Posts Tagged 'Back to the future of socialism'

Back to the Future Day? #bttf2015

Former Labour MP for Neath and author Peter Hain grabs his hoverboard and heads ‘Back to the Future’ in today’s Marty McFly inspired guest post about socialism past, present and future in the UK…

BTTF_The_Future_Is_Coming_web

Dude, where’s my invite to the party?

Peter Hain_1980s

Peter Hain (photo courtesy of Peterhain.org)

I mean the one planned to welcome Marty McFly and Doc Brown, the two time travellers from 1985 in the film trilogy Back to the Future. They are due to appear on 21 October and Hollywood intends to celebrate their arrival.

I had hoped that, having stood down as an MP (and not yet been formally admitted to that ‘Other Place’), I might be able to exploit my new found freedom with some rest and relaxation. Why not join in the fun on what Hollywood is calling Back to the Future Day?

After all, I have a claim to be included on the guest list. That is my new book Back to the Future of Socialism, already nominated by one reviewer for an award as ‘Worst Book Title of the Year 2015’.

The cool crowd

OK, I admit that I didn’t really hang out with the cool crowd in the 1980s. Instead I began those years by chairing what we called ‘The Debate of the Decade’, involving amongst others Tony Benn, Paul Foot and Tariq Ali.

“What I remember most was struggling to keep order amidst disruptions from various anarchists”

A debate which degenerated into a row about the record of the Labour government that lost office in 1979, and about what Labour had to offer working people in the years ahead. Sounds familiar?

What I remember most was struggling to keep order amidst disruptions from various anarchists.

The real inspiration for my book stemmed of course from Tony Crosland’s classic 1956 text The Future of Socialism, a book which provided a creed for governments of the centreleft until the global banking crisis changed everything.

By reappraising Crosland’s criteria for socialism and setting them in a current context I try to redefine Labour’s future up to 2020 and beyond.

Optimistic assumptions

Marty McFly went back to 1955 before jumping ahead to 2015. If he had been in the UK he would have seen how far our world fell short of Tony Crosland’s optimistic assumptions about economic growth and consensus politics, and especially of how dramatically differently finance capitalism has evolved following Margaret Thatcher’s ‘big bang’ financial reforms of 1986.

The three decades since 1985 have seen the emergence of a capitalist system which is more integrated, more unstable and more unfair than Crosland’s generation ever anticipated. It is productive but prone to paralysis.

It is dynamic but discriminatory. Its self-destructive tendencies, not least in the area of environmental sustainability, require far more radical responses than neoliberal orthodoxy can hope to provide.

“..since 1985 [we] have seen the emergence of a capitalist system which is more integrated, more unstable and more unfair than Crosland’s generation ever anticipated”

My book presents a practical alternative to austerity. It rejects George Osborne’s recipe for a permanent squeeze on public spending after tax cuts for the better off which deliberately put a budget surplus beyond reach, so providing an excuse for the state can continue to be shrunk.

For this Tory government is the most economically right wing in memory.

Instead it invites a resurrection of Labour’s mission based upon hardheaded economics and evidence – a modernised Keynesianism or a fresh Croslandism, some might say. Democratic socialism not neoliberalism should remain both the source of our inspiration and the vision for our age.

#backtothefutureofsocialism #backtothefuture #bttf2015

Back to the future of socialism_PBK [FC]Back to The Future of Socialism is out now in paperback and is available to purchase here  from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Labour’s new leadership must not be dragged along behind the Tory austerity bandwagon

In today’s guest post, Peter Hain, author of Back to the Future of Socialism, implores the new Labour leader, whoever they may be, to defend the party’s pre-crisis spending plan and provide a radical alternative to Tory austerity.

We have 5 signed copies of Back to the Future of Socialism to give away. All we ask is that you promise to write a review of the book on Amazon! The first 5 people to email pp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk with their details and a promise to review will receive one. 

Peter Hain, representative for Neath, during a photocall for Labour MP's at The House of Commons, Westminster.

Whichever candidate Labour members support for the leadership, everyone in the Party should insist on backing a radical alternative to five more years of Tory austerity. In truth our Party has been too timid for too long on the economic agenda.

After 2010, our leadership allowed the big Tory Deceit to go unchallenged: namely that it was the last Labour Government ‘over spending’ rather than the banking collapse that produced mountainous levels of debt and borrowing, bequeathing a large deficit. As I demonstrate with detailed evidence in Back to the Future of Socialism, that is simply not true.

“Our Party has been too timid for too long on the economic agenda.”

Labour’s borrowing, the deficit and the national debt was low before the global banking crisis – lower than most of our competitor countries from America to Japan and France, and significantly lower than levels inherited from the Tories in 1997: we did ‘fix the roof when the sun was shining’. Otherwise why did Cameron and Osborne sign up in September 2007 to Labour’s three year spending plan?

It was the colossal cost of bailing out the banks and the unemployment and business collapses triggering recession which caused the extra spending. Labour’s pre-crisis deficit in 2007 was 2.7% of GDP. The bank bailout cost 90% of GDP. A slightly lower deficit would have been irrelevant.

“Labour’s pre-crisis deficit in 2007 was 2.7% of GDP. The bank bailout cost 90% of GDP.”

Our Party’s new leadership needs to trumpet that because otherwise we will be dragged along behind the Tory austerity bandwagon. We also need to rebut the charge that the alternative is some wild, irresponsible, unelectable platform of ‘tax and spend’ as critics will doubtless attempt to claim.

Back to the future of socialism [FC]Back to the Future of Socialism offers a practical, financially prudent but economically robust alternative to austerity. Investment in faster, fairer, greener growth is the way to reduce the deficit and the national debt, just as it was in the 1950s when both Tory and Labour governments built double the number of houses each year than today and founded the NHS – at a time when the post-Second World War national debt and deficit was much higher than it is today. They went for growth, not cuts. That’s exactly what we should now do.

“In the decades ahead, Labour should be about securing a growing economy.”

Faster sustained growth would also allow us to tackle both insecurity and aspiration, and not have to choose between them. There is no political necessity for spurning Left-Behind Britain in order to appeal to Middle Britain: the interests of both can be advanced together by Labour.

In the decades ahead, Labour should be about securing a growing economy, with policies to ensure that living standards for all rise, quality of life improves, our environment is nurtured instead of destroyed and everyone shares in the proceeds of growth Democratic socialism, not neoliberalism, should remain both the source of our inspiration and the vision for our age.

Back to the Future of Socialism is available for £19.99 on our website. Order your copy here. The updated paperback is publishing in September, but too late for the leadership contest so buy (or win) your copy now!

To be in with a chance of winning one of 5 signed copies email pp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk with your details and a promise to review on Amazon.

Announcing the first winners on election day…#GE2015

Photo credit: BBC

Peter Hain protest march – Photo credit: BBC

Last week we offered you the chance to win one of five signed copies of Peter Hain’s Back to the Future of Socialism by simply answering the following question and being picked out of the correct quiz answer drawer:

“Where did Anthony Crosland first serve as a Member of Parliament?”

The answer was of course:

South Gloucestershire

As we wait with ever-increasing anticipation to find out who, if any one party at all, is the winner in today’s General Election, things are thankfully that bit more certain at Policy Press HQ and so we are thrilled to announce that our competition winners are:

  • Back to the future of socialism [FC]Lynn Griffin
  • David Mcguinness
  • Thea Raisbeck
  • Peter Goodyear
  • Olivia Al-Noah

Congratulations to all our winners – a signed copy of the book is now on its way to you- and huge thanks to all of you who took part in the competition!

Not lucky this time? Never fear you can still buy Back to the future of socialism at the special pre-election discount price of £9.99 (RRP £19.99) from Policy Press website or download the kindle edition for only £4.79 here. Discounts apply until midnight Friday 15th May.

WIN a signed copy of Peter Hain’s Back to the future of socialism

This time next week it will be all over. The nation will have voted to decide on the future of country for the next five years. Will we continue along the route of neoliberal, right-wing orthodoxy or is there a chance for an alternative, socialist future, for a fairer, more equal society?

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Lord Kinnock, Ralph McTell and Peter Hain Photo credit: Kathryn King

Political insider Peter Hain’s book Back to the future of socialism tackles those questions, challenging austerity politics and calling for fundamental changes to the structure of our society.

For your chance to win a signed copy of Peter’s book simply answer this question:

 

Where did Anthony Crosland first serve as a Member for Parliament?

Email your answer to pp-marketing@bristol.ac.uk. The first five winners drawn out of the bag midnight Wednesday 6th May will receive their very own signed copy of the book. Winners will be announced on election day, of course!

What other people have said already about Back to the future of socialism:

Back to the future of socialism [FC]“Indefatigably upbeat” Observer

Hain challenges us to think hard about the nature of our commitment to social democratic ideas.Progress

Its strength is its pace and breadth: Hain argues for taxes on unused development land to encourage housebuilding; condemns New Labour for turning into “Nervous Labour” and leaving it until 2010 to raise the top rate of income tax to 50 per cent; and he reasons that UK banks are “anti-business”; “obsessed with the short-term” and quick profits, when small and medium-sized firms need years of support.The Independent

The value of this book is that it sparks the sort of lively and nuanced debate that is too often drowned out in a public discussion so dominated by neoliberal values.” Tribune

Excellent, and very wide-ranging and knowledgeable – about the political history of the UK as well as about what is going on now. I recommend reading this book before voting, whatever you think. You may choose to disagree with various things. Or it might change your mind about whether Britain needs to “stay on track” or, if it does, is that much closer to being doomed as a society and as a state.” Amazon customer review

Well written appraisal of what’s wrong and what might be possible in UK government policies.” Amazon customer review

#whyvote #GE2015 #imvotingbecause

Can’t wait to win the quiz? You can also buy Back to the future of socialism at the special pre-election discount price of £9.99 (RRP £19.99) from Policy Press website or download the kindle edition for only £4.79 here. Discounts apply until midnight Friday 8th May.

Hain: ‘Public investment is key to regenerating economy’

Peter Hain’s Back to the future of socialism publishes today. In his guest blog post to celebrate the launch of the book Hain questions how we got into the current financial situation of cuts and austerity. He shares his views on the need for a radical response from all politicians, but most especially the left, to take us back to a fairer future…

Labour MP Photocall

Rt Hon Peter Hain, MP

Did Big Government or Big Banking cause the global financial crisis? And what should be done?

Go for cuts and austerity, or investment in growth and jobs? Give market forces a free hand, or harness and regulate them for the common good? Forget about fairness or share the proceeds of growth?

And, one of the key questions for me is, quite simply, is democratic socialism outdated or the answer to today’s challenges?

Sense of purpose

In 1956 Anthony Crosland’s classic text, The Future of Socialism, furnished the democratic left with a new sense of purpose. By freeing Labour from past fixations, and by giving traditional Labour values a contemporary appeal, he gave the party a controversial fresh focus, reviving its spirit and restoring its impatience for progress.

Crosland’s approach – essentially one in which the state sought to spread the benefits of economic growth within, and without challenging the capitalist framework – underpinned Labour’s approach until the global economic crisis of 2008.

But the kind of capitalism we have faced since is a more internationally and financially integrated, more unstable and a more unfair system than Crosland’s generation ever anticipated: productive but prone to paralysis, dynamic but discriminatory.

It is a capitalism whose self-destructive tendencies require far more radical responses than the neoliberal, right wing orthodoxy of the post banking crisis era could ever provide. Responses that pose acute challenges to a Labour Party intent on getting the economy growing again whilst putting the public finances back in order. Responses to be made against a constant, and seemingly resonant, message through the media for more cuts to cure ‘the deficit, stupid’.

“Governments across the world allowed the financial system…to become a law unto itself”

I strongly dispute this, and believe that public investment, not ever more austerity is the answer – both to regenerate our economy and get the deficit down. It is a case for faster fairer greener growth where an active role for Government holds the key.

In truth – at the very least in terms of banking – governments were too small and too passive, not too big and too active as the right repetitively insists. Governments across the world (including Labour’s) allowed the financial system over a 30-year period to get out of control and become a law unto itself. Takeovers and mergers led to banks so big they couldn’t be allowed by government to fail. Bankers bent rules to lend ever more riskily without anything like enough capital cover, until it all unravelled to catastrophic effect.

The real choice facing Britain should be between the right’s insistence on minimalist government and the left’s belief in active government; between the right’s insistence on a free market free-for-all, and the left’s belief in harnessing markets for the common good. Politics has to change, with Labour becoming a different type of political party. And Britain’s future must be at the heart of Europe, leading a new progressive internationalism.

Back to The Future of Socialism aspires to be a defining book for the democratic left in this era, just as past generations saw Tony Crosland’s seminal book in his era. You can be the judge of whether it meets that test!

Follow @PeterHain on twitter and for latest news on the book search #backtothefutureofsocialism

Back to the future of socialism [FC]Back to the future of socialism publishes today and copies can be purchased at a 20% discount from the Policy Press website – here.

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.


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