I covered the election cycle for Souciant. My first article focused on Ed Miliband and what he represents for the centre-left and for the Labour Party.
The early signs of the Miliband leadership were not promising. He shirked from making promises early on, apparently to avoid commitments he couldn’t fulfil, probably to avert any infighting. Labour veterans will remember, with no nostalgia, the splits in the 1980s, which ruptured the party’s electoral chances, consigning it to the wilderness for the best part of two decades. So long as the party remains united, it can back neoliberal policies.
In this regard, sectarianism has its virtues over unity. As Leo Panitch has emphasised, it might be necessary to divide ranks, and prompt a full-blown confrontation, in order to rescue the official social democratic party from its own rightward drift. Contestation can lead to progressive outcomes, but plenty of people prefer to play the safe game holding onto a scintilla of hope. The last battle for the life and soul of the Labour Party was fought in the 1980s.
The post-war Labour Party has consistently sought to buttress the system and avoid the redistribution of wealth and power. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the plan was to secure ever-rising living standards through adjustments to income and jobs policy, as well as an inflationary monetary approach, to make the pie appear bigger for everyone. Then in the 1990s New Labour promised it could do this by further compromise and, ultimately, by heaping greater debt onto people.
Likewise, Miliband promises to tweak the system just enough to placate the incorrigible masses. He tries to make the right noises about taxes, health care, jobs and housing, but ultimately falls short. We’re told he’s the official left candidate, and yet he talks about ‘responsible’ capitalism. The days of Bevan and Attlee are long gone. These may be the end times for the centre-left.
I wrote these words for an article, the Death of the Centre-Left, published on March 31. For the election I looked at almost every major party, with the exceptions of Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, with particular attention paid to the Green Party, Labour, UKIP and the Conservatives. Here's my take on the 2015 election:
The Anti-Cameron - On the significance of the SNP as an alternative to the Whitehall consensus and what it means for those of us on the left-of-centre.
The New Ted Heath - A historical look at Cameron's Conservative Party and how it reached this peculiarly modern manifestation of right-wing politics.
These Greens Are Different - A critical, yet sympathetic, look at the Green Party, their social programme and what has gone wrong for them on the campaign trail.
White Identity Politics - A comparison of UKIP and the DUP in historical terms of colonial and racial oppression, specifically how the oppression of the Irish helped to constitute the white identity to which UKIP now appeals.
Small was Beautiful - A look at the strangely reactionary history of the Green Party, how they came to be and why they are left-wing today.
Dead Labour - Again, a critical look at Labour and precisely the history of its infighting and how it produced the current political impasse.
Early 90s Flashback - Looking back to the 'surprise' victory of 1992 in terms of the Conservative majority won and secured by David Cameron. What lessons can we draw from this?