Sunday, May 25, 2008

Crewe cut

The knives are out for Brown after the Crewe byelection, but doubts about the wisdom of change are also being expressed. Nick Cohen, for example, doesn't "think a palace revolution would help", being another example of cynical, elite rule rather than an expression of democracy. Andrew Rawnsley sees the Labour Party as being "emotionally poised between fatalism and panic" and rightly points to the key factor as being the renewed credibility of the Tories.

One thing is clear, the last change of leader isn't going to go down as a howling success. But there is an obvious reason. The point of change is change, not continuity. No one could claim that Thatcher's replacement with John Major was about introducing charisma to the premiership. Instead, he scrapped the Poll Tax, used more emollient language and won the next election, having removed the key cause of anger against the government. Labour needs more than personnel changes but a change of direction, philosophy and political economy. And it needs these changes in areas that directly impact on the lives of ordinary people - like equality.

Try saying to a postal worker that equality is an abstract principle when, with Royal Mail's decline and pensions crisis, they face losing their jobs and can read news like this,

Royal Mail's chief executive, Adam Crozier, will receive a near-£2m payment this summer under the company's long-term incentive plan, according to the annual report published yesterday.

The performance-related payment covers the three years from 2005 to 2008 and is on top of Crozier's annual remuneration, excluding incentive plans and pension contributions, of over £1m for last year.

Many of us can see the increasing rewards brazenly given to managers by themselves, regardless of their effectiveness. We do not feel envy; we have a sense of gross injustice. And Labour, if it rediscovers its commitment to egalitarianism as a guiding principle, may begin to seem once again like a party that speaks for us. And who knows, though the hour is perilously late, we may even vote for it.

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