Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘People Get Ready’

“Labour’s rival factions do share common ground, which is where the party’s future lies” — PEOPLE GET READY! coauthor Christine Berry writes in the Guardian

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Labour’s rival factions do share common ground, which is where the party’s future lies

Despite Labour’s intensely factional politics, there’s a consensus quietly brewing in the party. It looks something like this: our economy and our politics are broken, but we can’t respond by resurrecting the models of the past. Instead, Labour must take seriously the sense of disempowerment that drove the Brexit vote and embrace more localised, participatory ways of running the economy and doing politics. Rather than imposing change from above, this new politics must be built through grassroots organising and imaginative local government, paving the way for national success. You could call this consensus “participatory socialism”.

Read the full piece here.

“How would a relatively inexperienced frontbench team cope with the quantum leap from opposition to government? How should they respond to businesses pushing back against their economic agenda, or cope with potentially unrealistic expectations among supporters about what can be achieved?”—The Guardian calls Christine Berry and Joe Guinan’s PEOPLE GET READY one of the best political books of 2019

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Best politics books of 2019

It’s not long now until Britain finds out what Santa has brought us for a government. But whether the election delivers just what you’ve always wanted, or merely the political equivalent of a stocking full of ashes, somewhere out there is a book that may help make some sense of it.

Christine Berry and Joe Guinan’s People Get Ready! (OR Books) isn’t as well known as perhaps it should be, considering that it’s one of the few books written from a sympathetic left perspective to analyse potential vulnerabilities in the Corbyn project and how they might be countered. Given the argument that what the Labour leader is trying to do hasn’t been achieved in a democracy in modern times, Berry and Guinan examine what has defeated radical leftwing movements in the past, and which particular hurdles this one might face. How would a relatively inexperienced frontbench team cope with the quantum leap from opposition to government? How should they respond to businesses pushing back against their economic agenda, or cope with potentially unrealistic expectations among supporters about what can be achieved? Whether you’re thrilled or alarmed by the radical answers discussed, it’s one of the few political books this year likely to survive contact with an unpredictable general election. By Christmas it’s either going to be an invaluable primer for Corbyn’s team as they move into No 10, or it will be worth scanning for retrospective clues as to why voters chose not to make that happen.

Read the full list here.

“Thatcher had a battle plan for her economic revolution – now the left needs one too”–Christine Berry, author of PEOPLE GET READY, writes in Open Democracy

Friday, November 1st, 2019

The Ridley Plan was a masterclass in strategising for transformative economic change. What would a left equivalent look like today?

In 1977, Tory backbencher Nicholas Ridley presented Margaret Thatcher with a report unglamorously titled ‘Final Report of the Nationalised Industries Policy Group’ – later to become known as the ‘Ridley Plan’.

Ridley, the son of a wealthy family whose coal and steel interests had been nationalised under the Attlee government, was implacably opposed to public ownership. And beneath its innocuous title, the Ridley Plan amounted to an astonishingly ruthless and hard-headed battle plan for privatisation – one which was to guide the Thatcherites’ assault on the nationalised industries, and whose repercussions are still with us today.

The Ridley Plan prefigures almost all of the key moments in the long neoliberal assault on public ownership, from the open war against the miners to the privatisation “by stealth” (Ridley’s own words) of the NHS. It suggests that Thatcher pick her battles, provoking confrontations in “non-vulnerable industry, where we can win” such as the railways and the civil service, while taking steps to create the conditions for eventual victory against the more powerful trade unions. It outlines a plan to prepare the ground for privatisation by introducing market measures in the running of nationalised industries (such as changes of leadership, targets for return on capital, and new incentives for managers), and fragmenting the public sector into independent units that could later be sold off.

Read the full essay here.

“If Labour takes power before it’s ready, and for whatever reason can’t implement its program, that’d be more of a setback to the hopes of the Left, possibly for the next generation, than us not winning the next general election.” —Christine Berry, author of PEOPLE GET READY!, in an interview for Jacobin

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Alex Doherty interviews Christine Berry on her book PEOPLE GET READY! for Jacobin

ALEX DOHERTY: Looking at Labour’s platform, it seems the core of what you see as its radicalism is its plan to democratize the economy in various ways. Yet it seems that this hasn’t cut through very much — not only among the wider electorate, but even for instance in Labour Party forums on social media, where the program is almost solely seen in terms of anti-austerity and a kind of revivalism of the 1945 Labour government. So, if you’re right that this agenda is better thought-out than a lot of people expect, it doesn’t feel like it’s been particularly well articulated.

CHRISTINE BERRY: That’s definitely true. Even within quite politically-informed circles there isn’t a deep conversation about Labour’s new economic thinking. There’s a kind of irony if the talk of democratizing the economy — which means participation — is being developed from the top down by quite a small circle of policy wonks and people around shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s office. We need much more political education and effort to cultivate movement debate and discussion around these issues, so it can be an agenda driven from the grassroots.

Economic democracy is about going beyond a return to the spirit of ’45. The accusation often leveled at Labour when it talks about nationalization is that it just wants to go back to the past. But that isn’t the program — Corbyn and McDonnell have been clear that they’re not about replacing distant, unaccountable private elites with distant, unaccountable public elites. They have a solid critique of that model of nationalization — what they’re really interested in is exploring new models of public and common ownership that are more localized, decentralized, and participatory.

So, you have Corbyn talking about passenger-run railways and an energy policy that involves an element of national, public ownership but also has a big role for municipal energy companies and community renewables cooperatives. There’s also a lot of thinking about how to scale cooperatives and employee ownership in the private sector. This means taking seriously the value of democratic participation and control by workers and citizens. The nationalizations of 1945 were much more about the idea that this would make industries more efficient — something easy to forget after thirty years of neoliberalism hammered home the message that public ownership means inefficiency.

Read the full transcript here.

“At the centre of government lies the orthodox neoliberal dogma of the Treasury, whose power will have to be radically dismantled.” — Mike Phipps in his review of PEOPLE GET READY! for Labour Hub

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Mike Phipps reviews People Get Ready! by Christine Berry and Joe Guinan

How far could Momentum play a role in generating the political debate that can take place in the wider movement? Critics will say that the movement has become too top-down and focused on winning positions within the Party structures. But since this book was written, Momentum have launched some radical policy ideas that go beyond Labour’s existing commitments, such as the abolition of all detention centres, a four day week and aiming to achieve the target of zero net carbon emissions by an earlier date than the Paris Agreement envisages.

These are interesting ideas. Others like them could help promote a two-way debate with activists in broader movements, such as Extinction Rebellion. Some of these ideas have been raised by Shadow Cabinet members themselves, John McDonnell in particular, as legitimate areas of policy debate. It’s perhaps too early to say whether Momentum can play the key role of bringing these discussions to a wider audience and how it might have to modify its own structures for that to happen. One thing is certain: this book, even if it doesn’t solve all the problems it raises, is certainly asking all the right questions, Activists should buy it and apply themselves to finding the answers.

Read the full review here.

“The real sort of fear, and the real danger, isn’t that we can’t win, it’s that we’re not ready to win.” — Christine Berry and Joe Guinan in PEOPLE GET READY!, featured in Tribune

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

An excerpt from People Get Ready! featured in Tribune.

We are living through an “Age of Anger”. It is a time of “machine-breaking” politically, of boiling resentment amongst citizens and voters at an out-of-touch political class and an economic system they know is rotten to the core. Those who fixate on how to protect a rhetorical “centre ground” from the bogey of populism are asking the wrong question. The old centre ground is already gone, having disappeared with the cratering of the economic model on which it rested. The real question is how to redirect the new mass popular anger into a force for change, for better or worse: who will break the machines of neoliberal extraction, and with what will they seek to replace them?

Already, across the world, terrifying answers to this question are being offered. A resurgent far right is everywhere on the march, from Poland to India, Italy to Brazil. In Germany, neo-Nazis once again rally openly in the streets. In the United States, the President orders immigrant children taken from their parents to be locked in cages. In the UK, racist attacks are on the rise. The emerging neo-fascist politics is even playing out on breakfast television: one day, millions of viewers can witness Piers Morgan shouting down a Muslim woman for being anti-Trump, the next they can watch a soft-pedal interview with Steve Bannon. Meanwhile, with the Conservative Party tearing itself apart, a new hard right shock doctrine is emerging that seeks to shape a Brexit that would clamp down ruthlessly on workers’ rights and put immigrants and people of colour in real physical danger—a renewal of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism”.

In the face of such popular anger, leafing through the centrist playbook to cycle in some new empty suit with a soundbite simply will not work. Clinging to the status quo for fear of something worse is a guaranteed losing strategy. After Brexit, after Trump, this much at least should be obvious.

Read the full excerpt, and find a code for 20% off People Get Ready! here.

“The real sort of fear, and the real danger, isn’t that we can’t win, it’s that we’re not ready to win.” — Christine Berry, author of PEOPLE GET READY! during an interview for Politics Theory Other

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Alex Doherty of Politics Theory Other interviews Christine Berry, discussing her upcoming book People Get Ready!

ALEX DOHERTY: So, before we sort of go into more detail, could you say a bit about what you see as the sort of key issues that we should be thinking about, in terms of making a success of a labor government- and perhaps even what that means?

CHRISTINE BERRY: I think the genesis of the book really came from exactly the same kind of sentiment you’ve just outlined, right? That, a lot of the debate was focused on the question of whether labor could win an election, whether labor could form a government, and how to mobilize to make that happen. And our anxiety was much more the same as yours: that we had quite a lot of hope that it was possible that we could have a radical labor government before too much longer, but, the real sort of fear, and the real danger, isn’t that we can’t win, it’s that we’re not ready to win. If labor takes power before it’s ready to take power, and for whatever reason it isn’t able to [uphold] its program, that would be far more damaging. A setback for the hopes of the left, you know, possibly for another generation, then us not being able to win the next general election. Which isn’t to underestimate the importance of the urgency of mobilizing to win the next election, you know, particularly with the severity of some of the challenges we face, from climate change to the rise of the far right- you know obviously. We need to make sure that we have radical labor government [?] in the election. The real question for us is what happens after that, and that’s kind of the beginning, rather than the end of the job that needs to be done.

Listen to the full interview here.

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