I’ve been pointing out recently how top-down traditional politics isn’t the only way into democracy – nor, even, can it now fairly represent the splintering nature of our society. You can find these pieces here, here and here.
Yet the Lib Dem / Conservative Coalition is exerting quite the opposite effect on Labour:
The Labour benches generally feel frozen with caution. The two Eds, Miliband and Balls, advance the party line in increments and then invite the party to toe it without a fraction of deviation. As a result, anything anyone in Labour says that might be decoded as new or interesting causes a sensation, which only reinforces the leadership’s fear of saying anything – or allowing underlings to say anything – egregious*.
Ironically, therefore, it’s the governing parties which feel free to explore new ideas through the creative tension of Coalition. In contrast, HM’s Official Opposition has become scared of its own shadow.
Creative rub and cultural dissonance have always been the two grandest virtues of multicultural and multilingual societies. Is it possible, then, that what we have here in this case is a Labour Party which – in its dynamics of discourse – is heavily anchored in a former “One Nation Britain” approach to politicking, whilst it’s the Coalition government, forced as it is – quite despite its individual party political instincts – into the cauldron of creative tension, that is actually acting out the theory behind modern multicultural and multilingual groupings?
The results, of course, are never going to be guaranteed. That they preach multicultural and act out mono-cultural is always going to be a possibility. So I’m not saying the policies themselves that come out of such a process are properly reflecting the dynamics in play.
But if Labour wants to be a radical party and yet also expects us to believe in the past (its ways of seeing and doing, its dynamics of decision-making and implementation) in order to achieve such radicalism, how can it possibly square such conceptual circles and convince us that any of these contradictions are actually going to make any sense?
That is to say, how can you possibly sell the idea of a content of multiplicity and diversity if the process for arriving at and sustaining such conclusions is so very very one-dimensional?
Wasn’t honest disagreement always a hallmark of the left?
And are we now saying the right have also stolen, from under our very political noses, even this badge of dialectic courage?