Labour right-wing still in the austerity dead end

Rachel ReevesRachel Reeves, a former Labour shadow secretary for work and pensions, has produced a short note for Progress which has been hailed in the right wing media, and by the Labour right, as ‘an alternative Budget’. The New Statesman was perhaps the most excitable, describing Reeves as the shadow chancellor in waiting. All of this is entirely incorrect as the article offers no alternative to the Osborne’s resumed austerity, which he is certain to recommence in the next Budget.

Reeves has declined to join the current shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn and her intervention is clearly posed primarily as an alternative to the economic policy framework outlined by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, not to George Osborne. It confirms once more that the Labour right is disloyally more interested in attacking the Labour Party leadership than in attacking the Tories. Continue reading

Would a Rachel Reeves budget yesterday have been much different?

ReevesAhead of yesterday’s budget, in which George Osborne laid out £12bn of welfare cuts, a continued squeeze on public sector pay, the abolition of student maintenance grants and higher tuition fees, Labour’s ‘opposition’ front benchers went out of their way to agree with Osborne’s narrative of austerity.

Still reeling from the General Election, or now simply given psephological cover for her views, Reeves said that Labour should set a date for getting national debt back to 40% of GDP, the level it was at before the 2007 financial crisis. It is currently double that amount, meaning the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary is advocating huge cuts, and fast. Given that she is being touted as a potential Shadow Chancellor should Andy Burnham win, this should worry those of us in the party concerned with austerity and poverty.  Continue reading

What on earth is happening in the Labour party?

Byrne: sacked but lives on in spiritYou might have thought from the Tory tabloid screams at Ed’s conference speech plus the sidelining of the three older Blairites in the reshuffle that the Labour Party was taking a sharp turn to the left. Nothing could be further from the truth: plus ca change, plus la meme chose. The Left has been dropped or shunted out of sight, whilst the Right is everywhere dominant both in the shadow cabinet and in the Leader’s office. If this were a plausible plan for restoring a demoralised party or for winning an election, there might be a case for this.

But it isn’t. The new incumbent at DWP loses no time at all in repeating the mantra of her predecessor, which had made him so unpopular within the party, that ‘Labour will be tougher than the Tories on benefits’. Her new colleague at education, equally untried, has immediately cosied up to a version of Gove’s free schools and has said Labour will put ‘rocket boosters’ under parent-led academies. With Labour still stuck to the Tories’ expenditure cuts and presenting no clear alternative to austerity, this is clearly a consolidated shift to the Right. Continue reading