Another good panel on Question Time last Thursday on BBC 1 – Jeremy Hunt and Jo Swinson fielded well for the Coalition, Professor Lord Winston and actor Simon Callow provided insights from their own particular fields but it was Caroline Flint for Labour who impressed me most.
She made her arguments clearly, forcefully and passionately.
Her points about the radical NHS reforms not being in either of the coalition parties manifestos and that the spending cuts being as much an ideological choice as a fiscal need resonated well with me.
Her views against the Alternative Vote I found less convincing and not just because I am in favour of it! Lord Winston was also against it and made a more thoughtful and persuasive case.
Overall though Caroline Flint presented well the Labour cause and with some free-flowing passion amongst often complex and difficult ideas which I would like to see more of from Ed Milliband.
I still have reservations though about her and Labour – in particular due to the financial crisis. She rightly reminded the panel and audience that it was the bailing out of the banks that ballooned the national debt but overlooked that this happened on Labour’s watch. It was Labour keen to be bedfellows with the Haute L’argent of the City along with its light-touch regulation of the banking sector that contributed to that particular financial melt-down.
Likewise under them the gap between the rich and the poor in our society grew – the distribution of the national wealth became ever less equitable. This again lies with their taxation policy – trying to out-Tory the Conservative Party.
They did in the 1990’s need to ditch aspects of Old Labour to become electable but having achieved this they then seemed more about schmoozing the wealthy than improving the lot of the rest-of-us.
The financial crisis was not just a sector event but totemic of a crisis in capitalism itself – it is tottering on its heels with no signs of recovery just more voodoo economics. And New Labour sadly still seem as wedded to the Crony Capitalist ethos as the coalition parties.
There is popular opposition to the banking model yet I feel the Coalition and Labour only respond to this because of their populist instincts, not because they really get it. Sound bites and rhetoric but not really matched with actions to address for example moral hazard and too big to fail.
No mainstream party seems to be embracing social democratic values – perhaps the Labour Party needs a coup from within – and I am not sure if Caroline is the person to do it.
That person might be the quiet unassuming former Chancellor Alistair Darling – but that’s another post!