Economic dogma, George Osborne and Grenfell Tower

What has the horror at Grenfell Tower to do with economists? And what have the lives lost at Grenfell Tower to do with the government’s budget deficit?  A great deal, I will argue here. When on Twitter a few days ago I raised the issue of the shared responsibility that economists have for this ghastly tragedy, I was attacked. So let me explain.

In the days before the Grenfell Tower inferno, mainstream economists complained that the economy was not at the heart of the general election campaign. What they meant was something quite different: that Treasury economic dogma about the need to cut the deficit was not at the heart of the election campaign.  Continue reading

Tories want to drive living standards lower. Corbyn wants to end austerity

This article first appeared on Socialist Economic Bulletin.

During the current crisis the UK has experienced the longest-ever recorded fall in living standards. The biggest part of that fall is not the cuts to government spending, even though these have had severe effects. Instead the largest factor contributing to the fall in living standards is the decline in real wages. The Resolution Foundation calls this decade the worst for falling pay in over 200 years.

This fall has now resumed once more because of the combination of stagnation in wage growth and rising prices. The rise in prices is a Brexit effect, after the sharp devaluation of the pound following the referendum result in June 2016. It is ridiculous for Theresa May to suggest the falling pound and therefore the fall in real wages, is not the result of the Brexit vote. Continue reading

Corbyn sets out vision to transform Britain’s economy

CorbynLast week Jeremy Corbyn set out his vision for the British economy at a major speech at Bloomberg. Railing against the austerity economy that has failed so many, from workers at Sports Direct to those on zero hour contracts, the Labour leader pledged to create an economy built on investment, tax justice and harnessing the new technologies of the 21st century. They included:

  • A comprehensive industrial strategy to deliver a high-investment, high-skill, high-technology new economy.
  • £500 billion in investment
  • Retaining John McDonnell’s Fiscal Credibility Rule
  • National Investment Bank, as well as regional investment banks
  • Super fast broadband in every part of the country
  • A National Education Service, providing lifelong learning
  • Meeting the OECD target of 3% of GDP spent on scientific research
  • An Advanced Research Agency
  • 300,000 jobs in renewable energy
  • Abolish Employment Tribunal fees
  • A “Philip Green Law” that would bar asset-strippers from loading companies up with debt.
  • “Right to Own”, giving workers facing a change of ownership or closure of a firm the first refusal in putting together a worker-owned alternative.

Corbyn’s stance remains on economic questions remains largely unchanged from last year, and many of his policies such as a National Education Service and his pledges to young people featured in the leadership contest a year ago. The challenge for Corbyn, if victorious again, will be to impress the policies upon the party and PLP.   Continue reading

UNISON backs Corbyn

Jeremy_Corbyn

UNISON’s National Labour Link met Friday in Newcastle. This is a gathering of UNISON delegates that pay into the Labour Link that will decide the unions policy in the Labour Party. Whilst most of the packed agenda was already set weeks ago there was only really one topic on people’s minds, namely the prolonged coup. Members at the forum were nearly all supportive of Jeremy’s leadership and unanimous in their belief that the actions of those in the PLP that were plotting was wrong.

The key note speech by Dave Prentis left the hall in no doubt that our union stands right behind Jeremy’s Leadership.
Dave Prentis stated that “last year our Labour Link committee voted to support Jeremy Corbyn for leader – it was the right choice for our members, our party and our country.” This gained huge applause from the delegates. Dave went on to praise Jeremy for repositioning the party as an anti-austerity party opposing privatisation and cuts and also supported his position on scrapping Trident. Continue reading