than ,tax, how o we convince teh public that income tax and us spending there money we’d knew best,

    it kind of reminds me of the 1974 eleciton with the London Mayoralty, if Ken does convince the pulbic that if he puts up council tax, the public can spend now pay later on cheap trian fairs, but that sort of view was one that convinced the public that laoub r weren’t fit with the econmoy for a generaton in 1979.

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  6. darrellgoodliffe says :

    What are they going to pay with John, choclate buttons?

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  7. John Reid says :

    Ken won the mayoralty in 2004 with the view if you want better public services (trains ,police ) council tax must go up) that view sin’t one the public hold at the moment

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