“An Ode to Blairites”

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“Ditching them with glee”

Chelleryn99 

A terror stalks the blairites

And Corbyn is its name,

Since it raised its bearded head

Nothing’s been the same.


 No longer are they worshipped

As if they’re gods on high,

It really is depressing

Enough to make one cry.


Now there is excitement

Where there used to be despair,

Crowds of people gather

It really isn’t fair.


When Ed lost the battle

They were sure they’d win the war,

Put a blairite in the race

Say the left could win no more.


Then along came Corbyn

With his socialist ideals,

And suddenly the blairite cart

Went and lost its wheels.


Now gathering in dark corners

They whisper behind their hands,

Plotting coups and comebacks

Making devious plans.


Their narcisstic viewpoint

Just won’t let them see,

That the members want a change

And are ditching them with glee.


By Michelle Ryan (aka Chelley)

 

Labour’s Panicky Establishment is Referencing the Wrong Period in History : Ann Pettifor

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By Ann Pettifor @annpettifor  referencing-the-wrong-period-in-history

Previously published on Prime Economics Blog

Governor of the bank of England Montagu Norman with Labour Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald

Governor of the bank of England Montagu Norman with Labour Prime Minister Ramsay Macdonald

“This young country will be proud of its identity and its place in the world, not living in its history, but grasping the opportunities of its future.”

Tony Blair: Leader’s speech, Brighton, 1995.

Tony Blair and those associated with Blairism embraced globalisation and studiously ignored Labour Party history – except to denounce and disown “Old Labour”.  Labour’s economic history was of very little interest to the Blairite generation. And it appears that the history of the 1930s is of little relevance to today’s leadership election debate.

Instead commentary repeatedly harks back to Bennism and the 1980s – when the relevant era is surely the 1930s.  As most economists acknowledge, the 1930s and the great depression are widely and rightly understood as the only modern precedent to the great financial crisis that began in 2007, and that still dogs the global economy.

The great depression was a crisis of globalization. Globalisation – the de-regulation of global capital flows – had been imposed across the world from the 1880s through to the 1920s- only to be reversed by the stock market crash of 1929.  In 1930-31, when the crisis reached its nadir, Labour’s Ramsey MacDonald (PM) and Phillip Snowden (Chancellor) were responsible for economic policy.

Their government was to fall apart in the wake of demands from the financial and economic establishment for severe government spending cuts. Snowden and Macdonald never shied away from these demands that came primarily from merchant bankers, and were made as the quid pro quo for their support for sterling.

To meet these demands, MacDonald and Snowden went straight to the finance sector –  represented by the head of the Prudential Assurance Company (Sir George May) – and called for plans for spending cuts to be drawn up  by what became the May Committee on National Expenditure.

       Labour Party poster (1931)

However, while MSacrificeacDonald and Snowden were gung-ho about spending cuts, the rest of the Cabinet were implacably opposed to the extreme cuts proposed by the May Report . The divisions and infighting led to the collapse of the Labour government in June 1931.                                                         A ‘national government’ then took office which included the Conservative party but which was led by Ramsey MacDonald, with Snowden continuing (only briefly) as chancellor, and including only a handful of other Labour figures. This coalition of peculiar bed-fellows – ‘the National Government’ – went to the country in September 1931 and massacred Labour Party candidates.

 The Conservatives won 470 seats, Labour lost 225 seats and was left with only a rump of 52 MPs. The 2015 general election campaign and its results echoed both the debates and the outcome of that 1931 election. In both, the Labour Party was castigated by the political and media establishment and blamed for denying the harsh reality that Britain needed  “austerity” and to “live within its means”  – in order to recover from a crisis made in the City of London and on Wall Street.

In the next election (1935) the National Government was replaced by the real thing: a Tory government under Stanley Baldwin and then Neville Chamberlain.  But by then spending cuts had pretty much ended. Despite the clamour for austerity in 1931, by as early as 1933 the Tory government had effectively reversed the policy of cutting spending, just as Osborne eased up on spending cuts in 2012. From 1934 government spending was expanded vigorously. As a result of this reversal, the economy looked relatively chirpy for the ’35 election.

In the meantime the Labour party in conjunction with leading figures from the trade union movement had begun developing a bold and coherent policy agenda. MacDonald and Snowden’s deference to financial authority and fiscal ‘discipline’ was decisively rejected.

Election Hoarding Posters 1935

Election Hoarding Posters 1935

Clement Attlee, by then leader, contested the 1935 election on the basis of this emerging policy agenda, and gained nearly a hundred seats from the Tories.

This remarkable recovery was interrupted by the Second World War.  But Attlee was to build on the party’s policy agenda and its 1935 success, as he prepared the ground for the 1945 election with a programme that included the following statement:

“Blame for unemployment lies much more with finance than with industry. Mass unemployment is never the fault of the workers; often it is not the fault of the employers. All widespread trade depressions in modern times have financial causes; successive inflation and deflation, obstinate adherence to the gold standard, reckless speculation, and overinvestment in particular industries. …” (NEC, 1944)

The economic and social achievements of the first majority Labour government in history were truly stunning, a fact still recognised today, even while the real nature of the 1945 Labour government’s programme and its political back-story is forgotten.  Attlee’s government paved the way to a period widely understood by the economics profession as “the golden age” in economics – for at least a quarter of a century after the war.

Jim Callaghan’s speech to the 1976 Labour conference in which he effectively ended Labour’s commitment to full employment (I was there and heard it all) marked the beginning of the end of the “golden age”.  With the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, Clement Attlee’s programme was decisively abandoned and a new form of globalization fully embraced. Michael Foot became leader immediately afterwards, as the party unsurprisingly foundered at the start of this new, very different and very harsh epoch.

Labour’s leadership election takes place at a time when the forward march of globalisation has stalled, following a painful, volatile and divisive period.  The economic flaws as revealed by the 2007-9 crisis are no less severe today than they were in 1929-33, even if the strongest countries have so far protected themselves from a crisis of comparable scale. The reaction of established authority, as represented by the City of London, the media and almost the entire political class has been to make the same demands of “austerity” and “living within our means” as were made in 1931. This is achieved today as it was done then: by transferring the burden of losses away from the architects of the crisis and on to the victims – those dependent on the state for employment and welfare.

Just as in 1931, the Labour Party is again in disarray in the wake of the second great crisis of financial globalization. While the post-1970s expansion of globalisation was imposed in the first instance by financial interests and their backers on the political right, Labour’s political leaders – and in particular its “modernisers” – became enthusiastic cheerleaders for the liberalised financial arrangements that underpin globalisation.  Furthermore some on the right of the Labour Party are beneficiaries of globalisation, and therefore not subject to the pain felt by millions of young unemployed and their families, by the low-paid and those in insecure jobs; the sick and the vulnerable. They should however, not underestimate the severity and duration of this crisis; they may not be protected indefinitely. Present events in financial markets should serve as a reminder that this crisis is not over.

To conclude: it is wrong to argue whether any one candidate in today’s leadership election resembles the Michael Foot of the 1980s. Instead the debate should be whether any of the candidates have the wit or guts or intellectual and political acuity of the leaders (including Clement Attlee) that rebuilt the party after the debacle of 1931.

Above all, in choosing its new leader, Labour should learn the very important lessons of its own, and very relevant history: the period in the 1930s when Labour politicians challenged the architects of financial globalisation with an alternative policy agenda. An agenda which was wildly popular with the British people, and led to Labour’s resounding success as a government between 1945 and 1951 – and to 25 years of the golden age of economics.

Telegraph Tosh on Economics

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Steven Hail’s point by point response to the Daily Telegraph Article by Jeremy Warner  which suggested the Jeremy Corbyn’s economic plans will turn us into Zimbabwe.

When resistance is futile, make like the Borg..?

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When resistance if futile, make like the Borg..?

Previously published here by julijuxtaposed

Protest is a call to stop.  It says hang on a minute…  It is not the end goal but the means by which objection to an existing goal is expressed.  The purpose of protest is to challenge; to oppose intention and policy in practise.  It’s the main job of the Official Opposition.  And while it protests, it is supposed to say why and argue for what it prefers.  In doing so, it both attempts to modify or get dismissed those government policies it sees as detrimental to the public and sets out its own stall, honing its narrative, over a Parliament, in hopes of persuading the electorate to vote for their vision, next time.  This should not be cast as a futile power and a democratic irrelevance.

Defiance is to be in a state of resistance.  When protest fails, whether by the organised acts of the electorate, by dissenting individuals or by the official governmental opposition (yes, I know that’s been almost entirely theoretical, these last years) and purchase cannot be found on change in attitude and direction, there are two basic outcomes: either defiance or acquiescence.

A lot of people would appear to prefer acquiescence, quite irrespective of desire, social justice and even evidence.  A great many of Labour’s elder statesmen, considered political ‘heavyweights’, convey little more than the cold embers of their once-held passions and in ways that seem far in excess of a natural tempering.  They are afforded gravitas because they are considered wise by experience and hindsight but they sound tired, defensive and full of cautionary tales that reveal more about their own sense of impotence and the climate in which they worked than about the enduring merits or mistakes in their youthful arguments.  They tried, they say.  It didn’t work, they say.  They learned, they say.  They adapted, they say.  Whatever the strategic need they sensed for a more pragmatic approach, this once great beast of a party simply diluted and diluted its principles concertedly and for long after it was becoming markedly detrimental to them, the country and, if you ask around, a lot of the rest of the world, too.  From here, as a middle-aged woman in the 21st Century, it looks like they mostly compromised their basic socio-economic ethos to flatter a seriously flawed prescription and proceeded to emulate it by increments that masked their own dysmorphia, even from themselves.  They modified their philosophy until it fitted so well that they didn’t know if they were assimilating or designing.  They adapted by surrendering, really.  Poachers into gamekeepers.

But an increasing portion of the electorate is, mercifully, becoming defiant on its own behalf and not as petulant teenagers or anarchists, as the mainstream commentariat would like to infer.  It comes from those who have always resisted the narrative that insists that competition and choice are everything; that public interest and prosperity must be sacrificed on the altar of profit by exploitation of resources (including people).  It comes from those who gave the neocon bandwagon a fair shot but, whether they did well by it or not, can see and would halt the injustice and instability of this asymmetrical power that wills to plunder and disrespect Life.  And it comes from the impulse of a new generation, towards a more ethical, sustainable alternative because it feels, within its whole psyche, that Life should and could be much better than the status quo can imagine.

A Society that acquiesces to the entropic neocolonialism being forced upon it demeans itself.  Defiance in the face of a prevailing and overwhelming socio-political ignorance is healthy.  It would be a human tragedy not to protest.  It will take as long as it takes.