Ed Miliband’s major speech this week represents a huge step back to Blairism for the British Labour Party. But is anyone surprised? Even Ed's own father, the late Ralph Miliband, said that Labour was incapable of articulating radical demands.
Rather than indicating that the Labour Party would finally break with neoliberalism, Miliband was eager to emphasise his party's commitment to 'the market' . Such is Miliband's enthusiasm for neoliberalism is that he actually praised Margaret Thatcher for her “sense of purpose” in driving through change, although he omitted to make any mention of the devastation that 'change' has wreaked on British society.
He outlined a program of pubic service 'reform' which is largely about undermining an already under pressure public service. Under Labour the public sector can look forward vast areas of public spending and decision-making 'outsourced' to business interests. Miliband describes this as a 'partnership' with the private sector .
Laughably Miliband asserts “We should devolve power down not just to the user but also the local level” - but that does' t include stopping hospital and school closures , demands for more money or simply trying to change spending priorities. And it certainly doesn't mean the end of the deliberate intimidation and harassment of beneficiaries. This is the 'devolution of power' in name only.
Under Miliband life for beneficiaries and the working poor will continue to deteriorate.
Miliband announced that not only would the present austerity regime be enforced but that further spending cuts were in the pipeline under a Labour Government.
Said Miliband: “The next Labour government will face massive fiscal challenges, including having to cut spending”.
Miliband's dismal speech has only served to highlight that the decision to form Left Unity was the correct one. An alternative to the Labour Party is required to give voice to the concerns of ordinary British folk. They have not only been abandoned by Miliband but can only look forward to the grim prospect of being sacrificed again and again on the altar of capitalism.
Professor Ralph Miliband, Ed's father, viewed socialism in much the same way as Marx - the complete democratisation of society. This included the complete democratisation of the economy. But in his book Parliamentary Socialism (1961) Miliband outlines how social democratic parties like the Labour Party can never present a significant challenge to the established order and will, in fact, always function to dampen down rather than bolster any movement that threatens to bring capitalist power into question.
The last three decades have certainly confirmed Professor Miliband's argument but even he, I suspect, may of been shocked by just how completely Labour has capitulated to neoliberalism and the demands of capitalism.
Such is the antipathy towards Labour one commentator has written: '... when it comes to next year’s general election, an application of the “consumer choice” approach will invite us to hang on to our votes rather than wasting them on any of the mainstream parties. The argument that One Nation Labour will be better than the Tories is shallow and totally unconvincing.'
This something we would do well to consider in New Zealand with David Cunliffe's Labour Party, propped up by the Green Party and the Mana Party, offering nothing in the way of a credible alternative to John Key's National-led government.