…And it’s about time we faced up to it, argues Thomas Butler, Unite North West Disabled and Young Members Committees.
The “One Nation” project has no democratic or moral authority within our Party. It had been drawn up by a bureaucratic, conservative leadership hell-bent on imposing their narrow will on party members, without consultation.
From the little detail we’ve had from Ed Miliband, such as supporting a Mansion Tax, it’s clear that the “One Nation” project is embedded in wishy-washy reformism. It fails to challenge who owns these houses and by what means they came by them.
Capitalism is crisis-ridden. The fundamental problem won’t be solved with more market regulation. What is needed is common ownership of energy, utilities, rail, banking and a PFI-free, locally run NHS. Simply reforming capitalism will continue to breed inequality and ensure we will never have the unified, equal, co-operative and prosperous “one nation“, that our movement aspires to create.
The alternative to the present system is socialism, empowering real people in their communities. “One Nation” is a re-branding of New Labour. Why should we be surprised? The Shadow Cabinet team is full of people from the New Labour era.
In policy terms, there’s virtually no difference to New Labour ideas. The recently unveiled neoliberal welfare policy insists on involving the private sector in Jobcentre Plus. The ‘Jobs Guarantee’ makes claimants, irrespective of suitability, take whatever job is thrown at them. This represents the authoritarian approach that the Blair and Brown governments had.
In its confused language and aims, “One Nation” seeks to unite communities and pride through ‘faith and flag’ in Britain, to tackle the growing BNP and UKIP vote. Yet it divides communities with support for cuts in the economy. It encourages militarism and nationalism, with a huge British Flag at Party Conference, support for Military Schools, the setting up of ‘Labour Friends Of the Forces’ and support for foreign intervention and voting with the Tories on Trident.
It’s no better on trade union rights either. The Front Bench abstained on supporting John McDonnell’s amendment opposing the removal of the right to strike in the Civil Service. Ed Miliband refused to support unions in their days of action, delivered a pro-cuts speech to the TUC anti-cuts rally in Hyde Park last year and has made no commitment to repeal anti-union laws.
“One Nation” offers not one single change. It appeals to the only voters New Labour cared about — the ‘squeezed middle’ and betrays the working class. You do not win elections like this. You win through conviction, clarity and the courage to offer a real alternative — one that will abolish social injustice and inequality for good.