Socialism, as many political, theoretical and practical conceptions are, is very complex and means many different things to different people. But, I think most would come to a consensual agreement that it often involves being on the left side of debate – in conventional left and right terms. Well you would think so, anyway.
In a canny fashion, Ed Miliband claimed that he would pursue his own personal version of socialism, whilst paradoxically mimicking claims he is ‘red ed’, quickly denouncing union action and distancing himself from any claim that he represents a “lurch to the left”.
“It is my form of socialism which is a more fair, more just, more equal society. And that is the path that I will want to take our party on.”
Now, is it just me or does something not add up here? He says he doesn’t represent a move towards the left, but whilst Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were passionately committed to minimising any notion of the word socialism, he has barely been Labour leader and is already placing his commitment to the very rightful cause.
One unfortunate conclusion is that he has endorsed socialism more as a nice slogan instead of embracing it as a real political philosophy. He is too scared to grasp the realisation that for Labour to return to its socialist past they have to embrace the left, even Abbott seemed unable to come to terms with this during her campaign.
This inability to properly engage with the very thought-provoking and critically engaging debates of ‘which socialism?’, undermines his ability to construct a new coherent political, economic and environmental narrative. He might include the word fair, but without a detailed outline of for example, the type of structures and organisations his version of socialism will champion, will undermine any attempt of his to claim Labour are once again a self defined credible socialist party.
The problem for Labour is that they have become a media dominated party and are too reliant on the media to construct their narrative. The media are overwhelming market and capitalist oriented, so for a party such as Labour to denounce many of the structures of which the majority of the media support would not really create a good rapport . But, is this how we want our politics to be? Governed by sectarian media interests?
If Ed really wants to embrace socialism, he needs to set about defining which socialism and how this relates to wider structural and cultural factors. He has to recognise that embracing socialism is an acceptance that he is moving the party to the left, and he has to stop trying so hard to please his media parasites.