Sunday, October 01, 2017

"Solutions of Hard Left or Hard Right or of "Glorious Isolation" won't work in 2017.

It's 2017. Whatever policies any Government introduces have to reflect the realities of today. They did indeed do things differently in the foreign country that is the past. But to "return" to that past is not just impractical - it is as impossible as it is undesirable. That's why Brexit will eventually collapse - forced away by the sheer illogicality of trying to apply 1950s solutions to 21st Century realities. In an interdependent world you cannot retreat to the isolation of the past. In a post Imperial world you cannot go back to times when Britain ruled the Waves. And in a modern world of mixed economies and the advanced welfare state you cannot go back to the applied ideological socialism of Attlee let alone to some wistful Marxism.  Nor can the ideologies of laisser-faire be universally applied either. Thatcherism is just as impractical in 2017 as is the Clause Four socialism of the post war years.

The mixed economy which is the only game in town for a modern European state (and most others around the world)  has its flexibilities. Judgments need to be made about what the State does, and what is left to the private sector. And judgements need to be made about regulation and accountability as well. But the interdependence of nations requires that decision-making is substantially at a trans-national level. The co-operation that this requires brings ancillary benefits with it - "Jaw Jaw" means the avoidance of "War War" , a not inconsiderable advantage of partnership. And, yes, there is some surrendering of national sovereignty. But that has already happened to a significant degree with the growth of the multinational corporation and with the movement of manufacturing to the East. Decisions are made which fundamentally affect us in corporate boardrooms and in Beijing and Seoul and Manila and it is only in partnership at a European level that we have the power to influence these decisions. 

Finally the complexities of international finance also mean that neither neo-Marxism nor neo-Thatcherism is practical for Britain in 2017. The financial services sectors - especially banking in its various forms - are transnational and this cannot be rolled back, nor will it be. The Banks are not the pariahs that some on the Left say they are - but nor can they be allowed unregulated freedoms as the events of the global Financial crisis of ten years ago showed us. Again only with institutionalised cooperation and supervision can the finance sector be responsible to us all - no country is an island in this and it is preposterous to argue that a Britain alone would cope better than a Britain that continues to be part of the European Union.

The speakers at the rostrums of the Party conferences can continue to spout ideological "solutions" based on their favoured ideologies of Left and Right. They may relish the applause. But as Theresa May is finding, and as Jeremy Corbyn would soon find, reality kicks in. The slogan that actually means something is "Better Together" because in fact it is more than a slogan. It's a non-negotiable reality.