Friday, 27 July 2012

When Logic And Proportion Have Fallen Sloppy Dead

Brock Vond's genius was to have seen in the activities of the sixties left not threats to order but unacknowledged desires for it. While the Tube was proclaiming youth revolution against parents of all kinds and most viewers were accepting this story, Brock saw the deep -- if he'd allowed himself to feel it, the sometimes touching -- need only to stay children forever, safe inside some extended national Family. The hunch he was betting on was that these kid rebels, being halfway there already, would be easy to turn and cheap to develop. They'd only been listening to the wrong music, breathing the wrong smoke, admiring the wrong personalities. They needed some reconditioning.
Thomas Pynchon Vineland

Friday, 20 July 2012

All The Frightened People Running Home Before Dark

The last glimpse of a mainstream political party not assuming that Britain’s future lay in ‘the service economy’ (in general) and the City (in particular) was in 1988 when the Labour Party was doing its policy review after the defeat of 1987. The economic part of that review was done by a committee chaired by Bryan Gould MP. Gould represented a current within the Labour Party and wider labour movement at the time which was hostile to the bankers. It had concluded that the key structural conflict in Britain wasn’t between the classes, the Marxist view, but between the interests of the domestic and overseas sections of the economy; which in shorthand boiled down to the City on the one hand and manufacturing on the other. 1 This group included Neil Kinnock, as his 1986 book, Making Our Way, shows, and Bryan Gould, who was appointed by Kinnock to chair the committee on economic policy. Gould’s committee duly produced a detailed analysis of why the bankers had too much power and how to reduce it. 
We still don’t know why the Gould report was dumped. My guess would be that the group around Kinnock wanted to get elected more than they cared about the state of the British economy or the fate of its citizens; and having lost two general elections, decided that the bankers were too powerful to challenge. By this time – 1988/9 – the City had been largely sold off to American banks in the so-called big bang of 1986 and was well on its way to being an extension of Wall Street; and thus to be anti-City of London increasingly meant being perceived as anti-American. But for a while a Labour Party which was explicitly an anti-City of London party did seem a real prospect. For whatever reason, the policy review document on the economy was abandoned and Labour began the long process of making itself acceptable to the City of London – even though the City then was only about 2% of the British economy.