Seumas Milne over at the Guardian writes a great piece on Michael Foot, the very recently deceased former leader of the UK Labour party. We can still use Labour Party in the correct context, New Labour are not the Labour Party – nor ever will be.
You do get, as is normal, the anti-socialist clique on the comments raring to have a go at what they perceive as left-wing, socialist, Marxist pariahs, anything left of Thatcher to be honest.
And that is what inspired me to write this blog post. First, as one of the commenter’s repeated “And don’t forget it was Gerald Kaufman who described the 1983 manifesto as “the longest suicide note in history“.”
There lies the question, was it – no really? Was it?
With spin and history it would seem so. Many still refer to that defeat as such because, obviously, they haven’t been into the archives and looked at what Foot proposed – simply relying on what is written – that in this day and age of the intertubes.
I went to see if I could find a copy, and of course, did. I read it, all of it – though the younger members, and no so younger members of the generations would type TL;TR or some other infuriating gibberish, which I must admit most of the time I don’t understand, let’s look at some of the proposals of that manifesto that was, according to Kaufman, utter suicide.
* Launch a massive programme for expansion.We will:
o Provide a major increase in public investment, including transport, housing and energy conservation.
o Begin a huge programme of construction, so that we can start to build our way out of the slump.
o Halt the destruction of our social services and begin to rebuild them, by providing a substantial increase in resources.
o Increase investment in industry, especially in new technology – with public enterprise taking the lead. And we will steer new industry and jobs to the regions and the inner cities.
Encourage and assist local authorities to begin a massive programme of house-building and improvement, through an immediate 50 per cent increase in their housing investment programmes. Priority will go to the urgent repair and replacement of run-down estates. We will freeze all rents for the first full year.
# Give more help to public transport, with funds to improve services, keep down fares, and increase investment – especially in rail electrification and better freight facilities. Councils will be given new powers to support local services.
# Act to improve the environment and deal with pollution – including a ban on lead in petrol. An urgent start will be made on improving our inner cities, including action on derelict land and buildings.
Give a new priority to open government at local and national levels, and give local communities greater freedom to manage their own affairs. We will also introduce an early Bill to abolish the legislative powers of the House of Lords.
The bold is part of Dave Cameron’s Tory policy for the next election.
Part of the education program:
* Guarantee adequate funding for higher education, the research councils and government research establishments.
* Use the National Investment Bank to channel funds from the financial institutions into long-term investment in new technology.
* Work together with trade unions to plan an expansion of new technology, in particular using it to aid a product-based recovery of the economy. New technology agreements, for proper safeguards and retraining for the work-force, will be extended.
* Strengthen the links between research by higher education and industry to help greater industrial innovation.
* Increase technological literacy in schools and give boys and girls equal opportunities to study science and technology.
* Promote the supply of engineers and technicians, including women, to meet the needs of industry and the community.
* Ensure that research and development are directed towards society’s needs, with a reduction in the present high proportion of defence research.
* Promote the development and use of new information and communication services to support a wider democracy.
* Establish a National Investment Bank to put new resources from private institutions and from the government – including North Sea oil revenues – on a large scale into our industrial priorities. The bank will attract and channel savings, by agreement, in a way that guarantees these savings and improves the quality of investment in the UK.
* Exercise, through the Bank of England, much closer direct control over bank lending. Agreed development plans will be concluded with the banks and other financial institutions.
* Create a public bank operating through post offices, by merging the National Girobank, National Savings Bank and the Paymaster General’s Office.
* Set up a Securities Commission to regulate the institutions and markets of the City, including Lloyds, within a clear statutory framework.
* Introduce a new Pension Schemes Act to strengthen members’ rights in occupational pension schemes, clarify the role of trustees, and give members a right to equal representation, through their trade unions, on controlling bodies of the schemes.
* Set up a tripartite investment monitoring agency to advise trustees and encourage improvements in investment practices and strategies.
We expect the major clearing banks to co operate with us fully on these reforms, in the national interest. However, should they fail to do so, we shall stand ready to take one or more of them into public ownership. This will not in any way affect the integrity of customers’ deposits.
Employment and training:
* Introduce a new statutory framework, linking adult training with initial training. This will also place a statutory duty on employers to carry out training and establish joint workplace training committees. Adequate funds will be provided jointly by industry and government.
* Give the Manpower Services Commission the authority and resources it needs to do the job. The commission will develop its regional and local structures, advise companies on their plans for manpower, and get advance notice of redundancies.
* Ensure that the MSC develops a national job centre network and reverses the cutbacks in occupational guidance and help for disadvantaged job seekers. We will take urgent steps to abolish private employment agencies.
Working time in Britain, over the life time of individual workers, is among the highest in industrial countries. We will work through collective bargaining to reduce working time; and this will include more flexible working arrangements, more time off for study, longer holidays, earlier voluntary retirement with adequate pensions – with progress towards our aim of a common pension age of 60 – and a 35 hour week.
Law and Order:
We intend to protect the rights of individual suspects, while providing the police with sufficient powers to do their job effectively whilst not infringing the civil rights of individual suspects. We aim to create elected police authorities in all parts of the country, including London, with statutory responsibility for the determination of police policy within their areas. We will also:
* Launch a major initiative to help victims, including extending and simplifying the present Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
* Give priority to crime prevention as part of our action programme for run down estates.
* Bring about better co-ordination in the technical, support and information services of the police.
* Replace the present police complaints procedure with an independent system accountable to local communities, with minority police representation.
* Create community police councils to provide an opportunity for open discussion between police and the community as to the quality and manner of police provision.
* Introduce strict limits on searches of people in the street, searches of premises, the use of the power of arrest, and on the time a prisoner can be held in custody before being charged.
* Protect the rights of those in police custody, by giving revised Judges Rules, which safeguard those under arrest or interrogation, the force of law and, in England and Wales, take the role of prosecutor away from the police by implementing a public prosecutor system, on the Procurator Fiscal model.
* Repeal the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, because it infringes the rights and freedoms of individuals.
* Disband the London Special Patrol Groups and local SPGs, which have increasingly been deployed in aggressive public order roles.
* Setting up a launch fund to assist new publications.
* Ensuring that all major wholesalers accept any lawful publication, and arrange for its proper supply and display, subject to a handling charge.
* Preventing acquisition of further newspapers by large press chains.
* Protecting freedom of expression by prohibiting joint control of the press, commercial radio and television.
* Breaking up major concentrations of press ownership, by setting an upper limit for the number of major publications in the hands of a single proprietor or press group.
* Replacing the Press Council with a stronger, more representative body.
Now that isn’t all of the manifesto, there are some part that I wholly disagree with – but I do so with hindsight. Yet if we look at those proposals and add them to a manifesto of today there are many, many people out there who would jump at the chance of voting on them – for whichever party who should bring them forward.
What is in that manifesto is the unilateral disarmament that is still debated today. That is one of the aspects that would be contentious because, still, a majority of the British electorate want to keep ‘the bomb’.
Using the term ‘longest suicide note in history’ come down to a simple and plain fact. The right in the Labour party were mustering their ranks even then. In doing so they left the UK to the policies of Thatcher up to, and including, today. Michael, as many of us know, didn’t ‘look’ the part, and as has been proven, looking the part is more acceptable now than being a politician who can do his/her job for the benefit of the people – look where that has got us. Blair, Purnell, Mandleson, Cameron, Hague, Osbourne …
We no longer have brave politicians of the like, Michael Foot – I suppose because of the fickle UK public they will never appear again – I hope they do, for it will be those with a vision that will bring the UK back from this horrible abyss. Certainly not your air-brushed, spin-induced, newspaper friendly automatons we have today.
But that is up to the voters, the electorate, it is they who need to be brave enough to see though the crap they are being force fed.
Will they? Well, we will have to wait and see.