Together with Billy Bragg, and oddly at times Polly Toynbee he articulates an aspect of Labour that could, even should have resonance across the country. He is talking about England, but the lessons are as valuable in the other nations that make up our land.
In Dover the port is up for sale and the people are campaigning to buy it and create a community asset. They don't want a foreign-owned port, they want a people's port that is ‘forever England'. Football supporters are building community-based organisations by share purchase - in Liverpool, for example - to save our clubs from foreign corporate power. In the Forest of Dean, thousands are rallying in protest at the plans by the government to sell England's forests which are England's ‘green beating heart'. In London, porters at Billingsgate fish market campaigned to stop the City of London abolishing their ancient English role and making them redundant. Where is Labour in the fight for an England which belongs to the English just as they belong to the land?Of course he is quite right, andthe territory that Labour has vacated in the last 50 years has been taken up in part by the Tory party. But they too fail to trust the people. They have their Big Society, but it is instructive that it is ill defined. Because though they play lip service to the idea, they canot let go of central power.
Labour is no longer sure who it represents. It champions humanity in general but no-one in particular. It favours multiculturalism but suspects the symbols and iconography of Englishness.
Cruddas has articulated in part something that UKIP would do well to encapsulate.
Labour's future in England is conservative. England's radical traditions are rooted in the political struggle for the liberty that Edmund Burke describes as ‘social freedom'. There is a powerful strain of rebellious individualism in English socialism which helped to create a politics of liberty, virtue and democracy and a vast popular movement of voluntary collectivism, cooperativism and mutual self-improvement. English socialism shares antecedents with Toryism but it differs from it in one significant way. It was a militant defence of a common life, and of individual labour and creativity against the unaccountable power of capital and against the usurpation of the state. Its desire to conserve the integrity of the individual placed it in conflict with the class structure of property rights and power. Capitalism unbound was the enemy of the people and of individual self-realisation. The struggle for liberty was a struggle for democracy, not for paternalism and an organic society where each knew his placeHe is wrong to think that local communities, the self-help of the Friendly Societies and Working Man's Institutes are antipathetic to ideas of economic freedom, they should be part of it, two sides of the same coin.
Ferdinand Mount got somewhere near it in 'Mind the Gap' and it is territory that UKIP should nmake its own.
Labour is no longer able to follow this thinking,
It must, in a literal sense, go out to the people and once again find its place as an organising force in the life of our country, from the cities to the market towns and the villages. England is being sold by the pound and in places like Dover, the Forest of Dean, Liverpool and Billingsgate Market people from all walks of life are organising together to reclaim it for the common good.But UKIP can.