torsdag, oktober 19, 2006

Can Cruddas avoid a Sweden?

It was only ten days between Tony Blair's declaration that he will resign within a year and Goran Persson's declaration that he will resign in half a year.

In so many aspects, the British and Swedish debates are the same. Both our parties have been successful in the past, but has now lost much of their energy and vision. We both need new ideas, new leadership and re-building of our party structures as our parties both have lost half their membership in the last 10-15 years.

Both our parties face challenges from two directions. Our respective conservative parties have turned to the centre in the rhetoric, and are trying to outflank us to the left just as Blair out-Toried the Tories in 1997. But we also both face challenges among our traditional core voters in the white working class and the ethnic minorities. The far-right's increasing support is due to unemployment, lack of housing and increasing social injustices that have not been addressed enough by our parties.

Still, the UK has got an opportunity that Sweden did not take. Tony Blair resigns while the party is still in government, which makes renewal possible without letting the Tories back in.

Yesterday night I visited the launch of Jon Cruddas' campaign to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. The launch was in the MP's constituency in Dagenham, Essex, far away from the Westminster bubble. And Jon Cruddas said so many things that are relevant for our debate as well.

A year ago, I wrote about the Compass pamphlet "Can we do a Sweden?". The pamphlet is very interesting and shows how Labour is looking for ways to go forward, not back. I genuinely believe that the Swedish model has much to give to the debate in many countries. I think it is especially interesting to study in the UK as the debate here is very focused on helping the poor. The Swedish model can inspire Brits to continue in the tradition of the NHS and build a universal welfare that can attract the middle class for a strong public sector for all.

Today, the concept of "doing a Sweden" is less attractive. In my speech for MPs two days ago, I described why we lost the Swedish election on being out of touch with ordinary people and not taking unemployment seriuously. I think that the campaign for Jon Cruddas is asking the right questions for Labour and for Britain, and I really hope that he will be successful. Unless, the risk is very big that the UK will do a Sweden.

Read Cruddas' website and blog and get to know more about him. You can also read what the BBC and the Guardian are saying about Cruddas.

2 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

You do realize, of course, that Mr Reinfeldt won the Swedish election by "doing a Blair". That is, triangulation, moving towards the middle ground and so forth...

(In light of the last days' debacle however, perhaps it would be proper to call Mr Reinfeldts move "doing half a Blair" as Mr Reinfeldt forgot to continue marginalize his intra party opponents immediately after the election was won.)

Sweden and the UK are thus indeed very similar. Both countries have Blairite governments. The Swedish Blair, however, apparently has no plans whatsoever on resigning.

Peter Gustavsson sa...

Well, in one aspect you are absolutely right. Reinfeldt did realise, just like David Cameron, that their party were marginalized and out of touch with the electorate. Therefore he did a lot of cosmetic changes in his party in order to get electable again. For that long, sure Reinfeldt is similar to Blair.

But to get the analysis right, you have to look beyond this and look at where Reinfeldt wants to take Sweden. He heads a right-wing government with a policy to bring on right-wing policies. The conservative government of Sweden are cutting taxes for the rich, cutting benefits in social insurances and increasing fees in the public services.