Opposing cuts: the need for strategy

Sunny Hundal today talks about the need for a strategic approach to opposing the cuts agenda, one that isn’t simply preaching to the converted, or the left talking among themselves.

I rather agree. So I put forward my own suggestions.

First of all we have to ask whether the cuts programme is fair and necessary. Answers to both I feel are no, and are backed up by fantastic polemics laid out by compass and Nick Isles on, among other things, the real nature of “capital flight”.

Second of all we must ask is opposition to the way in which the cuts programme has been meted out a solely left wing issue. The answer of which is: no of course not; this isn’t merely political tennis, these are issues affecting the lives of people who perhaps have no interest in political factions.

Third: should we allow the “usual suspects” of the left wing, trade union activists and leftist fringe parties for example, to voice their opinion, and to help appeal to a popular audience by engaging in a left narrative? Definitely, though if we are to make it a popular narrative, not simply a left wing one, appealing those people assumed in my second point, it cannot be too dogmatic, which is why I both share Sunny’s concern about certain trade union plans, but hope also that trade unions will work to counter the cuts agenda.

Fourth and last: Can we expect to build a movement that has one commonality – that of an anti-cuts agenda? Not necessarily, and this is neither doomy nor impossible, but a movement cannot be predicated on what it is not alone, it has to assert ideas into how it will produce, not simply counteract. This will be tricky (and always has been for the left since the peasants revolt, to the Spanish civil War through to opposition over the Iraq war) without having a narrative and will require some thinking.

Providing that the movement is not too evangelicising to begin with, it will not simply preach to the converted, it will ask questions as to why the agenda for cuts has been carried out so disproportionately for working and struggling middle class families. It will be a popular movement, but it will have a left wing backbone too, and though this latter point should not be forgotten, it ought to be remembered throughout how off-putting it can be if the politics sounds too preachy.

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