“Well I think what we need to do as a society is…”
Beware anyone who starts a sentence like that. It will inevitably be practically meaningless. Who precisely needs to do what?
Typically, the speaker will be a politician of the left. What they are doing is moralising, not delivering in practice. It is at best woolly, and at worst arrogant.
This is what is happening across Europe. The populist rise is at the expense of the left, not the right, because in an economic emergency people simply do not need moralising. They need practical ideas and clear routes to deliver them.
The current implosion of the British Labour Party is perhaps best seen in that context. It is, of course, a particularly incredible example – the party has elected a Leader (mind, polls have been wrong before) whose entire campaign has consisted of trashing the last Labour Prime Minister and the legacy of his and his successor’s entire 13-year term in office. Through their moralising (and broader, crazed, blame game), they are actually telling people they were no good in government. It defies belief.
What is lacking is a serious analysis of what the country’s (and the world’s) general problems are and what can practically be done to address them. The Conservatives had that analysis, whether one accepts it or not – that society was broken, that one big reason was government debt, that another was the benefits system, and that what was needed was to free up schools, bring spending back under control, and reform welfare. What is Labour’s analysis, beyond that they don’t like “Tories” very much at a moral level (and “Tories” include Tony Blair and probably Andy Burnham)?
Ultimately the only purpose served by this moralising is to make the moraliser feel good about themselves. It does not help anyone in any practical way. It has no real purpose.
It is time to stop moralising, stop talking about what others should or should not do, and to stop accusing anyone outside a narrow social circle of being the enemy. The centre left must come up with its own analysis, and its own practical route to tackle the problems identified in that analysis. Otherwise, it will find no one is listening.