Friday, July 02, 2010


Well the 'progressive' coalition that never was, gave way to 'progressive' cuts and now 'progressive' is the word of our times and, never precise in its usage, is now utterly meaningless. But is that 'fair'? It must be because everything else is.

Every day another bit of meaningless verbiage seems to crop up. Today let's raise a cheer for the Blairite contender for the Labour Leadership, Andy Burnham:

Andy Burnham today calls for Labour to exhume its socialist roots and become the party of "aspirational socialism"...

What on earth does that mean? I suppose it is marginally better than the incoherent mess of 'Red Toryism'.

I despair at the linguistic wasteland of government by PR executives, but there is at least some compensation in the news that Vince Cable's new 'department for growth' may well be the first to shrink.


Harry Barnes said...

The notion of "aspirational socialism" makes sense to me, but does it make sense as used by Andy Burnham? He has promised me that he will issue a "Manifesto of Intent" - see my blog. This is also a concept which makes sense to me. So when he acts on his promise I will be able to check whether it makes the grade. Such a Manifesto might even be used to spell out how we advance to what we aspire.

Will said...

The notion of "aspirational socialism" makes no sense to me.

this fact should not need elucidating (and not because of my ignorance).

The Plump said...

Harry (and Will). I think that the declaration from Andy Burnham is just another use of the device everyone uses these days to grab attention. Take two words, often with disparate meanings, and throw them together to pretend that they are something new.

Tough love = cutting benefits
Progressive cuts = cutting everything
Red Tory = Tory

They all do it and it is a substitute for any rigour in working out ideas or political platforms.

So what is happening here is 'aspirational', Blair's favourite word, is linked with 'socialism', a word most likely to garner votes amongst the constituency section.

Forgive me my cynicism, but when the Labour Party needs analysis, analysis, analysis it is getting words, words, words.

mikeovswinton said...

I'll leave you to discuss Mr Burnham. But you may be interested to know that Philip ("Red Tory") Blond is a follower of Radical Orthodoxy, a theological trend. If the followers of this believe what they say they believe, and I'll leave you to follow it up, then it would actually be quite scary - a sort of intellectual theocracy. However, as they are mainly Anglicans, we know that they couldn't organise a vicarage tea party let along a theocracy. Their leading light is John Milbank. He's recently published a book co-authored with Slavov Zizek (so many books, so little to say) which I think may tell you all you really need to know. The words snake oil may be ringing in your head at this point. They'll be pealing like an Anglican parish church in the Home Counties on a sunday morning when I tell you that I've heard Milbank's viewpoint described in all seriousness as Blue Socialism. (And by the way, I think Burnham may have got one thin g right - why should the Liberals get a prize for going into coalition with the Tories? I know several people in the public sector who will be voting against AV despite being in favour of it in principle - but who want to give the LDs a kick.)

mikeovswinton said...

Blue Socialism. I think J Edgar Hoover spent a day incognito in Times Square trying to find a copy of that magazine in the "adult shops".

Will said...

Peter -- read