This is the first of daily blogs I will be producing between now and December 1st, the date of the by-election. Last night campaigning in Ham, the main issue was one we can’t do anything about, the catastrophic election of Donald Trump.
Many people drew parallels between Trump’s triumph and the vote for Britain to leave the EU. There are similarities between them, as even Trump recognised. The same sort of disillusion with conventional politics and politicians can be found on both sides of the Atlantic. These two elections are, in fact, the culmination of a 30 year process started by Thatcher and Reagan which can crudely be termed neo-liberalism.
It involves a series of processes such as privatisation, globalisation, outsourcing, and reducing union power which, combined, have served to shift the rewards of capitalism from labour to capital. As a result, real wages have stagnated, inequality increased and benefits accrued to a small wealthy elite. The whole process has been disguised as a natural phenomenon stimulated by the needs of the free market and has been speeded up by the effects of the 2008 banking crisis. No wonder so many people no longer believe that conventional politicians will deliver improvements for them.
So far, in the US and here, it has been parties of the Right that have benefitted from people’s disaffection. The challenge for Labour, and it is a big one, is to find a way to tap into people’s fears about the future by showing we have many of the solutions such as redistributing wealth through the tax system, investing in infrastructure, raising the minimum wage, placing obligations on outsourcing companies and providing affordable housing.
The challenge, is to make the case for this approach convincing enough to win people over to progressive policies.