John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for April, 2014

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A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens review

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Too many jobs are now temporary and insecure: a new class, the ‘precariat’ is growing. Guy Standing has responded with an inspiring vision of a Good Society

At the Labour conference of 2005, Tony Blair made one of his most fascinating speeches as party leader and prime minister: a tribute to the cleansing hurricane of globalisation, from a man who had seen the future, but worried that the people assembled in front of him were stuck in the past. "The character of this changing world is indifferent to tradition," he said. "Unforgiving of frailty. No respecter of past reputations. It has no custom and practice. It is replete with opportunities, but they only go to those swift to adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change."

Perhaps thanks to the far-left roots of some New Labour insiders, there were shades here of the Communist Manifesto, and Marx and Engels’s description of the bourgeoisie, which had "put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations", "pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors’  and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms set up that single, unconscionable freedom Free Trade." Even if Blair rejoiced in capitalism whereas Marx and Engels decried it, their analyses prompted similar questions. What is it to live in such a stripped-down, pitiless reality? And if some succeed in being swift to adapt and slow to complain, what lies behind their name badges and stick-on smiles?

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The Tories own the future the left is trapped in the past | John Harris

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Too many progressives remain wedded to nationalisation, the big state and jobs for life. If they can’t find a more modern vision the battle is lost

Let’s face it: increasingly it feels as if the Tories will win the next election, possibly outright. Yes, there remain serious obstacles to Conservative success. But look at recent polls. History apparently suggests that even a five-point deficit for any Tory government will translate into a seven-point lead by the time an election campaign reaches its climax and with the political dividend from economic recovery, not to mention the fact that coalition government has worked surprisingly well, they look like a wise bet.

Such stuff is probably best left to the psephologists. What underlines the sense that Tories are on an upswing is the fact that they, and the right more widely, have come up with a solid vision of the future, and may yet persuade a sufficient share of the public to buy in.

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The Tories own the future the left is trapped in the past

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Too many progressives remain wedded to nationalisation, the big state and jobs for life. If they can’t find a more modern vision the battle is lost

Let’s face it: increasingly it feels as if the Tories will win the next election, possibly outright. Yes, there remain serious obstacles to Conservative success. But look at recent polls. History apparently suggests that even a five-point deficit for any Tory government will translate into a seven-point lead by the time an election campaign reaches its climax and with the political dividend from economic recovery, not to mention the fact that coalition government has worked surprisingly well, they look like a wise bet.

Such stuff is probably best left to the psephologists. What underlines the sense that Tories are on an upswing is the fact that they, and the right more widely, have come up with a solid vision of the future, and may yet persuade a sufficient share of the public to buy in.

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