Labour have a problem. Well, they have many. But this one relates to the recent poll where whilst 49% of the respondents blame Labour for the the £81bn cuts, only 26% blame the perpetrators – the Coalition. I have raised the problems that Labour’s faux promotion of a supposed ‘alternative’ causes, especially its inability for countering the dominant neoliberal hegemonic discourse.
It is clear to see why people blame Labour. They don’t appear to be any different. In fact, they would be initiating similar cuts to the Tories this year. Whilst the Coalition goes further through aiming for an eradication of the structural deficit in a Parliament, Darling even argued that Labour’s plans would have resulted in cuts ‘worse than Thatcher’. With no clear alternative being purported by the mainstream parties, apathy and despair sets in. However, this isn’t to deny the ability people have for progressive resistance. But, Labour would be wrong to assume they can ignorantly sit back and take the protest vote without articulating a different direction.
Labour are even blamed more than the banks for the cuts, 31% to 29%. Given Labour’s inability to critique the obscene levels of bankers’ bonuses, the banks’ ability to offset their loses through corporation tax (set to be very low compared to other Western developed countries) and the government’s plans to allow banks (and other organisations) to escape paying extra corporation tax if investing from a foreign country, this is hardly surprising. Especially given Labour’s own record regarding bank ‘regulation’. Instead, Labour cherry pick the things they wish to ‘challenge’.
However, 70% of the respondents believe the cuts are being implemented too quickly – something Labour will be quick to highlight. But here we have a situation where people are actually against the Coalition’s plans, but they are instead blaming Labour for these policies with many believing the Conservatives have the best economic policies. Why? Well firstly, the last Labour government failed to articulate and defend why it did what it did. Secondly, Labour have been in a state of flux ever since Ed Miliband was elected. He fails to inspire, alongside supporting a dangerous proliferation of the dominant neoliberal paradigm.
Interestingly, the state of the global economy was blamed more than the Coalition for the cuts – 18% to 10%; providing traction for further mainstream criticism of the global economic system. I referred to these problems the other day in relation to France, and the rise of the far right. But as long as the Ed Miliband’s get scared away from saying anything that might go against the neoliberal grain; join in with the Warsi bashing of the labour movement; fail to defend those being scapegoated in the name of welfare reform; and act like love struck puppies with the banks – then Labour will fail to challenge a damaging economic hegemony.
However, all is not lost. What we do have is people power (and the Greens!). We don’t need to only mobilise through self-interested and bias political structures, whilst it is often necessary. As demonstrated, we need to continue to build the movement against the government from below; as frankly the top down approach is failing.