System renewal. Challenging established notions. Reimagining our societies.

A Radical Manifesto for a Credible Opposition

slightly-left-of-centre

When the financial crash of 2008 occurred, many on the Left thought that their time had finally arrived. The news of banks crashing, the economy going south because of the supposedly reckless whims of capitalism, were interpreted in leftist circles as the moment when the western masses would, at last, see the merits of socialism.

It was not to be. In fact, in the half-decade following the financial crash the centre-right found itself in the ascendancy and the centre-left found itself in retreat. There were many reasons for this – the fact that people tend to vote for centre-right parties when they worry about their finances coupled with the centre-left being in power across Europe when the crash took place – but a large one has to be that while the centre-right had a clear narrative and answers, the centre-left appeared to be all out of ideas.

Yet in the last few years, things have grown even worse for the centre-left. Replacing the centre-right as the new dominant voice in western politics is the rise of the extremes of both the Right and the Left. This can be seen in Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party, in Donald Trump being the Republican candidate for US president, in the rise of UKIP and the unexpected vote to leave the EU in June of this year. The final example on that list is likely to lead to an even greater post-Brexit rise in support for UKIP under a new leader – or a new grouping of the far-right that may even be capable of winning a general election.

The centre-left needs a fresh approach if it wishes to electorally succeed again and this paper is one such vision of how the centre-left could proceed in a post-Brexit vote Britain.

Twenty years ago, the Labour Party under Tony Blair put forward a pledge card – commitments their government would promise to make a reality. A simple way to put across the idea of what could make a centre-left party electable again is imagining what the equivalent of Labour’s 1997 election pledge card would look like in 2016, examining what sort of commitments a centre-left government that was serious about winning power would announce.

This paper’s idea for five pledges that a centre-left party aspiring to govern could put forth are:

  1. An end to austerity via large capital projects, particularly transportation infrastructure outside of London
  2. An English parliament to settle the devolution project and the West Lothian question for good, to be set in an English city outside of London
  3. No income tax rises on middle earners for the length of one parliament
  4. A community banking structure to be established that will allow for more investment in small businesses and start-ups
  5. Britain to build the number of new homes it needs, with priority given to first-time buyers

One of the core themes that emerges from the five pledges this paper suggests a centre-left party serious about governing commits to is addressing regional inequality. One of the main factors for both the rise of UKIP as a political force and the vote to leave the EU that followed was the feeling that London had been helped to recover from the 2008 crash while the rest of Britain (particularly England) had been left behind. Unless the centre-left addresses this problem with authority, the far-right will own that space for the foreseeable future.

It is the contention of this paper that unless the centre-left manages to present a coherent and believable strategy for government, it will not only never govern again, but may in fact cease to be a mainstream political ideology in Britain at some point in the near future. After the vote to leave the EU in June, the country is realigning itself into a liberal internationalist wing and a socially conservative nationalist wing. Both could be considered to be of the Right, with a centre-right versus far-right battle for the electorate to possibly squeeze the centre-left out altogether.

All of this is important to the country as a whole for a very simple reason: at the very least, the UK needs a credible opposition. It does not have one at present. This will have all sorts of negative implications for Great Britain if it is not addressed promptly. The centre-left needs to figure out what it wants to say and then reinsert itself into the national conversation. It needs to do so quickly.

Comments

  1. Bruce Wright says

    I am not an apostle of Jeremy Corbyn, but I am intrigued that he is portrayed in this manifesto as extreme left, a counter-balance to Trump on the extreme right.
    Which of his policies are extreme left and which are in the centre ground?
    The argument that the political battleground is being fought only on the right does reflect reality, but none of the parties, on the right or left of centre, is focused on the key issue for the coming years. ‘How can the UK, hollowed out as an industrial nation, earn a living in the world?’ We are running high levels of personal and government debt and a massive trade deficit which puts us in hock to the rest of the world whilst business has hundreds of billions lying in banks with nothing to invest in. This is the big opportunity for the centre left, which should be developing a precise strategy for developing a new, green, high-tech economy, regionally financed with ownership structures representing all stakeholders. A centre left party should be the natural home for small business.

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You may withdraw this consent at any time by <a href="mailto:[email protected]">emailing us</a> or clicking “unsubscribe” at the bottom of our emails).</label> </li></ul></div></li><li id='field_5_6' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_5_6' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_6' id='input_5_6' type='text' value='' autocomplete='off'/></div><div class='gfield_description' id='gfield_description__6'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_5' class='gform_button button' value='SUBSCRIBE' tabindex='71' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_5"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_5"]=true;} ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_5"]){return false;} if( !jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity || jQuery("#gform_5")[0].checkValidity()){window["gf_submitting_5"]=true;} jQuery("#gform_5").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=5&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=64' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_5' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='5' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_5' value='WyJbXSIsIjg1ZGYwZWM3YzAyMDRmYTcyZDYxNmIwMWJiNmFhYzVhIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_5' id='gform_target_page_number_5' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_5' id='gform_source_page_number_5' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> </form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_5' id='gform_ajax_frame_5' title='Ajax Frame'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 5, 'https://radixuk.org/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_5').on('load',function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_5');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_5').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;var mt = parseInt(jQuery('html').css('margin-top'), 10) + parseInt(jQuery('body').css('margin-top'), 10) + 100;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').offset().top - mt); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_5').val();gformInitSpinner( 5, 'https://radixuk.org/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [5, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_5'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_5').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_5').offset().top - mt);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [5]);window['gf_submitting_5'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_5').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [5, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 5) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [5, 1]) } ); </script>
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<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_6' ><div id='gf_6' class='gform_anchor' tabindex='-1'></div><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_6' id='gform_6' action='/papers/a-radical-manifesto-for-a-credible-opposition/#gf_6'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_6' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_6_5' class='gfield gravity_head gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3>Before you go!</h3> <p>Stay up to date with what's happening at Radix. Get email notifications</p></li><li id='field_6_1' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_hidden_label field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' >Name<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name' id='input_6_1'> <span id='input_6_1_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_1.3' id='input_6_1_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='1000' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First Name*'/> <label for='input_6_1_3' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>First</label> </span> <span id='input_6_1_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_1.6' id='input_6_1_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='1002' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last Name*'/> <label for='input_6_1_6' class='hidden_sub_label screen-reader-text'>Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_6_2' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_6_2' >Email<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_2' id='input_6_2' type='email' value='' class='large' tabindex='1004' placeholder='Email*' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /> </div></li><li id='field_6_4' class='gfield gf-conf-check gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below hidden_label gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' >Confirmation<span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_checkbox'><ul class='gfield_checkbox' id='input_6_4'><li class='gchoice_6_4_1'> <input name='input_4.1' type='checkbox' value='Please keep me updated on new website content and Radix news. 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