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It’s about the fundamentals, silly

bread and butterThe basic reason that the leadership election has been so disappointing, until Jeremy Corbyn came on the scene, was that it was stuck on issues (insofar as it was stuck on any issues at all) that, while certainly important, did not have the makings of a vision. Even when Corbyn prompted the others to produce some actual policies, they were not the real thing. Andy Burnham was right to praise land value tax and above all the need to integrate social care within the NHS, and Yvette Cooper was absolutely right to demand that Britain takes its proper share of Syrian refugees where the government response has been callously dehumanised. Bully for her. But these are not the fundamentals, and only Jeremy Corbyn seems to have grasped what this election is really all about.

It is about how the world (because it concerns far, far more than just Britain) should respond to the most momentous event since 1945. That is the biggest financial/economic crash for nearly a century, the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, and the longest run of prolonged austerity (and far from over) since the 1870s.

The City, the corporate business elite and the Tories (and to a lesser degree the Blairites from Blair downwards) regarded this as a glitch from which business-as-usual should return as soon as possible. They believed the underlying structure was sound, the ideology was right (i.e. de-regulation of finance, unfettered capitalism, glorification of the market, privatisation of all industries and services wherever possible, and suppression of any counter-force and in particular the trade unions), and removal of governments from the action was the best way to promote efficiency and growth. But not only did they believe it then, they still believe it when the evidence against it is now overwhelming.

The ultra-liberal business model has manifestly failed. It has led to an intensely fragile global economy, indeed to secular stagnation as Lawrence Summers has rightly termed it, and over six years of grinding austerity have produced neither sustainable growth nor much deficit reduction. We need some new ideas about the fundamentals, and only Corbyn seems to be offering them.

Corbyn opposes further austerity on the grounds that continually contracting the economy is incompatible with lasting growth. He wants to rebalance the economy by large-scale public investment in industry and services, with the serious goal of full employment, paid for either by mandating the publicly-owned banks to prioritise investment in British manufacturing or by a direct injection of QE funding into industrial investment rather than via the banks or by requiring a fair contribution of the costs from the extremely rich, none of which would require any increase in public borrowing.

Instead of pursuing privatisation and outsourcing which has turned out wildly expensive and wasteful, he would seek to create a new settlement between State and markets where private markets have clearly failed, particularly in sectors like energy, housing, rail, water, pensions and banking, in a manner that optimised the public interest rather than just maximised money-making. And much more.

9 Comments

  1. Bazza says:

    Yes and his economic policy is supported by Nobel Prize winning economists amongst others.
    Read in the financial pages Saturday that the ECB is pumping £60b QE a month into aiding the European banks – let’s do it for people!
    I watched the debate on Thursday on Sky and apart from Jeremy you could see the other 3 bourgeois politicians minds calculating – how can I promote myself and attack Jeremy?
    But as democratic socialists we should say what we belive in which is what Jeremy Corbyn has done and may be the reason behind his success in attracting support.
    I hope he can pull it off and it then it should mean exciting times and re-empowerment for Labour members or if not to paraphrase Amy Whinehouse, “It’s back to dull.”

  2. Jim says:

    Jez gets elected. Labour gets to spend 15 years talking amongst themselves. No electoral reform means no progress. PR now, then we might just make a few progressive policies stick.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      PR is ship that’s sailed, Brown, (in desperation not from any conviction,) offered it to the ever sleazy Lib/Dems and they turned him down point blank, (so much for their principles,) in favor of helping the Tory’s flogg off the NHS to various, mostly American based run for profit consortia.

    2. David Ellis says:

      So Jeremy Corbyn gets the blame for New Labour making the party unelectable for twenty years.

      1. Jim says:

        new labour finished in 2007, why would new labour be to blame for Ed Miliband losing in 2015 or Jeremy losing in 2020

        1. David Ellis says:

          Sorry mate we ain’t falling for that crap. Millibland was as New Labour as the next. He was involved in all their previous disasters and created a few of his own.

          As for 2020 it will be a miracle if anybody will be albe to make Labour electable again by 2020 after the shit New Labour pulled in power but of the four Corbyn has the best chance.

          1. jim says:

            he denounced new labour said it was over
            we’ve got our party back and Blairs name was booed at conference

  3. David Pavett says:

    Michael Meacher is right that without Jeremy Corbyn the leadership contest would have lacked any radical ideas questioning the underlying direction in which our society is travelling.

    What I think he and the Corbyn camp seriously underestimate is the need to develop and defend radical policies on the economy. Corbyn’s economic manifesto The Economy in 2020 is very welcome but is not a lot more than a back of an envelope sketch with various options, none of which is developed.

    The economy is the central battlefield which means that any suggestion of a change of direction will be subject to intense criticism – especially if Corbyn wins. That criticism has to be dealt with by developing the policy, rebutting the criticism and spelling out the details. So far, unless I am failing to see it, this is not happening.

    There is a lot if reasoned criticism from both hostile and friendly sources e.g. FT, Guardian, Counter Punch. This material needs to be answered and doing so will require the policy to be developed to fill in some of the missing detail. A failure to do so will seriously undermine Corbyn’s position if he becomes leader and having voted for him that worries me a lot.

  4. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    On a serious point, I voted on-line a while back and I’d have expected most people given the opportunity to have done the same so why are people getting their knickers in twist about not having received their ballot papers?

    Although according to some current narratives my vote won’t counted anyway; because of my honesty about my support, (grudging and reluctant,) for UKIP at the last election.

    The whole election precess seems to have been executed almost in the spirit of a cheap political gimmick and in the most half cocked, (and the one about a brewery,) manner imaginable.

    I’m not even entirely convinced that Corbyn will win, although given what he’s up against he probably will.

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