What the Labour establishment didn’t really want us to know

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First and foremost… what an unmitigated mess they’re making of the leadership contest… the LP elite have certainly shown us their ‘petticoats’.

Significantly, the proverbial tide has gone out, revealing their implicit attitudes and assumptions … and amazingly, we’ve seen New Labour hoist by its own petard.

How has New Labour been hoisted?

Through their machinations, they’ve achieved their own worst outcome. So, if Jeremy Corbyn wins in spite of the ‘purge’, his victory will be legitimated. But the reverse is true, if Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper win.

Furthermore, it’s now obvious to party members, affiliated members and supporters, that none of the leadership support Corbyn, and that there has been a co-ordinated Progress/Blairite attempt to undermine what is a normal open democratic primary election. ( Mandelson’s latest hysterics insist that Labour is in ‘Mortal Danger’ from a manifesto which is slightly to the right of the 1983 SDP manifesto.)

So if Jeremy fails to get a majority and loses, there will be an exodus of voters, members and trades unionists disgusted at the behaviour of the Right (as well as the snooping on social media, asking local branch secretaries to use canvas returns to vet local supporters etc.). Why is it that a Tory MP can cross the floor of the House of Commons and be welcomed with open arms but an ex-Labour Party member is suspect for wanting to return to Labour?

The crux question is whose ‘Aims and Values’ are being judged as Labour’s … or is the whole thing a charade – just a proxy for shoring up the current LP hierarchy?

Given the hysterical reaction of the New Labour Right to the voting system, was it ‘all Ed’s fault’?

In order to counter accusations from the press (fuelled by both the Tories and the Blairites) that he was under the spell of the trade unions (and Unite in particular), Ed Miliband called a special conference to agree changes to the rules.  Under pressure from Progress, Miliband also opened up the vote for the party leadership to non-members (an open primary) and required union members to sign up to pledge their allegiance to the party before being given the right to vote.

So was it really just Ed’s decision?  At the time, Tony Blair congratulated him and even said that he wished that he’d introduced the changes himself.  However, it does indicate some of the level of internal opposition that Ed Miliband has faced throughout his time as LP leader

Professor Eunice Goes explains:

Lessons from the Miliband era

Ed Miliband’s decision to turn the page on New Labour was seen by many party figures and media pundits as a heresy that had to be fought. That fight started on Miliband’s first day on the job and only ended when he resigned. In the early days of his leadership, many angry Labour voices claimed that Miliband’s victory was not legitimate because he did not win the vote of the majority of the parliamentary party…. other criticisms started to be heard. Miliband was too left-wing, too wonky, too weird and his policies lacked credibility.

The Blairite wing – inside but also outside the House of Commons – was particularly disruptive and did everything to undermine his authority. Lord Mandelson was a case in point. He never wasted an opportunity to say that Miliband was wrong to deviate an inch from the New Labour rulebook. And when Lord Mandelson or the former Prime Minister Tony Blair were too busy with their daytime jobs to attack the Labour leader there were plenty of backbenchers and, occasionally, frontbenchers who fed stories to the media about how Miliband’s leadership was hanging by a thread… the aim of these attacks was to destabilise Miliband.

…Miliband also faced a hostile media.…Party divisions, plots, constant media attacks paralysed the party, in particular its policy development process. When the electoral manifesto was finally approved last spring the proposals that came out were confusing, unconvincing and uninspiring as Miliband tried to cater to all factions and ended up pleasing none.

 

So what does this tell us?

New Labour has never really ‘done’ democracy. The decision of the membership to elect Ed Miliband and not the Blairite choice of David Miliband was never respected. The Blairites were prepared to act against the interests of the LP and many, such as John Rentoul, said openly that they would rather have a Tory government than a left wing one. More said it, in private. Tony Blair actually said it again recently, when urging Jeremy Corbyn supporters to get a heart transplant:

 Tony Blair has said he would not want a left-wing Labour party to win a general election.

Bart Cammaerts writes: 

What we have seen in recent decades is the deliberate de-ideologisation and normalisation – some would say naturalisation – of rightwing and neoliberal solutions to solve the many problems of our society. Rightwing solutions are, in other words, common sense, full stop. Alternative solutions, on the contrary, are denoted as ideological, as biased, as dangerous and loony. It is high time that the (centre-) left learns this lesson and starts to propose leftwing solutions again as sensible solutions, as the real common sense and as fair and morally just. That is exactly what Corbyn is trying to do, with success and this ‘unstrategic’ strategy might even make him ‘electable’ in the long run.

 

He also suggests that There are much deeper political and social reasons explaining why Corbyn and his outspoken leftist ideas have become so popular in such a short time.’

 

After the elections last spring, which Labour convincingly lost, the right of the party, referring to the past successes of New Labour, saw its chance to attack the somewhat more leftwing course of Miliband and to argue for a ‘Tory light’ agenda. What they forgot, however, was that the grassroots of the party and the progressive segment of the British population had turned their backs on the so-called third way and on New Labour. Put differently, many people are more than fed-up with the left blatantly accepting the basic logics, values and arrogance of neoliberalism. Instead, many want a serious, forceful and ideologically robust opposition to the current Tory government, their righteous rightwing discourse and their supposedly ‘unavoidable’ cuts.

 

I agree with him.  Harriet Harman’s decision to abstain on Osborne’s Welfare Bill was the final straw but it was the prospect of a Labour leader who was even further to the right than Ed Miliband that was totally unacceptable to many in the grassroots of the LP.

Ed Miliband may have been the loser in the 2015 General Election but instead been the midwife to the re-birth of ‘real’ Labour.

Furthermore, the ways in which Ed Miliband was constantly undermined by the Right, throughout his leadership, should forewarn those of us who support Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership.  Should he be elected, we must act to prevent similar abuse of the membership’s democratic decision.  The fight to reclaim the Labour Party will not end on the 12th of September whatever the result.

 

 

Why is the Tory Government Hammering Green Industry?

GREEN TORIES? IS THERE SUCH A PHENOMENON?

sunWhy is this government so intent in trying to destroy the planet? There is no logical reason for their energy policies.  While they are heavily subsidising fracking against scientific advice, they have made massive cuts to the budget for renewables. Blatantly, rather than ‘the greenest’, husky-hugging government ever; they are certainly behaving like the most foolish, selfish  government in living memory – if not ever.

Renewable UK’s Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge, said: “We’re suddenly looking at a substantial amount of lost income for clean energy companies which was totally unexpected. “The Government had already announced an end to future financial support for onshore wind – even though it’s the most cost-effective form of clean energy we have. Now they’re imposing retrospective cuts on projects already up and running across the entire clean energy sector.”   Osborne is intent on increasing taxes on renewable energy generation.

RE tax jpeg

Margaret Thatcher’s government cut back manufacturing industries  in the 1980s leading to soaring unemployment, an industrial wasteland and an economy which became over dependant on financial services.

Now, with signs of unemployment on the rise again, the Conservative government are  proposing to slash the feed-in tariffs for photovoltaic solar panels, (PV),  rather than looking forwards and investing in modern, green technology, and renewables.  It is highly likely that this will result in the end of the solar panel industry, which was expanding when it came to power in 2010. Introduced by Ed Miliband, this  was a sound policy, both on environmental and economic grounds.

The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry.

The potential reductions in the level of feed-in tariff (FIT), contained in a long-awaited consultation document released by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (Decc), and are far larger than expected.

The assault on solar power comes after ministerial decisions to remove financial aid from new onshore wind farms and slash home energy efficiency measures. There is even speculation that Decc could be wound up as a standalone department.

The technology is available to provide one million green, sustainable jobs, as Jeremy Corbyn says. We should be investing in the future, expanding this industry, not looking backwards, endangering the planet in the meantime. There is some irony in that it was Thatcher closing down the mines, while Osborne is attacking the green alternative. The Labour Party’s heritage may have been built on coal but the 21st Century’s future is renewable. ‘Coal was our heritage, green is our future‘ We can’t go back to coal. We don’t need to. The future is renewable.

The government’s attack on renewable energy and green industry is obsessive, illogical and unfair.

The Chancellor’s £3.9 billion tax on renewable energy generators “is a punitive measure for the clean energy sector – another example of this Government’s unfair, illogical and obsessive attacks on renewables.” As Alasdair Cameron writes, “The Chancellor has just effectively put a carbon tax on carbon free electricity, which will mean fewer renewables and more uncertainty for the industry.”

Renewable electricity will no longer be exempt from the Climate Change Levy – even though the tax is meant to encourage businesses to “operate in a more environmentally friendly way.” So why would a renewable energy generator not qualify?

This  government’s record on the environment is shocking.

In summary: To date they have:

The irony is not lost – where Thatcher closed down the mines, Osborne and Cameron are closing down green industries. The attack on sustainable industry, like Thatcher’s attack, is ideological – not logical. While the evidence is set against them, the Tories have either lied or omitted to present a true picture.

GREEN LIES ? WHAT ARE THEY HIDING? AND WHY?

Against all advice, the government stubbornly refuses to change its policy – on Hinkley Point:  Evidence of the disaster in Fukishima should have signalled an end to nuclear power as in France. Plans for Britain’s first nuclear reactor in almost 30 years have now come under sustained attack from politicians and City bankers.

Yet,  David Cameron is expected to sign a final deal in October during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK; the Chinese are big backers of the project.”

“Renewable is too expensive.”

But,  No – solar has won this argument. The coal based power cannot compete on economic terms. Meanwhile  the £25,000,000 Hinkley Point expansion has been criticised by a bank as ‘becoming difficult to justify.’ As The Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is saying, the fossil industry faces a political and technological storm and even the IMF is saying we cannot afford the economic wastage of fossil fuels.

“Fracking and Gas are viable alternative to Coal”

A Nature report  dispels the myth that carbon emissions are reduced by fracking or gas. “Global deployment of advanced natural gas production technology could double or triple the global natural gas production by 2050”, McJeon says.
“The high hopes have been misguided” – market effects dominate.This might eventually lead to up to ten percent higher CO2 emissions by the middle of our century instead of lowering CO2 emissions.  Our article, “Corrupt to the fracking core” considers the reasons for the disinformation. Lo and behold there are vested interests at stake. Scandals abound among the toxic Conservative  Party. Lobbyists have persuaded politicians to invest in their schemes of fracking , and it’s not panning out as anticipated. The Guardian’s report of “Libor-like” manipulation of gas prices indicates the dice  are loaded.

“It’s not sunny enough in the UK”

IMG_0816PV panels were installed on my roof in 2012, on the very day which the Coalition government decided to cut the incentivising feed-in-tariff, and the tariff and energy savings have already half-paid for the installation. This graph shows  the energy produced in one day in March – the dip is because there happened to be a partial eclipse of the sun that morning. Imagine the energy which could be produced if these panels were on every public building. There are even roof tiles which can act as photovoltaic cells and recently even completely transparent ones which could be put in our window frames, making  every window a power source. Batteries have been developed which store energy produced by such systems.

But it’s not about sunniness. Because, even in sunny Australia, they are trying to discourage solar, while 15% of houses have panels, the PM Abbot government is banning investment in solar and wind power. It seems like a suicide note for the politician and the planet.  The sun is the most underused resource we have.

It’s about propping up a neoliberal world economy which is corrupt, flawed, and about to go bust. Like fossil fuels, the global economy is unsustainable. The super competitive world of the smash-and-grab society does not work.

The powers-that-be are starting to panic. Perhaps it is  lack of scientists in parliament, due to the predominance of careerists PPE graduates  – at least Thatcher was a chemist.  Denial of what is scientifically obvious and proven is very foolish, and sure to be the Tories’ undoing.

One has to wonder at the reason, but someone seems to have gambled on the wrong horse, and seems set to doctor all the others.

The New York Times writes on the ugly truth of horse racing  “There are essentially three types of people in horse racing. There are the crooks who dangerously drug or otherwise abuse their horses, or who countenance such conduct from their agents, and who then dare the industry to come catch them. Then there are the dupes who labor under the fantasy that the sport is broadly fair and honest. And there are those masses in the middle—neither naive nor cheaters but rather honorable souls—who know the industry is more crooked than it ought to be but who still don’t do all they can to fix the problem.”

And that to me, represents the mess that is our political system. There is an intrinsic flaw in an economic system based on competitive forces, where gaining an advantage over others is the aim. In the end, no one gets away with the pretence and the lies. The ugly truth is out.

We need a government which is not frightened to make that change. We need an economy which will put people before banks. We need politicians to face up to the damage caused to climate change, and policies to address it. Jeremy Corbyn’s Environment Manifesto

We need twenty-first century economics, not Victorian ones. Let us have those one million jobs in green industries in the UK. Let us have democratic monitoring and control of our energy, transport and utilities.  Let us have  a sustainable world, and a planned economy and not leave a mess for our grandchildren.

  1. Supported cut in solar Feed-in-Tariff
  2. UK Scraps Carbon-Free Green Homes Plan
  3. Sell off of Green Investment Bank
  4. Scrapped Plans for Off shore Wind
  5. Fracking U-Turn in wild-life sites
  6. Renewable Energy Taxes to be increased (Business Green) 
  7. Abandoned Biomass Subsidies
  8. Touchstone Blog Osborne’s 3.9 Billion Tax on Green Power
  9. Government overhauling green car tax
  10. Hinkley Point -nuclear white elephant
  11. Bank hits out at Hinkley Point too expensive to justify
  12. Australian PM bans wind and power investment
  13. Jeremy Corbyn’s Environment Manifesto
  14. The fully transparent solar cell
  15. UK Opposes new EU waste recycling in leaked paper
  16. Guardian 9 Green policies Killed off by Tories 
  17. GLabCWarrany: Green Deal and 8  Policies dropped by Government
  18. Touchstone Blog: Budget Afterhsock Osbornes’s 3.9 Billion on Green Power
  19. Coal was our Heritage, Green is our Future
  20. Britain Under Siege
  21. They are Corrupt to the Fracking Core
  22. SCANDAL: There’s another toxic plot in the Conservative Party
  23. Naomi Klein on Capitalism and Climate Change

We need a Reformation in Economics – The salutary story of Semmelweiss

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First posted on Think Left as ‘Like heterodox economists, Semmelweis was ignored…’ 29th April 2013

 

In 1844, Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis graduated as a doctor, and was appointed assistant at the obstetric clinic in Vienna.  At the time, the great scourge of new mothers was ‘childbed’ or puerperal fever.  It was thought that the deaths were unpreventable… the result variously of overcrowding, poor ventilation, the onset of lactation or a dreaded ‘miasma’.

However, Semmelweis oversaw two maternity wards and couldn’t help but notice that the puerperal death rate was two or three times in one, to what it was in the other. In fact, the pregnant women were only too aware because they would go to all sorts of lengths, pleading to be booked in on the lower mortality ward.

The two divisions were apparently identical except that the first, with the higher mortality, was used for teaching student doctors, whilst the second was staffed with just midwives.  Semmelweis noted that the student doctors were coming to the maternity ward directly from the dissecting room, having just completed autopsies on women who had died from puerperal fever…. he suspected that somehow (at that time no-one knew about bacteria or viruses) that the students might be carrying the infection to healthy mothers on the ward.

As an experiment, he ordered the staff to wash their hands in chlorinated lime water before each examination, and within the week, the mortality rate dropped from 18% to 1%.  Furthermore, no women died on his wards between March and August 1848.

So with such an immediate, dramatic drop in the death rate, why was there no corresponding immediate and widespread acceptance of the practice of hand-washing?

Why did the editor of the Wiener Medizinische Wochenschrift write that it was time to stop the nonsense about the chlorine hand wash?  Why did pregnant women have to wait over 25y for the importance of hygiene to be accepted; with Joseph Lister being credited as ‘the father of modern antisepsis’ instead of Semmelweis?

The reasons are still relevant not only in medicine but also in politics and economics …

Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community… Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist‘s research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semmelweiss

In other words, Semmelweis’s findings required a ‘paradigm shift’ but the old-guard ‘power elite’ were ‘invested’ in maintaining the status quo in spite of all the statistical evidence of the efficacy of hand-washing.  The weight of authority stood against Semmelweis’s prophylactic practice.

Exactly the same is true of the ‘austerity’ which is being inflicted on the UK and across the Eurozone. The tenets of neo-classical economics are daily shown to be completely wrong, contradictory and ill-conceived.  Furthermore, the policies (just like puerperal fever) are inflicting enormous damage on the most vulnerable in our populations.  Nevertheless, our politicians and our media go on spouting the same mythologies and neglecting to see the obvious.

… the Tory/LD coalition government is borrowing £245bn more than expected in 2010 and the economy has grown by just 1.1 per cent, 4.9 per cent less than expected …

Sticking with TINA (monetarism) is clearly a madness akin to the rejecting of hand-washing on the labour wards of the 1850s.

There is an alternative!

However, just as the medical professors had not wanted to relinquish their status or their paradigm of miasmas, the 0.1% have too much to gain from pursuing the current paradigm.  In this, they have been ably aided and abetted by the embedded assumptions of the so-called ‘free press’ and MSM which are owned and dominated by the ‘oligarchs’.

Mainstream economist Paul Krugman writes in the NY times:

… the average American is somewhat worried about budget deficits, which is no surprise given the constant barrage of deficit scare stories in the news media, but the wealthy, by a large majority, regard deficits as the most important problem we face. And how should the budget deficit be brought down? The wealthy favor cutting federal spending on health care and Social Security — that is, “entitlements” — while the public at large actually wants to see spending on those programs rise.

You get the idea: The austerity agenda looks a lot like a simple expression of upper-class preferences, wrapped in a facade of academic rigor. What the top 1 percent wants becomes what economic science says we must do.

 

 The ‘Deficit’ is the new ‘miasma’ analogous to the flawed theories of puerperal fever causation.

But the deficit is just a reflection of the state of the economy.  In a sovereign country like the UK with its own currency, it is not a cause of anything.  If there is no problem of excess demand, there is no ‘deficit problem’ regardless of the magnitudes, short term or long term The methodology of its calculation is wide open to dispute and in any event, one agent’s deficit is another’s surplus.   As Professor Bill Mitchell writes

Structural deficits – the great con job!

 

Similarly, with the so-called ‘debt’ problem …

but my intention is not to discuss economics but to show that disastrously ‘wrong thinking’ and manipulation can persist to our detriment and against all the evidence for extended periods of time… particularly when there is wealth and power to be gained.

As Paul Krugman concludes:

.. the years since we turned to austerity have been dismal for workers but not at all bad for the wealthy, who have benefited from surging profits and stock prices even as long-term unemployment festers. The 1 percent may not actually want a weak economy, but they’re doing well enough to indulge their prejudices.

And this makes one wonder how much difference the intellectual collapse of the austerian position will actually make. To the extent that we have policy of the 1 percent, by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, won’t we just see new justifications for the same old policies?

Payam Sharifi quotes Mark Thoma, an economist who runs a popular economics blog :

“too many minds in the profession cannot be changed even when the empirical evidence is relatively clear…the politicization of the profession…plays a large role”.  Could it be that this reflects a crisis in economics, which is a crisis in its method of analysis and even the subject matter itself? 

That seems like good thinking .. there needs to be an Economic Reformation:

Economics in crisis – it needs a ‘Reformation’

 

As Antonio Gramsci wrote from his Italian prison cell, sometime in the 1930s:

‘The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

I think it is more than time for our politicians to ‘wash their hands’ of the ‘miasma of deficit reduction’ and act as ‘midwife’ for an economics which serves the 99.9% and the natural world.

For more information about heterodox economists and MMT (Modern monetary theory – macroeconomic reality):

Bill Mitchell – billy blog

New Economic Perspectives

Steve Keen’s Debtwatch 

and many other sites

Related posts:

Cameron and Osborne dwell on Bullshit Mountain, UK

Telegraph tosh on economics

Neoliberal TINA economics is flat earth thinking 

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.