Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hutton hoists the Blairite Flag

The notorious Mandelson mantra that New Labour is "seriously relaxed about people getting filthy rich" has been revived by John Hutton. He says that "rather than questioning whether huge salaries are morally justified, we should celebrate the fact that people can be enormously succcessful...", and "any progressive party worth its name must enthusiastically advocate empowering people to climb without limits". He adds - incoherently - that our "overarching goal" is that "no one should be left behind". But if some people become filthy rich that must mean they become rich relative to others. If we were all equally filthy rich then even the strictest egalitarian could hardly complain . If some people become rich relative to others, social inequality must increase and someone must be, by comparison, "left behind". Being rich is about leaving others behind. And there is an awful lot of evidence that greater inequality per se has adverse social consequences (Politaholic has posted on this before). But perhaps what is most odious about Hutton's comments is the vulgarity of equating success and achievement with amassing money (rather than with distinction or achievement in some field of endeavour); with that he really is the spokesman of the celebocracy. Consider, lets say, a distinguished professor of metallurgy at UMIST (as was); a first violinist with the Liverpool Philharmonic; a dedicated and talented primary school teacher or nurse. These are all failures, in Huttons vision, compared to a hedge fund manager or a management consultant. Why? They don't make as much money.
Of course, it is obvious what this is about, Hutton is hoisting the flag of Blairism against Brown, perhaps positioning himself for a future leadership contest. I doubt whether with these remarks he has done himself much good. They are not just out of kilter with what one in possibly very naive moments thinks of as "Labour values", but with the broader public mood.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Hutton (and Frank Field, along with a few others) really should be in with the Tories. They are so right-wing that even New Labour shouldn't have them, and that's saying something! I've been a Labour supporter all of my life, but I'm either going to vote Green at the next election, or not vote at all. To paraphrase 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells', it's capitalism gone mad.....

11:19 am  

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