Socialism in the UK

With the fall of the Soviet Empire, I rather assumed Socialism in the UK went out of style - but the recent move to eliminate hereditary membership in the House of Lords makes me think I’ve gotten it all wrong. Is Socialism alive and well in the UK - or is it republicanism?

Official Poster of the Millenium

I would venture that phasing out inherited power is the first step to true democracy. Phasing out inherited wealth would be a more socialistic move. One is political and the other is economic.

First off, let’s not confuse communism and socialism.

Second off, there are “degrees” of socialism. You turn over control of law enforcement to a police force, or allow the government to handle things like road construction, and you’ve got elements of socialism.

Third off, “socialism” is not a bad word, no matter what the NRA and AMA would like us to think. There are some things that government can do better than individuals, and some areas where the good of society should take precedence over the good of certain individuals in that society.

IMHO, the actions of Blair’s government with regard to the House of Lords is one of the few ways he can placate the many ‘Old Labour’ memebers of his party who have become disillusioned with his almost Thatcherite approach to economics ie prudent public sector financing. Of course, Mr Blair has yet to explain how he can reconcile his apparent distaste for the hereditary principal in the House of Lords (the quality of it’s work was never questioned), while appearing to support the monarchy. Many ‘Old Labour’ are unreconstructed socialists/republicans. Mr Blair pretends not to be. He will not be able to suppress these party urges for long.

Calm down, Dex - I’m a socialist myself.

I’m not confusing socialism and communism. I thought the downfall of the Soviet regime would impact Socialism in the UK, if only as a tool to be used against it. Perhaps “out of style” in the OP was the wrong phrase to use - I should have said, “out of favor.”

I just wondered if Socialism in the UK had survived and still had much impact.

Is it true that American politicians have to avoid being labelled ‘socialists’ or ‘liberals’?

As for Britain, we recently had nearly 2 decades of a right-wing corrupt nutter* (Thatcher) and her followers, so there was quite a reaction when Tony Blair offered an ‘electable’ alternative. He’s turned out to be a control freak ( he’s currently trying to fix the election for Mayor of London), but manages the economy quite well.

But to answer the thread:

we still have a free National Health Service, but I suppose it all depends how you define ‘socialist’.

*personal opinion, of course, but based on:

  • her party never got above 50% of the votes, but she still pursued extreme policies (like the poll tax)
  • her son became a multi-millionaire
  • several Conservative politicians were convicted of accepting bribes

Yes, Glee, being a “liberal” or a “socialist” in the USA is akin to admitting you like little boys to rub peanut butter all over you.

The way to get elected in the USA is to be as middle of the road as possible, appealing to the moderates, with token nods to your true liberal roots.

In Clinton’s example, the “token nod” was his half-assed effort to fix the health care mess here.

There are plenty of honest-to-god liberals (anyone named Kennedy) and Socialists left (Vermont senator Bernard Sanders, while officially an Independent, is by all means a socialist), but they’re definitely in the minority.

(p.s. George W. “Shrub” Bush is mirroring Clinton’s plan to get elected in 2000. Except he’s from the other side of the aisle…)

A humble Brit offers his own opinions on the (near) end to hereditary peers…

It’s basically down to political expediency. While in practice the House of Lords cannot kill a piece of legislation (merely reject it and return it to the House of Commons) the delays in constantly bouncing it back can foul up a government’s legislative schedule to such a degree that laws inevitably end up on the cutting-room floor.

Given that most of the House of Lords is conservative-with-a-small-“c” (if not Conservative as in the party) removing hereditary peers helps Blair to remove some political opponents.

I would guess he’s either hoping to fill the chamber with a more even mix of life peers (those allowed to sit in the Lords for their own lifetime, usually as a reward for loyal political service) or replace it with some form of elected assembly. Either way he’d be hoping to increase the numbers favourable to his way of thinking…

I agree with mattk that Blair is happy to see any opposition nullified.

I also think a second chamber is a good idea, especially when the Government passes legislation in a hurry.

But the idea that intelligence and political skill is inherited strikes me as unfounded (I could use stronger words)

One of my pupils has a relative in the House of Lords. He told me ‘they give FREE service to the community.’ It transpired he wasn’t including the daily allowance of over £80 - that’s £400 a week - which is way over the average wage in this country. (And there are no job interviews for the post either!)

P.S. Montfort, you nearly made me join the ‘spit your drink over the computer’ thread - splendid analogy!

In the bathtub of history, the truth is harder to hold than the soap… (Pratchett)

Tony Blair was recently asked on TV whether he viewed himself as a socialist. The Beloved Leader hemmed and hawed for an extremely long time, before eventually saying “yes”. He then qualified the statement interminably, but i missed most of this as i was leaping for the remote control.

I’d like to have seen that. Next thing he’ll be calling himself a left-winger.
Ken Livingstone for Mayor
As long as I don’t have to live there of course.

I live in London and I’d rather have “Red Ken” than Frank “Yes Tony” Dobson. And don’t even get me started on Archer.

Ken may be worryingly earnest in his ideals, but better that than a yes-man for a Prime Minister increasingly tying himself up in knots over who to please most.

Apologies to all non-UK readers - and to all UK readers who just don’t give a damn about the mayoral mess in London.


I used to live in London (and my parents still do).

Livingstone for mayor! (although the Tony Blair party* will no doubt mess up London just to show we shouldn’t have voted for him)

Frank Dobson - have you ever seen him and Tony Blair in the same room? (or perhaps ‘Dobson has his head so far up Blair’s arse that…’*)

Lord Archer - so many rumours, so little time!

An ‘Archer’ is now recognised slang for £2,000. This is because Archer DID NOT pay a prostitute this amount (via his solicitor, in a paper bag, on a railway station).

Lord Archer DID NOT commit insider dealing when recently he bought thousands of shares in a company for a friend, 2 days before a takeover bid made the share price rocket. Yes, his wife was a director of the company, and knew all about the takeover but Lord Archer has denied speaking to his wife about it.

So that’s all right then.

*fill in something vulgar for yourself