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Osborne is beginning to make some serious mistakes

George Osborne in China sqOsborne has always had an overweening arrogance as he plots his path to the premiership before 2020. But his calculation is beginning to desert him. It is extraordinary that he has spent a week sucking up to China, accompanied by six ministers in his retinue, when everyone else is fleeing the country as being in deep economic trouble. The idea that hooking up to China today puts Britain in prime economic position is absurd – what China is exporting is not the world’s manufactured products, but deflation risk – domino devaluations, layoffs and recession. Cosying up to China in today’s conditions is not a smart idea.

Then there’s the lack of reciprocity in Osborne’s dealings with China. He seems prepared recklessly to throw open Britain’s doors to any Chinese company for investment in almost any sector. By contrast China closes off many industrial sectors to foreign investors and imposes limits on ownership in many others. It leads to the farce that a foreign state is welcome to invest in British industry, but British state investment in British industry under the Tories is strictly taboo.

Then there’s the question of undermining UK national security, a charge which Cameron has been quick to throw at Labour, but which with much more substance his own chancellor is guilty of. By pleading with the Chinese to cut the deal over Hinkley C, Osborne is making a double mistake. He is allowing Chinese companies to operate at the heart of Britain’s nuclear industry, he is certainly putting at risk UK national security in the future. He is also subsidising the biggest white elephant in modern politics. Hinkley, if it is ever built, will be far and away the most expensive nuclear plant ever built.

It will be more expensive than Crossrail, the London super-sewer and the Olympics all combined. It will be subsidised up to the hilt by the taxpayer to guarantee EDF a 10% return on capital into the indefinite future, and there will be contractual protections again underwritten by the taxpayer against any unpredictable downsides throughout the ;life of the plant. The idea that Osborne and the Tories can be trusted for efficiency and cost-competitiveness is blown sky-high by this shibboleth alone.

Then there’s austerity. Osborne has so far got his way over this because New Labour colluded with the government in pretending that there was no alternative. Now that the Corbyn revolution is making clear that there is a much quicker, more efficient and better way to reduce the budget deficit, Osborne may now begin to encounter heavy resistance if he tries to force through the huge welfare and public expenditure cuts he’s promised. He will either have to back down, which would be a huge political humiliation, or he will find deficit reduction – the centrepiece of his economic programme – in free fall.

9 Comments

  1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    David Ellis will be along shortly:

    Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism have a meeting for tea at noon. Capitalism and Communism arrive on time, but Socialism is nowhere to be found. Finally he arrives, out of breath and apologetic. “I’m sorry,” says Socialism, “I was standing in line for sausage.” Capitalism says – “What’s a line?” And Communism says – “What’s a sausage?”

  2. Bazza says:

    Yes and the Chinese investments here he announced could have been done by UK state–led public investment. With Osborne it is Bourgeois Democrats (the Tories ruling for big business really) partnering with the Bourgeois Socialists (Chinese top down, undemocratic elite who use secret police etc.)
    Need democratic socialists to kick Tories out in the UK and in China democratic socialists to kick the CP out! Yours in international solidarity!

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      It’s called Gobalization, (or Free Trade, if you prefer although in practice wherever it’s happened throughout the 3rd World it’s actually anything but free and neither are the countries such as Chile foe example where it’s been inflicted. )

  3. Bazza says:

    Yes Michael I think we understand Osborne if we see him as a petty politician who is after the Tory Leadership and likes to play political games, trying to set petty childish traps for opponents.
    We on the other hand as democratic socialists should argue for what we believe in simply and clearly and passionately.
    Labour has had a good summer with 160,000 new members and particularly many of the young and progressives attracted back and with more democracy for members we are now getting back to our roots, and Labour is no longer distancing itself from trade unions.
    But now is the time to work on policies of mass appeal as well as supporting working people’s struggles including opposing the sinister TU Bill and signing up disaffected citizens to the electoral register.
    And we need to be honest in our debates.
    The are 15,695 nuclear missiles in the World and 93% of these are owned by Russia and America (7,500 Russia, 7,100 US) whilst France has 300, China 250, the UK 225, Pakistan 120, India 110, Israel 80, and N Korea 10.
    This is 9 countries out of 187 (about 5%) and perhaps this tells us which countries fear which countries (or who they used to fear).
    My heart is with scrapping Trident and at £100b it is obscene in a UK (and World) with so much need.
    Jeremy Corbyn made a good point saying he would not press the button; apparently the PM signs a letter re options such as retaliate, don’t retaliate, put weapons under the control of any allied country – and this unopened letter goes to the captain of the nuclear submarine – so if we are under attack and destroyed – some people may feel better knowing that we will kill hundreds of thousands or millions in revenge.
    But as a socialist I think you have to think of how we may impact upon all citizens – and some people are frightened and my head argues for a dinky one – say we spend £10b or £20b or rather waste this so some feel safe (I am thinking outside the box here politically) but with this option we offer at a stroke to get rid of 80% or 90% of our stockplile as an example to the World and ask the other 8 nuclear countries to do the same as a major move forward for peace (plus offer diversification for the workers – could make solar panels for the World’s poor in hot countries to give then free energy and with free iPads they could access MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) to empower themselves through free education).
    The third option is the status quo – renew Trident at a immoral cost of £100b which some Labour members want but the problem is current multi-lateralism seems to have no momentum.
    My heart is with (a) scraping Trident.
    My head (b) may be more with an 80% or 90% cut.
    But (c) my heart and head are in unison against 100% renewal.
    These are only my ideas brothers and sisters and are not set in stone, I just wish to offer food for thought in a decision which could potentially divide when we have much in common.
    We need an honest and comradely discussion on all policy and for example instead of leaving NATO just ask Russia, China, N Korea to join and make it a World Alliance and suddenly there may be fewer ‘man made’ enemies (and it usually is men) and we can spend the trillions instead of on military and arms on helping human beings, instead of on killing them!
    Intellectually and in simple language (giving everyone a say) we need to carry on campaigning with those who are economically insecure and who are having things hard, as well as building policies of mass appeal (drawing from evidence, research and life experience) to achieve the New World that is not only possible but with imagination and humanity could also be in reach.
    Yours in international solidarity!

  4. Robert says:

    It takes two to tango and it takes two to fire the nukes or at least to tell our subs to fire .

    Even then the subs have two people who must confirm that to fire is the correct way to go.

    If Corbyn refused to fire, I suspect they have another way of going about this, more then likely he would be shot an accident he slipped, and then Watson and and who ever is in third place would then read the firing code to the sub which would be already dead in the water because the Russian knew where it was and blew it up.

    Just joking except about the firing procedure The Prime minister can order it but the button takes two people the captain and the exec officer or the second in commend they will both have keys open up the safe read the firing codes as they do in the films and only if both agree they can then fire.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      Except that whole thing is an American manufactured weapons system, heavily dependent on on an American operated and controlled satellite targeting systems and it very far from certain that we could even use them without a mandate from the US anyway.

      Best be done with them.

      The most expensive and pointless set of, Boy toys,” ever.

  5. David Ellis says:

    The truth is that Trident does not protect Britain as part of America’s system of deterrence it makes Scotland a target. The Labour establishment are more than happy to put the Scots in the front line and of course they want Corbyn to fail so denying any chance whatsoever of regaining seats in Scotland is one way of doing it.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      As is sometimes, (often,) the case whilst I don’t entirely share your reasoning, we somehow still arrive at more or less the same place, (at more or less the same conclusion,) although I don’t really understand your view of Scotland as somehow being a target distinct from the rest of UK; we’re a very small island and a nuclear strike anywhere in the UK would inevitably have dire repercussions throughout the entire country.

  6. Bazza says:

    The problem we may now have is going into the Scottish Elections without a clear policy on Trident.
    The SNP are starting to sound a little worried about Labour trying to return to its roots.
    But there may be a democratic way out of our dilemma.
    Perhaps we could have an on-line Consultation Process for members on the issue -it’s what teachers do in higher education – seek feedback.
    We could ask members to vote on-line on a number of options and on each one (a-d) in turn say if they are FOR, AGAINST or ABSTAIN.
    (a) Scrap Trident?
    (b) Cut nuclear weapons by 80-90% and ask the other 8 nuclear countries to follow suit?
    (c) Cut nuclear weapons by 50% and ask other countries to follow suit?
    (d) Retain Trident?
    I at present may be minded to abstain on (a) vote yes for (b) and vote no for (c) & (d).
    I would not be heart broken if the majority went for option (a) but just feel in my bones option (b) may be better politics and could be popular which we need to win.
    The Labour Leadership could then say the strongest feeling from members to date seems to be for option _ but the final decision will be taken at the Labour Conference in 2016 when the whole of the Labour Party has had the chance to fully discuss this issue more widely.
    Just some food for thought brothers and sisters.

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