Whatever happened to the Labour Party?

(67 Posts)
ttosca Mon 01-Oct-12 19:55:35

These days the people Labour exists to represent work in shops, call centres and offices rather than factories and mines. But they need a voice now more than ever

What is Labour for? If you could pay a visit back to 1899, a railway signalman from Doncaster called Thomas R Steels would certainly have been able to answer. Exasperated at the lack of a political voice for working people while the wealthy had the Tories and Liberals to stand their corner, he drafted a resolution for his local union branch. It called on the Trade Union Congress to assemble a conference with the support “of all the cooperative, socialistic, trade union and other working-class organisations” to look at how it could win “a better representation of the interests of labour in the House of Commons”.

It was a controversial idea. The first socialist MP, Keir Hardie, had only been elected a few years ago; as he entered Parliament for the first time, a policeman eyed his working-class clothes and asked him if he was working on the roof. “No, on the floor,” he answered. Many on the left felt the best bet for working-class people was to piggyback on the Liberals, forcing them to introduce social reforms. But the TUC approved Steels’ motion – and a few years later, the Labour Party was born.

As Labour delegates gather in Manchester, they might struggle to see the relevance of Steels. Britain has changed beyond recognition: peering out of their hotel windows, they can see that many of the industrial warehouses of Steels’ time are now luxury penthouses. But while the people Labour exists to represent today work in shops, call centres and offices rather than factories, mines and docks, they still need a voice. By the end of this government – the most naked government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich since Steels was alive – they are projected to be poorer than at the turn of the 21st-century. If Labour cannot champion their interests now, of all times, it may as well sing “ The Red Flag” for the last time, and go home.
Ed Miliband is often derided for his wonky manner, but it's just one symptom of a problem with the whole political establishment

When the Tories gather next week, they can feel assured they have a clear vision: to drive back the state as far as possible. How many Labour delegates feel confident their party has an equally compelling vision? The never-ending economic crisis is often called the Great Recession, but the Great Reverse is a more accurate description: the stripping away of a welfare state that Labour built. But even as its legacy is dismantled, Labour’s leadership remains impotent or – even worse – complicit.

Austerity has sucked growth out of the economy, sending borrowing – Osborne’s key test – surging. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has compared the Government’s approach to “a medieval doctor bleeding his patient, observing that the patient is getting sicker, not better, and deciding that this calls for even more bleeding”. If there is a time for Labour to present a coherent alternative, it is now. Instead, Ed Balls has promised the next Labour government will “be ruthless” about public spending, after pledging earlier this year that it was “going to have to keep all these cuts”.

The Government has imposed a pay freeze on public-sector workers that – given the cost of living – amounts to a substantial pay cut. As well as many nurses and teachers facing a drop in real income of 16 per cent by the next election, it is helping to suck desperately needed demand out of the economy. Scandalously, Labour’s leaders have lined up behind it.

In part, the Labour leadership has not come to terms with why it lost the election. New Labour strategy was based on keeping so-called “Middle Britain” on-board, which didn’t mean those living on the median annual income of £21,000, but affluent types living in leafy suburbs. But while five million voters abandoned Labour in its 13 years in power, the Tories only won a million more. According to Ipsos-Mori, there was only a 5 point drop in support from middle-class professionals; among skilled workers, it was a 21 point drop. If Labour can’t win back these working-class voters, it will never win another general election.
Labour could bring down welfare spending without cuts that destroy lives

Part of the problem is that the Party leadership is not representative of the people it exists to champion. Ed Miliband is often derided for his wonky manner, but it’s just one symptom of a problem with the whole political establishment: full of politicos who have never worked outside the Westminster bubble.

But in the here and now, Labour must offer a coherent alternative that defends those it was founded to represent. A motion from Unite calls for the RBS and Lloyds/TSB to be properly nationalised and transformed into a public investment bank. Such a bank could be linked to a new industrial strategy, building a renewable energy sector and could create hundreds of thousands of “green-collar” jobs.

Labour could bring down welfare spending without cuts that destroy lives: £21bn of taxpayers’ money is wasted on housing benefit, lining the pockets of landlords charging extortionate rents. The money could be used to build modern council housing, creating jobs, stimulating the economy, and bringing down the 5 million-strong social-housing waiting list. A living wage could reduce the billions spent on tax credits. And rather than focusing on benefit fraud – worth £1.2bn a year, or less than 1 per cent of welfare spending – Labour could launch a clampdown on the £25bn lost through tax avoidance by the rich.

It would be naïve to expect the Labour leadership to do this off its own back. I’m working with a new trade-union-backed think-tank, Class, bringing together economists and academics to flesh out an alternative. But above all, it must come from pressure from below. “Power concedes nothing without a demand,” said the 19th-century African-American statesman Frederick Douglass. “It never did and it never will.” Steels is long dead, but his dream of a party that champions working people lives on. But it must be fought for.

www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/whatever-happened-to-the-labour-party-8191251.html

ttosca Mon 01-Oct-12 20:01:43

I think this pretty much summarises how many people in England feel about the dire state of the two-party system and the state of the Labour party in particular.

The Tory filth obviously have a clear agenda to roll back the state and the public's hard-earned rights and welfare back to the Edwardian or Victoria era.

Labour has failed to set out a clear vision for a fair and more just society. They need to make the case clearly and unequivocally that the vast majority of the country would benefit from doing things like protecting workers rights, raising the minimum wage, raising the tax threshold, and going after tax avoidance. It can't continue to be Tory scum light, or it will continue to lose votes along with the other mainstream parties.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Oct-12 08:55:51

I don't think their current unpopularity is solely because Labour have failed to set out a clear vision. I think it's because we've just emerged from 13 years of their tender, loving care knowing full well that they made an almighty hash of it. They can promise to protect workers' rights, therefore, but the fact that they put workers' rights a poor second to making benefits more lucrative is a big reason why they lost votes. They can promise to raise tax thresholds but the memory of the 10% tax debacle is still relatively fresh. They can promise a fair and more just society but the reality of the first decade of the 21st century was lower social mobility. With the unions snapping at their heels threatening disaster and withdrawal of support if they freeze public sector pay, no-one's going to vote for a return to the socialist fundamentalism of the 1970s. 'Been there done that'...

rosabud Tue 02-Oct-12 09:56:06

I'm very disillusioned with the Labour Party to be honest but I think one of the main battles they have is making people who they should be representing REALIZE that they should be represented by Labour. Many of the poeple in the call centres and the shops and the public sector think that the problems in our society are caused by benefit recipients, immigration, political correctness blah blah. Some of them do think that some of the problems are down to horrible bankers and politicians but they think there is nothing that can be done about that because "it's just the way things are." Few of these people realize the huge political leverage they could wield if they started to act together and demand a change. Thus, the call centre workers are cross with teachers who strike as it causes them inconvenience and teachers will be cross with baggage handlers who strike for the same reason. Each group sees their own problems but is easily convinced that others "have it easier and are just being lazy." Thus the Labour Party is seen as the party for lazy strikers, benefit scroungers and bogus asylum seekers rather than the party that could help people like them have a better standard of living.

I think there are 2 main reasons for this:

1. All of the above attitudes are peddled by the media either outageously so or more subversely through the sheer fact that these attitudes have become the norm. The media and the status quo are nearly always more right wing leaning so the Labour Party is already at the disadvantage of having to overcome these prejudices before it even sets out its stall - thus the "OK yes we accept all the cuts" mantra - the equivalent of saying "OK don't panic we are not going to go back to giving all your money to benefit scroungers."

2. Education. The majority of the public, for whatever reason, have not been educated to a high enough standard to be able to recognize bias/ propaganda when it appears in the media, in a discussion down their local on or, indeed, should it come up and slap them round the face. Why haven't they been educated to the required standard for that? Well there's a whole new debate in there but the fact is they haven't and so the very people that Labour need to get their message across to are very likely to lack the skills required to understand that message in the first place.

captainbarnacle Tue 02-Oct-12 09:59:11

What rosabud said. Well put.

niceguy2 Tue 02-Oct-12 10:35:44

I agree with you on the education point Rosa.

Your average person in the street simply doesn't understand economics enough to really grasp what is happening and who is really at fault. To be fair many are not particularly interested either.

People such as my ex-GF probably couldn't tell you which party is in government and once declared she was going to vote for Tony Blair because he had a nice smile. hmm

So to millions of people they form their opinions on soundbites they catch briefly between flicking channels on worse still on the pages of the Sun/DM.

And here we have constant blame on immigrants, benefit recipients and of course bankers. The latter is now the modern day bogeyman.

Many people don't understand the difference between the deficit and the debt and even fewer know how large our annual deficit is. It's all monopoly money.

I really hope this will change. I actually think the personal statements which was publicised a while back will help on this. It's hard for us to understand when we hear £1 billion here, £500billion there. But if we each get a statement that says "You paid £1000 in tax. £300 went on welfare, £100 went on defence...." and so on that it will put things into perspective for people and make people suddenly realise how their money is being spent.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 10:52:56

Not what rosabud said.

Could it be that the people are far cleverer than you think? That they can sniff out an awful stink? Could it be that they can see the progressives coming and understand the name of their game? Could it be that they have seen their "education, education, education" and have said enough dumbing down already? Could it be that they have seen through the progressives' propaganda and spin, with pagers, spin doctors and all the rest of their sorry spinning machine? Could it be that the people don't believe the progressives when they say that there are only 50 days left to save the planet? Could it be that the people are wise to their game? Could it be that the people know whose side the progressives are really on with their light-touch regulation of the high and mighty, but their tight regulation and control of ordinary people - their billions to be spent on DNA databases and ID cards while people are denied life-saving cancer treatments due to postcode lotteries and while some elderly die of dehydration on hospital wards? Could it be that they are immune to the progressives' "education", propaganda and spin? Could it be that they choose to read the Daily Mail in their millions to apprise themselves of the facts?

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 11:22:02

' Education. The majority of the public, for whatever reason, have not been educated to a high enough standard to be able to recognize bias/ propaganda when it appears in the media, in a discussion down their local on or, indeed, should it come up and slap them round the face.'

The public are educated enough to spot the rank hypocrisy of the pious progressives who have slapped them in the face repeatedly with a wet kipper in the manner of a home flipper, while sending their kids to private schools.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 11:29:04

'Whatever happened to the Labour Party?'

It was taken over by progressives, champagne socialists and privately educated posh people from Fettes and beyond. They screwed the unions and didn't care a jot for ordinary people, that's why they rail at the good folk who read the Daily Mail.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 11:36:49

Why do you think one of Miliband's advisers came up with the term 'Blue Labour'. They want to start taking Labour back to its roots, to put the focus back on ordinary people and blue-collar workers rather than the privately educated lawyers, hedge fund managers and investment managers courted and knighted by New Labour. Blue Labour, not New Labour, is true Labour.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 12:07:49

Don't know much about 'Blue Labour', but reading wikipedia, it looks like it is losing the battle of ideas and that the posh elite progressives like Blair, Mandelson etc. of New Labour are winning out.

But there are some labour figures who seem to support it.

'Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham and the party's policy review co-ordinator, argued that New Labour's focus on 'the progressive new' resulted in the party embracing "a dystopian, destructive neoliberalism, cut loose from the traditions and history of Labour".[11] Chuka Umunna, the Labour Shadow Business Secretary believes Blue Labour "provides the seeds of national renewal"

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Labour

rosabud Tue 02-Oct-12 12:31:53

No, Clag, I genuinely don't think that people are being educated enough to be able to spot the rank hypocrisy at all! That's the problem! And even if they do detect the rank hypocrisy, they don't have the skills to be able to reason what they ought to do about it - another result of being poorly educated. By progressives, do you mean people who support education?

Niceguy My point was not that people need to be educated on economics but that they need to be educated in the kind of literacy skills and critical/analytical thinking that will enable them to detect bias, see points of view in perspective and be able to make their own reasoned judgements. I think it goes deeper than making people "realize how their money is spent" and is more about helping people to realize how the information they recieve is being sourced from a particular perspective.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 12:41:49

'By progressives, do you mean people who support education?'

By that definition, Gove is a progressive.

'I genuinely don't think that people are being educated enough to be able to spot the rank hypocrisy at all'

I don't think people are stupid. They don't know all the details of the Westminster bubble and the expenses and the home flipping, but they do know enough to know when they are being conned. They are not fooled by "humanitarian wars" and the elite's proclamations that they really want to "save the planet" for us. They know that they often break their manifesto promises and do the opposite of what they said they would do. That's why they don't hang on their every word or their "education" about the planet and the polar bear, they know a lie when they see one. They know that they are often only given one side of the story; the side the elite wants to promote.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 12:44:19

'helping people to realize how the information they recieve is being sourced from a particular perspective.'

I agree with that, but nearly everybody knows that they are being spun and conned, that's why only the naive believe what they say.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 12:46:42

The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph and the Tories have their spin. But the clever people who think that the Guardian is above that, have been deceived. Most people know to take it all with a pinch of salt.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Oct-12 12:47:44

When Gordon Brown decided to give wealthy people tax credits and upset great swathes of his grass roots that wasn't the hoi polloi lacking reasoning skills & misinterpreting a hypocritical media, that was ordinary people saying 'wtf?... why does someone on £55k need a handout?' When the media runs stories about benefit scroungers and 'floods' of immigrants, the reason it gains credence is that, like it or not, it often chimes with the fears, prejudices and experiences of real people. That doesn't make those people stupid, bigoted or easily led.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 02-Oct-12 12:51:44
claig Tue 02-Oct-12 13:07:13

Interesting article, ItsAllGoingToBeFine.
Don't know anything about Scottish politics, but I think that the SNP is a populist party that reflects the wishes of the people and gives them policies that they want. Labour is not a populist party, which is why it will reject Blue Labour, which would win it more of the public vote. Labour is a party that decides what the people want. In fact, it is not enough Labour who decides, it is the elite who control Labour that make the decisions. That is why they oppose the SNP on their populist and popular policies, because they have no choice in the matter, since that is what the elite wants them to do.

Parties have little room for manoeuvre, they have little choice, they follow a script. They can dupe and fool teh public once or twice, but that is a risky strategy because it will lose them any credibility and lead to them being wiped out at the next election. So they have very little choice apart from ramping up the spin and hoping that the public falls for it.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 13:17:51

'Though the SNP's policies, such as no tuition fees, and free prescriptions, are extremely moderate, they press to the limits of the neoliberal constraints accepted by all the main parties. Labour, unwilling to break these constraints, attacks the SNP on priorities.'

Labour has no choice. They do as they are told. It is their misfortune that in Scotland they are up against a party that is out of the fold and doesn't have to do what it is told. Labour are not used to that. In England, all 3 parties are in the fold and in agreement on the essentials - the rest is just theatre.

ElBurroSinNombre Tue 02-Oct-12 13:18:30

The problem, to me, is that Labour have no alternative vision to project at the moment. This coupled with their lack of credibility in Economic issues (given the mess they have made of the public finances) makes them very unattractive to many voters.
Symptomatic of this lack of vision, was Ball's 'big' idea announced yesterday - A stamp duty holiday FFS! Apart from being solely designed to appeal to middle Britain, this pathetic, trifling idea, would, if implemented simply hand more money to property sellers.
Where is the alternative voice in British politics?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Oct-12 13:25:19

"the SNP is a populist party that reflects the wishes of the people "

I see it more as a Faustian pact. smile Reflecting wishes today but doubtless reminding the electorate 'you owe us' when it comes to the independence issue.

rosabud Tue 02-Oct-12 13:27:35

When the media runs stories about benefit scroungers and 'floods' of immigrants, the reason it gains credence is that, like it or not, it often chimes with the fears, prejudices and experiences of real people. That doesn't make those people stupid, bigoted or easily led.

I do not think people are stupd or bigotted and I don't think they are easily led but I do think it is possible to lead them because of the lack of critical/analytical skills which I mentioned before. I also think it is eaiser for the parties that support the "status quo" (ie poor people should be poor, rich should be rich, benefits scroungers and illegal immigrants are ruining your country attitudes) to do such leading because it is what people have naturally been led to expect for a very long time. Parties which would like to change this status quo are, therfore, facing an uphill struggle to get their message across before they even start. Whether or not the Labour Party a party which is actually trying to change the status quo is, I think, what is at the heart of the original post. I would imagine that Claig thinks not, or certainly not at the moment. I, too, have my doubts these days but I have offered my opinion as to why Labour may find it difficult to "come out of the closet," as it were, and really be that party of change.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 13:36:07

I think Labour can only tinker with change - that is real politik. They have no alternative if they want to win power. Miliband was very good on the Andrew Marr Show and said he would take on vested interests and split up retail and casino banks. He said he would stand up and do what is right for the country. It was a fine show, and let's hope it is for real. But if he intends to do that, he will face huge opposition from the elite and the powerful. The press will turn against him and having the public on his side won't be enough. There is such a thing as real politik, which is why everybody cosied up to Murdoch.

Labour can adopt the rhetoric of Red Robbo if it wants, but that will consign it to the dustbin of history, because the elite will mass against it. So Labour has to accept the Faustian pact and only tinker with change if it wants to get into power at all.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Oct-12 14:21:53

"I also think it is eaiser for the parties that support the "status quo" (ie poor people should be poor, rich should be rich, benefits scroungers and illegal immigrants are ruining your country attitudes) to do such leading because it is what people have naturally been led to expect for a very long time"

I don't think the popluation has been naturally led to expect the status quo at all, far from it. Everyone wants to feel better off or that their opportunities or their children's opportunities have expanded. Wasn't the Labour Party anthem in 97 'Things Can Only Get Better'? They promised to change the status quo at the time and one reason they were booted in 2010 is that they changed it for too many of the wrong people. Eliminating child poverty being a case in point.... lots of very bad unintended consequences to that one. There is certainly a healthy realism in the electorate and I think we're no longer so naive as to think politicians can wave wands and make lives better. The party that will be most successful will be the one that gives us the full story, treats the electorate like adults & stops promising quick fixes.

Orwellian Tue 02-Oct-12 14:31:05

Apparently Labour's plans, should they be elected, include raising income tax and cutting VAT. Effectively penalising those that work so that those that don't work have less tax burden (VAT is paid by all, not just those that work, whereas income tax is only paid on a salary).

Typical Labour, raise taxes and spend, spend, spend (other peoples money).

ElBurroSinNombre Tue 02-Oct-12 16:03:33

Just listened to most of Miliband's speech - only heard one policy in 30 mins - to separate venture capital banking from high street banking. He will have to do a lot better than that. Does Ed really think that he deserves to be elected just because he went to a comprehensive school?- seemingly the message of his address. That is not very different to Cameron et al. who Ed criticised because they think that they were 'born to rule'.

niceguy2 Tue 02-Oct-12 16:09:14

And the only reason he's suggested the split is because banker's are still about as popular as a fart in a lift. Therefore banker bashing is still considered to be a safe bet and unlikely to lose any real votes.

What you won't hear him say clearly is under any future Labour government they will have to implement further draconian budget cuts.

The scary thing is the other Ed's idea that he will use the proceeds of the 4G spectrum sale and instead of paying our debts off, spend it instead. What that tells me is that Labour are still the spend spend spend government we kicked out and clearly don't get it.

ElBurroSinNombre Tue 02-Oct-12 16:47:32

Yes can't believe that the other 'big idea' announced by Balls was to have a stamp duty holiday - as if that will help anyone apart from a few lucky home owners!

I was interested by an article by Frank Field in this month's Prospect - the basic idea was to link benefit payments to contributions made by the claimant. I would be much more excited by something like this - and it would have a popular appeal.

breadandbutterfly Tue 02-Oct-12 17:04:17

I think the Labour policy to build more affordable housing could be a big vote winner if done correctly - the high cost of housing is a big issue and getting bigger every year that passes - any govt with the courage to deal with this will be on to a winner.

I think Balls is absolutely right that what is needed is to put money into the real economy by investing in building, providing jobs and homes BUT the focus should be on council homes and 100,000 is a drop in the ocean. still, a step in the right direction.

breadandbutterfly Tue 02-Oct-12 17:06:16

As someone who teaches young people due to vote for the vote for the first time at the next election, don't underestimate their lack of knowledge and political involvement; they could tell you all about the latest reality show stars but know nothing about politics or economics - bread amd circuses indeed.

claig - afraid you over-estimate today's youth at least.

breadandbutterfly Tue 02-Oct-12 17:08:35

niceguy - Osborne's draconian cuts have worked so well, haven't they? hmm

Clearly what is needed are more draconian cuts...

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Oct-12 17:19:30

Back in 2002 Prescott promised hundreds of thousands of new homes. They never happened and that was in a boom period. Why have any more faith that this promise isn't just as empty.

Totally agree with breadandbutterfly & Rosa - people lack the intellectual skills to question what they are told and young people have no interest whatsoever in politics and economics is only taught as an optional subject, increasingly at A level. Economics and Politics should, in my totally unbiased opinion as a teacher of G&P and Econ wink, be compulsory in secondary education rather than being taught as part of PSHE.

Sorry, that made no sense. It should say: Economics is taught as an optional subject, increasingly only at A level. Economics and Politics should, in my totally unbiased opinion as a teacher of G&P and Econ, be compulsory in secondary education rather than being taught as part of PSHE.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 22:28:23

'Totally agree with breadandbutterfly & Rosa - people lack the intellectual skills to question what they are told'

Mamma, a lot of people say that, but if that is the case, then how can you explain that despite all of the BBC programmes and newspaper articles on global warming and saving the planet and all the warnings that there are only 50 days left to save the planet and that we have passed the tipping point, that the majority of the public don't believe a word of what they have been fed?

I believe, like Orwell, that hopes lies with the proles.

marshmallowpies Tue 02-Oct-12 22:39:54

claig on the climate change issue, unfortunately I think the public don't want to believe what they've been told. The concepts are so abstract and seemed so far into the future, people didn't see what it had to do with them in the here and now. Suddenly it has all become a lot more NOW and urgent and still the attitude seems to be 'heads in the sand'.

I genuinely don't understand why it's not being taken more seriously. The travails of the Labour party are pretty small beer in comparison.

niceguy2 Tue 02-Oct-12 22:46:50

niceguy - Osborne's draconian cuts have worked so well, haven't they?

Well they've only really scratched the surface of what's needed to balance the budget. In reality the level of cuts made haven't been as deep as the Tories would have liked and in fact are about as much as Gordon Brown & Darling pledged they'd make if they got back into power.

So draconian...maybe to you. Necessary, yes. Enough? Unfortunately not. We've another five years of spending cuts to look forward to.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 22:51:10

marsh, the proles didn't believe Big Brother either in 1984, and they were right. The public have an inner sense, that is the great thing about democracy, the elites have to give the proles a vote and the proles are usually right in their choices, which sometimes annoys the elites, as they find it difficult to get their way. Then the elites increase the spin, they warn of tipping points that will destroy the planet, but that's when the proles know that they are right because as young children they learnt the story of the boy who cried polar bear.

marshmallowpies Tue 02-Oct-12 23:12:34

claig, sorry, I don't agree. It's not about the proles vs the elite, it's about humanity and the very real possibility we might be on the verge of runaway climate change.

If there is an elite in this scenario, it's the oil industry. They are the group with a vested interest in the continuing exploitation of fossil fuels.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 23:19:50

marsh, the spin doctors for the elites told us of the "45 minute dossier" and no one except the MPs who voted believed it, then the spin doctors of the elites told us that we had "50 days to save the planet" and no one but the MPs and TV bosses and newspaper editors and government funded scientists believed them. There was no panic in the public about both claims; the only panic was from the spin doctors when they saw that their spin wasn't working.

marshmallowpies Tue 02-Oct-12 23:32:06

claig the two things really can't be compared. The 45 minute dossier was fudged by spin doctors and politicians who wanted to justify their decision to go to war. The information was shoddy to begin with and on top of that was twisted to suit their own ends.

Climate scientists on the other hand have a vast amount of data and years of analysis - and a pretty clear consensus across academia about what is going on. Unless you think the NASA satellite pictures of the Greenland ice cap melting were faked?

In any case, politicians the world over are pretty much ignoring climate change so it's hardly top of the 'elite's' agenda. Politicians are in thrall to fossil fuels and the oil industry, and climate scientists are the outsiders here.

I don't blame people for ignoring the news - we all like getting on planes and driving cars - but the latest news about the arctic ice cap melt has terrified me. And it terrifies me that the rest of the world is ignoring it.

Sorry for derailing thread. Going to bed now.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 23:39:53

'In any case, politicians the world over are pretty much ignoring climate change so it's hardly top of the 'elite's' agenda.'

It's because the public haven't fallen for it. Even the elite won't continue flogging a dead horse. Climategate was only the beginning of the end.

Good night.

marshmallowpies Tue 02-Oct-12 23:45:17

I'm the public. I believe it. So do my parents. So do many of my friends. Please don't assume everyone agrees with you. Some of us think differently and we are the public too.

claig Tue 02-Oct-12 23:49:06

When I say the public, I mean the majority. Obviously Gordon Brown and the spin doctors believe it, but as the New Statesman said, the majority of the public don't.

MiniTheMinx Thu 04-Oct-12 18:34:17

I'm with breadandbutterfly & Rosa in terms of postulating that people on the whole lack critical thinking skills. Should Politics and economics be taught in schools....possibly but how could we ever be sure it was being taught without bias. Economics is taught in universities but the prevailing emphasis is on the defence of capitalism.

I also think post modernism, multi culturalism and liberalism in general has split people into smaller and smaller groups with an emphasis on identity politics, so that people of colour, LGBT, feminists white working class, middle class.....all feel that their "oppression" or experience under a political system is unique and specific to them. That suits the elite because it is increasingly difficult to organise on the left.

MiniTheMinx Thu 04-Oct-12 19:21:01

Here is a perfect example of how "education" is used as a cover for propaganda, which is why I would be very cautious about introducing either into the curriculum.

"One of the most striking findings of the Demos survey was that 18-24-year-olds were one of the most likely age groups to call for government controls on how benefits are spent" www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19792066

Mini we have to teach Government & Politics in an entirely objective way. Economics students do have to look at the failings of markets as part of the GCSE and A level courses. These are such important subjects - they shouldn't just be left as options in some schools.

notenoughsocks Thu 04-Oct-12 20:41:05

I really hope this will change. I actually think the personal statements which was publicised a while back will help on this. It's hard for us to understand when we hear £1 billion here, £500billion there. But if we each get a statement that says "You paid £1000 in tax. £300 went on welfare, £100 went on defence...." and so on that it will put things into perspective for people and make people suddenly realise how their money is being spent

I worry about this since it appears to me to be open to quite a lot manipulatin in terms of presentation. To take the example you have given.
You might say £300 on 'Welfare'. Or you might say '£x on pensions and pension credits, £x on benefits for the unemployed, £x on benefits for low paid workers, £x for the disabled etc.' One heading invites the thought 'Scroungers' The other invites more constructive conversation. Where would you cut? How much?

To take the defence example, you might lump it all togther under 'Defence'. Or you might subdivided this into 'armed forces pay', 'nuclear defence' etc. (I know almost nothing of defence spending'.

Anyhow, what I am trying to say is that unless the set up was agreed by all Parties, the proposal worries me. It could so easily end up as cyncial spin disguised as transparency.

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 20:48:40

They don't want you to do real critical thinking, they want to do your thinking for you.

Mini thinks that there is a bias to teaching capitalism etc., but most of teh revered professors and historians and thinkers are leftwingers, not rightwingers. Your Sartres, your de Beauvoirs, your Hobsbawms etc. etc. are leftwing and some are Marxists. The much acclaimed Michael Moores etc. are leftwing. There are very few rightwing thinkers who get the same publicity or access on the BBC or in the LSE as the leftwing thinkers.

Real critical thinking would require you to hear both points of view, to debate both sides and then to make up your mind.

Stewart Dimmock, a lorry (HGV) driver and school governor from Kent, was a real critical thinker, but you have probably never heard of him, the BBC probably didn't give him much TV access.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimmock_v_Secretary_of_State_for_Education_and_Skills

What they call critical thinking is leftwing thinking. Even though the majority of teh population don't believe in global warming, the BBC don't give equal access to sceptics who use critical thinking compared to scientists who make films of the polar bear.

Real critical thinking involves open debate of both sides of the coin, but the non-critical thinkers don't want you to hear the other side, because then they will lose their power to frame the debate.

'Introduced by State GOP Senator Josh Brecheen, SB 1742 would force the state board of education to assist school staffs in promoting “critical thinking, logical analysis, open and objective discussion of scientific theories including, but not limited to, evolution, the origin of life, global warming, and human cloning” and says that teachers “may use supplemental textbooks and instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner.'

www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/22/oklahoma-gop-introduces-bill-that-attacks-evolution-and-climate-change/

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 20:54:35

Correction. There are rightwing thinkers and many write for the Daily Mail - Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens etc., but they often attract abuse from the "critical thinkers".

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 21:09:32

The image our media gave us of Mitt Romney was of a gaffe-prone politician. They had most of us believing it. But if you watched the Presidential Debate, you will have seen that he was a master of critical thinking and nearly all pundits have said that he won the first debate. The picture our "critical thinking" media painted of him, was false. They didn't want you toi see the other side, but they couldn't hide it, because the debate was broadcast to 60 million viewers.

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 21:12:09

Real critical thinking would require you to question the bias in our media, would require you to spot the spin, to question why they do it.

rosabud Thu 04-Oct-12 21:23:35

No critical thinking is not leftwing thinking. Critical or analytical thinking is a skill which involves being able to look at information and consider it from many different angles including its context, or the way it is presented etc For example you can critically analsye a novel or a film or a picture without necessarily thinking of it in a right wing or in a left wing way. It is one of the higher order thinking skills and it's something which a lot of people simply cannot do. I think that is because they have not been taught to do it and also because they are not expected to do it in their daily lives. The reasons for this are a whole new debate of which one argument is, "they (presumably you mean the authoritites and the government) do not want people to think for themseives, they want to do your thinking for you." Possibly. Personally I would partly agree with this, but I also think there are many other factors including the overlaod of information which people are subjected to and which discourages them from thinking for themselves. For example if you watch a popular TV show like X Factor, it is very tailored to directing the thoughts and emotions of the audience to one particular outcome rather than encouraging individual thought or judgement. Of course, this makes the show hugely entertaining but it actively discourages the kind of critical/ analytical thinking that being able to make discernible judgements about politics requires. And much of our popular culture is currently structured this way .

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 21:35:37

I agree. We all know that the media is powerful and influences opinion. They sold us their story about Mitt Romney and I fell for it too. When I actually watched the debate, I was staggered at how good a thinker, speaker and communicator he actually was. I watched Fox News analysis, and they were obviously hyping up how well TRomney had done, but they were also right, it was true. Our "critical thinkers" will tell us that everything Fox says is rubbish, just because it is Fox, but that is a lie.

To think critically, people need to be educated well, and to be exposed to two sides and to be used to seeing issues from someone else's shoes. "They" don't want you to question their key political views such as global warming, because then they would not be able to pull the wool over your eyes.

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 21:44:54

Some people knew about MPs' expenses, but they sat on it for years; some people knew about Hillsborough, but they sat on it for years; some people knew about Savile, but they sat on it for years. They didn't want you to think critcally and question the image they sold.

MiniTheMinx Thu 04-Oct-12 21:52:25

perhaps revered is key to this?

but most of teh revered professors and historians and thinkers are leftwingers grin but why?

I think our culture prevents critical thinking in lots of ways and would include
consumerism and instant gratification. Over time we have become units of production and consumerism and not much more. People are too busy, too distracted, too introverted and people value themselves and others purely as economic units where a persons value and status is attributed by wealth alone.

I agree with Rosabud and would add that the situation suits those elites, if the "middle" classes were to acquire critical thinking skills the first thing they might discern is that they are working class!

claig Thu 04-Oct-12 22:06:34

'but why?'

smile. It is because that is what the elite, and the media that they control, want you to believe, just as they want to to believe in global warming. They want to influence your thinking, to lead you down the path that they have planned for you.

' Over time we have become units of production and consumerism and not much more.'
Agree, this is the atomisation of society, in order to lead you more easily.

'if the "middle" classes were to acquire critical thinking'
But the middle class in great numbers read the Daily Mail - it don't get much more critical than that! That's why the 'critical thinkers' and their TV channel bosses give those good people so much abuse!

MiniTheMinx Thu 04-Oct-12 22:18:48

grin that's why my father's brain is so addled critical, he reads the mail.

I agree that some of our most eminent thinkers have been left wing but economics at the LSE has been very much influenced by free market rhetoric for a long time. I think marxist economics is gathering more favour now but in recent years it has been considered dated and to have been "proven" wrong. So whilst marx might be covered in the sense of this is what Dialectical materialism is, students will not have been invited to use this method to analyse changes in the markets or the business cycle. There is a huge difference between getting a potted history of some theory and actually being granted time to fully study it and apply it.

ttosca Mon 08-Oct-12 18:13:12

Poor claig.

claig Mon 08-Oct-12 23:34:34

Patronising ttosca

ttosca Tue 09-Oct-12 12:48:53

When you're bigging up Fox news, you're truly beyond help, claig.

If you were in the USA, you'd be a tea-party member: ignorant, frightened, populist and reactionary. You think you're sticking up for 'the little man' against 'the elite', but instead you're just a tool for wealthy and powerful who laugh at you behind your back and hold you in contempt.

claig Tue 09-Oct-12 19:03:27

ttosca, you should watch Fox News to broaden your political horizons and listen to views that may challenge your entrenched position.

Isn't Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, a Tea Party darling? Let's see how he does in the debate against Biden.

I am a Daily Mail reader, we are tools for no one except the people. Many of us do not believe the wealthy and powerful when they tell us that we have only 50 days left to save the planet. The real wealthy elite probably laugh at tools who believe it.

ttosca Wed 10-Oct-12 15:36:01

Sad.

claig Wed 10-Oct-12 16:02:52

I suspected you were

ivanhoe Mon 22-Oct-12 20:38:08

The traditional Labour party was forced to ditch it's core values to get elected 1997, because the new middle classes ditched Labour through the 80's and 90's and jumped on Thatcher's right wing free market.

Those among the middle classes moaning now about child benefit cuts, are the initiators of their own displeasure.

If only they could see it.???????????

ivanhoe Mon 22-Oct-12 20:40:20

The Daily Mail, The Sun, right wing propogandist garbage.

ivanhoe Mon 22-Oct-12 20:43:02

Brilliant. I would add that the greed, selfishness, and introspection of Britain's middle class Tory voters really makes me puke.

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