Ergas rushes to wrong judgement in The Oz. The Labor pile-on has had everyone running their own book, and Henry Ergas couldn’t resist in The Australian. “Labor’s leadership farce merely plays out of a deeper trend: the crisis of social democracy”, he thundered, noting the falling electoral figures for European social democratic parties. Shocking stuff, until you look at the facts — chiefly, that the figures for social democratic parties have fallen because the support for parties to the left of them has risen. Thus, to take one example, Denmark’s SD party is quoted as being at 33%, without noting that the party is in power, with three other parties, two of which are to the left of them.
Ergas also fails to note that, while centre-right governments in northern Europe have modified social democracy, and reversed its push towards democratic socialism, they have retained many of its features. Thus, in six years in power, the Moderate Party of Sweden has somehow forgotten to abolish free higher education, free childcare, 400 days parental leave, unlimited unemployment and sickness benefits, rent control, collective industry policy and planning, and worker representation on corporate boards.
Why the lapse? Because every time the north European centre-right try to introduce something more Anglo-Saxon, they are soundly rejected. Even the country’s much-ballyhooed “free schools” movement is not a private education system in the way it’s understood here. And the whole system is funded without deficits, and none of it stifles entrepreneurial culture. Driven your Volvo to H&M by way of IKEA lately, Henry?
True, Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party coalition government is now trying to modify the country’s pension system — which, if successful, would indicate a political shift. Conversely, if they fail and it costs them the next election, we’ll know that the social democratic inheritance is far more deeply grounded than Ergas et al would like to believe. Given that the Obama administration is now pushing the US gently to the Left (or centre, from the Right), and advancing a social democratic ethic of sorts — the economy as a shared project — and gaining some recovery, as the austerity-focused UK continues to stagnate.
Meanwhile in Australia, the most vigorous, ideas-based party — from carbon tax to flexible hours and much more — remains the Greens, a classic north European social democratic party, pushing a clueless Labor, from the Left, to actually get things done. Tony Abbott’s major positive policy contribution in the past three years? Six months paid parental leave, to be paid for “by taxing business” — a move which would put Australia in the north-European social democratic framework. Wow! Good thing Henry doesn’t run a forecasting company. Oh that’s right, he did. — Guy Rundle
Front page of the day. Introducing the inaugural edition of The Sun on Sunday, which launched yesterday in the UK, replacing the now defunct News of the World:
Coming clean on s-x pests in the newsroom
“Sexual harassment is the ‘dirty little secret’ of the newsroom and is on the rise, according to the preliminary results of a survey by Monash University.” — The Australian
Murdoch’s Sun on Sunday: less a paper, more a mag
“The Sun on Sunday was the Sun — but not the Sun as we know it. In order to avoid giving offence and therefore hint at being a reincarnation of its deceased ugly sister, the News of the World, it appeared unusually bland.” — The Guardian
New Sunday edition signals Murdoch’s fighting back
“For the past week, it has been just like old times: Rupert Murdoch, shirtsleeves rolled up, bossing the newsroom of the country’s leading tabloid newspaper as if he had not been away building his media empire in America for much of the past 30 years.” — The New York Times
Leveson inquiry: senior MPS officers to appear this week
“A series of current and former Metropolitan police (MPS) representatives will appear before the Leveson inquiry from Monday, as the inquiry moves into its second module looking at the relationship between the press and police.” — journalism.co.uk
LA Times to put up a paywall beginning in March
“Beginning on March 5, visiting latimes.com will no longer be free. Today, the LA Times announced plans for a new online subscription service.” — Fishbowl LA
ESPN ‘Chink’ gaff: how responsible are we for things we don’t know?
“Is it possible that a journalist — or any adult — would not know that the word ‘chink’ (usually with a capital letter) was a racist term for a person of Chinese origin?” — Poynter