There was a time in British politics, in 1945 and even in the 1960s, where politics was blessed with people who were visionary. They did not look at the current system and think about managing it in the most effective way. They didn’t just bow to the wishes of an American President and the march to an ill conceived war.
Instead we had a political outlook that considered the longer term. We had politicians that were brave enough to look beyond their own terms in office or the next election result. We had politicians that were willing to argue, against the vested interests of media and the establishment, that change was essential. We had politicians of character that would not cave into pressure from powerful US Presidents.
What is so different about the modern era? Left of centre politics has become increasingly conservative, accepting free market capitalism as the only model, with mere tinkering with the proceeds of a system that rewards greed not altruism.
So today’s Spending Review has been a list of cuts from George Osbourne followed by a response from Ed Balls that is described by the Guardian as, “…punchy and fun. He avoided the specifics, but taunted Osborne over his failure to balance the budget according to the timetable he set.” There is no alternative, it seems, as both parties follow the legacy of Margaret Thatcher at a national level.
Now there are a lot of good Labour councillors (and a few MPs) who know this is wrong, who want their party to be braver, but they are a minority voice. They can take the hard road out of the Labour Party as Cllr Jake Morrison has done in Liverpool and I did myself back in 1998, or they can try and “change from within”.
We need a new generation of politicians with character. We have one or two in the Greens. At a national level Caroline Lucas MP continues to excel in her role as our first ever elected MP. Here in Liverpool, the principled and hardworking John Coyne and our leader Sarah Jennings consistently show leadership on issues like councillor expenses and council transparency.
I don’t think Labour nationally will ever regain the reputation it once had (as seen in the Spirit of ’45) but we do need a new movement for our times. We are not perfect, but the Green Party can offer that future vision with the kind of leadership Caroline, Sarah and John can offer.