Saturday, January 07, 2017

Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Owen Jones highlights the need for social democratic parties to present a real popular alternative to neoliberal government, and offers his suggestions as to how UK Labour can accomplish that:
Political leadership means saying, here’s what’s wrong with society, here’s what our vision of what society is instead, here’s how we get there. It means hammering at key messages ad infinitum, backed up with policies that are indicative of where the party is coming from. It means speaking in an everyday language that resonates beyond politicos, and having lots to say to the average Briton who is neither poor nor well-off. This has been lacking, and Labour often seems missing from political debate, although some relatively recent appointees (such as Corbyn’s press officer, Matt Zarb-Cousin, and his colleague James Schneider) are determined to change that. Research suggests that voters don’t think Labour is too leftwing, whatever the Labour right argue; they just don’t know what the party stands for. And if you don’t define yourself, you will be defined – mercilessly – by your opponents. Yes, we have a viciously rightwing media, but they are not going to vanish: there just needs to be a sophisticated strategy to deal with them.

In today’s fraught political climate, there are some who respond that this critique is only offered because I’m a careerist, secretly rightwing, motivated by money, or part of a Guardian conspiracy against the Labour leadership. In truth, it’s because I want a genuinely radical Labour leadership to succeed: one that invests, rather than cuts; that forces the rich to pay a fair share of tax; that gives workers rights, security, and dignity; that confronts climate change, and treats it as an opportunity to promote the industries and jobs of the future; that brings our services under the ownership of the people of this country; that stops forcing young people to suffer the brunt of a crisis they had nothing to do with; that makes high-quality, affordable housing a basic right for every citizen.
- Meanwhile, Alan Draper notes that one cause of the rise of the populist right is decreased union influence - not just in the workplace, but also in defining political values. And Christo Aivalis' predictions for Canada's left in 2017 include the hope and expectation that we'll see better-organized social movements.  

- Daniel Bernmar discusses Sweden's successful trial of a six-hour work day - as better working conditions led to improved outcomes for workers and the people they assist alike. 

- The Globe and Mail rightly questions why the Libs are planning to spend half a billion dollars on national self-congratulation - though the choice is especially glaring given that Trudeau and company are simultaneously complaining they don't have a dime to put toward fairness for First Nations children.

- Finally, Tom Graham reminds us that the source of Saskatchewan's budget deficit is the Wall government - not the workers the Saskatchewan Party wants to stick with the bill.

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