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The Tories have won. Our priority must be to campaign against austerity & inequality

Cameron at No 10 on BBCThe result of this election has surprised us all. We expected the defeat in Scotland where we suffered the consequences of Blairism. We failed there to make our overwhelming and explicit priority the defence of the Scottish working class in the face of deindustrialisation, deskilling, growing inequality and poverty, and the attack on public services and the welfare state. We did not expect the failure to make any significant breakthrough against the Tories in England.

Opposing austerity – something to which we should have committed from the start – requires building alliances with all those who are prepared to join with us in this task.  No one who is willing to support this campaign should be rejected. 

We must not waste the opportunity to put the new MPs as well as MSPs and councillors from the SNP and other parties to the test (as well as our own). Expectations by their voters are high. Fighting the attacks on working class people is the way to turn Scottish politics away from obsession with ‘nation’ and independence to attacks on working class people.

Strengthening not weakening the links with the trade unions is crucial to that enterprise. We must return to recognising the benefit of Labour being a movement with two wings, industrial and political. In pursuing the “reforms” of the Collins review, Ed Miliband gambled on wining this general election and introducing state funding for political parties. Unfortunately, under pressure from the misnamed forces of ‘Progress’, he gambled and lost.

The finances of the party are now at risk. If necessary, the ‘Collins’ changes should be reversed, though it may be too late to do so in Scotland where yesterday most trade unionists in unions affiliated to the Labour Party may well have voted SNP. Labour must allow trade unions in Scotland the flexibility to deal with that as they think necessary.

There is little to be gained by seeking retribution for the errors made by our leaders. Ed Miliband bears only a small part of the responsibility for what has happened in Scotland. In England, the failure to make significant gains was unfortunately the result of the efforts of the Tories to drive a wedge between people in England and Scotland though some gains have been made.

One change that Ed Miliband must make is to strengthen his own base of supporters and reduce the pressure on him from the remaining Blairites in the parliamentary party. The losses of shadow cabinet members gives him the flexibility to achieve this. Ed Miliband is in a unique position to be able to unite the party in a campaign against the destruction of the most important gains that British social democracy  made in the twentieth century. We must back him in that.

56 Comments

  1. Barry Ewart says:

    Yes terrible news and the joke going round some of grassroots Labour and anti-Tory voters in England is “I’m moving to Scotland! ”
    You’ve got to laugh or else you’d cry.
    The tragedy is setting neighbour against neighbour re welfare and established citizens against newcomers seems to work.
    And setting England against Scotland.
    Labour should have taken the Tories on re the narrative that they were to blame for the financial mess and a positive approach to immigration uniting working class/working people.
    Oh and Ed’s BBC Debate appearance was a car crash. But how has Labour managed to be dominated at the top my an Oxbridge elite?
    Grassroots Labour needs to get the party and Conference back – we should have a £5 membership fee (better off can pay more) and £1 unwaged and at least 2 working class candidates (social classes 3-6) on every Parliamentary Shortlist.
    We have lost a battle but they have not won a war- it is the labour of the working billions that creates the wealth and makes societies work and the rich and powerful legally nick their surplus labour. Every day they have to continue the Con.
    I am not a politician but a democratic socialist and we need such a voice.
    They are trying to blame Labour for being “Too Left” when it was timid.
    Just listened to John Lennon music -feel bit better.
    Keep hope alive!
    Yours in love and international solidarity!

    1. Robert says:

      Yes timid is about right, speaking to those in work dumping all the rest massive mistake.

      Now watch Progress move to get it’s right wing elected leader. Reeves is my bet.

  2. Mukkinese says:

    Until the left finds a way to get it’s voice heard, this will keep happening. the rightwing will now make a concerted effort to grab the reigns of the Labour party and then we will have no one to speak for the workers and poor. Not that Labour have been doing much of that lately.

    Find a way to get our message out. This election has proven, yet again, that the press has an overwhelming influence on voters.

    Without reliable information how can the electorate make sensible decisions?

    1. Robert says:

      Rubbish that is so old it’s out dated, labour lost this election not the Tory press, you lot will find excuses but the fact does not fit those excuses.

      Labour lost this election because it did not wish to be seen as being socialist, it did not want to be seen as being soft on welfare, so decided it would hammer down, it then stated labour is the party of working people not welfare or benefits In the labour forgot that most working people at the bottom live off welfare and benefits because the wages are so bloody low.

      People did not vote labour because labour did not speak to them or for them.

      1. Mukkinese says:

        Being more leftwing is not the answer, having a broader appeal is the answer. When was the last time an obviously leftwing party won an election?

        New Labour did it by having both left and rightwing policies, not centrist as was thought. they had a broad appeal.

        In an independent non-party survey of policies two fifths of the vote went to; Britain’s exit from the EU, less immigration and less drastic action to tackle climate change, but was also against private involvement in public services (the National Health Service) and in favour of more business regulation.

        While I don’t agree with the first three policies, if Labour want to be more popular, they need to address the concerns of the voters.

        The obvious stand-out popular Labour policy ideas this election have been regulating big, business, keeping public services, the NHS in particular, out of the hands of private enterprise and spreading taxes more fairly.

        Add into this a pragmatic approach to the E.U. and immigration, tough, but not necessarily anti-E.U. and it would seem Labour had the right ideas, roughly.

        What lost it was a confused message.

        First Labour did not defend their record and let the public hear the accusation that this is Labour’s mess unchallenged. This got them seen as the party of economic incompetence.

        Secondly, they start with an anti-austerity stance and then U-turned and decided austerity-lite is the way to go. This did not help, sticking with the anti-austerity stance would have been much better. It was popular.

        Lastly, these things were not repeated again and again in a positive and straightforward way for long enough.

        Most people are not that sure of what Labour’s policies are…

        1. Mukkinese says:

          If Labour want to have popular support and the party of the whole country, they need to appeal to both right and left. The Tories have the right, but Blair had sections of both, like him or not…

          1. Robert says:

            Yes well appealing to the rich worked well for Blair but I’m not rich or for that matter right wing, if I wish to vote for the right we have the real thing in power now.

  3. Dave says:

    Well, the Scottish people need to be thanked by Mr Cameron for, to a great extent, voting a Tory government back in to power. The SNP can have as much rhetoric as it wishes now. At least the SNP will not be able to blackmail the British people.
    I do think that many members of the British public were fearful of Mr Miliband forming some kind of an alliance with Ms. Sturgeon if Labour won.
    If labour wish to make a come back, they should not make Chuka Umunna The new Labour leader, as we all remember his speech to the Muslim Community about Muslim MP’s taking over Government. Chuka is a big no no to me, as I think religion and politics should be kept as far apart as possible.

    1. Robert says:

      God almighty how a person can get things so wrong, Chuka Umunna should not win because he is to the right a New labour Blair-rite Progress drone.

      Not because he backed the Muslims which you seem to have serious issues with.

      The SNP won in Scotland because they had the better policies, the better offers, people do not vote for a party unless they offer something they want, the fact is labour lost this election because they spoke to a small group of people in work, but the people in work felt the Tories had a better offer.

      1. Dave says:

        Robert, any one who mentions something that you don’t like, you accuse them of having serious issues with.
        As you said to me in a previous answer “That’s your opinion”

        1. Matty says:

          Despite my issues with Robert he does sometimes get things right, this reply is one of them. What on earth are you talking about “we all remember his speech to the Muslim Community about Muslim MP’s ..”?

          1. Rod says:

            Well said, Matty.

            While he may say what people don’t want to hear, Robert is often spot-on.

            His is a valuable voice that should be heard.

  4. ed milband is a dead duck and the press claim he will resign. if not he should be pushed. A weak and inadequate man who could not make decisions, he did not, unlike Michael Foot have any core values that he would defend. Apart from the NHS, but one issue is not an election campaign.

    Curious that Jon Lansman thinks he could “defend the most important gains the social democrats made in the twentieth century”. The man had four and a half years to do that, and never made any defence of the welfare state. Embraced austerity instead. At least Ed Balls has time to rethink his mistaken backing of the Tory Agenda. Ed Miliband should be given time to do the same.

    He does have responsibility for Scotland. It was on his watch that the SNP outflanked Labour to the Left. The triangulation strategy of New Labour has now collapsed, time for a new approach and the new leader will succeed or fail by rejecting New Labour and triangulation,

    Trevor fisher

    1. Robert says:

      Now of course the new leadership contest will start with Progress putting forward it’s choice, against whether Labour left has anyone, they do think it will be Chuka or Burnham or Reeves.

      Labour did nothing at all in fact Miliband apologies for the crises on the Andrew Marr show, he did not have the ideology or the stomach to battle that one . The who idea that welfare was a loser when so many people a lot in work get it was a disaster for labour.

    2. Matty says:

      First thoughts:
      Ed M has to go. Ed Balls made a great speech on the economy at Bloomberg but Ed M didn’t buy into it and instead Labour adopted austerity-lite http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/16/austerity-uturn-ed-balls-mistake

      Having said that Labour credibility on the economy was always going to be a tough sell because the great financial crash happened under a Labour Govt (no matter that it would have been even worse under the Tories).

      Ed’s image was too geeky and he lacked charisma. Unfairly, he came across as weak even though he was brave enough to stand up to Murdoch.

      I also think Labour an important amount of votes to UKIP. The scapegoating of immigrants by the right-wing press worked.

      I’m still really shocked though by the result, all the pollsters failed to predict this. The last time this happened was 1992 but look what happened to the Tories then.
      All the best
      Matt Stiles
      Eltham CLP

      1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

        Ed Balls, (and too many like him,) is thieving sticky fingered parasite so who cares, we’re all well rid of him.

        1. Robert says:

          He’s a lot of things but a parasite , you must save all the bull sh*t up to come on here

    3. David Pavett says:

      I agree with Trevor. Miliband, who has now resigned, was a weak leader with no higher social objective than “responsible capitalism” i.e. something like Ted Heath’s “capitalism with a human face”.

      Labour messed up big time in Scotland and that was on Miliband’s watch. During his period of leadership Labour went from lethal complacency to panic and then scare tactics. Every single step undermined Labour’s position in Scotland.

      On austerity I would just add that it is no good just trying to rally people to oppose it. Opposition cannot be effective without a clear alternative worked out in some detail. That is something we never got from Labour under Ed Miliband.

      Now the fear is that Labour will shift further to the right and Progress, along with media commentators (Andrew Marr is banging on about the need for Labour to give up on its “statism”), will be working hard for that. The hope was that Miliband’s true inclinations were closer to the left than the alternative possible leaders and that on this basis he should be supported. But he surrounded himself with right-wingers and caved into Tory ideological pressure on a range of key issues.

      A period of discussion about why Labour did so badly should precede a leadership contest. We need to see the sort of analysis that potential leaders can produce. I am not at all sure that this will happen but I am convinced that is what should happen.

      1. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

        “On austerity I would just add that it is no good just trying to rally people to oppose it. Opposition cannot be effective without a clear alternative worked out in some detail.”

        I would very strongly recommend that the Labour left watches this video. It gives the left an intellectual grasp of deficits and government spending, cuts and surpluses. It is brilliantly explained and gives the left a tool box for articulating why austerity is economically bankrupt as well as morally bankrupt.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBpm5sVmGYc
        Follow it up with Bill Mitchells blog on deficits.

        http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=332

        1. Mukkinese says:

          Thank you for those links. Very interesting, I will certainly read up more on this.

          I would describe myself as a “deficit dove”, but I am always open to learning new things…

        2. David Pavett says:

          @Sandra

          I have followed the three links you provided. In my view the solutions incoherent to incomprehensible and in the case of the first reference they come with a big does of arrogance.

          In that sense they bear out my point about the need for an open and well-informed debate. What they do not provide is a ready made solution that we simply need to sign up to.

          I find myself wondering if you have actually studied the detail of the arguments presented or if you have recommended them on the basis that they promote conclusions which are the ones you want to reach. I apologise if this sounds rude but I find it very difficult to believe that anyone could offer these three sources as providing any sort of coherence approach.

          Arrogance. Your first link is to an 90 minute lecture by Steven Hail. I watched 50 minutes of it but could then take no more. (1) He spends the first 15 minutes saying nothing more than that he is the bringer of wonderful new insights and that practically everyone else is talking nonsense. He is strong on this sort of dismissal but very weak on explaining the basis for it. (2) He repeatedly asserts that his insight is not based on theory but on “the facts” or even on “pure facts”. I suggest that anyone with any sort of feel for economics should at this point feel that they are listening to someone selling the equivalent of economic snake oil.

          Incoherence. There is much that is internally inconsistent in these presentations but the incoherence is most flagrant when they are compared to each other. Steven Hail claims that no theory is required, just the “pure facts” whereas your third reference (to a paper by W. D. McCausland and I. Theodossiou) tells us on the first page

          Pasinetti (1989) and Dalziel (1991) examine the relationship between the distributions of income and the method of government finance following Kaldor (1956), and confirm that both Kaldor’s theory of income distribution and the Cambridge theory of the rate of profits are robust to a range of methods of financing budget deficits. However, Pollin (2012) gives some alternative arguments to the normal Ricardian equivalence hypothesis why expansionary fiscal policy in the US during the 2008 financial crisis might not have the results expected …

          So much for “pure facts”.

          Incomprehensible/b>. McCausland and Theodossiou conclude with sentence like this

          The results show a consistency and robustness between fixed and random effects estimations. The importance of lagged effects is acknowledged, using the Mundlak approach to explicitly consider the transitory-permanent dichotomy of the deficit ratio – debt relationship and Hausman and Taylor to account for the effects of endogeneity in the relationship.

          Have you actually read this stuff and are you really recommending this as the sort of material that will help to forge a clear common perspective on austerity?

          The problem, as I see it, is that there is very little understanding of the economic issues on the left (just look at the number of responses to economic articles on Left Futures) and that various solutions are being drawn into this intellectual vacuum. This is bound to include a lot of highly dubious material. What is needed is some critical discussion about the economic concepts used. You can be sure, I think, that when people start a discussion about money by saying that

          The most fundamental definition of money which is what economists call the monetary base – what I’ll call government money. It exists in two forms, in the form of currency at issue … and also in the form of the balances of our banks and other financial institutions have at the reserve bank. In other words it exists in the form of electronic items on a big spread sheet. (Steve Hail)

          Marx, and not only him, spent a great deal of effort to understand the nature of money. Do you think their efforts were wasted and that they just needed someone to say to them “What is money? Money is government money.”? Is this really a path to understanding? Incidentally, you will get a quite different answer from the New Economics Foundation or the Positive Money people.

          It is important to note that there are many left-wing economists who take a completely different approach to economic analysis. If you look at the references in articles and books by people like Duncan Foley, Costas Lapavitsas, Makoto Itoh or many others, you will find works listed taking a fundamentally different approach. What is worse is that there seems to be no dialogue between these different strands of left economics. It would surely be crazy to plump for one type of solution without understanding the alternatives. That is where we need to start. It will be hard work but I think there is no way this can be sensibly avoided.

          1. David Pavett says:

            Sorry the formatting went wrong above. The bold should have ended after “Incomprehensible”. I the end bold tag is incorrect. Perhaps the editor could correct this.

          2. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

            Sorry David,
            The third article was not maybe the best!
            But I do assure you that the video of the lecture by Steve Hail was an excellent exposition of what is known as modern Monetary Theory. There is a wiki on it.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Monetary_Theory
            My reason for mentioning it here is because Osbourn and the neoliberals keep stating that we must make cuts, and get rid of the deficit.
            I have been studying economics for 5 years. I have looked at money in particular. There are 2 sources – government spending, or bank loans.
            Banks incur a debt, governent spending incurs an asset to business and households when it spends.
            Countries that have deficits and exports have healthy economies, those that clear deficits have mounting household debt and recessions. The data and graphs prove it.
            I gave a link to Bill Mitchells blog which is brilliant.
            MMT is supported by Steve Keen, Michael Hudson, Warren Mosler, Stehanie Kelton,
            (economic advisor to the left senator Bernie Sanders), old proponents were Hyman Mynsky. But, the original master of deficit stimulus was none other than John Maynard Keynes.
            Politicians who say we have run out of money are either lying, incompetent, or deluded.
            A sovereign issuer of money can never run out!
            How is it that 370bn could be conjured up to pay the banks, and the QE continues to this day, while the poor go to food banks?

            I am passionate about this issue and have spent years looking into it. If you do not think I have provided enough info please ask for more.

            BTW Positive money does not provide an adequate answer. Governments can spend into the economy to save it at any time they wish – and should regulate or nationalise the banks if they want them to work in the national interest.
            You can see from the lecture that he quotes many well established economists and members of the federal reserve as evidence, he does not expect you to take his word for it.

          3. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

            I have another link from the Washington Post.http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/modern-monetary-theory-is-an-unconventional-take-on-economic-strategy/2012/02/15/gIQAR8uPMR_story.html It is about another very famous post Keynesian Modern Monetary Theorist – Jamie Galbraith, son of the famous John Galbraith, economist to JFK.
            He was invited to the White House to talk about Clintons surpluses (taxing exceeding expenditure).
            He stated that this was the reason for the recessions.
            Now – Miliband and balls were promising surpluses and annual cuts in the deficit.
            Can you now see why I am posting this?
            IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT the left KNOWs WHEN WE ARE LISTENING TO BULLSHIT.

          4. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

            This is definitely not snake oil. It is born out of Keynesian economics. The economics of 1945 to 1975. A period of growth, stability and increasing equality.

          5. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

            Another link to the argument between Galbraith and Paul Krugman regarding MMT.

      2. Steven says:

        You do not actually contradict or in any way analyse the two main points I was making in the forum, David.

        1) A monetary sovereign government which does not issue foreign currency debt, and does not have a fixed exchange rate target, can not ever become insolvent. Consequently, inflation is the only constraint on government net spending.

        2) Government budget surpluses are unsustainable, in that the either require the build up of private sector fragility, or they require current account surpluses which transfer that fragility to other nations.

        These are both demonstrable facts, in that they are just the result of institutional realities and accounting identities. No-one disagrees that they are facts. The dispute is whether they are of any significance.

        Base money is the liabilities of the central bank, which is why (to keep things simple for the audience) I called it ‘government money’. It is also sometimes called ‘vertical money’. Money created by private banks is sometimes called ‘horizontal money’. It has value in exchange because it is convertible into vertical money. Banks create a great deal of horizontal money, which is however not a net financial asset for the private sector. Vertical money and government debt securities are net financial assets for the private sector. The distinction is important.

        I am sorry to appear arrogant. had you seen the entire forum, you would have become aware that I was merely passing on the ideas of Bill Mitchell, Stephanie Kelton, Randall Wray, and other modern monetary theorists.

        It is necessary to be somewhat strident, however, or you won’t gain anyone’s attention, in a world where orthodox neoclassical economics has a virtual monopoly in the media, within political parties (including, alas, the Labour Party), and even in most universities and journals.

        I do strongly recommend the work of Professor Bill Mitchell, and his ‘Billyblog’ site, in case you would like to discuss MMT from the basis of a fuller understanding of its principles and the evidence.

        If you or anyone wants to take the stock-flow macroeconomics on which MMT is built further, then a book called Monetary Economids, and co-authored by the late Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie, is worth reading.

        MMT is offered as a frame for thinking about the role of government budgets. I am not trying to convince you of anything. If you are not convinced, that is up to you. I certainly didn’t intend to make people like you angry, and can’t really understand why you appear to be so.

        All the best anyway.

  5. Verity says:

    Unfortunately the Labour Party establishment will now stubbornly do yet more damage to its base working class support in its acquiescence to the top – down, elitist-corporatist and anti-democratic political union. The thought of occupying similar ground to UKIP in a ‘no to a corporate-political absorption’ campaign is very painful, but does look almost inevitable. British Unions have been a very weak element here when they turn to the supposed savior of EU ‘machine’ regulations to achieve pitifully few protections as a preference to the more difficult and long lasting task of building of mass pro – European (but anti-EU) movements. The outcome for Labour seems so predicable it is a sad home inflicted defeat even when with Conservative – Liberal support they win the referendum.

  6. Jim Denham says:

    Comrades in Unite must now prepare for a major fight against petty bourgeois forces (some of whom have the ear of Len McCluskey) arguing that now is the moment for a break with Labour.

    1. David Ellis says:

      You are a petty bourgeois force you zionist toad.

    2. Robert says:

      The GMb warned labour lose this and we are gone so it’s not just UNITE

  7. Miliband has resigned. While this site still has influential contributors arguing about what “we” should have done it will not attract the support needed to combat the damage done by New Labour. There is a small space open to say this was not the Labour Party and it has to get back to basics. But not if it is “our” party since the people needed to regain lost ground – some of which are among the 13% who voted for UKIP – do not see the Labour Party as their party under any circumstances. And they are right.

    Seeing the Labour Party as hostile terrain but a battleground for winning over a new progressive majority is vital. I left the Labour Party in 2007 and voted Labour yesterday only to keep the Tories out. If people like me are to get involved in the task of stopping Labour disintegrating completely, which is possible, then recognizing this is a failed right wing party is the first essential.

    Carpe Diem

    Trevor Fisher

    1. Robert says:

      I voted at 9.30 last night after a long hard look at where I would go, but I had to really work at putting my x next to labour but this was it. If labour now get a Progress drone as a leader it really will be over.

  8. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

    The economist Bill Mitchell (in Australia), has just said this on his latest blog entry “the billy blog,”

    “The Labour Party are being punished, particularly in Scotland, for being a Soft Touch Tory Party, given their embrace of the neo-liberal fiscal deficit cutting agenda. The Scottish outcome is also likely to demonstrate the continued separatist sentiment there.”

    To understand him, first watch this video by Steve Hail,

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBpm5sVmGYc

    and then go to Bill Mitchells billyblog
    here.
    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=332
    Bill Mitchell is the intellectual economist who provides the perfect argument and tools needed for the LEFT.
    The LEFT need to be able to give economic policy what I call “the grey scrutiny” ie the economic tools to criticise neoliberalism with knowledge, confidence and evidence.
    What or who made him change? Was he leaned on by the Progress Party? Do we have them to thank for this loss, or was it Miliband?

    1. SANDRA CRAWFORD says:

      Correction to the above – Ed Balls was following the deficit stimulus argument in his Bloomberg speech in 2010…….what or who made him change……

      1. Robert says:

        Labour these days is Progress the attack on the Union at Falkirk was Progress.

  9. Chris says:

    I blame the SNP voters. They let themselves be conned.

    The fight to crush the SNP at the next election starts today.

    1. Robert says:

      You and that Dave, you blame everyone except where the blame lays and that has to be directly at the door of Miliband. he was the leader so the buck has to lay directly with him and his people.

      The SNP is just a party and if the party does not say what the people want to hear then the SNP would be in the same place labour is today, but they spoke to the people. nobody tied those voters to the SNP but they spoke to the people and the people responded.

    2. Dave says:

      I could not agree with you more Chris and I also agree with Roberts reply, or should it be that Robert.
      The suggestion that Miliband should have told the Scottish people what they wanted to hear is totally ridiculous.
      According to Robert in previous posts, Miliband should have offered more to the Scottish people who are on benefits and labour would have had a chance against the SNP. The problem is, you can’t offer to buy people off when you are not able to deliver.

      1. Robert says:

        Sod all about offering more , but when you demonize people we have close to 12 million people on sickness benefits, we have about 8 million people on pensions we have a lot of people who claim welfare and it looks like they did not see labour worthy of voting for.

        labour tried to win all bets by talking to the middle class, the middle class decided to go to the Tories.

  10. James Martin says:

    I actually think Miliband was very wrong to resign now – I understand why he has done it but it was the wrong time when we need to steady the ship (hard without a hand on the wheel) and we first need to have a sober assessment (and some number crunching) of the result. Yes, overall it was very poor but it wasn’t a disaster – we got some good results in many parts of England and Wales (but not all), and some good scalps (e.g., the truly nasty Esther McVey who can now go back to selling plastic diamonds on QVC rather than have designs on the leadership of the Tories).

    The Party remains a large opposition bloc, and it is the time for the unions to press to strengthen the links not break them.

    Yes, I was never a fan of Miliband and he made huge and costly mistakes (the attacks on Stevie Deans and Karie Murphy were and are unforgivable), I never voted for him (or his NATO loving brother) in the last leadership election, but Progress will now be working to put their candidate in to continue again the ‘Project’, and it remains to be seen who can stand and win against them, although Andy Burnham is a possibility.

  11. Barry Ewart says:

    Good comments Sandra.
    I attended a brilliant public talk by Dr Ha Joon Chang at Leeds University about 3 years ago and Ha Joon argued we should all read the financial pages of the newspapers to be economically aware citizens.
    I have done this ever since (mainly the Guardian on a Friday & Saturday and a free copy of The Times in a pub I go in) and knowledge is power.
    Last weekend I read in the first quarter of this year growth in the US was 0.2%, in the UK it was down from 0.6% to 0.3% whilst growth in the Eurozone up to 0.4% – the evidence kind of blows Osborne out of the water.
    I also read that the fall in the price of oil may be down to a battle between mainly Saudi oil and the US Fracking companies (who need $80 a barrel to survive).
    Business and the economy is seen as an Achilles Heel of the Left and I so wish I had been in the audience in Leeds for the BBC TV debate – I would have been able to smash the Tory ambush from the Tory small business voices who had a narrow view of enterprise.
    But if there is some good news from the election it is as the Tories continue to help the rich and screw the poor, they have lost their Lib Dem Fig Leaf, and everything they do now is done in their name, with a massive majority of 12!
    So brothers and sisters, read the financial pages to inform and empower yourselves please – at times I feel like I am fighting them almost alone.
    Yours in solidarity.

  12. David Ellis says:

    The hermetically sealed, ideologically homogenous, self-serving New Labour clique and bureaucracy that runs the labour party are preparing to impose and even more right wing leader on Labour and they will succeed. This will inevitably lead to the pasokification of Labour in England as it has happened in Scotland. But what are the few remaining Left Labour MPs going to do? Isn’t it time they stepped up to the plate. They need to form a new party because if re-badged Lib Dems of the Green Party are the ones to take advantage of Labour’s collapse the left will have failed miserably a second time.

    1. Robert says:

      We will see, I suspect we will see a Progress battle, but the left cannot walk away from labour we have to battle these right wing zealots and the only way is with the Unions, and finding left wingers to stand against Progress.

    2. John p Reid says:

      Some people on the left have departed labour over the years, they called themselves, Socialist labour, Socialist alliance, the Socialist party, respect TUSc, or joined the greens, they’ve got an impressive 1% of the vote at elections

      When they were in the Labour Party m they stood against the right of the party, and some in the right of the party left,formed the SDP, they increased the liberal vote from 13.8% at the 79 election. to 26 and 23% of the vote respectively, at the next two elections

    3. James Martin says:

      David, we won 25% of the vote in Scotland – yes this is a disaster given we lost some good socialist MPs to right-wing SNP nationalist ones, but it is not like PASOK at all who let’s remember have hit less than 5% support and whose voters switched to the left rather than the right.

      And form a new party? Well we’ve had plenty of those to choose from haven’t we, particularly in Scotland (SSP etc.), but I note they have not proved to be either stable or popular.

    4. Matty says:

      As a matter of interest what did you do in the election campaign David?

  13. this thread should be closed down and a more analytically one started after time for reflection. When finger pointing starts as Matty has done, its degenerating into pub gossip

    Time to stop the individualism and see what analysis can be produced.

    Trevor Fisher.

    1. Matty says:

      Hang on Trevor, all David Ellis ever does is write stuff that makes Dave Spart look sane eg
      ” I will not however not cease from pointing out that the next Labour government can only be the forerunner to a fascist counter-revolution if it isn’t the forerunner of a socialist revolution.” Do you want to waste your time debating with people like that? You yourself have asked for people to give people full names so here goes
      All the best
      Matt Stiles
      Eltham CLP

      1. Mukkinese says:

        Having been the victim of a cyber stalker, I am very wary of using my real name. At least with a pseudonym you can dump it and use a new one easily.

        Your real name can be used for abuse, so I would advise against it. Believe me it can get quite unpleasant…

        1. Mukkinese says:

          Oh, I forgot to say, I work online and so need to use my real name in my business, which was severely disrupted by the Troll that haunted me for months…

  14. thanks for the comments, I was making the point that abuse is useless, but it is obvious that it is a staple of the blog culture, and so sites should be moderated to cut it out and if it continues, the thread should be closed down.

    I am aware of trolling and have no objection in principle to anonymity. As long as the site knows who is using it. The blog culture is one where there are good reasons for not revealing names at times but the editors have to know the names or their site can be abused.

    There is also a question of libel which I have never seen debated in any forum. If libel is alleged, the people concerned have to be sued. The fall back is the people who run the site, who are the publishers in law. If they do not know who has issued the alleged libel, then they are the only ones who can be sued. So moderation is sensible from every view.

    THe internet is seductive and it is here to stay. WE all use it. But its not a superhighway, more a rocky road. We need rules and proper supervision.

    trevor fisher.

  15. David Pavett says:

    @Sandra

    Thanks for the many responses.

    I think that my main point has been borne out by our exchanges: this is not a simple matter and there is no off-the-shelf analysis to which we can safely turn confident in the expertise of those promoting it. There is no way of avoiding a critical debate in which the arguments for different viewpoints is subjected to a full examination. Organising that will take a considerable effort. Clearly this discussion here on LF has already gone beyond the normal limits of exchanges in these columns. We need a proper forum for this.

    You say that you have been studying economics for five years. That already takes us a long way from the Steve Hail approach according to which if you can only clear your mind of current prejudices the whole things becomes transparently obvious and anyone who thinks differently is just wrong and does not need to be considered. That is the path of dogma and is definitely something we can do without.

    The first condition for a proper debate must be an acceptance that there are alternatives which need to be debated. Different left-wing economists are arguing very different and completely incompatible approaches. You only refer to one stream of research, to one school of thought. Despite its seemingly universal title “modern monetary theory” it is one theory among others and it is from many different angles.

    No one doubts that governments with a sovereign monetary system can create new money (“out of thin air”, by “printing money” or whatever expression you like). In that simple sense they cannot run out of money. But can they do so without constraints, with no limits? As soon as the question is asked one comes across sentences like

    According to modern monetary theory, “governments with the power to issue their own currency are always solvent, and can afford to buy anything for sale in their domestic unit of account even though they may face inflationary and political constraints”.(From the Wikipedia article you list.)

    Then on checking the reference to this quote we get to a paper on MMT which claims for example

    Second, MMT does make a clear difference between real and financial constraints; this is one of the crucial points of MMT. Inflation is a real constraint not a financial constraint, so inflation does not prevent the government from funding itself—as such the capacity of the government to fund itself is independent of the state of the economy.

    So what is this “real” constraint? It is clearly possible for governments to create endless amounts of money (they have tried it in Zimbabwe) but the question is what are the effects. Of this there is virtually no discussion in those links of yours that I have so far followed.

    Incidentally, the paper just quoted (from the Wikipedia reference) says that there are five schools of thought opposing MMT (and I could list one which the article ignores).

    I don’t think that I have to say more to indicate that this is a deeply controversial matter.

    I am not an economist and wish I had the time to study it more but my central impression of reading the MMT material is that the approach is fundamentally empiricist i.e. uncritical of the concepts used. Thus Hail says that money is whatever the government issues as money and goes no further in the matter of the nature of money. Steve Keen, to whom you also refer, in discussing the nature of a social surplus (as part of Marx’s explanation for the nature of profit) considers some competing claims and concludes

    … Steadman was essentially saying that Marx cannot be right that labour is the only source of surplus. We are better off to forget the whole question of ‘where does the surplus come from?’ and instead simply accept that it exists, and analyse capitalism on that basis.

    What better example could there be of an empiricist abandonment of the critical examination of concepts?

    It is perhaps as a refuge from aggressive neo-liberalism that Keynesian economics has come to be seen by many on the left as some kind of safe refuge. It isn’t. It is not the basis for a critique of capitalism which it takes as a given. Of course the refutation of of some of the ideas that Keynes called “classical” was justified but we still need to evaluate his theory as a whole from the perspective of a critique of capitalism that sees it as but a phase of human development rather than the natural order of things.

    Marxists of various stripes have been working on these questions but there is no reference to this in any of your references that I have so far checked. Keen does refer to Marx but his criticisms are (as already indicated) hardly to be taken having much weight.

    Of course MMT should be discussed but we also need to consider such works as Profiting with out Producing by Costas Lapavitsas, Politcal Economy of Money and Finance by Makoto Itoh and Costas Lapavitsas, The Crisis of Keynesian Economics by Geoffrey Pilling and even older works such as Suzanne de Brunhoff’s classic Marx’s Theory of Money along with many other such contributions.

    No one should consider that they have understood the issues debated here without being familiar with the main different schools of thought. The one thing that is certain is that the picture is not clear-cut and that is the basis on which Steven Hail’s video has all the appearance, to me, of a snake oil sale.

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