David Blackburn

Things are as they seem

Things are as they seem
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Steve Richards writes a stirring defence for what is likely to be Labour’s last legislative programme. Richards argues that if you suspend your disbelief and ignore everything you have read about current political situation and you will see not a tired, regressive government but a radical political force.

‘Perhaps none of the proposals will be implemented by the election. Maybe they will all turn into dust, but they mark a departure from cautious incremental approaches usually adopted by the Government. The Conservatives' equivalent proposals have an echo with the mid 1990s, while their Euro-scepticism takes us further back, and their plans for spending cuts to 1981. Yet it is the Conservatives who are the party of change and today's proposals from the Government will probably be dismissed as backward looking.’

Labour’s programme is united by a common theme – continuity, perhaps even a marginal shift to the left.  Political, social and economic recovery lies in the further expansion of the state. The dividing line with the Tories could not be clearer, and with it the division between past and future. For instance, Labour’s solution to the budget deficit is not reform of the tax system, addressing underlying weakness in the banking system or managing monetary policy to control inflation, but to spend more in the hope that growth will return.  Tory plans on the economy, poverty, welfare and education remain in a state of arrested development, but they offer something radical, different and new to those which initiated the politics of decline.