This tweet led me to this Labour Party YouTube video:
Before I continue, let it be clear from the start that whilst I’m still currently a Labour Party member, its behaviour during the recent #DRIP process has meant I will be deciding in September whether to continue to pay my dues. I am as a result less predisposed to be friendly to videos such as these than I might have been several months ago.
With that declaration of interests upfront, I’d like to examine what the theme of the video really means. As the tweet points out (the bold is mine):
You can’t be pro-jobs without being pro-job creators. Find out why Labour means business – http://labour.tw/1ydlXK8
There is plenty in the video which looks to cover all the bases: from global investment (and presumably very big business) to a local focus (and presumably very small business). Of course, covering such bases may be little more than good intentions; maybe disingenuous good intentions at that. None of the Labour team is stupid: all of them must realise that to get elected, big business rules the roost; anything you say which may favour small boys and girls over big boys and girls must be couched in such lukewarm terms so as not to disconcert the latter’s sadly rapacious instincts.
The problem is that whilst defining One Nation Labour as an economic construct where everyone benefits from the functioning of such an economy could win elections, were the appeal to be made effectively over the heads of the media interests of big business, in reality this kind of appeal cannot be made without the mediating instincts of these selfsame interests. And so we face the dilemma Tony Blair faced: the need for a socialism by stealth, a piebald socialism implemented in New Labour times, which unfortunately (later on) opened the door to – and put in place the legislative tools of – the violent but vigorously denied privatisation of Coalition austerity.
In truth, when Labour says “You can’t be pro-jobs without being pro-job creators”, it plays a two-handed game: to the small boys and girls, this sounds like they mean us; to the big boys and girls, this sounds like they mean them. And right up to election day, right up to that day and beyond, we shall never be sure whether we were diddled or we simply misunderstood.
How so? Are we so uncouched in the words of political double-speakery? I don’t think so. It’s just that hope runs eternal – even in times of austerity and social injustice.
A long time ago, I wrote a piece on the Coalition’s war against the professions, describing how it was dismantling the latter’s power and former right to infuse debate with evidence-based arguments. I suggested that, at the same time, politicians – members of the only unmanaged profession around, the only one with no clear career path, training process or evidence-based evaluation system – were deliberating ring-fencing their rights not to be properly organised by an increasingly educated society.
In the light of such an assessment, when Labour speaks of being “pro-job creators”, I am minded to wonder if a similar process of saying one thing and doing another isn’t taking place – even, we might like to suggest, for very similar reasons.
Substitute that word “job” with the word “capital”: “You can’t be pro-capital without being pro-capital creators.” Doesn’t that sit so much more accurately with what we all know is going to happen? For sooner or later, capital will realise its interests lie in moulding Labour, given that sooner or later it will begin to realise the Party may have chances of gaining some kind of power next year. And whilst Labour knows this and will eventually have to kowtow to a painful reality (a reality for the leaders less painful already through a currently invisible train of capitulation), it still has to carry its working vote to the polls. Only then can it deceive and disillusion.
To be honest, hung parliaments clearly benefit those who control – at the very least, form part of – the status quo: business leaders, politicians, everyone who’d like to take “difficult” decisions but doesn’t always like the responsibility and flak these bring, can use coalition dynamics to give the impression it’s not their fault. Very easy; very nice; very dishonest; evermore common.
So what would make me trust this video-pitch a little more than I do? Perhaps an approach which put the job of being a job-creator on the curriculums of all schools, all further education colleges, all foundation years in universities. An approach which would couple commercial wisdoms with social responsibilities. An approach which didn’t use double-speakery – nor left open the door to the suspicion that it was being used.
To summarise, an approach where politicians were professionalised in much the same way as doctors, nurses, teachers and others; where the currency of communication was evidence-based in all contexts; and where money became a tool to create a sharing economy.
Instead of, as now, as is unhappily the case, perpetuating itself as a financial device to capture and ensnare the cleverly astute from the rest of us – thus removing all social conscience from the planet’s powerful.
However well-intentioned some of them may start out.