Saturday, April 17, 2010

Labour's 'preferential option' for the poor.

Gordon Brown is right to portray the modern Tory party as right wing wolves in sheep's clothing. David Cameron has succeeded in modernising his party - back to the age of Thatcher. Since the advent of new Labour taking sides has been a rather unfashionable political stance. For many people the past few years has seen Labour, as a party of principle, disappearing into the soggy centre ground. Labour ministers have become administrators and technocrats - competent but uninspiring. In the next few weeks Labour needs to set out some of the key themes that a fourth term Labour government would set as priorities. I believe that one of those themes should be about the need for Labour to make a preferential option for the poor.

In today's modern world 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. Gordon Brown is well placed both at home and internationally to advance a new politics of liberation, a politics that offers hope. This is 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, time for Labour to make a preferential option for the poor. It is time to take sides and end the political cross-dressing of the 1990s.

Labour campaign leaders need to use the last few weeks to articulate who we are as a party, who we were historically and what we want to become in the future. In doing so we should make clear that we can abandon certain parts of the middle ground and win but we can never, ever abandon the poor.

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