Resurrected right, disorientated left: Pre-crisis economics and post-crisis emotions

My article for Juncture on the Labour Party’s inability, in a post-crisis environment, to match Conservative narratives on value, place and equality.

The British growth model remains in a perilous state. Policy elites are clearly struggling to translate the return of statistical growth into a tangible sense throughout society in general that living standards are improving, opportunity is less scarce and the recovery is here to stay. Despite occasionally adopting the rhetoric of radical change, the Conservative party in government since 2010 has sought to secure economic recovery by reinforcing key elements of the pre-crisis growth model. It has done so, however, by weaving three of the most important emotional pillars of post-crisis British political discourse – value, place and equality – into the fabric of its political strategy and policy programme.

Transforming our growth model remains possible and perhaps urgent. Yet none of the narratives put forward since 2010 by leading Labour figures (in England) – including the slowly solidifying agenda of new leader Jeremy Corbyn – have offered an effective alternative in this regard. Value, place and equality express popular concerns about the state of post-crisis Britain and our economy, but in failing to acknowledge the effective synergy between these emotional pillars and Conservative politics, Labour’s transformative agenda is handicapped by an inability to account for the political economy of growth model resurrection. Labour must also tap into such concerns if a transformative agenda is to be constructed, because growth model transformation will be impossible without appealing to millions of people not just to vote for the party but to mobilise in support of counterhegemonic practices in everyday economic life.
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Image: David Holt