There is only one centre-left Party in Britain and that is TRUElabour.
Jeremy Corbyn may describe himself as a socialist and John MacDonnell as a Marxist but the policies they advocate are Social Democrat Keynesian economics. The grading between the right and left was distorted by an entirely outdated policy of unchecked reliance on free market economics. It was a doctrine rejected even by the Tories in the 1930s.
Thatcher was an extremist who moved the middle ground violently to the right. To describe current Labour Party policy as being ‘extreme left’ is to completely misunderstand the political spectrum.
The Attlee Labour government’s manifesto for the 1951 election included the nationalisation of the sugar and cement industries. Excessive sugar intake is toxic, so the promotion and sale of sugar products needs control. The cement production is confined to four companies and needs to be monitored. But TRUElabour will not include the nationalisation of these industries in their next manifesto.
The renationalisation of what Nye Bevan called ‘the commanding heights of the economy’ is a modest policy. Water was nationalised by Stanley Baldwin — a pre-war Tory Prime Minister. Angela Smith — a ‘moderate’ Labour MP — has publicly stated that she is opposed to the renationalisation of water. It is a mad grading when Labour ‘Moderate’ can even mean right-wing Tory.
Older Labour Party members will remember motions like:
“We call upon the party to immediately seize all major industries without compensation and under workers’ control.”
In effect this advocates soviets. This was hard left. It never quite caught on. By contrast, Blair’s ‘New Labour’ was undoubtedly centre right. It offered a ‘third way’, a comforting illusion that “things could only get better” without challenging financial interests. Blair argued that such an agenda would lead to election success.
He was right. But we do not fight elections to see Labour MPs enjoying the trappings of office; we fight elections to advance socialism.
New Labour did nothing to achieve this. It imposed university fees, began the privatisation of the NHS, allowed the gap between the richest and the poorest to widen. And finally, Blair, in his predilection to grovel to the rich and powerfully, backed Bush in his war with Iraq.
In no way could New Labour claim to be ‘left’. Tony Benn said, “You can be a weather vane or a signpost. A weather vane looks for what is popular and makes it policy — a sterile exercise. A signpost looks for what is right and takes this aboard, then in a robust campaign wins popular support.”
Nye Bevan warned against a monolithic state; he believed in a mixed economy. As does TRUElabour. It will encourage enterprise while restricting the excesses of capitalism; it will make the workers stakeholders in the businesses that employ them. A moderate but progressive programme. One which can really claim to be centre left.