Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti has rather belatedly warned that the austerity packages imposed by the EU aren’t working and are causing massive disaffection and resentment across Europe. Very true, but is anyone going to give us an alternative (excluding obviously lunatic UKIP-type rantings)?
We’ve been led to believe that there is no alternative due to the serious economic circumstances (created let’s not forget by the greed and stupidity of the banks). With politicians failing to express a radical alternative to more of the same, it’s left to comedians or film-makers to the express the fury and disillusionment of Europe’s people and to suggest a more collective, humane approach.
Ken Loach’s new film documentary Spirit of 45 reminds us that there were, and are alternatives to near economic collapse with the election of a Labour Government after the Second World War. It’s currently showing in cinemas. Watch the trailer, then create your own 1945 character, how would your life have been without the welfare state? My 1945 name is Beryl.
It’s both a warning and a wake-up call for politicians in the UK and in Italy. Say something worth listening to, or reap the consequences at the next election. Hating the Tories or Berlusconi isn’t enough to win. After last week’s budget, Labour leader Ed Miliband seemed to have understood, “At the next election, the biggest opponent will be the sense that no one can sort out this problem. Our challenge is not to let people succumb to fatalism and think nothing can be done.” But he needs to be braver. Much braver. Leader of the Unite trade union Len McCluskey warned him that, “If Labour doesn’t stand up for the aspirations of ordinary people – the 99%, if you like – then what is its purpose?”
Things can be done. Things do change. The world hasn’t been like this forever. It is not how it has to be.