Fairy Story

Campaigns Conservatives

When the post war boom ground to an end the initial response was to turn left for solutions. Somehow the capitalists managed to thwart this trend and convinced enough people that neo-liberalism was the way to reenergise economic growth. These ideas prevailed in most developed nations. The promise was that growth was good for all, and if the rich got richer that was fine, so long as the poor got less poor.

The promised growth did not happen. The main outcomes were increased predominance of capital over labour and greater inequality. The rich got richer but not through any great contribution to anything worthwhile. There was privatisation, minimal public services, attacks on democracy and the farce of deregulation.

Fast forward to now and again there is almost universal disillusionment with the established order.¬† You might reasonably argue that it is neo-liberalism that has failed not public institutions and that capitalists are not to be trusted. Markets didn’t work so again some shift to the left appears possible.

But the capitalists don’t want less capitalism or better capitalism so they have again to dupe us all. So they attack all the institutions like politicians, local and national government, regulators, trade unions as they did last time. The mainstream press leads the campaign, happy to denounce every failure. What is astonishing is the basic premise that neo-liberalism has failed so the solution is less democracy and, you guessed it, more neo-liberalism. The rise of the anti-politics, anti-government, anti-Europe and anti outsiders¬† politics is just a device to deflect attention. When the capitalist class sets out to claim it really represents the (white) working class we have really hit the bottom of reasoned debate.

But here we are. To win the most important argument in three decades requires convincing people that public is usually better than private, that politics is better than markets, that politicians are mostly honest, that democracy is worth the effort, and even that trade unions are valuable. And that increasing inequality is never a price worth paying.

As in the 80s there has to be a credible coherent alternative backed by the many not the few. As ever splits and internal politics on the left make that hard. Convinced conspiracy theorists assume the neolibs have infiltrated everywhere. When you look at some of the shouters from the opposition groups (not the mainstream political parties) and see the nonsense they espouse through their slogans you think they must actually be in the pay of the capitalists!

It is also clever of the capitalists to engineer the weakening of government; some spatchcock coalition is not going to be reformist and will be more likely to toe the line spread by the mainstream media. Sadly, and another point for us conspiracy theorists, there are attacks from left as well as right on the main parties.

So what chance of a new deal for our care system? Will there really be a removal of markets from our healthcare? Will integration trump competition? Will power shift to patients and communities? Will public provision prevail and privatisation be reversed? Can the values articulated in the 40s not just hold fast but be extended to social care as with health? Will the public pay the tax cost of a modern care system free at point of need?

Not if the Tories retain power. Hopefully if we try really hard then Labour or a leftish coalition can be made to do what they claim they want to do. Or we wait for the revolution.