Miliband is not yet the man to build the ‘good society’

7 January 2011

1:45 PM

7 January 2011

1:45 PM

Neal Lawson¹s Comment is Free blog-post/essay/manifesto on the ‘good society‘ is causing a flurry of interest in Labour circles. The head of Labour leftish pressure group
Compass has been banging on about this for four years now. Borrowed ultimately from Aristotle, this re-heated utopianism is a tempting route for post-socialists tired of the compromises of the
Blair years.

Neal Lawson is a passionate man, who can claim with some justification to have been developing Labour¹s version of the ‘big society’ for some time.


Here is Neal at his emotional, tub-thumping best:

‘To take back some semblance of control, we can’t start from a position of trying to humanise a turbo-consumer society whose every premise, process and principle is about not being human.
What place can there be for people if what matters most is profit? What hope is there for compassion in a world of endless competition? When the rewards of those at the top crush every hope
beneath them, and the ruthless logic of the market tramples all over our planet, how can we hope to find any meaningful sense of control and therefore freedom in our lives?’

As Neal points out, Ed Miliband has started talking about the ‘good society’ too. Indeed, this is the nearest the Labour leader has come so far to a big idea. But therein lies Labour¹s

This should be inspiring. But why is that when I see the headline on the Guardian piece: ‘Ed Miliband can help us believe in a better world again,’ I find it hard not stifle a snigger.

I have always applauded Neal Lawson¹s attempts to move the debate in the Labour Party back towards questions of principle. But Ed Miliband has yet to prove he is the man to lead that drive.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice view.

  • raymond jones

    look at the unspoken hidden agenda to see the size of the problems of the big create a nation of happy slaves 2.To rid the world of religion.3 to brainwash the people into being happy in their sins Thats why human rights are going that way, turning right to wrong and vise versa.Its a difficult job for a party that has brainwashed itself,when people dont want to follow these communist Anti GODS

  • Patricia Shaw

    One big idea might be to recognise Plan B, a jewish intellectual recognising a Palestinian State would do more for common sense and win over more friends than any mockery of cameronesque populism ever could.

  • John.

    As for the extreme dangers of left-wing utopianism, read Peter Hitchens’ damning criticism in his “The Rage Against God”.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    “Ed Miliband must define what it means to be human”

    It would be nice to get an outsider’s view.

  • Martin

    “Neal Lawson

  • Archibald

    Apologies for a third comment, but having negotiated the broken link, I’ve just read the piece in full, this is my final word.

    Following a… ahem… rather grandiose sub-header that manages to be depressing and farcical in one fell swoop – “For most of us life is relentlessly anxious, stressful and exhausting. Ed Miliband must define what it means to be human” – we’re treated to a text so bland and uninspiring that you really do get a feel for what state-sponsored enjoyment of life would be like.

    I think your man from Compass really needs to find a new path to follow, rather than regurgitating the same old tripe. Although, to be fair to Neal, he must be living in his own personal utopia given that he continues to get paid for such bile.

  • Archibald

    I have a suggestion for Neal. He should pop out and buy himself a copy of ‘Small Giants: Businesses That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big’ and then suggest to Mili-bland that some slightly revised and repackaged version of this becomes official Labour business policy. Think of it as my New Year gift to ‘Help the Hopeless’. It’s a rather good and often inspiring read, too, for anyone actually trying to create jobs, rather than just hot air.

  • Edward McLaughlin

    Too right Mr Neal: we do need to take back some semblance of control. Border control.

  • ollie

    If the Labour party is not for the expansion of the state over the individual, then what else is its purpose?

    If Labour get back into power, they will revert to the tax and spend maniacs they have always been, and will always be. They have no big idea – and never have had. No, I tell a lie – their big idea reads something like this – “Second best coming first”.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    And what’s more, you never did tell us the result of all that ‘whither the left’ thinking you did in the summer. Is this the outcome of it? If so, your time might have been better employed. Does Mr Lawson represent your own thinking? Do you not see it as an incoherent mess? If there is substance in it, please explain it better, I’m only a poor Oxfordshire housewife, I did not suck in fabian rubbish at my mother’s bosom.

  • Archibald

    If THAT steaming pile of horse crap is Neal at his best, he would do well to sit down and shut up.
    Who is it that runs businesses, is it some sort of bogey man who eats small children? No, it’s people. People like you and me, who have families, friends and want to succeed. Is it not the case that pretty much every big company and many small ones actively support ‘environmental’ and other causes and attempt to foster links in the community they are based? Is it not the case with any truly successful business that they treat staff well and attempt to deliver the best service, the best product, the best customer experience? Do you know any big company that doesn’t have a CSR function, or that doesn’t get involved in fund raising or all manner of community projects? Meanwhile, many larger companies are going out of their way, certainly in the service sector, to attempt to recreate the personal experience you can only really get with a small company. It’s precisely by not trampling all over staff and excelling in how they treat customers that many large companies see as the way to make it. Now I’m not suggesting that everything is perfect by any stretch, but I’ve never read such utter drivel in a long, long time.

  • In2minds

    “Miliband is not yet the man to build the good society” – I’d be amazed if he could do Lego, let alone anything else.

  • Ron Todd

    We know best so we will tell you all how to live yoyr life.

    Consuming does not make me less human. Is it not the desire to have more and do more that has taken us from the cave to space.

    Give us more freedom and we might not always use that freedom in a way that our political masterd like give them more control and we can be sure that they will use it in ways that benefits them not ways that benefit us.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    So what’s bothering you is a shortage of naive claptrap like the rant which you quote?

    ‘Control and therefore freedom’. Sums it all up really.