Liberalise or die!

The June edition of Prospect magazine includes an article titled Liberalise or Die by Richard Reeves and Philip Collins (no, not that Phil Collins).

The authors argue that the Labour Party must abandon its centralising Fabian tradition and become liberal. No mention of the fact that a perfectly acceptable liberal party already exists.

The article has already earned an angry reposte from John Harris in Monday’s Guardian.

Well, chaps, what do we think?

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29 Comments

  • How are green taxes not liberal? You may not agree with them but giving people incentives through the tax system to change behaviour rather than using compulsion seems pretty liberal.

  • Simon Titley 5th Jun '08 - 10:47am

    Enough already!

    Please can we get back on topic?

    Is what Collins and Reeves are arguing a credible strategy for Labour? Why no mention of the Liberal Democrats as an alternative repository for such values? Where would the Lib Dems differ from the Collins/Reeves position?

  • Simon Titley 5th Jun '08 - 10:50am

    In reply to Asquith:

    The Reeves/Collins article has only just been published, in the June edition of Prospect. I would be interested to know why you think “it was written long ago”.

  • New Labour was neo-liberal from the start, which is where it went wrong. So by saying “for New Labour to survive, it must become new liberal” Reeves & Collins completely lose all credence as they search for some cadence.

    Bearing in mind that their description of the Beveridge-inspired NHS as a monument to social democratic ideas is meant as a compliment, this article would make me want to laugh at their self-indulgent ideological feather-bedding if it wasn’t so terrifyingly dimwitted – did they get paid for that drivel?

  • LFAT – ‘Green Taxes’ is an umbrella term which covers a wide range of proposals all of which claim to take environmental concerns as their first or main priority.

    There is little or no consensus about what specific ‘green taxes’ are likely to be introduced or how the principle can be fully squared with sane economics, so picking up on this as a topic to beat your opponents over the head is a shallow act of partisan cowardice.

    I am quite prepared to stand up for the principle of providing incentives for better environmental behaviour through fiscal policy on the basis that by designing them in such a way as makes financial and economic sense is solidly liberal.

  • Freethink blog also had an entry on this issue earlier.

  • James, I apologise that I haven’t got your qualifications in political cryptology, but the way the article is written it seems to attempt the impossible of appearing to come from a non-partisan stance.

    And it attempts this while the authors happily lap up every piece of conventional wisdom about how the political debate has been framed til now before mutely accepting the popularity of a redefined context proves its validity – which makes me highly suspicious of their underlying intentions.

    Anyway I don’t agree that this or any choice is a simple two-sided matter – for Labour it is “liberalise, gradually wither away or bypass all controls where possible and make everybody suffer in the meantime” – of which I think they’ll continue thinking they are doing the former while we increasingly percieve them as doing the latter, and hindsight will definitely show the impossibility of avoiding the fate of all political careers.

  • David Heigham 5th Jun '08 - 3:18pm

    This article has been around for a couple of weeks. I commented on it at more length in the Prospect First Drafts blog.

    In summary, the article seems to say, rather persuasively, that the only way for the Labour party, as we have recenttly known it, to survive is to become a redundant near-clone of the LibDems. Should it not be headed “An Apolgy to Shirley Williams – We Who Did Not Follow You Now See We were Wrong.”?

  • Even if Labour were to lurch to the left, that won’t mean that they’ll be any more liberal than they are now – ‘left’ is just as sinister as concept as ‘right’ (more so?)

    Anyway, the new politics is heading onto our ground, it’s up to us to play it well. There’ll always be conservatives in any system, and we can communicate with at least some of them when there’s mutual concern, but there’s no need for socialists/whatever the Labour party is these days and we should do everything we can to hasten their demise. We need to understand that Labour – not the Tories – is the obstacle to progressive politics.

  • I thought UKIP were more sort of mugwump whigs (and with a pretty appropriate levelof support)?

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