Jan 162012

There have been a flurry of tweets over the past twenty-four hours on the subject of a defection to the Tory Party of one of Labour’s most controversial tweeters, Luke Bozier.  You may not have heard of Luke, mind – if you want to know more, Mark Ferguson’s short and eventually dismissive piece over at Labour List this morning is probably the best place to start.

Meanwhile, I was minded to respond to a tweet from Anthony Painter earlier in the day on this very same subject of how Labour had to learn to deal with different ideas and people and places, when he wrote:

Labour has to learn that people can disagree with it, vote for others, join others, not vote and not be bad people…..

My response being:

@anthonypainter No. It’s not Labour that needs to learn this lesson. It’s political activism in general.

Something, in fact, we could expand to many relationships and sectors these days.

And then came along this other tweet – which got me thinking further:

Fellow Tories, what are your thoughts on a sudden influx of Blairite/New Labourites into our party?

Two questions immediately arise, of course.  The first one, the obvious one, being: could Labour survive as a governing political force?  That is to say, would Labour minus the Blairite tendency equal the wilderness years from now on in?

But the second – far more intriguing – one goes as follows: what about the Conservatives?  Could the Tories as they currently perceive themselves even survive such a stampede of an influx of potentially overwhelming proportions – if and when, that is, the political dams broke (as they might) and a flood of disaffected triangulators invaded their treasured Etonite playing-field?

In a sense, the right-wing of the Tory Party and the left-wing of the Labour Party are literally mirror images of each other: their relationship with and attachment to much-needed badges of courage – those political markers in the sand they use to auto-define their positions – is a given in both extraordinary cases: signs of tribal loyalty and righteousness, indeed, if there ever were any to behold.

So that’s why the more I think about it, the more I do wonder.

And you know, I really wouldn’t be surprised if the often worthy and positive cuckoo that was the New Labour tendency mightn’t end up destroying the heart and soul of the Tory Party over the next two governments in much the same way as it has already manifestly managed to do to what used to be Labour, its class movement and its society-loving instincts.

Jan 162012

Nick Clegg appears to have been widely praised for suggesting we should “John Lewis” the economy.  This from the Guardian today:

Workers could be given the right to request shares in the companies they work for under proposals put forward on Monday by Nick Clegg, to create what he describes as a “John Lewis” economy.

In a bid to deploy century-old liberal principles to the mounting debate about crony capitalism, the deputy prime minister will argue that the economy is in danger of being “monopolised by a minority” and that wider share ownership among employees could be an answer. “Just as the eighties had been the decade of share ownership, so this decade should become the decade of employee share ownership”, he will say in a speech at the Corporation of London and the Centreforum thinktank.

Now far be it from me to criticise such an idea, especially when John Lewis Partnership has laudable financial structures in place such as these:

[…] every partner [that is to say, employee] receives an Annual Bonus, which is a share of the profit. It is calculated as a percentage of the salary, with the same percentage for everyone, from top management down to the shop floor and the storage rooms. The bonus is dependent on the profitability of the partnership each year, varying between 9% and 20% of the partners’ annual salaries since 2000. The Annual Partnership Bonus for 2007 was the top end 20%, this is before the recession started. The Annual Partnership Bonus for 2008 was 15% of a partner’s gross earnings for the 2007/2008 financial year. The Annual Partnership Bonus for 2009 was 13% of a partner’s gross earnings for the 2008/2009 financial year. The Annual Partnership Bonus for 2010 was 15% of a partner’s gross earnings for the 2009/2010 financial year.

It is, however, worth noting that there exist other structures in modern-day manufacturing and service-industry Britain which would bring about far more engagement between workforces and management – and even help to constructively blur the lines themselves.  As this tweet underlined this morning:

Yep. RT @brylip: @GreenSolitaire Funny how “john lewis” brand evoked not “co-op”. Right to request shares long way off industrial democracy.

And to be honest, in a capitalism such as this – a capitalism, remember, we are suffering from – where is the blessed virtue or attraction in investing part of one’s financial reserves in the business one may shortly be ejected from?  Especially when – in a capitalism such as ours – the reason why businesses may go to the wall could have very little to do with the entities in question and everything to do not only with violently culpable behaviours in the financial services sector but also a wider mismanagement in political and economic institutions.

Knowing how – in the last few years – the world economy has been entirely turned upside down by a few banks, their cronies and other assorted villains, would you really want to spend every penny in negotiating a perfect financial fit between you and your corporation or medium-sized enterprise?

I know I wouldn’t.