Posts Tagged ‘pragmatist’

Sunday review: Attlee memorial lecture by Jon Cruddas; The Labour party in perspective by C R Attlee; and Small man: big world by Michael Young

20/11/2011, 02:33:50 PM

by Anthony Painter

Jon Cruddas has turned the biographical political speech into an art-form. His recent Clement Attlee memorial lecture is no exception. In the last year or so he has tackled three, in many ways forgotten or at least distant, Labour party leaders: Keir Hardie, George Lansbury, and now Clement Attlee. This one on Attlee touched on a fundamental historical divide within Labour in a quite profound way.

Labour is divided between romantics and pragmatists. It’s not about new versus old Labour. It’s not about trade unions versus the party or socialists versus social democrats. There are romantics, who emphasise the ideal, the human, the ethical, the relational and the communitarian. Pragmatists emphasise power, policy, practicality and process.

The former have dominated our emotions as a party; the latter have driven the party’s leadership. As William Morris once said, to that arch-technocrat Sidney Webb, “the world is going your way at present, Webb, but it’s not the right way in the end”. In a single quote that sums up the elegiac history of Labour’s romantic disposition. (more…)

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