On Saturday Ben Bradshaw, Labour’s Blairite former culture secretary, pleaded with his party not to lurch even further to the Left when choosing a new leader and a fresh strategy.
“Please, colleagues in the Labour movement and outside commentators, don’t try to claim we lost because Labour wasn’t radical, Left-wing or distinctive enough,” he said after retaining his seat in Exeter.
“Ed and his team bet on the British people moving to the Left in response to the global financial crisis. The whole of our strategy was based on this. But it was not true.”
I find it rather mind-bending that the Labour strategy could have been so simplistic. Are these people really such simpletons? Perhaps they are?
I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them see the world through the prism of some sort of Marxist idea of “overthrowing capitalism” in some sort of glorious revolution. So when the economy moves into recession/depression, they expect left-wing revolutionaries to start manning the barricades and hurling Molotov cocktails and calling each other “comrade”. There seem to be an awful lot of people who think this way.
I think it’s a substitute for thought. The economy and money and profit and banking is far too complex for them to understand, so they instead propose to just abolish the whole thing and replace it with something they imagine to be simpler and fairer. And these days also something that must be “green” and “sustainable”, obviously.
My own view is that an economy is a more or less natural process that has its own inner logic that needs to be understood before it can be adjusted or improved – a bit like a plane or a spaceship. If you understand how it works, you can design a better one. If you don’t understand anything about it, your revolutionary new design is almost certainly not going to fly. Unfortunately none of us seems to really know how economies work – which is one reason why we have so many rival economic schools of thought.
Anyway, in a country like Britain, with a great many people living on state benefits, it’s not as if these benefits have been removed. As far as I can see, state benefits have hardly been reduced at all, despite all the talk of “cuts”. And thousands of immigrants arrive every day in Britain to claim more of these benefits, and the government doesn’t seem much bothered about it. Nor have outfits like ASH, which live off state benefits, yet seen their funding slashed (as I was complaining yesterday).
Furthermore, my own experience over these last few years hasn’t been one of moving to the Left, but of moving to the Right. And it had nothing to do with the global financial crisis, and everything to do with the smoking ban that evicted me from my pub, and made me a social pariah, and triggered an economic slowdown as smokers stayed home and stopped spending.
Which reminds me of something Rose found today:
Chinese ordered to smoke more to boost economy
Local government officials in China have been ordered to smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of cigarettes in a move to boost the local economy during the global financial crisis.
The edict, issued by officials in Hubei province in central China, threatens to fine officials who “fail to meet their targets” or are caught smoking rival brands manufactured in neighbouring provinces.
Even local schools have been issued with a smoking quota for teachers, while one village was ordered to purchase 400 cartons of cigarettes a year for its officials, according to the local government’s website.
The move, which flies in the face of national anti-smoking policies set in Beijing, is aimed at boosting tax revenues and protecting local manufacturers from outside competition from China’s 100 cigarette makers.
In total, officials have been ordered to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-branded cigarettes worth £400,000.
I hope the Cameron government introduces this Chinese innovation soon. I think it would be a very good idea to make smoking compulsory in government departments, with finger-pointing General Kitchener-style “Your Country Needs You” posters plastered all over their walls. And I for one would be more than ready to “join up” with a newly-formed regiment of Herefordshire Smoker Pals. I’m sure I could smoke much more than I already do, particularly if there was somewhere congenial where I could Do My Duty, with a well-stocked bar and some chairs and tables, and maybe a few newspapers and pool tables and pinball machines and juke boxes. And a roof and walls. We used to have places like this once, before the global financial crisis. I could sit in one of those places all day with a platoon of Fellow Volunteers, if it was really necessary,
enjoying enduring the camaraderie.