A global archive of independent reviews of everything happening from the beginning of the millennium

Read our Copyright Notice click here

Back to 2014 COMMENT reviews click here

For publication dates click here

Fading mid-term electoral prospects?



In the dense timber of think tanks that profess to support Labour you can hear the rattling tock of the deathwatch beetle awaiting a demise.

Beyond the end of the decade it could be a party never to govern with a majority again. Perhaps it reached that milestone in 2010.

Its policies have since been revamped, its personnel reshuffled but its ideology remains unsuited to the 21st century.

Unlike the beetle, much favoured by life on Earth, it may be on its way out.

Socialism has a problem because the group it seeks to govern for constitutes barely a quarter of the population.

Social democracy is a time expired ideology because of its over-reliance on the state, and on action financed by taxation of individuals.

Some strands of liberalism, with which social democracy regularly seeks to cut a deal, are so laissez-faire that the outcome of success of their policies would be domination of individuals by a few giant corporations akin to ducal domination of European land holdings after the French Revolution.

Set against these ideologies, the abiding values of conservatism, pre-dating corporate and syndicalist power - integrity and security of the state, social cohesion, defence and preservation of personal property, non-interference - are sane and relevant values for the 21st century.

Of the negative characteristics with which, rightly or wrongly, New Labour will be identified in the history books - poor economic management, adventurism, factionalism and social authoritarianism - it is the last of these that has been least coherently analysed, and also left totally unaddressed in Labour's examination of its dead wood.

From maternity services, child protection, physical health, mental health, support for the disabled, issues relating to the Court of Protection, local authority social services, NHS training, NICE, care provision, care homes and the chemical cosh to the Liverpool Care Pathway, socially authoritarian powers have been granted to the state.

None of this relates to the integrity and security of the state.

The services pertaining to this list used to be provided to those who sought them out or had fallen by the wayside for some reason and could do with the help.

Large tranches of the middle class ignored some or most of these services and provided for themselves.

This was accepted; they were a safety net.

Now these services risk interfering in the lives of all citizens turning them into clients or treating them in an authoritarian manner.

One outcome is the feather-bedding of innumerable posts in the public service and continual financial crises for these services.

'Cradle to the grave' was a catchphrase founding a dangerous myth.

Maternity services come in for a lot of criticism and the LCP was a disgrace.

Cradle to the grave has never applied in Britain or anywhere that was not Communist.

A place where the man from the ministry knows best because he is better educated, where there is one recommended way of doing things and everyone must follow it, where information is kept limited and spun, and choice restricted by legislation, is so much at variance with the spirit of the time and its desire to admit plurality that it is unsustainable.

It is up to Labour whether it wants to address its social authoritarianism. This is the beetle that will kill it if it does not.