The Anglo-American political right (Conservatives) and the establishment media have created a ‘toxic’ view of left-wing politics (socialism). They accuse the left of espousing a ludicrous fairy tale vision of society based on high taxation and killing aspiration. In reality, the left is simply the politics of equality. I believe in the empowerment, enablement and ennoblement of each citizen. That is the essence of left-wing politics, and why I am a socialist. So, are left-wing policies ‘A ludicrous fairy tale based on high taxation and killing aspiration? History suggests the opposite is true.
Social Development A Ludicrous Fairy Tale
The leftist Aneurin Bevan was responsible for creating the NHS. It has not always existed and must have seemed like a fairy tale at one time. We take it for granted now, but Harry Smith poignantly recounts how life without the NHS was a bleak & barbarous time. America’s free market approach rejects health equality. Consequently, there are around 40 million Americans without any access to health care.
The left believes that education is a human right and social good that everyone should be able to access. The right believes that education is an individual responsibility. Recently, England and Germany adopted that position and introduced tuition fees. In Germany however, tuition fees were a brief and unpopular experiment. The grass roots movement of student unions, trade unions and political parties formed the Alliance Against Tuition Fees. They prevailed. So, the privatisation of higher education through tuition fees is not inevitable. Free education is probably the most aspirational act.
A left-wing Government introduced council housing. It was a quantitative approach to tackling homelessness and squalid accommodation which often lacked facilities. However, The Conservative policy of Right To Buy has decimated local authority stock. Wealthy landlords now own one-third. It has led to a shortage of council houses and increased renting from the private sector. So councils offer landlords cash payments of up to £4,000 to accommodate homeless families.
Taxes & Business Bailouts
The right-wing is ‘dedicated to a doctrine of government by entrepreneurship deregulation and selling of community assets’1.
The goal of deregulation is to increase the affordability and dependability of services by opening up the market to competition. That means moving away from nationalised utilities although we all had a stake in them. Instead, six foreign companies now have control. However, their only goal is to make a profit for their shareholders. So, rising fuel costs has meant that 2.3m households are now unable to afford to heat their homes.
Captains of industry often go into politics. Conservatives advertise as the party of business. I find that frightening. Captains-turned-politicians were responsible for financial deregulation. Coupled with poor decision-making by bankers that led to the financial crash of 2008.
Despite that, the government failed to keep to business principles and let the banks fail. Instead, they used £1.162 trillion2 of taxpayers’ money to bail the banks out. The British citizen is paying twice. We endure austerity, while the bankers are receiving bonuses of around £5 billion.
The alternative was not to bail out the banks like Iceland. Nor do they have austerity. President Grímsson says their recovery, was because they put people first. He says ‘Giving financial institutions the greatest freedom possible … was flawed.’
Deregulation & Aspiration
The other interesting fact about deregulation is that it only goes one way, to remove laws surrounding businesses. When it comes to employee protection, there is more, not less regulation.
Trade Unions are facing further restrictions. They will need a greater percentage of votes to take industrial action than the Tories needed to form the government. Furthermore, Zero hour contracts are unravelling TU achievements. It includes collective bargaining, an eight-hour day, sick pay and health and safety conditions. Moreover, casual contracts are replacing secure full-time employment.
The Tories also plan to introduce legislation that will prevent TUs from funding the Labour Party. Their main opposition. That stymies democracy. The Tory Party, however, will continue to be financed by the city3. Like the lobby groups in America, these groups are buying the government. Alongside their donations, we can chart large-scale privatisation, tax cuts, the continued assault on the public sector and increased in inequality.
The collective wealth of Britain’s richest people has more than doubled. Under socialism, the gap between the wealthy and those less well off was closing4. The top 0.1% of the population is expected to own 14% of national wealth by 2030.
The Fairy Tale A Fairer Society
It is right-wing policies that are stifling aspiration. They leave
citizens less well off financially, emotionally and intellectually. Their austerity policies encourage inequality and fear through job insecurity.
On the other hand, left-wing politics have introduced a fairer society through health, workers rights and education. For all those reasons the left is to be embraced and not feared. Leftist politics is about government by the people for the benefit of the citizens. History shows that democratic socialism makes the world a better place.
- Thomas Frank. ↩
- Facts supplied by National Audit Office. ↩
- Financiers, hedge fund managers, press barons and private equity groups. ↩
- Between 1949 and 1979 the share of the nation’s wealth received by the top 1% fell to 4.7%. . ↩
- There are approximately five million people in work who are not paid the living wage. ↩