Efforts must be made to tackle the country’s freedom, fairness, equality and democratic deficits rather than focusing on only the fiscal deficit, rising Labour star Chuka Umunna has urged, writes Dean Carroll.
The MP, widely tipped as a future party leader, claimed that the UK was suffering from a “social recession”, adding: “It all comes down to the massive gap between the rich and the poor. These kids on estates often are from traditional families, but their parents have to work two or three jobs and so they are not able to spend the quality time with them ““ it’s not all about single-parent families leading to kids joining gangs as they try to tell us.
“These young people feel they have no part to play in this capitalist society we have ““ which has created the deficit in terms of freedom, fairness, equality and democracy. Where is the deficit reduction programme for these things? That is the question we need to be asking.”
Umunna called for serious policy work and efforts to bring the working and middle classes together to build common solutions to the problems of modern society.
“This right-wing stuff about locking up kids and tougher sanctions is lost on them,” he said at a Compass debate. “Headteachers in my constituency tell me that these kids don’t think that they are even going to live long so why would they have a stake in our capitalist society.”
Compass chairman Neal Lawson praised Umunna’s comments and signalled that Ed Miliband’s focus on “the good society”, a Compass concept representing mutualism and government intervention where necessary, would begin to tackle some of the issues raised. “We need a new tolerant, pluralist politics and we have to get back to the vision of hope,” added Lawson.
And Douglas Alexander added: “With the good society, that state can be a crucial ally to the community. We have no time to waste in rebuilding a majority project for the centre left in Britain.”
Joining the discussion, Jon Cruddas said Miliband’s election as leader had represented “a profound shift” for the party.