Tuesday 9 July 2024

Different meaningless slogans


Moving away from the empty sloganizing which characterised the previous government for a number of years can only be a good thing. And in some ways, the Starmer government has made a good start – today, for instance, it was announced that the meaningless phrase ‘levelling up’ will be dropped from the title of the minister for housing and local government. It was, as they say, only ever a slogan. They do, however, seem to be coming up with a number of meaningless slogans of their own, which does not augur so well.

Starmer has repeatedly said that it will be a case of ‘country first, not party’. It sounds very grand but what does it actually mean? He probably wants us to think that it means that he will put the interests of the country ahead of the interests of the Labour Party, but who decides what the interests of the country are, and on what basis – and what does he mean when he talks about the interests of the Labour Party anyway? It sounds suspiciously similar to another phrase that Labour have been using, which is that it is about policy not ideology, apparently reworded somewhat revealingly by Tony Blair earlier today (a man who seems increasingly determined to drive the car from the back seat) as being about ‘taking politics out of policy making’.

In truth, unless one sees politics as being just about the machinations of politicians seeking personal advantage and advancement rather than a clash of different ideas and world views, all policy decisions are inherently political. Taking politics and ideology out of policy doesn’t mean that the decisions are being taken free of any political or ideological bias, it simply means that they are being taken within the constraints of the current ideology. In effect, that assumes that capitalist ideology is the norm and all views based on alternative opinions can be axiomatically rejected. Now that will hardly come as a surprise, given that Starmer has been making it clear for many months that his main differences with the Tories are about competence rather than direction. The surprise is – or should be – that such meaningless banalities are being treated as profound and meaningful statements.

It might reasonably be argued that what they mean is that they want to do ‘what works’, but that inevitably raises two questions. The first is whether what prevents other options from working is that they are inherently unworkable, or whether they have been rendered unworkable by an acceptance of unnecessarily imposed ideological constraints. And the second, and perhaps even more important, is ‘for whom do they work?’. These are not questions which they have any intention of asking, let alone answering. But without asking them, we are doomed to more of the same. Just a bit more competently executed.

1 comment:

CapM said...

‘country first, not party’

Looks like Starmer has come up with a great slogan for Proportional Representation.
A bit wordy compared with the previous one but still chantable by campaigner.