Tristram Hunt on the Future of Socialism

I was listening on Radio 4 last Monday to the start the week programme which debated the future of Socialism. The debate was framed around the sensational victory of George Galloway in Bradford and to reinforce some of the discussions on tonight’s Newsnight.

Tristram felt that the death of Socialism was rather premature and although the statist model of the eastern bloc had been repudiated after 1989 and the fall of communism other forms of socialism were coming to the fore. Tristram mentioned co-operatives and mutuals, which does interest me through my involvement in Leek.

Nevertheless the actions of the last Labour Government came under attack especially from Martin Rowson who complained about the controlling aspects of the Blair years and the disenchantment that was mentioning its achievements such as free access to Museums, and in the context of Stoke on Trent the opening of the new hospital. He also quoted a NHS worker who praised the Labour Government for investment in the NHS. Janet Daley felt that the problem with engagement was that politics is dull and that all the major parties embrace the same neo liberal agenda and that there was little in essence between them. And the electorate knew that

I am a disillusioned Labour voter and former member and though I will continue to vote and perhaps even work for the Labour party. I feel that the party has to undergo a period of critical self-examination what the Tibetans call “thamzing” on why they managed to lose 4 million voters between 1997 and 2005. Tristram might mention the list of achievements but it seems meagre compared with the Attlee great post war Government. As someone who lived in North Staffordshire through the 13 years of the New Labour Government. I can see the new hospital, the sixth form, the building around the Staffs Uni complex but I also see the same endemic problems that existed in the 90s such as structural unemployment and the continued problems in the manufacturing sector which declined inexorably in the 13 years.

But the single moment that seemed to encapsulate how lacking in a moral compass the Labour Government seemed was the 10p tax debacle as a low wage earner myself how can a party of the working class get it so badly wrong?

What is so depressing about the state of modern British politics is how lacking in passion and how managerial it has become. Galloway aside I am hoping for a victory for the Socialist candidate in France in May might galvanise the left into looking at an alternative vision. Could a Hollande victory change the terms of the debate in Europe, catalyse a debate around a new set of social-democrat answers to the crisis?

I hope so

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