Friday, 27 March 2009

Political Futures

I don't always agree with Michael Meacher, but this letter in the Guardian is so good, and hits the tone which is lacking in both the government and the official opposition so well, that I am going to quote it nearly in full:
We urgently need ... an alternative to the prevailing Tory-New Labour orthodoxy. I would propose three central strands. It should seek to restore a social democracy which has been ripped apart by greed and an out-of-control inequality epitomised by the banks' bonus culture. We need a solidarity tax levied on the top 5% of incomes and on the so-called non-domiciled super-rich - who use Britain but don't pay into it - with the proceeds hypothecated to end child and pensioner poverty.

We need to redraw the boundaries between the state and the market. The market fundamentalism of the last 30 years is well and truly busted. But ending privatisation, deregulation and PFI is not enough. We need a new perspective for the state, not - as now - passive facilitator and rescuer of last resort, but actively interventionist where the public interest requires it, and strong promoter of the key social values of accountability, equity and real equality of opportunity. A robust market has an essential role, but so does the state, not only in health and education (where private markets do not belong), but in energy (a key to national security), housing (neglect of which is the biggest repository of social misery), transport (for a fully co-ordinated system), and banking (to prevent another collapse and provide reliable housing for low-income households).

We need a state which is less an intrusive snooper and more the guardian of our civil liberties. And we need a major redistribution of power: away from a top-down state to disenfranchised citizens; away from top-down industrial relations to a fair and constructive role for trade unions: and away from a top-down politics to a much more genuinely participative system of governing.

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