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Killing a few less and doing it in a slower and more kindly fashion is no answer

Eastleigh was never going to be a Labour win, but it would have done a good deal better if people knew what Labour really stood for compared to the other parties, particularly on the economy.   The one central issue on which all others turn is how to handle the deficit, yet here Labour continues to represent merely a pale shadow of Tory policy.   There are still far too many senior figures from the discredited New Labour network (such as Patrick Diamond, former adviser to Blair-Brown, in the Guardian today) who continue to repeat the mantra of ‘financial discipline’ – as if we hadn’t had a bellyfull of this already from Osborne (and with 70% of cuts still to come) – yet with nothing but an imminent triple dip recession to show for it.

They show lip service to a growth strategy without giving any idea how it might seriously be achieved, since merely tweaking the Osborne cuts agenda – cutting less far, less fast – is just a recipe for economic decline, but a bit more slowly than the Tories.

The problem is not, as they seem to think, simply changing the definition of inflation (including assets as well as consumer prices), or enhancing productivity (when the economy’s contracting and joblessness sky-high), or re-defining ‘property-owning democracy’ (when poverty is fast rising) or funding a capital endowment for citizens at 18 (when they can’t get jobs).

It’s about something much more fundamental than that – whether their obsession with balanced budgeting is really sensible when it leads straight to stagnation, and whether their tolerance of sky-high unemployment as a semi-permanent part of the landscape isn’t a ‘price worth paying’ but rather an economic abomination to be avoided at all costs.

What Labour needs now to make clear beyond any doubt is that the Osborne massacre of the innocent isn’t inevitable and that killing a few less and doing it in a slower and more kindly fashion is no answer either.   The only way to deal with the deficit in the pit of a deepening recession is through

  • a huge programme of public investment where it is sorely needed – social housing, improved infrastructure, low-carbon economy
  • funded by quantitative easing (instead of throwing the money at the banks)
  • taxation of the ultra-rich (who caused the recession and have contributed nothing to remedying it)
  • instructing RBS and Lloyds (after all, we own them) to prioritise lending to to major agreed manufacturing projects, or
  • borrowing at rock-bottom interest rates to generate a million jobs within 2 years.

Take your pick – more Osborne, more New Labour, or something the voters of Eastleigh might well have gone for rather than UKIP.

4 Comments

  1. tony says:

    Labor stands for two jags, war crimes and public money for moats and duck houses

  2. Chris Smith says:

    Surely a major part of the problem is that Labour has to present its economic policy to an electorate most of whose members think that the national economy is only their household economy writ large, who don’t realise that it is an accounting impossibility for the public, private and international sectors all to be in surplus at the same time and have no idea that 97% of ‘money’ is debt created by the joint stock banks out of thin air. If you asked them who Keynes was, they’d probably think he was the bloke who designed the new town in Buckinghamshire.
    This is no problem for the Tories – after all, popular ignorance and prejudice has always been the basis of their scam.
    However, it is in a large part Labour’s own fault that we are in this situation. The role of the statesman, let alone the agitator, has always been to educate the public and to lead them from ignorance to understanding. This is not elitism – most people have their work cut out in scraping a living and have no time to study Modern Money Theory and the like. Since the 1950s Labour seems to have backed away from trying to form opinion and moved into following it. Where are the Bevans or indeed the Bevins of our day? Instead, we have guys who, if things had gone slightly differently, could have made a reasonable career at Unilever.
    Sorting out our economy and society requires sophisticated practice based on sophisticated ideas. It needs a populace who comprehend those ideas. and for this to happen, it needs politicians – statesmen – who can explain those ideas in a language that will put the Dacres and the Camerons of this world to shame.
    Any takers?

  3. Big Bill says:

    So, time for a new party then? A nice idea but what happens to it, indeed, what happens to politics itself, when the general public realise prominent ministers from all governments have colluded with an American insurance company to end the benefits system altogether, not because we can’t afford it (as they keep trying to tell us) but because it opens up a multibillion pound market from which they can all expect to receive perhaps tens of millions personally, by way of reward from said American insurance company? We’re talking about the last several governments here and that includes governments of all political hues. The only way forward from this, if politics and indeed central goverment itself are to survive, is for all those involved to stand in front of a jury and be judged, no matter what damage it might do to their respective parties politically. Arrange for that and there might be a future for national politics, If it doesn’t happen, then what’s the point in voting when the electorate simply get milked by whoever’s in power? Oh yes, all the utilities need to be returned to public ownership too (speaking of milking the electorate) water, electric, gas, the railways and money.

  4. Patrick Coates says:

    Our Lib Dems have just selected a person Jasper someone who has an open top Jag!

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