Jon Cruddas: The future success of the Left depends on rediscovering our past

Share
Related Topics

Raymond Williams once said: "To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing". Many now feel despair. We feel great loss. The things that we took as given have abruptly gone – like growth.

At such moments hope is key to avoid despair. Our history tells us that these turning points are dangerous moments – if we retreat.

We must contest this turning point. We can still win. My argument is not simply an argument about Labour; this is not about internal issues.

Think for a moment about the Tories. Earlier I talked about how declining economic growth has lost Labour its revisionist mode. But this is the same for the Tories. Camerons's "Progressive Conservatism" was built on the assumption of sharing the proceeds of growth; that the Thatcherite early 1980s resolved all the issues of economics.

Yet when the first economic storm clouds gathered they retreated. Think about what is emerging. Think about how despite the empathy everything coming out from The Centre for Social Justice is punitive. Think about the party of Daniel Hannan. Not some side show but a man whose central philosophy is hardwired into the mindset of the young Tories.

Think about their laboratories in Hammersmith, in Essex and in Barnet. It tells us of the brutality that lies ahead – the notion of "easycouncil"; of social care and housing cuts in west London; of a fundamental assault on local authorities wrapped up in the language of quangos.

Just think of this weekend's stories of regionalised benefits, mass privatisations and across the board cuts. Last week they signalled a moratorium on hew house building. Look who leads their group in Europe. Think and explore the Wisconsin benefits model. Look at the glint in the eye when they talk about cuts, the relish.

Why is it that after a summer in which the Tories have shown their true colours, we have barely laid a glove on them? Why is it that this Thatcherism has grabbed so easily the mantle of progressivism? I would suggest it is because we have lost our language, our empathy, our generosity; because we have retreated into a philosophical framework of the right.

This is an edited extract from the annual Compass Summer Lecture, delivered on Tuesday evening

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Take a moment to imagine you're Ed Miliband...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Letters: No vote poses difficult questions – so why rush?

Independent Voices
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits