Left-wing populism is on the rise - and may take Ed Miliband to No10

Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing a mood of angry populism. It’s better as a way of getting elected than as an approach to government

18 April 2015

9:00 AM

18 April 2015

9:00 AM

A spectre is haunting Europe — and knocking on the door of Downing Street. It has installed a president in France and a mayor in New York. It is causing mayhem in Spain and Greece and insurgency in Scotland and it may yet halt Hillary Clinton’s march to the White House. This idea — left-wing populism — is a radical, coherent and modern response to the financial crisis and the hardship suffered since. It is being effectively harnessed by Ed Miliband, taking him within touching distance of victory. And it may well become the creed that guides the next five years of British government.

The Labour manifesto that was published this week is a response to the new populist mood. It buries the pragmatic ‘New Labour’ era which sought to appeal as much to employers as to workers. In its place comes the politics of division: a Britain of tenants vs landlords, rich vs poor, even Premier League vs small football clubs. Miliband’s agenda is mainly about what he’ll do to business, not what he’d do with government. He’ll break up banks, interfere with pay and make it easier for workers to sue their bosses. Miliband stands before us, catapult in hand, promising to slay these corporate Goliaths.

Not so long ago this would be seen as a quixotic revival of 1970s socialism, and a form of political suicide. But even Miliband’s critics must now admit that the creed is not only just populist but popular — and winning elections elsewhere. The Tea Party of the American right is now on the wane. The rising force in western politics is the populism of the left — which is (to paraphrase Blair) about the politics of anger, not the politics of answers. A new angry brigade is emerging, and Conservatives underestimate it at their peril.

When Ed Miliband ran for leader, unkind souls mocked him for his wonkish phrases: the ‘pre-distribution’ of wealth, or denouncing as ‘predators’ companies he did not like (energy firms, banks, etc). But no conservative was laughing when Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York on a very similar ticket. He told a ‘tale of two cities’, of an inequality created because politicians had ‘too often catered to the interests of the elite — rather than the needs of everyday New Yorkers’. Just like Miliband, de Blasio recited a list of villains — from ‘large, well-connected corporations’ to ‘unscrupulous landlords’. To the Clinton-era New Democrats, this was an excruciating leap backwards, but de Blasio demonstrated that it is now the future: he won 73 per cent of the vote. In London, an overjoyed Diane Abbott declared that de Blasio ‘won by breaking every rule in the New Labour playbook’. He was invited to address the Labour party conference last year, hailed as living proof that populism can win elections.

Now, for the general election, Miliband is using the same tactics — list the villains and shake your fist at them. ‘When the knock on the door comes from the big six energy companies,’ he said, ‘when the banks send a message asking for a better deal for them, when the tax avoiders turn up demanding that the Inland Revenue turns the other way, or when the phone call comes from Rupert Murdoch — who do you want in Downing Street?’ This is Miliband’s campaign: the 50p tax and the Mansion Tax are not important because they raise money. Their purpose is to identify bad guys and highlight his intention to confront them. It’s the new class war.

There is more demand for mad-as-hell fist-shaking nowadays — not due to the crash, but to the recovery. It’s quite true that Britain has record employment, zero inflation and strong economic growth. But polls show that most people either don’t believe the economy is recovering or don’t expect the recovery to help them. Salaries are still far lower than before the crash, and property prices seem hopelessly out of reach. The basic promise of the free market — that if you finish school and work hard, you’ll find a home and be able to raise a family — no longer holds.

Things are even worse in the eurozone. In the old days, if Spain had economic problems the peseta would plunge — and the world would help it recover by buying more of its goods or by holidaying there. But under the euro, Spain needs to carry out ‘internal devaluation’ in the form of eye-watering cuts. Youth unemployment has soared, as has anger with the entire system — and the demand for change.

Early last year, a politics lecturer named Pablo Iglesias set up an anti–austerity movement. Within two days, he had the 50,000 signatures needed to run for the European Parliament elections. Four months later, he had five MEPs; now he leads one of the strongest forces in Spanish politics. Iglesias, like de Blasio, puts his success down to the traditional left being trapped in the centrist Blair model. And this, he says, has ‘opened up the European scene to new political phenomena’.

Anyone who thinks that British voters would never be this excitable should consider recent events in Scotland, where Labour seems to have collapsed in the space of six months. The SNP looks on course to take 50 of the 59 seats it’s contesting and its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, says she could never support a Labour budget that would impose any cuts (even as Britain nurses the biggest deficit in Europe). Miliband, for all his leftist credentials, has lost out in Scotland to a party that denounces him as a right-wing sellout.

As François Hollande has demonstrated in France, left-wing populism is better at winning elections than it is as a governing force. He had to abolish the 75 per cent tax rate after it raised no money. His general anti-business approach sent job creation into deep freeze, as you might expect. De Blasio has been sensible enough not to follow up on his wilder rhetoric; he ended up approving the charter schools that he denounced when running for office, for instance. Voters seem not to mind, and his re-election looks almost certain. Miliband may follow his example.

The Conservative answer to rising concern about inequality has been to ignore it. This has been a grave error. Michael Gove has been fighting a lonely battle for Conservatives to develop a response; he now describes inequality as ‘the great social and political challenge of our time’. From school reform to tax cuts, he argues, the Tories are the true progressives, the true radicals out to level the playing field. But with a general election less than three weeks away, it’s too late to make this case now. It must be the Conservative party’s next mission — in government, or in opposition.


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  • EnglandLaments

    Fight on your record they say! Well Cameron’s record in Government has been pretty damn good. If he has failed, it is on not cutting enough to eliminate the deficit and on making promises on immigration he cannot keep. But on the economy, job creation, education and welfare reform, his Government has been remarkably successful. We have the biggest jobs factory in Europe with many more people in work, living standards are now recovering and education standards are showing tentative signs of improving. People are finally coming off welfare and getting into work.
    So you have to ask, just why would people take a risk on Miliband?

    • victor67

      Because people struggle to live.
      You have the crazy situation where you have tax payers funding big companies to pay poverty pay.
      That’s why the tax receipts are down and the rise of in work benefits such as tax credits and housing benefits.

      The Tories always look after their own the rich and the bosses.

      • Violin Sonata.

        Socialism always run out of other peoples money. But at least Liam
        Byrne kindly left a note at the end of the last parliament, letting you know there was no money left.

        • Molly NooNar

          And free market capitalism runs out of its own money. How did we get on again, 8 years ago, when we said to the banks “why don’t we let you police yourselves?” The free marketeers tell us we don’t need regulations, we can trust businesses to regulate themselves, well, it caused the biggest bust in history and millions of people and families have suffered because of it.

          • Colonel Mustard

            It’s not free market capitalism. It is monopolised market corporatism. Your binary caricature no longer works to explain it, let alone why it happened.

          • Molly NooNar

            I’ll tell you exactly why it happened with one word, Greed!

          • Colonel Mustard

            No. That was part of it but not all of it.

          • CommonSense Matters

            What was the rest of it?

          • Colonel Mustard

            You tell me, you are the one with all the answers


          • CommonSense Matters

            You have made an assertion which you are now asking me to back up. It’s not a style of debating I’m used to. So, what was the rest of it?

          • greggf

            Too Big To Fail CSM.

            Or rather the perception of being too big to fail.

            It all began with the U.S. government bailout of AIG which insured much of the US financial industry and a lot else; any failure was perceived to endanger everything…..!

            As we know the idea soon caught on!

          • CommonSense Matters

            Yes, which was a result of the global trend in banking of deregulation. In the squiffy debates of yesterweek, it was clear that the Tories had argued for even more deregualtion than the Labour government of the time allowed for. A global lesson was learned by all. That greedy bankers need rules. There still aren’t enough rules. Who is more likely to fix that? Cameron? or Milliband? My vote is on the Mill’.

            Gosbor is busy issuing gilts to the BoE – what is he spending all that money on? zero-hours contracts? Bad investment.

          • greggf

            I don’t think any lessons have been learned CSM.
            At the time Lehman Bros and Enron didn’t get bailouts and went to the wall. It seems AIG had better connections.
            In the UK the TBTF card was played by some banks and Broon was only too pleased to help, aping US Hank Paulson’s handling of AIG.
            Regulations get ignored when it suits government agencies.

            Capitalism means failure leads to bankruptcy; to let the new rise from the ashes of the old, without which the old and tired get to stay in power as zombie corporations.
            Neither Milliband nor Cameron will fix the banks, but Nigel would.
            Who’s Gosbor?

          • CommonSense Matters

            Who’s Nigel? Lawson?

            Gosbor – my rendering of the current housewife Chancellor with a fondness for Gilts.

            Capitalism rewards success is not as simplistic a formula as you make it out to be. We know capitalism rewards greed and inequality too, lots of evidence. Bail out at least in Britain was complicated by retail customer savings being involved and the public face of something need to be done to protect the average saver in the street and as a measure of restoring confidence. Which is why the government soon after guaranteed private savers would be guaranteed up to £85k if their bank went kaput.

            Should we bail out private banks, no of course not. But if a bank is failing, why should it follow that confidence should fail in sterling? If a shoe shop goes bust, I don’t suddenly lose my confidence in shoes. They are still useful. just because someone has inefficently run a shoe shop does not undermine my confidence in shoes.

            This stupid message of the pound rising and falling on banks has to be removed from the equation as it will certainly lead to a less scare-mongery system than we currrently have.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Still can’t spell Miliband, ya fuckwit.

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Signed, Jack, the Japan Alp Brit Queen Bandit.

          • Jackthesmilingblack


          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Is your lover.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            There he goes again. You really shoot your credibility in the foot.

          • CommonSense Matters

            How so Jtsb? My feet are fine. It’s your brain that may be shot.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Take 100 lines: I must …

          • CommonSense Matters

            find a new hobby

          • Mad Japanese idiot who thinks he is Nick Abbott!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Still can’t spell Miliband?

          • Labour Mole Catcher

            Still remembering him fondly as his lover boy, are you?!

          • sfin

            The socialist tendency to consolidate power, influence and wealth in the hands of a few, selected, elites.

            Socialism and minor fripperies such as the rule of law, is what these people expect us little people to swallow. They, of course, are far above such things.

            It is true for the USSR, China, Venezuela, Cuba and now Europe and the USA.

          • CommonSense Matters

            Mate, that is oligarchies – that’s not responsible capitalism. Having laws about concentrated ownershipin the form not being able to buy up up all and sundry and then charge what you like is the way forward. Rule of law is alive and kicking in Britain. It would disappear under the Tories but there is hope we will be spared that. They want to turn London into the oligarchical-centre of Britain, different kind of immigration problem.

          • sfin

            “They want to turn London into the oligarchical-centre of Britain, different kind of immigration problem.”

            And that started under the Blair creature. New Labour and the ‘conservatives’ under “the heir to Blair” are indistinguishable.

            “Rule of law is alive and kicking in Britain”. For you and I, certainly. Our current Prime Minister has committed expenses ‘anomalies’ that would have seen me (an ex soldier) deprived of rank, career, pension and liberty. Only today, we learn that a Labour peer will not face charges of under age sexual abuse because he has Alzheimers…

            How many of our elite, of all of the parties who have inflicted the grotesqueness of comprehensive education on our children, actually send their children to a ‘bog standard’ comprehensive school?

            We already have oligarchies.

            I disagree with your solutions – more laws to be abused by the few. I am a libertarian and a meritocrat – like the grocer’s daughter from Grantham.

            The free market and absolute meritocracy are the answers.

          • CommonSense Matters

            Thanks for your service to our country (sincerely) and I completely agree with you squarely on accountability of the higher-ups. Where are the fines at least?

            Milliband is a change agent. Cameron is shape-shifting changeless media sludge who does not know how to be PM. Gosbor – my rendering of the current housewife Chancellor with a fondness for Gilts.

            The oligarchies will recede under Milliband, they will only spindle out further under Cameron.

            You are relying on the Goodness of man in your free market and meritocracy sum. You leave out The complicating factor. You were a soldier and have probably seen what bad man is capable of without rules, good rules. A free market meritocracy has the end of punishing the able offspring of the average and ensconcing in privilege the average offspring of the able. It is the illusion of equality of opportunity.

          • sfin

            You are more than welcome;

            I think we disagree on some fundamentals (Milliband, in my view, would not be considered to run a town hall, had he not been brought up in the Fabian hierarchy) although I respect your arguments. Let’s finish on agreement:

            “Cameron is a shape-shifting changeless media sludge who does not know how to be PM.”

            With your permission – I might change the “sludge” to slug – I will plagiarise this for future posts.

            Edit: One can, of course, substitute ‘oligarchy’ for “hierarchy”.

          • CommonSense Matters

            And I respect yours, I am sure my father to an extent was an advocate of them and like you was a fan of the grocer’s daughter. She was at least a definite someone which cannot be said for Cameron.

            And please do plagiarise, we are both concerned to see the best for the country so let’s see what happens come what May (I do love puns).

            On that note, Milliband is at least showing up for the job interviews and putting himself in the glare and we are all glaring. But it is a no show from the Slug. We cannot vote for no shows, it’s just not British.

          • sfin

            Touché on your last paragraph and thanks for the “come what May” chuckle!

          • CommonSense Matters

            Pleasure sfin!

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Going for the all-time Miliband misspelling record, Common?

          • CommonSense Matters

            I should have had you around for my undergraduate, you would have been useful then

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            What an indictment of the UK education system. “Read it through before submitting.”

          • CommonSense Matters

            I can’t figure out if you are very old or very young. Which is it?

          • The Japanese Aspergerian priggish idiot.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            “Milliband is a change agent.”

            Miliband, Miliband… Beats as it sweeps as it cleans.

          • CommonSense Matters

            What does your nom de plume mean you strange creature

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Talking of user names, “CommonSense Matters”, that does seem a little inappropriate for someone that still can’t spell the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

          • CommonSense Matters

            Remember what I said about a new hobby and your need of one.

          • You are a Japanese who live in Japan. Ed Milliband (sic) is most certainly NOT the Leader of HM Most Loyal Opposition FOR YOU in YOUR Country! Jog off!

          • The Japanese madman with his mad Aspergers!

          • greggf

            Government greed Molly.

        • Farage’s Fried Chicken

          Explain quantatative easing to me, you Tory troll.

          • Verbatim

            Take your tablets. Please.

          • Farage’s Fried Chicken

            Have you run out of your own f e c k i n money to buy your own?

          • Verbatim

            Take a second tablet – the first one didn’t work!!

          • JSC

            It’s like currency debasement except it disproportionally hits the poor who don’t have accountants and off shore accounts to hide their wealth. It’s known to cause deflation and stagflation and was last carried out in the UK by the Brown government. Teehee

        • Verbatim

          Spot on. Again.

      • Gary Wintle

        Indeed, the more low wage, part time jobs are created, the more the deficit increases, plunging the country further into debt. Employment is only good for the economy if the wages are such that they don’t need to be subsidized.

        The lunacy of the taxpayer paying or topping up employee wages while companies pay little or nothing is a colossal farce, indeed almost as much a joke as the taxpayer paying banker’s bonuses. It’s all corporate welfare in disguise; shady backhanders so politicians can (by pure, amazing coincidence) sit on the boards of the subsidized companies. In a free market private companies should receive no aid from the taxpayer, and no government minister should be allowed to work for any company contracted by, or in the field of his/her department for a period of at least 20 years.

        Housing Benefit really should be renamed Landlord Benefit, as it’s the Landlord’s who get the money and sponge off the taxpayer.

        And isn’t it just amazing how this cash strapped nation can afford to hand out Help to Buy like candy, and can waste enormous sums on building pointless roads and subsidizing Angela Merkel’s railways (paid for by British taxpayers and commuters). Odd indeed that Tory patriots, supposed champions of the free-market, are not remotely upset about the German government taxing British commuters.

        • sfin

          Yes but whoever said that the present ‘conservative’ government were conservative?

          • Yep – and now “Conservative” Dave promises to steal Housing Association property so he can give it away. Some Conservative he is.

          • Graham De Roy

            The present “Conservative” government is ashamed and embarrassed to be Tory. That’s why were about to be ruled by the Milliballs/Salmond/Surgeon horror

          • sfin

            Unfortunately, most of the electorate are labouring under the illusion that there is a difference between what we have now and the ‘horror’ of a Millipede/ Scottish fish coalition.

            It will not make the slightest difference.

      • David B

        While your wife avoids paying tax by using a corporate structure!

        • Verbatim

          Not like “cash in hand” tradespeople, aye? In Australia there’s a vigorous black-market economy of ‘cash only’ jobs which tradesmen enforce to make themselves very rich. Averting your gaze won’t fix the problem.

          • David B

            That is proper tax evasion. It is often referred to as “doing the double” because the tradesmen concerned charge cash in hand for the job and also claim out of work benefits.

          • Verbatim

            Where I live (outside Sydney, Australia) the trades class is mostly extremely affluent. You can trust me on that. They don’t tend to NEED welfare because they pocket so much cash. The man over the road and the one behind his; let me paint you a picture (and I promise this is true) –

            Both uneducated;
            1. Example 1 owned a fruit shop and has squirreled money away under the house (you know, throwing out the fruit and calling it a loss for tax purposes!). He never accepted credit cards in his shop – I wonder why!!? He drives a new Mercedes sports and his wife a BMW 5 series. (She works f/t as a nurse, and that isn’t a big salary). Their house is twice the size of ours (roughly 50sq. in the old measurement; about the size of a primary school) and he brags to me that “I can barely read a sentence (he’s functionally illiterate!) but I’ve made lots of money on the share market”.
            2. Example 2 is a concreter (lives behind Example 1). He has a massive, architect-designed home on almost 2 acres; the latest in cars and ‘toys’. He is barely educated but works hard as a tradesman. Now, I’m no Einstein when it comes to statistics, but he’d have to work 24/7 x several decades, if he was paying tax, in order to afford that level of luxury. It stands out like the proverbial dogs balls. The tax system, if people pay their fair share, is designed so that nobody EVER gets that rich. My accountant told me that decades ago.

            If these were the ONLY EXAMPLES we could say, “Oh, perhaps they’ve inherited money”. But, no, the problem is endemic. And big business is blamed for not paying tax. Trades are the elephant in the room. And everybody knows it. By all means, get business to pay it’s fair share. But folks needs to understand the real extent of the problem of tax evasion and speak from a position of knowledge, not ignorance.

          • David B

            We have similar here. Our biggest issue (and I have seen it plenty of times) is trades men working all day, getting paid cash but taking benefits for being out of work

            Cost the country in the lost tax and the extra benefits but Labour will not talk about it as these are their voters and if Conservatives talk about it the liberal angry squad go after them about people undertaking Legal tax planning and minimising their tax bill.

          • Verbatim

            David, what intrigues me is why NOBODY wants to do anything about it. The problem you describe is widespread. I have a theory that the middle class, decent people (like you and me) are sitting ducks and easy targets. It gets more difficult with moving targets like tax dodging tradies because the cost of enforcement/compliance is so great. And they’ve usually got lots of things stitched up to make it more complicated for the tax office. We had an infamous case here a few years back where a leading businessman – extremely wealth – was caught with money in Lichtenstein bank account. (There are ‘whistle-blowers’ in those banks now getting good money from the USA for revealing the names of their ‘depositors’.) In the case of this famous businessman the tax department ‘negotiated’ with him to pay only half what was owing – such was their uncertainty of a win in court. I wonder what would happen if you and I wanted to NEGOTIATE our tax bill with the authorities? In light of this, he was publicly named and one American academic who came to Sydney said, “these people should be publicly named and shame and we should ensure they never are appointed to important bodies, organizations or as company directors”. That was pie in the sky, wishful thinking.

            I’m over 60 and won’t be around long enough to see the consequences but, in the meantime, it’s my own children as taxpayers which makes me angry because they’re paying these cheats’ taxation bills. And I will be paying more soon, if recent rumblings come to pass.

            It’s the class war thing which gets me the most, fuelled as it is with incalculable anger, envy and resentment. I’m happy for people who are affluent – as long as they’ve paid their fair share like the rest of us.

    • Gary Wintle

      The only people getting rich are the Boomers, largely at the expense of everyone else.

      Why are the young being forced to pay for the old when their wages can barely sustain them?

      Why are railways and buses funded by the taxpayer? If the Tories truly believe in the free market, then end all subsidy of rail and let the railways and buses sink or swim in the free market.

      • Farage’s Fried Chicken

        Railways and buses are not funded by taxpayers.
        The tax haven-based owners running those concerns are funded by the taxpayer.

        Get your f e c k i n facts right.

        • Cobbett

          Railways = Network Rail is funded by Taxpayers to the tune of £3bn a year….

          • Farage’s Fried Chicken

            Yeah, and where does the f e c k i n money go, you Necker Island based troll.

          • Al Cumming

            Farage’s Fried Chicken, you’re obsessed with calling posters trolls, and you’re the biggest one on here, you G 1 T.

          • Farage’s Fried Chicken

            I am not obsessed, you are f e c k i n obsessed with reading what you want to read. Next you are going to tell me that I am upticking my own posts.

      • porcelaincheekbones

        Yes, notice politics is trying the old route, dividing by class, when it’s now by age group? If Millennials knew how they’re being screwed over by Boomer entitlements they might wake up.

      • Verbatim

        You ask a very legitimate question here in your second paragraph. Youth unemployment is the most devastating social problem we have today.

        I strongly disagree with your opening statement. The boomers were born around the war years and afterwards and grew up in lean times in the 1950’s. They went without any of the luxuries and add-ons that the current generation dares not go without. Black and white TV very late in the 50’s and into the 60’s – if you could even afford at TV set (except the USA), one car and usually not that flash, modest (very) housing, no dishwasher, automatic washing machine or labour saving devices. They forged the national prosperity which was a hallmark of the 60’s and 70’s and worked bloody hard, with little expectation of wealth.

        That’s the REAL story. You cannot make the claims you do without being there to know what it was really like. My sisters and I had hand-me-down clothing and wore our school uniforms to Mass on Sundays – and my father was a comparatively high income earner paying VAST AMOUNTS OF TAXATION. There was little left for our family, AFTER that taxation.

        But keep looking for a scape-goat so that you can continue being a victim.

        • sfin

          I pretty much agree with all you have said here.

          But I have to add that I think the ‘baby boomers’ (of which I just qualify for membership, being born in 1963) overcompensated for the hardship of their upbringing (that hardship being the altruistic sacrifice of the wartime generation) by spending the subsequent generation(s) inheritance.

          And, in this, I think Gary Wintle has a point.

          We created the welfare state in the post war years. This is fine if you maintain an unsustainable, growing population. European birthrate then declined – as tends to happen when you educate women to the same level as men. The European, social democrats answer to that, of course, was mass immigration and the subsequent social instability.

          I’m afraid our generation has a lot to answer for, and subsequent generations will not thank us.

          • Verbatim

            There’s HUGE complexity in the issues you’ve just raised, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to discuss these with somebody intelligent!!

            I don’t regard the ‘construction of the welfare state’ as “spending the subsequent generations’ inheritance” because it wasn’t until we got into very very serious debt in recent times that this became an issue. And the reason for that debt (and decline – because no nation can prosper and move forward when it is burdened by debt) is complex. There is private debt and public debt, not just one kind. Government and individuals have spent like drunken sailors and this has been shared by all age groups in the society. Credit cards were the first bad thing and I am old enough to remember when Bankcard first arrived on the scene; people screamed that debt would destroy any value these cards had. Turns out they were pretty much right.

            When government tried to cut back on welfare there were screams from lobby groups opposed to these cut-backs. Remember the era of Margaret Thatcher (“sooner or later you run out of other peoples’ money)? The principle of social welfare is a worthy one, but it’s just ended up being abused. The pendulum has swung too far and people are just living much longer. Couple that with, yes, reduced population (via The Pill) and the tendency to want to “have it all” and you have a recipe for disaster which is the fault of everybody. When you offer people welfare with little or no mutual obligation you get an entitlement mentality which we’re only just learning about as a society. There are no previous centuries of welfare upon which to look back and say, “we did it better then” or “we did it badly then and now need to improve”. I suggest to you that the very minute you give a whole social group money without obligation – no matter how justified – you have a ‘cat and cream’ mentality. It’s human nature.

            Now, how to unravel all of that without falling back into discredited Marxist ideologies is the real challenge. The incentive must always be there for the vast majority to work and work hard.

            And you’re so right about immigration. I’m in Vienna for a couple of months (again, as I was there all of 2011) and I’m stunned at how it’s full of drunks lying around homeless (never saw that in 2011) and full of Africans and muslims and NO JOBS. And no German language skills! (They all have iphones, though, and they shout at these on public transport in half a dozen different languages, all at the same time!!! Where do they get the money for this technology?) It seems to me we’ve entered what I call a “self-loathing stage of apathy” and are willing to give our countries away to the lowest bidder. This has precious little to do with population sustainability; more like rank stupidity.

            It’s a very very serious situation,but young people are too distracted by the phones and gadgets to give it any thought. (Bread and circuses?)

          • sfin

            Bravo! “Bread and Circuses” has been my catch all phrase since around early nineties.

            Again, not much to disagree with here – except, I would argue that the original welfare state (apart from being very shortsighted in its construction) went from being the, laudable, safety net for the “deserving poor” to being manipulated as a power tool.

            I still cannot understand the politicians adherence to our ‘glorious’ NHS (even UKIP are at it now). It is a comprehensively failed system. I now live in Paris and have recent experience of what a civilised health service should be like. If the NHS was the ‘envy of the world’, why has no other country adopted the model?

            We largely agree quand mème (even so).

          • Verbatim

            I cannot speak about your NHS as I know nothing about this.

            Please tell about Paris! We were there in 2009 and I was shocked!! We won’t return.

            In the last week 10,000 Africans have arrived in Europe via Lampadusa and the Italians have called for “help” – which means, ‘come and get them with us so they can live in Europe”. En route 7 Nigerian Christians were killed, on the boat, by muslims.

            I’m sorry to say Europe is in a state of entropy and we won’t return. I hope I haven’t offended you, but there it is. I want to remember Europe for its heyday post-war and it’s European-ness. What will happen to the culture of classical music in Vienna, just as one example? It’s heart-breaking.

          • sfin

            Yes you are quite right. Fortunately, France is more robust in its ‘Frenchness’ than the UK – even if that means it parks the immigration problem in ghettos that no-one else goes to (not even the police). The official policy here remains that immigrants become French (language, culture et al) even if the reality is sometimes very different. Most people applauded the ban on “covering the face in public” (which, of course, included the niqab) as most people in OUR culture rely on facial recognition and visual communication.

            See my reply to goodsoldier below. Paris is still a fine place to live, as long as you know where to go, like any world city.

            On a wider note: The EU has been wedded to state welfarism since the end of WW2. State welfarism requires constant, generation on generation population growth (the productive supporting the unproductive). In the face of a drastic reduction in indigenous birth rates, the EU has deliberately encouraged mass, third world immigration in order to sustain its model.

          • goodsoldier

            What is it like to live in Paris now? I only lived there for awhile in my teens in 1976s in Passy and in the Bastille in the early 1990s. Is it still a beautiful place to live? I hear so many mixed reviews of Paris as a place to live now. I’m always planning ways of escape. Now I live in London. Is Paris better?

          • sfin

            Paris is very much like London, in that it has its areas and ghettos – especially its suburbs (banlieues). You would still recognise areas, like around Bastille, République, Oberkampf,. Le Marais is now the gay area – with some Jewish businesses left and the left bank of the 5th, 6th and 7th Arrondissements are still the tourist areas they’ve always been. Montmartre has changed – especially around the edges of the 18th arrondissement Barbès Rochechouart is pretty much exclusively African and La Chapelle is pretty much exclusively Indian. These places are very welcoming and La Chapelle is where I go for a curry and Barbés for the African market.

            Outside of the périphérique is a different story. “No go” zones exist. Last night I found myself in a crowded St Denis RER station waiting for a train back into the city. Mine was the only white face on the platform, I couldn’t understand the type of French being spoken and the atmosphere was quite hostile. A friend told me, this morning that I was mad to change trains there at that time of night – I should have gone to Stade de France – one stop further on.

            I like living here. Public transport is excellent, rents are generally cheaper than London and the lifestyle still exists in most quarters. For how much longer? Who knows. But then we all face this problem.

          • goodsoldier

            Many thanks!

          • diqi

            But our generation didn’t create the welfare state, instead we had to fund it. We are caught in the middle having had to pay for our parent’s care while now being blamed by our children’s generation for circumstances beyond the majority’s control.

          • Verbatim

            You are not the only generation which has had to “fund” the welfare state; we have also and from the 1970’s when I started working. We shouldn’t be engaged in a “blame” game. In Australia we have an “Inter-generational Report” which discusses such things and which was commissioned by our present (Conservative) government. It addresses such things as welfare and sustainable population/immigration and debt. As usual there are shrill comments coming from the Left and its commentariate army, which drowns out the quiet folks who are head down/tail up. But these same people MUST get politically active because the agenda is increasingly being controlled by fundamentalists like the Greens.

          • diqi

            You misunderstand, my reply was to sfin and porcelaincheekbones – I started work in the 70’s also.

          • Verbatim

            OK, sorry.

    • CommonSense Matters

      Essentially what you have written is what is happening in your imagination but does not bear out in the facts. At all. In any way.

      Living standards are not ‘recovering’ the NHS is falling to pieces not just because of cuts but speaking to workers in the NHS, the Tories legislation has effectively de-personalised this service.Almost 3/4 million of the jobs ‘growth’ is zero-hours contracts. We are in double the debt.

      Everything you have said does not bear out in evidence – and there is a plethora in my previous posts to peruse to your hearts discontent because it sounds like you don’t want the fact that Cameron has led the country to economic and social inequality to be true.

      The real risk is Cameron. It is not sensible to vote for Cameron on the economy. it is not sensible to vote for Cameron on social equality. Everyone now knows that. He is winding back the clock to a an era where parties like UKIP get a toe-hold. Another term of Cameron will remove any notion of equality of opportunity firmly from the public square. And that’s just not something a proper British person would stand for so we won’t stand for it. Milliband is a man who wants equality of opportunity at the heart of government decision, giving people a chance to succeed but not at the expense of others. So Labour are proposing sensible solutions to the woeful state Britain is now in thanks to this Tory government,

      • Colonel Mustard

        More complete bollocks from the advocate for the party mainly responsible for the situation this country is in.

        • CommonSense Matters

          Interesting phraseology for describing the facts of Tory performance. But fair. The party you speak about who you think were responsible ‘for the situation this country is now in’ left office half a decade ago. What have your Tory chums been doing in All That Time? Apart from increasing public debt and not very much besides. Old/New Labour distance themselves from Milliband and they are right to as he is a man with a better economic plan and the country is realising that they want hope and a future. Not five years more of this ‘situation’.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            See above.

      • diqi

        It would help if you offered data behind your statement about zero hours contracts. For example, ONS data for the last quarters of 2013 and 2014 show an employment increase of 617,000 people with an increase of 110,000 zero hour contracts in the same period. For that specific period ZH growth is 18% of total growth, nothing like the 75% as you suggest. ONS also reports that 2.3% of employed people are on zero hour contracts and it appears that a proprtion of them prefer the flexibility.

        WRT the debt, how long do you think it would take to recover from the over spending from the previous 14 years while the world economy was in the toilet.

        The unavoidable issue though is that the previous Labour administration went out of it’s way to sabotage the situation with no thought of the consequences for everyone else. All that mattered was building political capital, nothing and no-one else mattered. This spitful and callous indifference is typified by their behaviour in Rotherham, mid-Staffs and, it increasingly appears, elsewhere. So whilst I would agree that Cameron is a waste of space you will never convince me that Miliband and his fellow creatures will ever be anything but poison for the average person in this country.

        • CommonSense Matters

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/zerohours-contracts-a-reality-for-almost-700000-uk-workers-ons-figures-show-10069528.html closer to 700,000 but the number is massive.

          Do you think Milliband is the old/new Labour? When he talks about a better way for the country to operate and acknowledges the errors of previous administration it is clear that he has brought some fresh air to politics, He is feisty and passionate about the country doing well. I may not convince you but if this is a two horse race we have one bounding out of the blocks and one hiding in the horsebox. Who do the British vote for in that scenario?

          The Tories are taking Britain backwards and we the normal citizens shall collectively apply the break.

          • diqi

            It doesn’t hurt to be as precise as the data allows you know, possibly a large number but at 697,000 it is only 2.3% of the registered employed so not “massive”.

            Miliband and his colleagues act like they have no responsibility for the actions of the preceding government. He is not a young thruster, he is not breathing fresh air/new life in to politics, he was a minister and responsible for overspend and damaging our economy. It doesn’t matter to me whether he was old or new Labour, labels mean nothing actions mean everything.

          • CommonSense Matters

            Whatever percentage it is the number of people in these jobs is incredibly high and the percentage of the total of the jobs ‘growth’ Cameron crowed about was much higher. In the reporting it is clear most people do not want to be in the precarious position a zero-hours contract puts them in.

            Milliband – showing up for the debates, acknowledging the mistakes of the past and putting forward sensible plans to grow the economy and plans for social cohesion.

            Cameron full of ‘recovery’ postulation when he and Gosbor (pronounced Goes-bore) have led us into deeper debt and greater social inequality. Only the rich prosper. The normal people are squeezed. They have tried to create a culture where normal people tolerate this. But normal people cannot tolerate this because we are normal, we are not sub-normal as they would have us believe. We know there is a better plan. Because Milliband showed up and told us fair and square.

          • diqi

            Miliband has not offered a detailed or better plan, all he has said is he will spend more money and if you think that will not result in more taxes and misery for the average person and their children you are mistaken.

            Miliband & co have not begun to acknowledge their mistakes since that would be to admit they are incompetent and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near government.

          • CommonSense Matters

            I certainly can’t be mistaken about the current government, plenty of evidence of their mistakes to choose from.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Miliband, see above.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            I was about to congratulate myself on eliminating Miliband misspelling, when up pops Common and spoils it for everyone. What is it with Brits? Were they never taught to read through before submitting?

          • CommonSense Matters

            what nationality are you? Martian?

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            I’m never wrong: Would that be your middle name, Common?
            Preferred response: “We’ll, I won’t be making that mistake again.” Or you could even preface this with, “Thank you for pointing this out …”

          • CommonSense Matters

            You need a better hobby.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Miliband, dumbs hit.

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          Is your real name Billy NM?

    • Recovery built on debt, and destroying the parts of the State we DO need – defence – to preserve the bits we don’t – overseas aid.

    • Guest

      EL, everything you have said must be of your own imagining as it simply does not bear out in the facts. We are in twice the debt and the gap between the rich and poor is vast. The spectre that is spoken about in the article is palpable social unrest of the majority to whom the ‘recovery’ hasn’t filtered through to. And it hasn’t filtered through is because this recovery the Tories keep banging on about is a myth.

      3/4 million zero-hours contracts is not sustainable growth. The Tories have not dealt with the economy. They have in fact made it worse, creating a system and attempting to perpetuate a culture of transience and expendability of lower-paid workers. Their style of economy is flawed and cannot last because it devalues the backbones of our society.

      They have inflicted a £1bn real term cut on the NHS in the last year and it is showing. Talking to NHS workers it is increasingly clear the endless beauracratic ‘efficiencies’ spoken about by the Tories has resulted in people not taking ownership of their roles, leading to a lack of real patient care and a culture of poor quality factory processing of patients taking over.

      The Tories have tried to depersonalise the majority in all areas of life, attempting to convince them of their transience and expendability to their modus operandi. So we the people are going to remind them of ours.

      The true spectres haunting are Cambo and Gosbo in Downing Street. Will be nice to have some flesh and blood in office, a much needed and vital change it will be too.

      • diqi

        Where does your 3/4 million come from? ONS shows a total of less than 650,000 in Q3 of 2014 which is 2.5% of the total registered employed. ONS also shows Q4 2013 to Q4 2014 growth in zero hour contracts was 110,000, not 3/4 million – what data are you using?

        As for the rest, 5 years is not enough time for people to forget the horrors of the Labour administration many of which continue to be exposed yet not a murmor of regret or contrition from those you would have subject us to the same all over again.

  • Urgleboo

    And populism is exactly why democracy, coupled with universal suffrage and modern opinion-setting media, is flawed. It is all about appealing to self-interest rather than what is in the interests of good governance of the country as a whole.

    • Farage’s Fried Chicken

      No, we just need to weed out the f e c k i n stupid then democracy is fine.

      • Verbatim

        You’ve got WAAAAY too much time on your hands and not enough between your ears.

  • victor67

    Populism Fraser equates with the interests of ordinary people rather than the corporate elite.

    • Gary Wintle

      Another thing is that Fraser claims to advocate small government, indeed less government, yet endorses the putrid embodiment of bloated, corrupt statism, Westminster. Why should Westminster, which acts in the interests of London and nowhere else, govern Scotland?

      Gore Vidal: “I always thought it a good idea to let people go…this would be the same for the Basques in France, the Kurds in Turkey, the Bretons in France again. Northern Italy would like to leave the south.
      “Let everybody go. Everybody hates the nation state and why should they be jammed together. It’s only because of conquest and it does no good.
      “It gives the central government all sorts of powers that it ought not to have over citizens.”

      And there’s the rub; Fraser and his elite chums love the nation state because it serves their interests, and thus cannot grasp why people detest it.

    • Isaiah 2:4

      Wrong – populism is the fake concern of what are supposedly the interests of ordinary people to protect the ‘corporate’ elite. See the difference?

  • Violin Sonata.

    David Starkey wrote at article elsewhere : Minority populist groups playing the victim card, it was excellent, it also mentioned politicians from Obama to Miliband who
    use that to manipulate, box and control.
    Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy
    its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. That picture should be a warning siren.
    On a lighter note, a very good likeness of Natalie Bennett but you forgot to place
    her multi coloured, winged unicorn in the picture, she never leaves home without it.

    • Gary Wintle

      But socialism is exactly what was enacted when we bailed out the banks. The bank bailouts were the biggest welfare program ever seen, and by far the most generous; hey, we’ll even pay their bonuses! But no spare beds for you plebs! According to the principles of the free market, we should have let them go bust and allowed nature to take its course.

      What, pray tell, is the philosophy of letting the German Government tax British commuters and taxpayers? Why are the British people being forced to pay for German rail?

      • Colonel Mustard

        There is the free market and then there is the new world global corporatism cosied up to by ‘social democrat’, left of centre governments. The China model. An authoritarian, censoring, single party state with corporate millionaires and oligarchs.

        • sfin

          Hole in one.

          A succinct appraisal of the evil that was the Blair/ Clinton era which still lives with us.

          • Verbatim

            I don’t regard them as “evil” per se – just ignorant and hopelessly, hopelessly, misguided. And populist, to the max.

          • sfin

            I respect your view.

            I regard anyone, from whatever side of the mythical ‘centre’, who wishes to consolidate power, wealth and influence in the hands of the few, evil.

            Blair’s latest wheeze of having a “leaders club” advising national governments (at a price, natch!) sums up this scum bag for me.

            The US are contemplating allowing a crook (who’s crime disqualifies her from public office) and a pathological liar, to run for president – and all because she is the wife of another crook and pathological liar. What do you call a man, who deploys US firepower to deflect attention from his own negative publicity at home, other than evil?

          • Verbatim

            To answer your question….

            “A dog that his wife can’t keep on the porch”.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            How about in the Porsche?

          • Gary Wintle

            Truman? Eisenhower? Reagan? Bush? Obama?

            Truman was certainly the most evil; he created the wretched national security state.

        • Verbatim

          You know, Colonel, we have our own share of oligarchs; human rights lawyers and social activists who want the world shaped according to their world-view and totally opposed to majoritarian democratic principles. You don’t have to be a communist….

          • Johnnydub

            Yes – they’re the people that support the EU.

      • Verbatim

        How are they doing this; I don’t understand your reasoning.

        And I also agree with a local politician in Australia – with whom I NEVER agree – that big businesses which avoid their share of taxation are the real social LEANERS. That made sense to me, particularly as I’m increasingly asked to stump up more myself – and I’m over 60!

      • Aayush Dhuria

        What got banks in that position in the first place? High risk lending without corresponding deposits to show. How were they enabled to do so? Low bank rates… set by the central banks to create a boom. See what I’m getting at, free market dictates that you set interest rates to create money supply according to rise in production instead of trying to create a growth via passive Keynesian policies. Yes, free market’s solution after that happens isn’t that appealing but the argument is that it wouldn’t have happened in the first place without govt influence on the central bank.

        The nepotism and government favored corporatism is not ideal by any means, not even for the economical “liberals” (in the mould of the likes of Adam Smith).

      • Patrick Roy

        Why are we letting the Dummkopfs tell us anything?

    • Molly NooNar

      “Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

      Yes, people are so stupid. How dare they think that we as a country have ever had choices or options. No, we must continue to hammer down on such people until they submit to the rules that banks are god, that corporate welfare is king and that QE is a mass pocket money financial service to the wealthiest corporations in society.

      Thanks for showing your own brand of failure, integrity and ignorance.

      • Verbatim

        I agree with Violin Sonata – and his choice of instrument and genre!!

      • Verbatim

        There’s a vengeful, raging individual right there!

      • Aayush Dhuria

        I find your determination to hold out for Socialism in these parts quite fascinating, although not a regular considering I’m not a Brit, I have noticed you quite often.

        Socialism, however noble you may deem it to be, isn’t backed up by economics and history. And I don’t mean to give examples of the monumental failures of totalitarian regimes, I have an example of democratic socialist India, it espoused socialism since its inception and you can see the effects it did have. The bloated bureaucracy and the political powers were more corrupt than the “evil” businesses could ever be. It institutionalized poverty and got us stuck in a limbo of trying to feed 100s of millions without actually any growth or chance at a better life. And it did come at the compromise of civil and political liberties.

        Those who oppose socialism also oppose the government intervention in the market which aids the corporates unfairly, so I can’t see why you’re calling “Violin” names while attacking a strawman. It is ironically the socialists who want to hammer down a contrary opinion and certainly not without the use of force.

        • Molly NooNar

          I would greatly appreciate it if you and the commentators of the Spectator would provide a definition of what socialism even is because it is a word over used as a perjorative term to describe a collection of different ideas anarchism, totalitarianism, social democracy, liberalism, even Nazism according to some. It is meaningless to discuss something if nobody knows what it is that we are talking about- we cannot progress or have an intelligent debate about it. So, start with a definition and then I’ll gladly respond to your points.

          There is a socialism that would be a distinct improvement on what we have now and what we are being promised by the main parties, it is that socialism that I want. Were we have water companies nationalised, the railways nationalised and perhaps even a state renewable energy sector. The aim is not and has never been to destroy the private sector, but to deliver value for money for consumers. The idea that private is best and more efficient than the public sector is false, it always depends on circumstances. Nor do markets fix all problems, they rig themselves and require the state to step in and address the problem. Competent governance and government policy can solve problems. People here have too much faith in free markets, and all I’m arguing for is a mixed economy.

          • Aayush Dhuria

            I’m not a regular at spectator so I don’t know the context, where I live, which would be India, socialism usually means social ownership of means of production where business is conducted for non profit reasons, and by social means I mean the government. Democratic socialism, the most common form in this century and it is categorically NOT the same thing as welfare of the underprivileged. Many free market thinkers have a welfare plan, just FYI. Negative income tax, universal basic income, welfare in a way which doesn’t let people starve but incentivizes them to work.

            If you don’t want any technological progress in those industries, sure it’d be better to nationalize them. You can’t expect to catch up with the ever improving world if you do, however, as national industries aren’t big on R&D and nor do they use the resources in a similar efficient manner.

            If you want some industries to be nationalized and compete with the private counterparts, I have nothing against it. Or do you have problem with competition? If govt. companies offer better services for better prices, people will move to them. And competition will push each other to excel, wouldn’t it?

            You already have a mixed economy, if you think you have “free market” then you’re mistaken, in fact Britain is usually hailed as the perfect example of mixed economy in rest of the world.

            “The idea that private is best and more efficient than the public sector is false, it always depends on circumstances.” History says otherwise. People will always use their own money more judicially than someone else’s. Let them compete and see which one perishes if competition is fair. I’ve seen it, studied it. India didn’t have a shred of private autonomous business until 1991. Those which existed had to operate on government’s terms.

            As for the market failures and rigging, that’s rhetoric with no substance and most of the problem with too big to fail comes in place when you factor in government in the equation of market. People have faith in free markets because history and economical logic sides with them instead of “feels”.

          • Molly NooNar

            I agree with your definition for socialism. Interestingly the Green’s (often described on here as the far left) also favour the universal basic income instead of a welfare state.

            Frankly, your post is a reasonable one. I do not pretend that government is not sometimes a major problem, over reaching significantly on some issues and being easily corruptible by big business interests on others. Both concern me. The trick as in virtually all matters is finding the right balance.

            Dissolving governments while sometimes desirable, would deprive the society of the opportunity to define and respond to problems clearly and decisively. This is sometimes very important. For example, the ozone layer thinning precipitated by CFCs. Government intervention and collaboration with other countries resulted in regulations that led to business phasing out CFCs. In a free market would that necessarily have happened?

            I know what you’re saying, yes, potentially, it could have happened, but it would require all citizens to develop an awareness of the problem and then to select a different product. When as we know businesses fight like mad against public awareness of an environmental problem caused by their product (like the fossil fuel industries fought and still do fight like mad with regards to global warming, pesticide companies against the science of the terrible effects on pollinators etc). Government still has a role. May be there is a good argument for a limited role in normal circumstances, but at this moment I would argue that a limited role is not required and not beneficial either. Significanly public spending is justified and necessary.

          • Aayush Dhuria

            I have read about the Greens, they have two conflicting policies, open door immigration and universal basic income and their attitude of discarding economic growth is rather immature. When you propose welfare, you have to put immigration restraints otherwise it just isn’t right for anyone as the country has limited financial resources, it can’t just print money and give it to everyone.

            I don’t oppose government intervention in the market completely to counter market failures, I oppose active government intervention in order to try to dictate economics on its terms and design as it thinks would be right for the people. Economic regulations, consumer protection etc are few things I’d say are reasonable. It is of course the government patent system which provides incentives for innovation, credit where due.

            “I know what you’re saying, yes, potentially, it could have happened, but it would require all citizens to develop an awareness of the problem and then to select a different product.” Yep, I would say it is possible but not necessarily. The research on self regulation is still not mature enough to conclude with absolute certainty.

            “There is a good argument for a limited role for government in normal circumstances” which is basically my argument. It shouldn’t try to dictate things in normal circumstances like creating economic boom by lowering interests in the years preceding the market failure of 2008 and so on. Brazil’s current predicament is a good example of government failure. It followed Keynesian policies with a religious devotion.

            An article on it if you want to read. http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21645248-brazils-fiscal-and-monetary-levers-are-jammed-result-it-risks-getting-stuck

            I realize that government can never be totally out of economy, ignore the logical reasons, no government will ever give up control over its money, so it’s all about the extent which is the sweet spot.

          • Des Demona

            Socialism is not compatible with the caste system – until India rids itself of that blight it is very far from socialism and is highly unlikely to prosper economically for the majority.

          • Aayush Dhuria

            Ah yes, the caste system, one of the few things people know about India even if they don’t know other things. Yes, founding fathers who happened to be fascinated by Fabian Socialist movement & Russian revolution, were absolutely against caste based discrimination and untouchability. India has made strides of progress in that aspect and it also has constitutional measures in place to prevent caste based discrimination. The caste system in its brutal form exists only in remote and economically backward places but for the most part, it doesn’t exist in its archaic form. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t still prevalent but it’s more verbal and social than full fledged discrimination. For examples, people like to marry within their caste, socially the high caste pride and stuff like that.

            As for socialism, the government has affirmative action in place to help the backward classes, a reservation from (free) education to university to even public sector jobs, so much so that now that they’re economically well off, they still retain the benefits and it fuels divide and it also basically codified the caste system.

            On the other hand, capitalism is perfect way to reduce if not eliminate this social evil at professional level, anyone who discriminates is at a professional disadvantage in terms of labour force. And the government does have many schemes in place to encourage inter-caste marriage to eliminate the system. 🙂

            As for socialism not working, there are many other economically explainable reasons for that and caste system is not one. Centrally planned economy will always fail.

          • Patrick Roy

            Guess is you work in the public sector?

        • Mike Samuibungy

          What we are talking about is not socialism but a more leftist version of our economic model. A kind of civic capitalism… not many people actually believe that we can get from where we are internationally to socialism. But, we do need a system that works better… one that is backed by economics and history.. not what we have now. The problem is that an approach that opposes what we have now gets suck with the labels of ‘anti-capitalist’ or ‘socialist’ or ‘utopian’… we need a system that can deal with the growing list of seemingly apocalyptic problems by offering solutions to the many. Populism in the sense that it will work for most but it won’t be an easy solution and it will need people to just imagine a world where growth, consumption and huge profits are not the end game…

          • Aayush Dhuria

            “it will need people to just imagine a world where growth, consumption and huge profits are not the end game…”

            But they will always be, regardless of how humanist you want things to be and focused on the quality of lives of individual, the laws and principles of economics aren’t some things you can circumvent and you need growth of wealth to be able to provide for everyone, everyone benefits from the growth not just capital owners, they just benefit more than others but they also put their capital at risk and lose more than others at times.

            I dislike welfare capitalist more than anarcho-syndicalism and other forms of non coercive socialism, no, my arguments aren’t “boo hoo why take from rich”, no, welfare almost never works the way intended and lowest 10% is rarely ever better off. The welfare model of Scandinavian countries can only be replicated in homogeneous societies with high trust and quality education for masses.

      • Patrick Roy

        You’re an idiot. Try visiting a country where there are no rich, no businesses, and no wealth. I’ll pay for your tickets, Molly.

      • Brogan75

        so let’s make sure UK becomes Pakistan. So your alternative dreams will be fulfilled.

    • James

      Electoral segregation is a strategy employed by all political parties to create identity politics – socialists take it as an opportunity to play the victim card but, make no mistake, politicians segregate people into identities.

      • Verbatim

        Oh, I don’t know…I think most do it well enough themselves and don’t need anybody else’s help.

    • Farage’s Fried Chicken

      Has your religion, culture and race not yet been overrun in the area you live in, you victim troll?

      • Verbatim

        You are obviously very unwell. Back onto the tablets!

        • Farage’s Fried Chicken

          I use a laptop, you Greenpeace troll.

          • Verbatim

            Another one of your projections. Dear me, you do embarrass yourself. I expect this is why you have no friends and spend so much time on the internet. Yes, we ALL know!!

        • blandings

          Don’t encourage him.
          He’s like a little puppy with tourettes: Desperate for your attention.

          PS: See what I mean?

          • Farage’s Fried Chicken

            Exactly, you tell him to f e c k i n shut up.

          • Verbatim

            I get it now; thanks. There are many like him on the net, unfortunately.

    • Albert Zbingswiki

      … Was he referring, perchance, to a particularly homicidally unstable, very vocal, non-integrating ‘minority populist group’ whose religion has absolutely nothing to do with violence in the middle East, postal vote fraud, child grooming gangs, etc?

    • nekomuna celo

      Starkey is a bigot

      • Johnnydub

        Ah.. the left’s response to opinions they don’t like – “Waycissssst”

        • nekomuna celo

          Is there a problem with your keyboard?

          • Johnnydub

            No there’s a problem with your statement.

          • nekomuna celo

            I thought you must have selected gibberish in the language settings. You better check just to make sure

    • Excellent post, and completely accurate, truthful and relevant.
      Despise Clinton as one may, he was entirely correct:
      “It’s the ECONOMY, stupid!”
      Proposals that solve debt via increased borrowing, that solve deficits via increased spending (and pretend to pay for both via increased taxation) are the politics of the asylum – though they appeal to the people hurt most by the last UK flirtation with a Labour Government.
      Without a balanced economy, there is no money for anything – and we know what was in Liam Byrne’s letter.
      The serious possibility of letting the people who caused the depth of our current problems back into office on a promise to repeat the same policies – truly we demonstrate the inadequacies of our system, together with the disingenuous mendacity of our politicians.

    • victor67

      The only Socialism we have is for the super rich with their tax breaks and bailouts. The rest of us face raw tooth and claw capitalism that shafts the poor.

  • thetrashheap

    Labour are identity politic window dressing on neo liberalism.

    They will continue privatization and globalization, they will continue mass immigration that as well as degrading public services and pushed up house prices, is necessary to keep wages and therefore inflation low while the rich get richer.

    Tory policies to increase wages and housing availability in era of mass immigration are absolutely meaningless.

    The fact is our when it comes to the economy our political class has decided our workers have no choice but to get poorer and are implementing an economic policy that guarantees it. . They’ve decided we must be socially liberal.to protect their mass immigration policy and to control the population.

    The fact is neo liberalism with its extreme economic right wing position and extreme social left wing is all we are being offered. Not just in the UK but in all the western world

    While traditional Tories get shocked at gay marriage and immigration actually increasing under a tory government or Labour voters getting shocked at privatization and deregulation happening under a labour government they reality is you can predict what will happen under either. Largely the same thing.

  • davidofkent

    There has been hardly any austerity in the UK during the past five years. Mortgagors have never had so much spare money in their pockets, thanks to the beggaring of savers. However, left-wing politicians tell people that they are having a hard time and the people believe them. It’s simply human nature to believe that somebody else will make you instantly better off. The economy is expanding and employment is going up. That simply attracts more EU migrants to take up the jobs whilst taxpayers fund the lifestyles of our indigenous ‘can’t work’ or ‘won’t work’ population. We have always had populism in our politics. Nobody votes for country; they vote for self. Unfortunately, ‘self’ for many voters now requires more tax from other people. The trend now is for those intelligent or lucky people in good jobs to pay for private services to ensure they get what they pay for. Public services are very good for people who pay nothing, but very bad for the rest of us who fund everything with our taxes. The system will collapse quite soon.

  • ohforheavensake

    I could make several points here: that the SNP aren’t insurgents, but the party of government in Scotland (a fact that you persistently ignore): or that Hollande’s policies failed, not because they were untenable, but because of the wider politics of the EU; or that all the evidence is that focussing on deficit reduction is economically counterproductive; and on, and on.

    But there’s a wider point here. It’s very easy to categorise trends that you dislike as ‘populist’- which means unconsidered, immature, unintelligent, and the like. It’s far more difficult to accept that your own side has failed. However, the evidence is that the neo-liberal dispensation (which ran, I suppose, from 1979, all the way to the crash in 2007-8) is now over.

    Last paragraph, I promise: this is an argument that Steve Richards makes, over at the Independent (he’s generally pretty astute when it comes to British politics). His argument is that, of all the major parties, the Tories are the ones that haven’t changed; they’re pulling the levers that delivered votes in the 1980s, but those levers no longer operate anything. So don’t dismiss this as left-wing populism; it’s a sign that the world has changed.

    • Colonel Mustard

      “the SNP aren’t insurgents, but the party of government in Scotland”

      Not mutually exclusive as Mao’s cultural revolution demonstrated. Radical parties that pursue revolution in government invariably bring misery – eventually.

      • ohforheavensake

        And the SNP are a democratically elected party of the centre-left, who have so far entirely failed to work toward a Maoist state.

        So the point’s completely irrelevant. Aside from that, well done.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Give them time. And ‘centre-left’ is infinitely debatable.

          “The SNP are, in many ways, Michael Foot’s old Labour Party of 1983. They’re hard Left.”

          “There is almost a sort of Maoist tendency, which says that the people must be wrong (in voting ‘No’) according to the SNP and that they must be forced to ask themselves the question over and over and over again until they give the answer which is satisfactory to Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.”

          ” . . . a movement grown up out of a yearning for freedom, the SNP has become a strangely authoritarian outfit.”


          And Salmond’s maoist roots are well documented.

          Do any of you ever respond to a point without resorting to a personal sneer contrived to imply your superiority?

          • trotters1957

            Thats because they are superior to you, its not implied.
            Your views are childish, naive. You’ve never done a days work in your life. Playing army games is not real work just a playground for the flotsam of the middle classes, those who couldn’t get proper jobs.
            He is superior to you, there not implied, explicit.

          • CommonSense Matters

            Trotters whatever you or I might think of CM’s opinions, I don’t think devaluing the work of people in armed forces is the way forward. Whether they call Salmond a Maoist or not. Sorry, but I had to say that.

          • AtMyDeskToday

            One particular phrase in that link gravely undermines any argument you are trying to make… “Kudos then to the Sunday Post for its journalistic work”. The only journalistic work the SP has ever done is to publish ” the Broons” cartoon. Your knowledge of Scotland is sorely lacking.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Radical and modern – but coherent? Hardly.

  • Iain Paton

    Even the Tories said “meh” when called out on failing to eliminate the deficit as promised. So why should the rest of us struggle?

  • wycombewanderer

    If you read fact free Toynbees article today you’ll see she’s promoting a site which is the digital equivalznt of stuffing votes into envelopes to win the election.

    She’s hit an all time low in respect for democracy, in fact it is IMO a criminal conspiracy to commit electoral fraud.

    • Albert Zbingswiki

      Postal voting is ackbar.

  • Peter Stroud

    Miliband is spouting much the same sort of divisive Marxist script that we heard from old Labour. It failed before, and it will fail again. This time it is even more dangerous than in the old days, because of the chance that Miliband will do some sort of deal with the SNP. Tax and spend will become the pattern, deficit reduction will be for the future: and state intervention will be the norm.

  • James

    Lower classes used to vote Tory because they used to have opportunity to get on in life and become successful. That is not possible under the Conservative/EU because, people can’t get jobs that go to immigrants and communities have been destroyed – Cameron doesn’t listen and even insists they are lazy or racist.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      So seek your fortune in the colonies.

  • Farage’s Fried Chicken

    Populism is a f e c k i n phenomenon entirely subscribed to by the right and yes, a Ukip vote will get Labour back in.

    • Xaider

      I’m voting UKIP because I love my country and have values and principals.

      Who gets to be the PM is hardly my concern, you can’t put a cigarette paper between Cameron or Miliband – clearly you’re scaremongering for your own personal political gain.

      Jog on my friend, you should stop advocating for the status quo and grow a pair down below.

      • Farage’s Fried Chicken

        Who am I voting for then, you Eurotroll?

        • Verbatim

          We cannot predict who will get your vote after you’ve placed your inky thumb-print on a piece of paper.

      • q-pantagruel

        ” you can’t put a cigarette paper between Cameron or Miliband”

        I’m not sure I agree with that. Miliband has some very disturbing ideas. I think he’s dangerous – particularly if under the thumb of the SNP. The damage he could do is far greater than anything Cameron can muster.

        • Xaider

          If the Tories want votes, they can go out and try and win over the undecided instead of hiring trolls like fried chicken boy to do their dirty work.

        • vieuxceps2

          Yeah,poor old Ed hag-ridden by Sturgeon the shrew.Not good for honest English folk.

  • Dan O’Connor

    ” Populism is a right wing thing ” say the Left .

    Newsflash ; EULabLibCon wins election ;

    BBC reports; ” The people have spoken ”

    Newsflash ; UKIP wins election ;

    BBC reports ; ” We must not pander to the mob ”

    You see how it works ? It is the Left playing at their usual neuro-linguistic psy-ops
    It is the Left’s narrative that when white people vote for a Right wing party , that it can only be for irrational , morally impure and emotional reasons and because some unscrupulous politician is exploiting the populace by whipping up Whites into a lynch mob. There just could not possibly be any other explanation .
    This is why the Left and Marxist always talk about ” the masses ”
    ” the proletariat ” ,.

    They see their own people as ignorant livestock to be used as lab rats in another one of their utopian New World Man grandoise schemes , with them as the leaders of course.

    • trotters1957

      You seem to see the world in black and white.
      Go see the doctor.

  • porcelaincheekbones

    Deserving other people’s money.

    • Hegelman

      Why not?

  • john

    Every British election is about class. Its the London based elite versus the rest. Maybe the balance is shifting and the sans culottes are showing their strength. Mirabile dictu!

    • Graham De Roy

      The “London based elite” are the champagne swilling metropitan liberals who can afford to vote Labour

      • john

        Far more of them are Tories.

  • Ipsmick

    And there was I thinking that the class war was being relentlessly waged on the poor and disadvantaged trapped in an ecomomy that no longer offers mass employment by a brutal, uncivilised, and frankly rather distasteful conservative party.

  • Ken

    When my Tory MP came around yesterday campaigning, I gave him a ‘cast-iron’ guarantee that I would vote for him. For some strange reason, he seemed happy!

  • Albert Zbingswiki

    *shrug* Unless something dramatic happens, the european kaliphate will be installed inside 10 years, and we’ll all be dead anyway.

  • David B

    The policies of the left fail because the anger needed to create the policies ensure class war and that class war must be waged against employers and wealth creators. That means they don’t employ people or create wealth both reducing tax receipts and increasing welfare bills.

    The policies are therefore self defeating!

    • Verbatim

      I was brought up in a home which didn’t have much money but we were never taught to be angry and resentful of those who did have money and success. I still feel the same today. Good luck to those who’ve made a good life for themselves and who can afford nice things.

  • Nockian

    The politics of envy for certain.
    The problem with blaming the free market is that we have had very little in the way of free markets. We have had corporatism which has made use of the powers of the state to stave off competition and reap profits.

    The Parties talk about ‘privatisation’ of public services to make people believe it’s about laissez fairy approach. The public gets all fired up about greedy capitalist and private profits, when the truth is this is just contracting out to a few corporate cronies and often a few crony ‘third sector’ not for profit businesses.

    I find it galling that parties talk about pro/anti business as a Government policy, that the electorate don’t catch on to the essence of what’s been said. That a government who acts pro/anti is really just an economically fascist government. Free markets are neither pro nor anti, instead they allow good, value adding companies to thrive; employing more staff and producing better and cheaper goods for everyone to buy.

    The final thing is the bogey man of the corporate tax dodger. It’s another one of those party coat hangers that Cameron and Milliband use as a confusing political football. For those that can get their heads out of their bottoms and do a tiny bit of research they will find that any corporation will happily pay taxes because they simply pass them on to their customers. It’s simply the Government finding another way of taxing the poor worker some more whilst they are bamboozled by the rhetoric into believing the corporations are getting a good fleecing.

    The trouble with the vast majority of populist leftists is that they refuse to do their homework. Instead they just think all this socialist stuff is a great idea, just like they believe a pyramid scheme will make them rich, or a Prius will make them an environmentalist. If only they would stop for a minute and do some reading they would begin to realise the good idea is just a nasty con trick.

    • whilst they are bamboozled by the rhetoric into believing the corporations are getting a good fleecing

      You are so right.

      And the recent EU requirement that tax be listed not as an add-on to Amazon goods but as part of the purchase price is an example of this game, whereby goods look slightly overpriced even though they aren’t, since some of it is tax which the seller has no say over! If I sell a cultured-pearl bracelet at £20 and you think it should be cheaper and in terms of my cut it really is, who gets called greedy — the EU? Or me?

      This is dishonesty, pure and simple. The EU wants taxes charged but it wants to hide them. Someone needs to tell the EU where to get off. Hello, David Cameron!

      • Nockian

        No government wants to appear to be taxing the working population visibly. As the saying goes ‘taking the feathers off the goose with the least amount of hissing’ isn’t accomplished by the use of transparent taxation policies. The coalition government has increased taxed in this last term despite its rhetoric.

        The most pernicious tax is that of inflation. It’s the creation of cheap money which has raised the prices of goods and services, destroyed savings and private pensions. This has led to the increased price of houses. The government talk about ‘supply and demand’ in the housing market making it tough for first time buyers to get on the ladder. This is of course completely true, but the issue is not necessarily just one of a restricted housing supply, but one of malinvestment.

        Because returns in savings and pensions are poor, but borrowing very cheap, those who have high value assets they can borrow against-or piles of depreciating cash-increasingly more valuable property portfolios. As long as the BoE sticks to its forward guidance/low interest policy then buy to let becomes very lucrative. It becomes a self perpetuating bubble as areas such as London draw in more business and employment, buoyed by the ever expanding market. It’s all illusion. Jobs and wealth predicated on a property bubble just as it was before the 2007 crash. The Government feed the flames with ‘help to buy’ and ‘right to buy’ schemes as the bubble will collapse-as every ponzi does-without new suckers entering the market.

        As we saw in the 2007 crash, the suckers are also the tax payers who are on the hook for the eventual bubble deflation and have had their money diluted by the ‘coin Clippers’. It will be the tax payers who will again foot the bill by having to bail out the Government guarantees when it all goes upside down. So one of the key problems in the property market is over investment and not necessarily too few homes. It’s the investors nearest the BoE money spigot, who are buying all the houses. It is this which is making it unaffordable for those at the bottom. The proof of this is that areas outside London have lots of cheap properties for sale and no shortages of accommodation.

        The Government are obscurating their real policy is and it’s notable that Labour have declined to contest it, which means they are either Labour are either blind or complicit. I strongly suspect the latter. That being the case we can conclude this entire election is a complete farce.

    • Hegelman

      Envy is a noble trait. It is only the haves who made it a sin. The poor are always envious, unless they are brain dead.

      • Nockian

        You would need to elaborate on why you believe it to be a noble trait. A statement isn’t an argument.

  • MrJones

    mass immigration is economic warfare

    • amicus

      I am not too keen on it.

  • global city

    and yet all you tory toady journalists help to crush and defame the decent people who have been willing to try and counter this left wing hate.

    Every time you play silly games in keeping the UKIP narrative going you help those who would eventually put the likes of yourself in the gulag.

  • Fraziel

    “It’s quite true that Britain has record employment, zero inflation and strong economic growth”

    And yet outside the south east nobody has noticed as everywhere else its zero hour contracts. As for the tories being true progressives. LOL. Now i know you really are joking.

    • amicus

      I live in the South West and zero hour contracts are not top of the agenda here.

  • amac

    We’ve given a generation massive student debt, later retirement with fewer good pensions, a tough unstable job market and made owning your own house a pipe dream for 35% and growing of the population.
    When you cut people loose from the benefits of capitalism and leave them worse off than their parents it becomes easier to see the socialist dream of utopia as a plausible alternative rather than the quick route to national bankruptcy and a personal dead end.
    No wonder Farage looked bewildered debating with the nutters and the magic money tree huggers.

  • ‘Coherent’? I don’t think so. What’s coherent about it?

    As for Miliband, he would never blame government, would he? Oh no. Government is always blameless. I don’t trust him, I think he is a colossal ignoramus, and his most cherished beliefs have been put to the test and bloodily refuted by the 20th century. –Proving that there is no delusion that won’t die despite the evidence (and the dead bodies), and no ideologue that won’t eagerly embrace it. Shame on you, Miliband!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    The lower orders are essentially voting Labour in order to vote against Conservative.

    • More poppycock and tripe from this Japanese top-runner to the British Aspergers’ Awards 2015!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        The expression is “front runner” Jock. You’d know this if you were British rather than a flawed linguist trying to live down sordid past.

        • From a man (you) who doesn’t “express”, but trolls, and spams, and pollutes, and spouts, and vomits! When is your next hospital appointment in Tokyo?!

    • vieuxceps2

      “lower orders”,Jack? Damn snob!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        But it’s true isn’t it? Assume only the cream of the crop contribute to blog pages, and even then errors in every sentence. Then the vast majority of the UK population must be functionally illiterate. Victims of a flawed education system, washed up on the beach of UK trash culture, where education and learning are ridiculed as elitist.

        • vieuxceps2

          I repeat Jack. Damn snob.

  • lakelander

    It’s nothing to do with the left. UKIP’s decapitation of the Conservatives’ vote is making it impossible for the latter to get ahead. The right is divided against itself even though it is, in total, is in the majority.

    How will a nation which leans to the right respond to being governed from the left? There could be some angry reactions.

  • EmilyEnso

    Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing a mood of angry populism

    Yes after five years of David Cameron.
    Hasn’t he done well – for labour?
    Another Cameron nail in the coffin of the Tory Party.
    Never has a Tory leader done so little for so many and so much for so few.
    Unfortunately the 1% don’t have the voting power………..

  • mikewaller

    At least in part I blame Cameron, Osborne and their idiot advisers who have consistently represented what has been no more than an economic Dunkirk as the equivalent of V.E. Day. The deficit is still massive, the debt is even bigger, overseas competition grows by the day; but they just keep putting out more flags and promising more goodies. Is it any wonder that “the great unwashed” are in danger of deciding to drop the pilot and put one of those lovely “spend, spend, spend” parties in power. What breaks my heart is that the Scots whom we always thought so “canny” seem to be so solidly behind their own triple spend Viv Nicholson. Should have expected it really, they have been putting Labour in for years.

  • Patrick Roy

    Poverty is a business. Socialism is a business. It’s bad business, but its a machine that enriches the new HAs, provides thousands of jobs for mediocre socialists, and keeps the poor down. Generation after generation. See it in action now in the run up to the election. This machine is DESPERATE for cash! And not just for the people who need it; it’s for the idealists who are complicit in keeping people in abject poverty even as they live in one of the world’s riches economies. Business, jobs, a diverse economy, and motivated behaviours, change lives. Watching the debates, Nigel Farage was the only person who really making any sense. The fact that not a SINGLE other participant could engage on the supply / demand issue of housing was really revealing and frightening. The fact that no one could really answer Charlotte’s question about ongoing future debt was shocking also. Nigel Farage was standout. God help us (and the poor) if any of these other people get into 10.

    • Well said Patrick.
      Worth pointing out too that no one bothered to seriously address deficit reduction, or worse, to really explain the significance of the 50 billion a year interest on the debt. No, no, it was all about how to end austerity with a snap of the fingers and a flood of spending – oops, sorry, investment!
      At least I suppose we should be grateful none of the nutters mentioned prudence!

      • Zando

        So true.

  • John Andrews

    Ah well -things will get worse before they get better.

  • huw

    the green-plaid cymru-snp – troika is coming to London town! nice…but with ..a cigar! 🙂

  • Zando

    The left wing have bigger gobs it is that simple, the TV debate the other night was shocking, the left wing is a danger to social cohesion and the economy of the UK…………………………….power is all they want and they are not concerned how to use or abuse that power, utter loons!!!

  • Zando

    Only 2% of the work-force are on zero hour contracts, 65% of people polled are satisfied with the NHS, yet the left-wing spin this out of all proportion!!!……………………..It’s about big gobs!!!

  • James

    Labour and Conservatives are the same – immigration, NHS privatisation, corporate power, poorest and most vulnerable hit hardest. Frankly, our corrupt political system has destroyed the UK and I hope Islam takes it over thanks to two corrupt governments – I will emigrate to a civilised country.

  • WFB56

    You’re stretching the importance of the de Blasio victory when only 24% of the electorate bothered to vote.

  • henryGrattan1800

    yep, the bank bailouts and no job security and a few becoming super wealthy at the expense of the many had nothing to do with it

  • StrategyKing

    This would be a great article except that the writer conveniently forgets that the bankers turned out to be the greatest socialists, helping themselves at the public trough when convenient, instead of falling on their own swords, so to speak. The debate is no longer about capitalism v/s socialism but about this – since there is going to be a public trough, (as the bankers were happy to have) who is going to get access to it and how?

  • Kasperlos

    Oh dear, please, not Mr. Ed Miliband in No. 10! It’s easy to avoid viewing PM question time and hearing his most irritating public schoolboy faux stutter (has he something up his backside?): ‘…and, and, Mr. Speaker, why, why Mr. Speaker, ‘cus, he, why, and…’ Should he win, then he’ll be in our faces without advance warning. Ah yes, the appeal to the lowest order of the nu (sic) labour generation. They luv (sic) it whilst leaving the rest of us to doom. Better reach for my stash of airline earplugs just in case. Go Team SamCam or DaveSam or CamSamDave. Just win already for oratory’s goodness sake!