Friday, April 16, 2010
Back to the 70s? If only..............
This blog post also appears at the New Statesman.
Is Britain heading back to the toxic mix of politics and business seen in the 1970s?, asks Kamal Ahmed in the Daily Telegraph.
Not since the 1970s has there been such an "anti-business" mood in politics and among the general public. This is the first election since that blighted decade when talk of "fat cats" and "taxing wealth" are legitimate election issues. Some might say "What do you expect?", but I think we may come to regret an over-correction following the events of the autumn of 2008.
If only it was true that Britain was heading back to the 1970s!
If Ahmed was right, we’d expect to see at least one of our main parties advocate the extension of public ownership. Instead all three promise even more privatisation. We'd also expect to see calls for new Wealth Tax and for the top rate of tax to be far more than 50%.
Far from being a ‘blighted’ decade, the 70s marked the zenith of progressive politics, as I argued here.
Not only that but the decade gave us the best television comedies (think Dad’s Army, Fawlty Towers, The Good Life, Rising Damp and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin), the best tv drama (think Upstairs Downstairs, The Onedin Line, When the Boat Comes In, and Lillie), and the best football, (think Brazil in the 1970 World Cup, Holland in 1974 and Argentina in 1978).
It was a great decade and we even had the heroics of Red Rum too.
But neoliberals like Kamal Ahmed hate the 1970s because capital was not in complete control. Half the world had ditched capitalism all together, while most countries outside of the communist bloc operated a truly mixed economy, where the interests of ordinary people came before the interests of multinationals and Goldman Sachs.
The task facing true progressives today is not to turn the clock further forward, but to turn it back- to a decade when things were immeasurably better for the majority of people on the planet than they are today.