An end to soul-searching

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We need to address the challenges of the future and seize the opportunities they present

| Read the argument by Sonia Sodha

Many commentators have still not realised the extent to which the financial crisis of 2008 rocked people’s confidence.

The things that they took for granted, like savings or mortgages, were suddenly at risk. The government’s response to the financial crisis was exemplary. And just as people faced a future of uncertainty, along came MPs’ expenses, phone hacking and revelations about the conduct of the Iraq war.

Rather than looking forward to the future with hope as the country did from 1997-2007, people started to become more inward-looking and more insular. Concerns about immigration, bankers’ bonuses and utility companies’ profits, which were of mild concern, created an anger which the Labour party failed to react to.

Things have not been helped by our attitude towards our own history and recent history as well. The trashing of our 13 years in government – not just by the Tories, but by ourselves as well – has made it easy for the Conservatives to control the narrative both politically and economically.

The trashing of our 13 years in government – not just by the Tories, but by ourselves as well – has made it easy for the Conservatives to control the narrative both politically and economically.

This led to be the 2015 election strategy: one of not only running against the coalition, but also the preceding Labour governments. Constant soul-searching has made us overlook how the world is now and our reaction to it. Rebuilding trust not only in our party but also our institutions will be the key to our future success.

Two major points in Sonia Sodha’s article should be at the crux of the debate. These are the ageing population and future employment.

We now live in an ageing society, the NHS has been a victim of its own success. We live longer than we have ever lived before, but that has consequences. By 2025, there will be one million people suffering from dementia in the UK. Its treatment is mainly reliant on care from family carers and it is not being given the same priority.

However, it does mean that while the inevitable rise in dementia means that there will be serious problems for ourselves that does not mean there cannot be opportunities. We can lead the way in terms of treating dementia with new drugs and treatments. When we talk about futurism, we see the rise of driverless cars and robots. But robots cannot care, or show empathy. I believe that we can start talking about leading the way in terms of treatment and in exporting that type of treatment.

Sodha also focuses on the growth in self-employment. This is a massive change for a party which names itself after working people. As we have already seen, if there is a rise in self-employment, the office itself will become redundant. There are very few head offices now as more people will work from home. This will change the very nature of the debate. This will change how work looks. This will also have a massive effect on the trade unions who, without the workplace, will find it difficult to organise.

The trade union movement will have to start looking at changing the way it is delivering its services and the branch meeting might become a thing of the past, in the same way that conversations around the water-cooler will be as well. How we adapt to this will be the key challenge of the future.

Chris Evans is member of parliament for Islwyn

Read the argument by Sonia Sodha

Photo by Stephen Bowler, Flickr, Creative Commons license

One Response to "An end to soul-searching"
  1. Paul Martin says:

    I like the point about trade unions in particular. I rather suspect that branch-based unions like UNISON are particularly at risk because the organising work needs to take place in new organisations that are just coming into being. That means spending money on advising, representing taking cases to employment tribunals BEFORE THE SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE RECEIVED. I am told that some US unions are way ahead on this. Unfortunately, some of ours seem top function more like building society branches than guerilla groups.

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