Remember this: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
In the Labour Movement, there is often a time for debate and even a time for doubt. But there is also a time for action. And now is that time. Our Tory opponents are decisively weakened and clearly uncertain about the way forward. Even the Mail this weekend suggested that Cameron could yet be challenged.
As the Commons prepares to meet for its autumn term, there is an inevitable quickening of political activity. But there is an added urgency this time, because we are moving into the long campaign for next year’s election.
The country is crying out for change.
The coalition parties have been rumbled. They are taking us back several centuries to a world of greed, gross inequality and the collapse of much-needed public services.
They are breaking the social contract which should exist that says if you are left behind as a result of social or economic change, through no fault of your own, then the country will provide support to get you back on your feet.
They are dismissive of the poorest, but they are equally neglecting the centre. The British Middle Class which for so long was the rock on which the Conservatives built their majorities, is increasingly detached from Tory values. What you might call the ‘blue rinse’ tory voters are no longer numerically as strong are they were. In their place is a new middle class which is university educated, generous, open-minded, progressive, and looks to the construction of a modern Britain.
And for them, modernity does not mean a squeeze on their incomes at the expense of their expectations of reasonable life. They want to do well but not necessarily at the expense of others. They do not want to see an end to social mobility. And they are profoundly worried about their children’s futures which frequently look bleak.
The Coalition is increasingly separated from the concerns of ordinary people. They look more and more like a narrow elite which ‘kisses up and kicks down’. They suck up to the rich and powerful but they press down on all the rest.
They have enhanced the feeling that the country works only for the top 1%. The wholly discredited ‘trickle down’ theory of economics, which gives even more wealth to the richest, that somehow this wealth will then trickle down to other social groups is clearly untrue.
But there is something more primeval about the Tories view of inequality. And people sense it.
Last week the PM announced that he is ‘proud to be posh’. Of course, he didn’t choose the circumstances of his birth. But you are judged by your actions. And the group around Cameron have set about reinforcing their privileges, rather than creating country which works together to help people who are less fortunate.
In truth, they believe that the poorest are responsible for their own poverty, through personal choices they have made. In Glasgow Cameron said “social problems are often the consequence of the choices that people make”.
And the possible next Conservative leader, Boris Johnson articulated their own hidden prejudices. ‘Some people’, says the Telegraph summary of the mayor’s Margaret Thatcher lecture ‘are too thick to get ahead’. His explanation of the gross inequality is to point to differences in IQ test results. And he also argued that inequality produces envy and greed which is then a spur to economic growth!
And there you have it. The flaunting of privilege, and the demeaning of others who did not have their start in life. An analysis based on a spurious claim that the rich and powerful possess a gifted genetic inheritance.
These are pre-Victorian views. Little wonder that they are increasingly discredited in the minds of the wider public. And this is especially the case for those who feel left behind by the pace and character of change. It is this sense of being left behind which is feeding the sense of alienation upon which UKIP are exploiting.
But UKIP are ultimately incapable of resolving the problems which so many in our country are facing. More Tory than the Tories, they too are on the right of the political spectrum.
And so it falls to Labour to rise to the challenge, determined to tackle inequality and the corrosive class system which the Government is rebuilding, tough minded but espousing progressive values. Only a party of the Left is capable of breaking out of the logjam in which our country has become entrapped.
Labour will bring about a clean break with the recent past, with the Neanderthal social mores of the Tories but also New Labour’s mistakes. We are putting together a programme which will transform Britain so that the economy we build works for all working people, not just the people at the top.
Our opponents will try any tactic to sap our Leaders’ morale, especially targeting Ed Miliband by constant personal attacks. But he is tougher than they think, and will not buckle. They also believe this constant personal abuse will sow seeds of doubt and confusion in the minds of our activists and our voters.
Our answer to this has to be to put aside all doubts, reservations and ideological equivocation. We have a duty of solidarity when any of us is under attack by the forces of privilege, and we have an imperative of unity in the face of a dangerous and ruthless political enemy. As Deputy Chair of the Labour Party I go around the country speaking to activists. The Party is up for the challenge.
The battle is already joined. We can win every argument because our values are those of the British people. The country is crying out for transformative politics. And it is clear that there is a huge pool of disaffection with the Coalition government for us to build on.
I say ‘bring it on’.”