12 comments on “Jeremy Corbyn speaks at Tolpuddle

  1. john on said:

    PFI expanded and deepened the marketisation of the welfare state, saddling the NHS in particular with unsustainable debt. Tax credits were devised as a mechanism to elide the scandal of low pay via taxpayer subsidisation of company profits. The City enjoyed a free for all under Blair, inequality went through the roof, and corruption was rife. Then there was the foreign policy.

    Throw in the abandonment of Cause IV and refusal to repeal anti Union laws and you have a Tory in a red rosette. You really are defending the indefensible here, Andy, and it does you incredible harm I think.

  2. Andy Newman on said:

    john,

    My argument is that Blairs legacy is more complex, and cannot be reduced to slogans.

    Your focus on the negatives is a partial truth. I have no dispute that Blair is basically a war criminal, I have no dispute of myriad failures, such as PFI and particularly housing.

    But his domestic agenda was nevertheless broadly a progressive one,

  3. John on said:

    Andy Newman: But his domestic agenda was nevertheless broadly a progressive one,

    But how can it be viewed as progressive given the level of inequality he presided over and how he set in train the political degeneration of Labour as a party that views the primary role of government as an enabler of market forces rather than a necessary check on their unfettered drive for profits?

    Blair was a creature who placed a premium on governing in the interests of the rich and business rather than working people. He subsidised and thereby entrenched Britain as a low wage economy and under his govt welfare reform carried on where the Tories left off, succumbing to a right wing narrative vis-a-vis the undeserving poor.

    I also don’t believe it is possible to detach his foreign policy agenda from his domestic legacy. One surely rests on the foundations of the other.

    For me his only real achievement, which was undoubtedly historic, was the Irish peace process.

  4. Andy Newman on said:

    John,

    I am not going to disagree with the negative points you make about Blair. I just think that:

    i) he is a liberal not a Tory
    ii) he had a well intentioned though flawed domestic agenda
    iii) there are more positives than you see – not least the minimum wage and working tax credits that benefitted millions of low paid workers, a majority women

  5. George W on said:

    Another fantastic Tolpuddle. Biggest yet. Just the RMT compound was huge. A cracking time.

  6. Andy Newman: I am not going to disagree with the negative points you make about Blair. I just think that:

    i) he is a liberal not a Tory
    ii) he had a well intentioned though flawed domestic agenda
    iii) there are more positives than you see – not least the minimum wage and working tax credits that benefitted millions of low paid workers, a majority women

    Hard to see what the distinction between liberal and Tory means in this discussion. On the key economic questions Orange Book liberals are as distinctly Tory as the Cameron Osbourne axis and, by the same token, indistinguishable from the Labour Treasury and business team.
    The key category here is ‘neoliberal’ and on economic matters, mostly on foreign affairs and military questions there are no differences in principle between them.
    Differences on social questions cross over these central questions so we will have some Tories horrified at the new Lib Dem leader’s presumed views on sin and homosexuality.

    Andy’s checklist of Blair’s achievements doesn’t take account of their double edged character.
    Minimum wage laws have, for millions of workers become maximum wage laws. Tax credits are a way of compelling the mass of working people to subsidise bad employers through the tax system.

    New Labour were able to do some ‘positive’ things but they mostly centred on buttressing flexible labour markets, liberalising the housing market and fragmenting the education and social security systems.

  7. Andy Newman on said:

    Nick Wright,

    I precisely do take into account their double edged character. That is why it is too simplistic to paint Blair as a pantomime villain, when millions of working people saw higher wages, new schools, new hospitals, falling NHS waiting times, more teachers and TAs, peace in Northern Ireland, meaningful devolution to Wales and Scotland, a statutory right to union recognition, statutory right for unions to represent members, working time directive, etc

  8. Sam64 on said:

    Just watched a clip of TB’s address today to Progress. Quite interesting. The initial bit seemed to suggest that he’s ready for a break from Labour, SDP style, if Corbyn wins – as a few pundits have been muting. Later on, in Q&A, he switches to a ‘I’m Labour through and through’ line.

    The underlying message that Blair peddles – Labour, any British political party, only wins from the centre – seemed to me watching the video, one he doesn’t believe himself – less so than he still believes that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Two reasons. He is speaking today, the day after Osborne set targets to shrink the state 40%, on top of the £12 billion welfare cuts announced last week. Now part of Osborne’s rational for this is to eliminate the deficit, good house keeping bullshit, but another part – as he himself said with an eye to the Tory leadership – is right wing ideological. In such circumstances, it’s just idiotic to say that parties only succeed from the centre. The other thing is that Blair talks as if it’s c.2001, and British capitalism is ticking along quite nicely without a cloud on the horizon, nasty things that left wing people used to talk about like crises have gone for good, and everyone can get on and do a bit better in our property owning democracy with a little help from government. Again, only an idiot could actually believe such 3rd Way bollocks now.

  9. Andy Newman,

    Sure, Blair should not be represented as a pantomime villain. His villainy is real, an essential complement to the changes that the Blair Brown years brought.
    Wages in the UK rose from about £11 per hour in 2002 to about £12 in 2007, and dropped back to £11 by 2012 (with a tiny blip in 2008/9.
    Prices rose faster and didn’t drop. (ONS annual survey)
    Restructuring the labour market and disaggregating education, health and social services were a deep structural accommodation to the increasing financialisation of the economy in which the decay of productive industry was (temporarily) compensated for by New Labour letting the City rip.
    Brown relied on taxing financial transactions to underpin the quite significant increases in spending.
    New Labour’s illusions about the stability of capitalism have proven to be just that and now the parliamentary Labour Party is bereft of ideas.
    There is no basis in contemporary British capitalism for renewing the progressive alliance of workers and middle strata that characterised the post war period and, in fact, even the most basic anti austerity government will be compelled to undertake a powerful assault on the City and big business.

  10. Sam64: The other thing is that Blair talks as if it’s c.2001, and British capitalism is ticking along quite nicely without a cloud on the horizon, nasty things that left wing people used to talk about like crises have gone for good, and everyone can get on and do a bit better in our property owning democracy with a little help from government. Again, only an idiot could actually believe such 3rd Way bollocks now.

    Spot on. They are the ones who are stuck in the past. The current and prolonged crisis is a direct consequence of Third Way illusions in finance capital as an economic Merlin that transcended boom and bust.

    “We draw the magic cap down over eyes and ears as a make-believe that there are no monsters.”

    Karl Marx, Preface to the First German Edition of Capital, Volume One