Tax the rich: an animated fairy tale

I’m not usually into wordy articles on political discourse and origins of society (they tend to be like chewing marbles) but this one from Soundings makes a lot of sense even if you do have to read between the lines to get the gist.

I have tried to select paragraphs not written in “University speak” but plain English with the hope that the meaning of the whole article may be distilled without losing too much of the original.

This is the opening sentence where he states the facts about our present Government.

How do we make sense of our extraordinary political situation: the end of the debt-fuelled boom, the banking crisis of 2007-10, the defeat of New Labour and the rise to power of a Conservative-Liberal- Democratic Coalition?

A fair stab at what the welfare state was set up to do.

According to the neoliberal narrative, the welfare state (propelled by working class reaction to the Depression of the 1930s and the popular mobilisation of World War Two) mistakenly saw its task as intervening in the economy, redistributing wealth, universalising life-chances, attacking unemployment, protecting the socially vulnerable, ameliorating the condition of oppressed or marginalised groups and addressing social injustice.

This wonderful paragraph (below) gets to the heart of what the Lib Dems should stand up for in the coalition and yet visibly are failing to do and so failing the people who voted for them including me.

The social insurance reforms of the Liberal Coalition of 1906-11 (Lloyd George and Churchill) laid down an early template for the welfare state. Later on, intervention against unemployment and the struggle against poverty – associated with Keynes and Beveridge – led the second phase.

This is a history that Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems – grumpily clinging to the tailcoats of their Conservative Coalition allies – have conveniently forgotten or never understood.

The beginning of Thatcherism

In 1979 Thatcherism launched its assault on society and the Keynesian state. But simultaneously it began a fundamental reconstruction of the socio-economic architecture with the first privatisations. (One-nation Tory Harold Macmillan called it ‘selling off the family silver’!)

Thatcherism thoroughly confused the left. Could it be not just another swing of the electoral pendulum but the start of a reconstruction of society along radically new, neoliberal lines?

The end of Thatcherism

 In the end Thatcherism was too socially destructive and ideologically extreme to triumph in its ‘scorched earth’ form. Even her cabinet fan-club knew it could not last. But it was a ‘conviction moment’ they will never forget. And today, once again, many yearn to return to it in some more consolidated, permanent and settled form.

What New Labour stood for

New Labour believed that the old route to government was permanently barred. It was converted, Damascus-like, to neoliberalism and the market. And, buying in to the new managerial doctrine of pubic choice theory taught by the US Business Schools, New Labour finally understood that there was no need for the political hassle to privatise.

You could simply burrow underneath the distinction between state and market. Out-sourcing, value-for-money and contract contestability criteria opened one door after another through which private capital could slip into the public sector and hollow it out from within. This meant New Labour adopting market strategies, submitting to competitive disciplines, espousing entrepreneurial values and constructing new entrepreneurial subjects.

Tony Giddens, a Third Way pioneer, is supposed to have told Blair that nothing could resist ‘the unstoppable advance of market forces’. ‘Marketisation’ became the cutting-edge of New Labour’s neoliberal project.

What New Labour did

Since the early days of Thatcher we have not seen such a ferocious onslaught on the fabric of civil society, relationships and social life.

What we’re likely to see with the Coalition in charge

Amenities like libraries, parks, swimming baths, sports facilities, youth clubs, community centres will either be privatised or disappear. [and public toilets, I could show you examples – Ed.]

Volunteers will need to help preserve London’s parks as funding is withdrawn – report

On the same subject this is worth reading from the LGA.

“Anyone lucky enough to have been oblivious to local authority cuts in recent years will start to notice, says Porter. Services that many take for granted will be shredded further, such as leisure centres, parks, and museums, along with statutory services such as libraries, street cleaning, and local bus services for elderly and disabled people. Affluent residents will notice the unfixed potholes in the road, and that grass verges lie uncut for weeks.”

Gary Porter cuts spending review councils edge collapse

I notice Stuart Hall didn’t mention fire stations, police stations or the complete abandonment of at cost (social) housing in London but then perhaps even he wasn’t that pessimistic.  The coalition would appear to be exceeding his most dire predictions.

That’s not all.  Type in “Ambulance station threat of closure” to Google and you will get a page of returns from all over the country, too many to list here.

The digested read

In my opinion what he’s saying is that if your favourite period of the C20th was 1945 – 1979 and you detest almost everything that happened afterwards including the attempted dismantling of the welfare state then beware the Coalition who are continuing the process started by Thatcher.

In one of the comments underneath the shorter Guardian version of the article the writer says the Coalition wants to “take us back to the 1930s” and it certainly looks that way.


13 September 2011 11:47AM

Yeah, Gideon’s hero is Herbert Hoover….he’s dragging us back to the early 30’s…should be ‘interesting’….

The digested, read digested

Be afraid!

(With apologies to John Crace)

The article I read

or get it below since LW seem a bit flaky with their web link.


——————-> Get it here <——————


A shorter version of the article I read, from the Guardian

A Guardian interview with Stuart Hall

Another Guardian interview with Stuart Hall

I found this which is a similar article on the same subject from 2003

And another

LW Books -> DoubleShuffle.html

or here

New Labour Double Shuffle

Vimeo Interview here:-

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