After 12 years of New Labour’s Third Way and the start of the global banking crisis, Gordon Brown came to his senses and realised that the policy of light-touch regulation of the City had been disastrous. In April 2009, at the end of the G20 summit in London, he said:
Unfortunately, it was 12 years too late for the UK. We are now faced with a Tory/LD government who have no intention of implementing any form of banking regulation before 2019. The shadow banking sector and hedge funds still flourish. International accounting is dominated by the same companies that signed off the failed banks as ‘safe’. Credit Rating agencies remain unregulated, with their conflicts of interests intact. There is no transfer of information from tax havens, and banking secrecy persists.
Needless to say “We will implement new rules on pay and bonuses at a global level that reflect actual performance with no more rewards for failure.” is a complete pipe-dream. And at a point when we are seeing the corporate takeover of the NHS, welfare, public services and doubtless education in time “We want to encourage corporate responsibility.” is a tragic reminder of what a democratic socialist LP could have done in government.
Gordon Brown’s subsequent two years as PM were characterised by media assassination, undermining from within the LP, an appalling GE campaign and a victory to a more extreme asset-stripping government than Margaret Thatcher’s. Ed Miliband is also subject to media assassination and undermining from within the LP. If the UK is to be rid of this ‘wrecking’ government in 2015, or before, the left needs to hang together and Ed Miliband must come out fighting as he has (rather late in the day) on the NHS. We need some conviction politics from the LP around which the broad left can unite to defeat the corporate policies of the right. The alternative is to continue with the erosion of wages/pensions; mass unemployment (particularly of the 17-24 year olds); destruction of any vestiges of the welfare state; and the increasing political power of the transnational corporations. Unfortunately, the old Washington consensus is alive and kicking under the Tory/LD coalition… as we shall see in George Osborne’s budget.