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The Labour dogs that didn’t bark in the night

Dog barking on leashThis has been an odd election in several respects, not least in the degree to which policy has been largely usurped by extraneous factors – initially vilification of Miliband (which the Tories mishandled and were forced to drop), then demonisation of the Scots as though they were some foreign menace (despite pleading with them on bended knees only 6 months before to stay with the union), and now sending out messages that any party seeking to form a government without having the largest number of seats is somehow illicit (despite precedents where that in reality did happen in 1924 and 1951).

The Tories, having such a poor and disreputable record to defend, have successfully managed to frame the election in terms that conceal their weakness and distract voters’ attention from what really matters – do you want another 5 years of Osborne’s austerity? Do you want public services privatised into a fully market regime? Do you want the State to go backwards to the 1930s? Do you want to keep household incomes at near breaking point?

Most successfully of all, the Tories have packaged the economy as though it were a prime Tory asset. The reality is that Osborne transformed an economy fast bouncing back from the bankers’ nightmare in 2008-9 into a basket case in 5 short Tory years. Britain’s national income per head is still well below its pre-crash peak. Productivity, which determines future living standards, is the lowest (bar Italy) of any of the G20 rich industrial nations. Private investment is on strike as the bit FTSE companies prefer to sit on cash stockpiles of £700bn rather than invest in Osborne’s ‘recovery’ which they think won’t last (and they’re right).

In traded goods with other countries Britain now has the biggest deficit in modern history (£110bn a year). More than half of the 13m people officially defined as being in poverty now live in households where at least one person works. Household debt has now reached horrifying levels, tipping £2 trillions. Unemployment is still nearly 2 millions and of those supposedly in work an extra half a million people are now on zero hours contracts. Every dimension of the economy is now flashing red: there is not a single aspect of the economy which is working well.

Even reducing the deficit, which Osborne has fetishised as the centrepiece of economic policy, is dramatically failing. In 2010 he predicted it would be eliminated this year: it is now still £92bn, and worse it is actually starting to grow again this year. Not only have it been the slowest recovery from recession, Britain might even now be heading back into recession were it not for Osborne’s luck-of-the-devil in international oil prices halving in this last year. Even so, the slide in economic growth from an annual 2.8% in mid-2014 to the latest quarterly figure of 0.3% announced last week indicates that Osborne’s 2013-4 uptick is now largely deflated.

It is frankly incredible that a government which has boasted of its economic record and yet has made such a comprehensively disastrous mess of the economy has not been eaten alive by Labour.

Image copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo


  1. Robert says:

    “The Tories, having such a poor and disreputable record to defend, have successfully managed to frame the election in terms that conceal their weakness and distract voters’ attention from what really matters – do you want another 5 years of Osborne’s austerity? Do you want public services privatised into a fully market regime? Do you want the State to go backwards to the 1930s? Do you want to keep household incomes at near breaking point?”

    With all due respect labour past did not look so good either and with news coming out that the UK’s recovery is the best within the EU even better then Germany, will I suspect make some people sit up and take notice.

    Labour past was littered with Blair and Brown trying to force on us mostly what they thought they needed to keep us all in line one of the most authoritarian governments of modern history .

    This election I suspect will be one in which politicians will ask how do we get people back and interested in voting, I expect labour will say use the law to force people to vote and then they will go off and vote for smaller parties.

    I do not know, I and many others hardly see any differences between the two big parties these days, labour offers us gifts after they failed to bother voting against it, like the bedroom so called tax. They speak to people in work like the rest of us do not matter. And then they expect us or maybe not to vote for them.

    Well to be honest Cameron or Miliband the thought is god help us all.

  2. David Pavett says:

    It would be helpful if someone could convince Michael Meacher that it is normal these days to give links to material substantiating key assertions. How do we use the claims without that? “Michael Meacher said so” is not likely to be crunch debating point.

    1. Robert says:

      Of course these articles are taken from his own site, so he does not read these comments on here. If you go to his own site, he may well answer you with links, he does sometimes.

  3. David Ellis says:

    British capitalism is a busted flush. In 2008 it died. Now the super rich are calling in their markers including those taken over by the state from the bankrupt banks in the name of the poor, sick, young, old and disabled. This, the bank bail out, austerity, QE, is the mechanism by which the poor are getting poorer and more numerous, the rich fewer but much richer and the real economy is being asset stripped and liquidated. We are undergoing the greatest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich perhaps in human hisgtory. Labour, an opportunist formation based in redistributing the crumbs of empire to a labour aristocracy, with the capitalist system dead, has nothing to bark about. No more endogenous growth theory, no more no more boom and bust, no more third way just a slightly re-worded version of Tory austerity. The next budget who ever delivers it is going to be the most vicious attack on working people this country has ever seen perhaps since 200 years ago which is why the ruling elite are making such a song and dance about celebrating Waterloo.

    1. Robert says:

      Whom ever is in power and Mr Meacher and others will just moan about it but will hardly lose a nights sleep, while people like me will wonder if living is worth it. And i really think my life will end because I will find it impossible to live a decent life.

  4. In order to win an argument you have to have an alternative case. Michael, you repeatedly ask the same question over and over again. Why does the Labour Party supinely keel over before the Tories.

    Might I suggest you re-read the last Chapter of Orwell’s ANIMAL FARM?

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. John p Reid says:

      Hardly, that was people replacing oppressors only to be oppressive ,master class themselves,

      We do have elections to oust people and we have to appeal to majority to win

  5. for most people in the UK today it hardly matters. It does matter, and I will be voting Labour tomorrow. However the level of public apathy points to the reality that for the vast majority of people Labour is not delivering the changes expected, that the promise of a new dawn has not happened, and Labour’s vote has dropped. If Labour fails to win a majority tomorrow and Scotland rejects it, the reality of a party that has failed to generate majority support against a visciously right wing government cannot be covered up.

    Trevor FIsher

    1. John p Reid says:

      Possibly because right wing politics seem more popular, because the electorate maybe want that?

  6. it varies over time, and the current picture is obscure, with different areas moving in different ways, the Scots clearly wanting social democracy.

    When there was a uniform swing – the era of Jean Blondel’s book Voters parties and leaders, a classic of the 1960s, the whole UK was moving to the left in the second world war, then moved to the centre in the 1950s (Macmillan) then back to the centre left in the 1960s – and the pattern reversed again in the 1970s. Thatcher realized a hard right agenda was popular in the 1980s and this was true through most of the 1990s. New Labour thinks this is still the case, but on some issues the public is moving left eg public services, while the backwoods section of the Tory Party is moving out completely into the UKIP faction or the ‘bastards’ as John Major called them

    There is a possibility of a return to at least the days of Harold Wilson if Miliband gets into #10, but equally if Cameron gets in with UKIP support, we lurch to the right.

    Never been an election where the vote is so fragmented, at least in the modern period where women have the vote

    trevor fisher.

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