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Blairites off to a quick start in the New Year

One has to give credit to the Blairites: they never miss an opportunity to try to keep Labour close to corporate business interests and to have a niggle at the leadership. First up was Peter Mandelson’s Policy Network pamphlet arguing “Labour can sidestep the electoral trap being sprung by the Conservatives by refusing to be driven back to its core support. A patriotic appeal to the nation to improve growth and living standards, not a simple defence of the public sector and public spending”. So that’s it then. Having spent the Blair/Brown years ostentatiously turning our back on Labour’s core support and then being punished by suffering one of our biggest electoral defeats ever in 2010, we now apparently need more of the same. And what’s meant by a patriotic appeal to the nation to improve growth and living standards? Do we sing Jerusalem and wave flags at them?

Of course we should be pushing policies to promote growth that benefits the whole nation. But that requires major structural changes including radical banking reforms, regaining public control of the money supply, and a massive revival of manufacturing industry to try to regain the 5 million jobs lost in the last 3 decades of neoliberal capitalism. And to play down the role of the public sector is perverse since only public spending will turn the slump round when the private sector won’t invest because of lack of demand and is only creating 1 job for every 13 lost in the public sector.

Next up is a former member of Blair’s office, Tim Allan, now in PR, having a pop at the leadership for so-called “misguided anti-business rhetoric ” the conference speech. Do the Blairites not believe there’s something seriously wrong when expenditure on mergers and acquisitions now exceeds that on R&D and investment, or when last year our deficit on trded goods reached an unprecedented £100bn? The trouble with the Blairites is that they want to cosy up to the big corporate interests so much that they’re blind to how much industry has fallen behind under their regime of unfettered markets.

Then today, sadly, we have Liam Byrne advocating a tougher line on welfare because of the ‘spiralling housing benefit budget and benefits for long-term unemployment’. But the reason for sharply increasing housing benefit costs is because rents are rising fast because very few houses are being built and there’s a massive shortage of housing; but to punish tenants by artificially capping housing benefit is deeply unjust when the culprit is government housing policy (or the lack of it). Equally, to punish the long-term unemployed by cutting back on their benefit because they should be working is also profoundly unjust when there currently some 400,000 vacancies but 2.64 million unemployed; again the fault is government economic policy – Osborne’s choice of endless austerity rather than a jobs and growth strategy to close the deficit.

2 Comments

  1. Tiger Dave says:

    Michael

    You are totally right on Liam Bryne and Tim Allan. Byrne especailly is seeking to out b*stard the Tories in treatment of societies most vulnerable.

    However I hate to say this but I think you are being slightly unfair to Mandleson and his policy network. That report basically argued for Ed Miliband to keep what he was doing. Mandleson in public has not said anything disloyal and is a defender of Miliband. I think Eds off course but I wouldnt blame the prince of Darkness.

  2. Phil C. says:

    A question to ponder :
    do the ‘divide-and-rule’ Conservatives really have a cunning electoral trap, to bluff and bully the easily-scared Labour RIGHT wing into further alienating the core Labour vote and the masses who don’t vote (and who certainly wouldn’t vote Tory)?

    The Policy Network pamphlet may be well-intentioned but its claimed ‘insight’ into Tory tactics may have been unduly influenced by Blairite MPs & Blairite bloggers who fear any departure from their comfort zone, and are prepared to spout yet more voodoo guff about being electable?

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