Jacob Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University, is widely credited for coining the Labour buzzword ‘pre-distribution’.
He wrote an article for the Guardian a few weeks ago, as part of a talk at Peter Mandelson’s think-tank Policy Network. The most interesting part of the article for me was this bit:
Second, the third way took for granted that one could maintain the state’s role in providing public goods while also glorifying markets – especially, at least until the crash, financial markets. Then, of course, governments of all stripes bailed out those markets when things went sour. Throughout, virtually no investment was made in fostering a positive conception of the state’s role in making market work, which is actually more vital than ever in a complex global economy. The result is a crisis of legitimacy, and no political force suffers more from this crisis than the moderate left.
This point cannot be emphasised enough. The ‘moderate’ left is in a deep crisis of legitimacy that hasn’t gone away.
Even five years after 2007 we still don’t have an explanation of what went wrong in 2007 and what lessons have been learnt. Ed Miliband has made some attempt to grapple with this, but the agenda seems to have fallen by the wayside.
Now the focus is back on ‘fiscal consolidation’ and ‘tough choices’ and ‘pragmatic decisions’ and ‘public sector reform’ and so on. You know, the kind of words the Progress crowd love.
Now I’m not saying those phrases are not relevant in any way. But many on the centre left have mistaken this ongoing crisis of legitimacy (‘how did you let us get into this mess?‘) as a sign that people want to hear more of the things the centre-left loves talking about.
In other words, they say, obviously the centre-left is unpopular because we aren’t talking enough about ‘fiscal discipline’ and ‘public sector reform’ – rather than try and convince the public that we realise fucked up and have some bold ideas to promote this time around.
Ed Miliband started off down this path, and I was hopeful that he would stick with it, and develop it further to convince the public that Labour had learnt and changed.
But it seems the same people who were previously praising the bankers, disliked regulation and wanted the banks bailed out – Ed Balls is a key figure here – have gone back into their comfort zone again. Three years later there is nothing bold on reforming financial services, rebalancing the economy or a bold industrial strategy other than lots of speeches and a British Investment Bank (which the Tories are pushing anyway).
Instead of arguing about how far the UK economy needs to change to it work for ordinary people, the Labour party is spending all its time trying to explain how far they would match Osborne in every step he takes.
The centre left – I’m referring to Labour’s “centrists” here – aren’t even listening to their own people and recognising their ongoing crisis of legitimacy.
via Sunny Hundal Liberal Conspiracy http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/06/28/the-centre-left-still-has-no-idea-how-to-become-relevant-again/