Liz Kendall

I watched Liz Kendall speak for over an hour last week (16th June), at a meeting in Cardiff.

I have to own up; when I went in, I was feeling sceptical and was struggling to remain objective and neutral.

I am the most left-wing person I know: I read Marxist theory almost exclusively through university, and as a Sociology lecturer, I now teach Marxist ideas and theory almost every day. So, the prospect of going to see someone who has been labelled pro-business, Blairite, and right-wing did not fill me with much excitement or hope.

However…

The meeting was a real lesson, in a number of ways:

Firstly, don’t rely on the easy sound-bites of the press to give you any real idea about any of the candidates. Liz Kendall is nothing like the person you have been made to think she is, by the reports in the media.

Secondly, it is important to avoid the almost automatic prejudice that many of us have against anyone considered to be Blairite. It is an easy assumption to make; that if a politician is Blairite, then they cannot possibly hold ‘real’ Labour values.

Liz Kendall faced a much more difficult and diverse set of questions than Andy Burnham had to face at his meeting the night before, but her responses were much more intelligent, well thought out and well-informed.

Her response to the (deliberately?) difficult and diverse questions was impressive. It was also eye-opening, because she is much more of a ‘real’ Labour MP, with very strong Labour values, than she is made out to be by the press.

Yes, she is pro-business. But that is because she knows that the only way we can solve the problems of poverty and deprivation is through doing all we can to ensure that our wealth-creators create wealth, so that this wealth can be used to solve our social problems. But make no mistake; although Liz is pro-business, she wants the rewards from successful businesses to be much more equally shared across our society. She very convincingly used the example of the manufacturing sector in Germany to demonstrate how strong unions can bring greater productivity and greater prosperity to both employers and employees, as well as greater security to both parties.

Liz Kendall very strongly believes in equal opportunity and social mobility. She also showed great understanding of how inequality starts at birth and must therefore be addressed long before children reach primary school, through interventions such as Sure Start.

As for the big question of austerity, or ‘balancing the books’: is she too right-wing? Liz Kendall’s answer is that the massive investment into public services that we would all like to see, can only happen if we first stop paying out so much money to service our debt, which currently costs us more than we spend on education. Therefore, despite this desire to balance the books being broadly touted as clear evidence of her position on the right of the party, she has definite left-wing aims that she wishes to achieve through this seemingly right-wing position.

At this meeting, Liz Kendall very effectively addressed the two big concerns regarding a potential Labour Leader:

Is she credible on the economy?

Does she hold ‘real’ Labour values?

The answer to both of these questions was a very convincing yes.

And, in the last statement, lies the answer to my biggest question- is she convincing- convincing enough to persuade the public to vote Labour?

One of our biggest problems in politics has been the perception that politicians are all the same, and that they are ‘only in it for themselves’. People are struggling to believe in politicians, because none of them seem authentic or genuine.

Liz Kendall spoke with real passion and conviction, she really seemed to care about the state of our country and the problems we face.

Liz Kendall was convincing. She was convincing in her answers to our country’s problems. She was convincing in her approach to repairing Labour’s record for economic competence.

Most of all, she was convincingly sincere and passionate about her reasons for being in politics and what she wanted to achieve.

Liz Kendall was more convincing than Andy Burnham.

She was more convincing than Ed Miliband.

If Liz Kendall had been leading the party at the last election, I believe that we would have been more successful.

Being as Marxist as I am, I am incredibly surprised to find myself saying this; but, of all the candidates for the leadership, I currently find Liz Kendall to be the most impressive by far and I believe that if she becomes our new Labour leader, we have a very good chance of winning the next election.

Brian Back

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20 thoughts on “Liz Kendall

  1. Great article but I wish someone had asked her what she thinks re the benefits cap? I remain unsure what people mean when they write re “Labour values” but surely supporting a benefits cap cant possibly be one of them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • nevermind the fact he claims to be a marxist theorist yet talks the same language of trickle down economics as the worst neo-liberal with his “our wealth creators” rubbish.
      WORKERS crate wealth, the bosses just steal it.

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  2. You claim to be a Marxist and then call businesses the ‘wealth-creators’ of society. You claim to be a Marxist and then laud Kendall for her views on ‘equal opportunity and social mobility’. You claim to be a Marxist and then support Kendall’s claims that we need to battle the deficit and balance the books through austerity-lite. None of these positions are consistent with Marxist theory, and it worries me that you’re in charge of educating students on Marxism.

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  3. You’ve said a lot about how Kendall came across and not so much about what she actually said; but “balancing the books” is code for austerian nonsense, even if it’s redistributive austerian nonsense, “credible” inside the Westminster bubble but not among actual economists; and “wealth creators” means the people doing very nicely from our immiserating low-wage, low-productivity economy, not the people who can fix it – collectors, not creators, of wealth. On this account Kendall is rebranding the mis-sold solutions that are failing all around us right now, not outlining the route to a fair and prosperous future.

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  4. A BRILLIANT piece – i wish this could go viral as it is a message Labour need to take note of!

    *George how does idolising equal opportunity go against left-wing principles?

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    • The obsession with social mobility is flawed because it focuses on changing the conditions that individuals live in, not populations. It says nothing about achieving equality or raising the living conditions of entire socio-economic classes. Likewise, you could argue (and a Marxist probably would argue) that equal opportunity is impossible until equality is achieved anyway, because inequalities in the conditions you are born into will influence your life chances and “social mobility”.

      It’s absolutely fair to defend equal opportunity and social mobility if you think that trying to achieving an equal society is not worth some of the distasteful consequences that come with it (limitation of economic freedoms etc), but I don’t think it’s particularly consistent to claim to be Marxist and then also obsess over social mobility.

      On a slightly different note, there is something rather grim in the concept of social mobility that suggests that success is defined by how well you can hop socio-economic classes, but that’s a different point entirely and slightly irrelevant to this discussion I guess.

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  5. She was utterly unconvincing at the GMB hustings, seemed ill-prepared and gave nebulous (often essentially meaningless) answers.

    What kind and of a Marxist accepts a neoliberal economic prescription, do tell?

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  6. To be fair, Brian is stating that she is the most convincing candidate so far, not that he’s suddenly been converted to her Blairite positions.

    If you read back through Brian’s blog you’ll see he isn’t inspired by the candidates available and questions how each leaderships contest seems to end up (like the general election, funnily enough) about picking the least awful candidate, rather than the best of a talented bunch.

    All Labour supporters have to ask themselves what they want: a left-wing party that cannot get elected or one that is more centrist or even right of centre and may well get elected.

    The third – and undoubtedly the best for Labour supporters – option is to produce a credible leader that would enable the party to be both ‘true’ Labour and electable – but this hasn’t happened for a very long time.

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  7. Is it wealth creation that we are talking about or money?

    For me wealth is the productive capacity of the economy to produce goods and services. That is a co-operative process which may or may not involve entrepreneurial labour.

    Firstly, I question the extent to which services and goods produced by large companies can be attributed to entrepreneurship. I think there are a whole number of skills and knowledge sets involved, and the leaders of these companies are more akin to administrators than entrepreneur. Of course there is the seemingly obligatory self-mythologising but we should look past that.

    Secondly, goods and services are not necessarily produced in the private sector or because of the profit motive. It is credible to suggest that there are goods and services which are best not produced via the profit motive. I think healthcare falls into this category as the profit motive and entrepreneurship had many decades to produce a comprehensive health system free at the point of use before 1945. Also we can see the privatisation of profits and socialisation of the losses and failures in the present experiment with the NHS.

    Rather than wealth perhaps we’re talking about money. Money is what we use to pay for things – it is a paper claim on society and its productive capacity.

    Money crucially comes from the state: The Bank of England, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Treasury, is the monopoly issuer of national currency and government expenditure provides the reserves which lubricates the payments and settlement system whose viability commercial banks rely when borrowing short and lending long.

    The lending activities of commercial banks accounts for the vast majority of the money in the economy.

    The question for the rest of us is how best to capture a stream or financial flow of this money. It seems obvious that this can be achieved by not necessarily making useful things or providing useful services.

    The government – as an originator of money – does not operate under that constraint. Its borrowing is a choice to provide interest bearing assets to the private sector. The private sector has an insatiable desire to hold these instruments because they are issued in the currency of which the British government is the monopoly issuer – therefore there is no default risk.

    It follows that the British government could redeem all the gilts in circulation without there being any implications for the government’s deficit vis-a-vis the private sector. Instead Liz Kendal swallows George Osborne’s government surplus yadda to reduce interest payments by taking money away from the private sector.

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