This blog is written to support my former work at Ruskin College with trade unionists in the UK and internationally. Please feel to comment on, constructively criticise, and add to what is posted here. It is my hope that the blog posts encourage discussion and debate on how best to secure trade union renewal globally. I hope also to continue to support Ruskin's tradition of critical pedagogy in opening debate and dialogue in the pursuit of social, political and economic justice.
Friday, 15 February 2013
Cruddas,Thompson & The Category Error
Please excuse a brief post but I needed to write something as a reaction to the statement by Jon Cruddas on Newsnight on Wednesday in suggesting that "foodbanks are here to stay". The man who ostensibly is in charge of New Labour's policy review then went on, as these people do, to reinvent and re-categorise, fundamental concepts of working class and labour movement history.
Cruddas: A history lesson is in the post
Indeed, so flawed was the Cruddas attempt to make food banks analogous to labour movement history that I am going to post to him one of my dog eared copies of the seminal Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson, which coincidentally celebrates it 50th year of publication.
Thankfully Thompson is not alive to hear Cruddas engage in what constitutes a category error, that is when "a sentence that says of something in one category what can only intelligibly be said of something in another", and by that I mean the disgraceful attempt to align the spirit of the 19th century labour movement with that of the expansion of food banks under the austerity-driven policies of the Coalition.
When Cruddas confuses 'self-help' with foodbanks he does himself and the Labour Party a profound discredit as he obscures a scenario where the explosion of food banks is in direct correlation to the massive expansion of poverty across the UK. This is evident who you look at those who are reliant on foodbank provisions: refugess and asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds, the young homeless, the disabled who find that benefit reform has removed a means by which they can maintain dignity in independent living. And that isn't including the significant number of those in-work and in receipt of the benefit, the very people who disrupt the cosy, arrogant notion of the division between strivers and skivers.
At my most cynical I can only think that the gambit of Cruddas is to institutionalise foodbanks so that as poverty lingers under a New Labour government they are soon as a core, constituent and acceptable means by which you deal with an inability on the part of the large portion of the UK to maintain decent living standards.
Whilst I remain a member of the Labour Party I utterly reject what is happening here and voice this criticism whenever I can, and using the most distinct means possible.