What do these ideas add up to? Devolve power from Whitehall, leave the big state behind, elect mayors with powers over policing, abolish the Department for Communities and Local Government, compete for new providers where schools are thought to be failing, provide education credits for parents to move their children to other schools, make all schools autonomous like academies, use ‘successful foundation trusts’ as the model to provide primary care, allocate social housing on the basis of rewarding good tenants and use ‘hasbo’ eviction orders against bad tenants. What links all these proposals is not only that they’ve just been published in Labour’s so-called ‘Purple Book’ , but that they’re all Tory ideas. Nothing illustrates more starkly that the Blairites are still undead and still trying to push the Labour Party into a free market, de-regulated, privatised, profoundly unequal Britain – just like the Tories.
It’s extraordinary that there’s not a word about any of the real issues now facing Britain. What is the alternative to the cuts which is driving the economy into prolonged stagnation? What radical reform of the banks is needed after they brought about the biggest financial crash for a century? How can we carry on with an unsustainable trade deficit which is soaring (it was £100bn last year) because our industry has been hollowed out? How do we bring about a shift from an over-bloated City to achieve a revival of manufacturing?
Nor do the Purple Book Tory-isers even touch on real crisis in our society. They ignore inequality which has hit mammoth levels and an Edwardian class system which has revived. They ignore the unmentionable trade unions as though the injustice over employment rights and the absence of workplace democracy were of no concern. And they totally miss the point over social housing that it’s not a reward for good behaviour, but a fundamental human right which is currently denied to 1.8 million households (about 5 million persons) on the waiting lists.