I reckon we can say there’s a crisis of some sort, and usually more than one, in the world at any time. In the case of the British Labour Party we can’t actually say that but crisis is certainly a common, perhaps even default, condition for it. In one sense that’s a strength which opponents underrate; it makes Labour’s claim to be the party of the underdog more plausible. But Labour’s problem with an increasingly affluent electorate has now been current for 60 years. It is the more pressing as the old social democratic compromise of a mixed economy and economic growth to support social equality (and welfare) no longer seems to work. Now we have a scenario where it seems to take right-wing campaigners (some economic libertarian, some anti-migration) and the likes of Jeremy Corbyn to display a distinctive position. However, socialists and social conservatives share the same failing – they want us in a socially cohesive setting looking out for one another (socialists) and sharing our heritage (conservatives), but they need and insist on economic success for that community, so it has to keep up with the technologies which make us individually affluent and give us the opportunity not to bother caring for each other or for heritage other than as a lucrative tourist attraction. At the same time, economic liberals pretend the underpinning of moral sentiments Adam Smith relied on for the market economy is still there. Is it?
As a 64-year-old member of the aging society with a frail, and ill, mother of 91 I have an interest to declare in all this. Britain’s NHS is the major legacy of a short period when the Labour Party was not in crisis, and I’m still not sure what I think about it’s future – except that it’s in crisis! My mother’s experience with orthodox practice on rehab after injury makes me feel we need patients/customers/clients/service users/(whatever are we going to call them) to have a say in how they are dealt with. But I trust governments and commercial organisations even less than I do the medical profession, so who do I rely on?