In this week's New Statesman Roy Hattersley writes that in recent years taking sides has been a rather unfashionable political stance. According to Roy:
'Taking sides has been politically unfashionable for years. Labour as a party of principle has disappeared into the soggy centre ground. No sane social democrat wants a lurch to the left. But the voters expect something better than a promise to revise refuse collection charges and the meaningless apologies that so excite weak-minded journalists.'
I think he has a point. If Brown were to make a preferential option for the poor - by the poor I mean financial, social and cultural poverty - would he really need to abandon the middle way?
In the modern world (including Britain) there is still an unjust distribution of goods and services whereby a relative minority of wealthy groups and ruling classes use their power and influence to perpetuate macro-economic and political structures which exploit the labour and lives of the vast majority of the planet’s population.
Brown is well placed both at home and internationally to advance a new politics of liberation, a politics that offers hope – not a jam tomorrow kind of hope, rather the hope that the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard described as the ‘passion for the possible.' Politics that seeks the liberation of people from poverty, injustice and persecution can be a powerful force for change.
At home and abroad perhaps it is time for Brown to be Brown and for Labour to make a preferential for the poor. Is it time for us all to get back to taking sides and end the political cross-dressing of the 1990s?