Today we heard from the Labour leader.
I find so little to celebrate in what he said, or the way he said it (so said the Guardian– “Miliband’s pedestrian, drooping delivery did no justice to the ambition of his argument.”)
In saying this, I feel sad. Sad that once again I am writing out of negativity not from a position of hope. Sad too that the party I have roughly aligned myself with all my life appears so bereft of ideas.
A swipe at the Tories, the bankers and Southern Cross care homes- then a strange promise that people who work hard or volunteer will get preferential allocation of social housing. (Sounds a bit like ‘the deserving poor’ to me.) But at least ‘I am not Tony Blair (awkward pause…..)
I have been asking myself what is missing- and I think it is this- a visible value base that comes from a passion that is not merely manufactured, or self consciously media friendly.
I have also been thinking a lot about just how bankrupt our political/economic system seems to have become. When did commerce become capitalism, and when did capitalism become turbo-capitalism? How did the survival of our affluent way of life come to require the addiction of a whole nation to the accumulation of ever more stuff that we do not need?
And perhaps the most important question; what might be an alternative way of ordering our collective economy?
Ed Milliband’s father, the late great Ralph Miliband, was a Marxist Sociologist whose writing was an essential part of my student days. For a while, my hope was for an egalitarian socialism to take gentle hold in our country- mixed in the very British way of changing slowly whilst still holding on to idiosyncratic anachronisms- because it is better to accommodate and compromise rather than to revolt and overthrow…
But it seems that at least for now, ‘Free Market’ Capitalism has cleared the playing field of all opposition. The Berlin wall has been reduced to the dust of folk memory.
And in the middle of all this economic mess, Capitalism (despite being the cause of so much difficulty) continues to present itself as the solution.
I am no longer a political ideologue. All of that was killed by Blair and middle age. But still, where are the critical voices? Where are those who bring hope for change- for better ways of living that are not geared towards entrenching the global inequalities that condemn the poor south to be one large sweatshop for our supermarkets and high streets?
Do we need more riots? More kids in hoodies running away with box-fresh trainers and security tagged x-boxes?
As someone who tries to follow Jesus, I am ever more conscious of the way he had of standing as a faithful, hopeful, critic of the way we live. This is not the same thing as condemning and rejecting- rather it might mean that we should seek to participate, whilst at the same time hoping for better.
Hoping for voices to be raised that offer an alternative- that start not from a position of protecting the status quo, but instead long for justice for the global poor, and a sustainable, honest and healthy way of life for the rest of us. Looking for love, Grace and beauty, then seeking to nurture it.
Little of which did I hear today in Milibands speech. But perhaps there is time yet…
Time for a song I think…