Remember “the mixed economy”? Is “the left” the new centre?

A comment on an Observer article:

“When I was a lad we had a thing called the “mixed economy”. Remember that, the “mixed economy”? It was a litmus test of political reasonableness – if you didn’t believe in the mixed economy you were a Communist, if you did you were a socialist (or else you might just be a Tory).

Even Hugh Gaitskell and Harold Wilson and Anthony Crosland and Denis Healey believed in the mixed economy.

The mixed economy was a safety net. If there was important stuff that the market economy couldn’t deliver, the public sector would do it. If some things seemed too important to be exposed to the risk of market failure, there could be public provision. If neither of those things applied the market could have it.

The Labour Party’s new slogan “No-one left behind” sums it up beautifully for me. We can’t control what the global economy may throw at us, but we can at least agree to stick together and pool our resources.

What we urgently need to face up to is that there IS no mixed economy any more, it is all market-driven. The idea that the government somehow controls it all is fraudulent.

WE don’t build houses, the private sector does, occasionally. Local councils used to have Direct Labour Organisations that actually built houses, but not any more. WE don’t generate electricity any more – we have a system for bribing the private sector to do it. Our water supplies are all controlled from abroad. Our schools system is being franchised out. We taught the world how to build railways, but now we don’t own ours. Accidentally we had to take part of the railway network back into public control, and the results were embarrassingly good.

Of course there are still islands of “backwardness” – the National Health Service, especially the NHS in Wales and Scotland. The BBC, bits of the Post Office. But they are being “modernised” and “streamlined” and “reformed”, don’t you worry. What the Tories can’t loot directly, they disrupt and undermine and demoralise.

So much has been taken away from us. Or … we have GIVEN so much away. Which way you choose to see that is really important – are we powerless or not?

So we cannot afford to let the party and the country move any further to the right, because they already moved too far to the right. If we move to the left we will still probably be to the right of where we used to be. Many people still remember what things used to be like in this country and are receptive to that type of argument.

If we have to be called revolutionaries just because we want a mixed economy, then so be it.”

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