Why has Labour endorsed the 40p tax cut?

John-McDonnell-red-flagTax cuts for the better off, isn’t that the kind of thing associated with the Conservatives? Blair-era Labour? Not of the present radicalparty leadership, surely. What with their desire to nationalise afternoon tea and issue pig iron production edicts. And yet, in 2016’s tradition of politics taking unexpected turns, that is exactly what’s happened. Has the party been sold down the river?

In his final, catastrophic budget George Osborne announced cuts to disability benefits. These were to pay for more tax cuts for the better off, specifically raising the “middle” range 40% income tax rate threshold from those earning £42,000/year to £50k. A nice, tidy bonus for the better off bedrock of the Tories, but also yet another tax cut for the top rate payers without it immediately looking like one. Readers may recall that raising the basic rate was Osborne’s favoured way of cutting taxes for the better off while pretending to care about putting more cash into pockets of modest depth. The unexpected intervention by Iain Duncan Smith put paid to the disability cuts, but the £4bn tax cut commitment remained. Albeit without a means of plugging the hole in the budget. Continue reading

John McDonnell speaks out against antisemitism

McD on MarrInterviewed by Andrew Marr this morning, shadow chancellor spoke out in the strongest possible terms about antisemitism within the Labour Party.

As soon as Jewish people start telling us that there is antiSemitism in our party we’ve got to sit up and listen. That’s why I said last week, if there are people who’ve expressed anti-Semitic views there’s no role for them in our party and I’d like them out of our party for life, to be frank. I believe what we should do is take the advice of the British Board of Deputies and our other Jewish friends as well, to say “how do we tackle this problem” beause it’s a societal problem…. If it’s infected any in our Labour Party we’ve got to root it out and I’m not having it within our party.

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Labour, John McDonnell and the New Economics

John-McDonnell-red-flagOnce the surprise and the shock of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader had sunk in, many (including me) became impatient for policy initiatives and membership involvement in policy formation to come to the fore. Clearly cutting through media hostility is a major task but I find it difficult to see that more could not be done. For a start, direct communication through Labour Party channels has so far, to my knowledge, not been much used – as far as I can see, looking at things from a branch and CLP point of view. A case in point is Emily Thornberry’s excellent defence discussion paper. This does not seem to have been promoted throughout the Party with a request that the issues be debated. I cannot understand why not. And where is Seamus Milne’s communications team in all this? Labour’s communications effort to be ramped up a notch or two. Continue reading

The crisis remains an investment crisis

investment, pic by 123rf.comPrior to the recent G20 meeting leading international economic bodies such as the IMF and the OECD made tentative calls for increased investment, although this was often confused with increased spending. This is a belated or partial recognition of the real source of the crisis in the advanced industrialised countries. In terms of actual changes to policy it seems to have made no impact at the G20 whatsoever.

As the world economy is once more slowing and there are again a series of spurious explanations offered for this, it is worth revisiting the actual causes of the ongoing crisis which first became widely apparent in 2007. In this piece the advanced industrialised countries as a whole will be the reference point, using aggregate data for the OECD. But each individual economy within the OECD simply provides its own unique combination of these common factors, including Britain. Continue reading