A Daring Prediction: New Labour is Finished

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 A Daring Prediction “New Labour is Finished”

By Martin Odoni:

Previously Published here:  The Great Critique

I am reminded of Genady Yenaev.

If that name is unfamiliar to you, twenty-five years ago, during the dying months of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, President Mikhail Gorbachev was briefly overthrown in a coup, or ‘putsch’, by hardline Communists. Yenaev was their leader, and he was unhappy with Gorbachev’s ‘Perestroika/Glasnost‘ reform programs. The putsch lasted days, but eventually, when the Red Army refused to attack its own citizens, Yenaev and his colleagues backed down and Gorbachev was restored to the Presidency. It was one of the most foolish, ill-judged attempts to topple a political leader since the brief restoration of Henry VI of England at the expense of Edward IV in 1470. Yenaev’s failed attempt to maintain the Soviet Union pre-dated its demise by all of four months; the Hammer & Sickle flag was lowered for the final time on Christmas Day that year, and the coup was what started the countdown to the empire unravelling.

This week, the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party have attempted their own putsch against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and it has proven as foolish and self-destructive. The whole fiasco has been a speculative ‘hail-mary‘, chiefly because it has been almost entirely reliant on that most undependable of weapons – hope. Yes, their attack has included all the classic dirty tricks and intricate co-ordination with overly-helpful media who are gasping to curtail any resurgence of the real Left. But in the end, the whole strategy of the coup has hinged almost completely on the hope that Corbyn would simply be the first to blink. For the ‘Red Tories’, the hope was that because Corbyn is an honourable, decent, unaggressive man, that must mean he is a wimp. If he is a wimp, they could simply bully him into resigning. Right?

But decency and being a wimp are two very different traits. Given all the character assassination Corbyn has had to endure throughout a career in the House of Commons for thirty-three years, and especially over the last twelve months, this assumption about him seems laughably simple-minded. Having soaked up relentless, uncivilised pressure for half a lifetime, and still come out of it the same person, Corbyn has become as tough a politician as they come. He has shrugged off so many insults, so many blatant lies about his character, so much intimidation, and still he maintains an air of cool, patient dignity, honesty, graciousness and down-to-Earth good manners. To resist so much unfair provocation and hardly ever lose his temper is a quality that I can only envy. Having been in politics for so long, Corbyn will also have seen every dirty trick ever played, and he was always going to be ready and waiting for them. Sure enough, he had contingencies in place against the coup, including having a new Shadow Cabinet assembled before the stream of resignations was even halfway through. He was never just going to crumble and submit.

The ‘strategy’ of the coup throughout has been feeble and basic, relying on bullying and then hoping everything responds and pans out in a particular way. The minds behind the coup have given so little thought to the ‘what-ifs’ that there were no contingencies in place for anything. No one asked, for instance, “What if the national support sticks with Corbyn?” or “What if Corbyn refuses to blink?” And in behaving so deceitfully and treacherously, they have damaged, perhaps permanently, their own reputations, and to an extent that of their party. Such is the damage that, even if by some Excalibur-like miracle they succeed in dislodging Corbyn,they will still be in a helpless position afterwards. They have sacrificed everything, including their own futures, for the sake of controlling the future. That they did not see the impossible contradiction in that gamble says little for their intelligence.

The Red Tories’ only apparent chance since their failure to yell Corbyn into resigning on Monday has been more blind hope; they hoped to find a way of interpreting the rules so that Corbyn could be barred from standing in a leadership contest. With fewer than fifty MP’s backing him, they hoped they could argue that he did not have enough support to be nominated. But he does not need to be nominated; that rule quite explicitly applies only to challengers, not to the incumbent. The idea of the leader being nominated would make no sense on various levels; if Corbyn is being challenged for the leadership, by definition he has to be given an opportunity to meet that challenge, with or without nominations. Otherwise he is not being challenged but usurped, ergo the challenge cannot proceed. Indeed, his election to the leadership itself is his nomination, in a sense, and if he is no longer wanted, he will simply be voted out anyway.

Of course that is not going to happen, because Corbyn is still wanted by the great majority of Labour members nationwide. It is therefore right that Corbyn should stand. Corbyn will stand. And he will win. All signs are that his support in the Labour Party nationwide is, if anything, even greater than it was in September last year. The ten biggest Trade Unions in the country have all reaffirmed their support for Corbyn, which may even be enough to give him an unassailable lead even before the wider membership have their say.

Angela Eagle seems poised to be the ‘sacrificial lamb’ who will be sent to challenge Corbyn, but that is another self-destructive move; not only is she almost certain to lose to Corbyn, but she could also be put in danger of losing her seat in Parliament. This is because  her own constituency party has come out very publicly in support of Corbyn, explicitly protesting against the coup. It seems that, if Diane Abbott’s insights are the truth, this pattern of MP vs. constituents could have been replicated in Labour seats up and down the country, had the coup not been carried out with such indecent haste that there was no time allowed for discussion.

This speaks of the superiority complex of ‘Blue Labour’, the contempt in which it holds the public. It therefore also speaks of exactly why Tony Blair’s vision of the Labour Party has to die. Its refusal to respect the right of the party’s grassroots to be heard will be mirrored in the wider public, and that constitutes a threat to democracy. Blairism will die too if the Red Tories continue on their present course, for if the constituency parties are alienated from their own candidates, the basic foundation of an MP’s election-to-Parliament will crumble.

There is no way out now. The Parliamentary Labour Party has trapped itself by its refusal to respect its leader’s mandate, and its unwillingness to give him a genuine, fully-supported chance to prove himself. Even Ed Miliband got more of a chance than Corbyn, and most of the party regarded Miliband with professional contempt. They have now presented Corbyn potentially with the authority to purge the party of the neoliberal elite, and to restructure the party so that its MP’s can no longer trigger leadership contests without the approval of the grassroots. The party will probably split into two once more, like it did in the early-1980’s.

 

What that means for the future is not necessarily the return of a genuine left-wing Government; the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in 1981 not only split the Labour Party but also split its support, and there is bound to be at least some measure of lost support during the split ahead. The hope is that the rapid groundswell of support Corbyn has drawn can offset that, if it continues to grow, while the Conservative Party are dragged backwards by the equal chaos in their own ranks – a chaos that was not duplicated in the 1980’s. Also, future generations of Labour MPs will doubtless include once more many from the political ‘centre’, or from even further right. Yes, they will have to be watched closely to make sure they do not resurrect the parasite of ‘watered-down Toryism’.

But for now, the back of the current incarnation of ‘watered-down Toryism’ has been broken. With the Chilcot Report just days away, and likely to associate the Blairite philosophy permanently with the spectre of war crimes, the whole brand of neoliberalism-with-a-queasier-conscience will be irredeemably tarnished, as will all current politicians who subscribe to it.

I may regret making this prediction, but I shall say it anyway. New Labour is finished.

See also Think Left: What the Labour Leadership didn’t want us to know

Call for Mandatory Reselection of Labour MPs

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It is not acceptable for a small group of elected MPs to hold the Labour movement to ransom. We are greater than that. Millions of people have supported Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and he was elected with a massive mandate.

Labour Party members worked for them and voted for them, and yet once in power it has been possible to betray each of those by lack of respect to democracy and  basic principles of the Labour Movement which they purport to represent. It seems fair enough to expect self-discipline, loyalty and mutual respect between every one of us. 

The time has come to look at accountability of Labour MPs to their constituency Labour Party members.

MPs resigned

After the events leading to mass resignations of the shadow cabinet, it is clear trust is not enough. We press for the TUC, Labour Members and Affiliated Unions  to  consider mandatory re-selection of Labour MP with this petition.

This is not just about Jeremy Corbyn. It is about you, me, and our children, and future generations. It is about the Labour Party and democracy.

The current policy of not allowing reselection of Labour MPs is undemocratic, and is leading to disloyalty, to the elected leader and the membership of the Labour Party, on a massive scale. Labour MPs should be selected by, and be accountable to the local party membership. This is more democratic and is standard practice in other UK political parties. MPs must be accountable to their members as well as their constituents.

 

Change.Org Mandatory Reselection of Labour MPs

 

Please sign , and share this petition. 

Thankyou.

 

 

Is the high level of Government debt a justification for austerity?

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In the piece posted below, Henry Stewart exposes Osborne’s sleight of hand by using the high level of government debt to justify his cuts – the debt that has grown under Osborne’s stewardship from £960 billion in April 2010, just before the coalition government was elected, to £1.5 trillion five years later.  Nevertheless…

UK government interest payments at lowest since war

By Henry Stewart : @happyhenry

Government debt was, in 2010 and 2015, a key element in the general election. The high level of debt is the justification for austerity. Politicians on the right and left have explained that the high cost of servicing the debt prevent spending on health, education and other areas.

The natural assumption is that this has been such a key issue in 2010 and 2015 because the cost of interest payments on the debts were particular high in those years. An analysis of government statistics reveals that the opposite is the case. The cost of interest payments were, proportionately, at their lowest levels since the war in the years 2010 and 2015.

UK Interest Payments lowest as % of government spending

There are two ways of comparing the cost of interest payments: as a percentage of overall government spending or a percentage of UK GDP. Interest payments were 4.3% of government spending in 2010 and 4.9% in 2015. As the graph below shows, the level was higher in all other post-war years. At the end of the previous Conservative government, in 1997, interest payments represented 9.7% of government spending.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 22.05.25

UK Interest payments lowest as % of GDP

UK interest payments are also at their lowest in terms of proportion of GDP. In 2010 the figure was a post-war low of 1.7%. In 2015 the figure was 1.8%, equal lowest with the years 2003 and 2004. In this case the figure at the end of the last Conservative government in 1997 was 3.3%

A key reason for the low cost of interest payments is clearly the low interest rates at which money can currently be borrowed. However, as many economists have pointed out, the low interest rates make this the best time since the war to invest in the public infrastructure rather than cut back.

And if the main problem with debt is the cost of servicing it, why has this only become an issue when that cost is at a post-war low?

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 22.06.50

 

These figures are taken directly from the PSF (Public Sector Finances) aggregates databank: http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/data/

Contact Details Henry Stewart can be contacted on henry@happy.co.uk,

or on Twitter: @happyhenry

Editor’s note:

William Keegan wrote in the Guardian, October 2015:

‘George Osborne is what is known in the trade as a “chancer”. Chancers often get found out. William Hill has made the chancellor hot favourite to succeed David Cameron. We shall see. The wider implications of his unnecessary policy of austerity are gradually being brought home to the middle classes and all those middle-England voters whom the new leaders of the Labour party are accused of ignoring. The “cuts” are affecting surgeons, GP surgeries, local authority social services for the old and the infirm, and reaching into many other corners of everyday life.’

 

 

Economics – How hard can it be?

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Economics – how hard can it be?

By Jim Moores Twitter: @jimmoores

I am no economist.

However as a mere human being, with nothing like the vast intelligence of our esteemed leaders, I am trying to understand “economics” as implemented by Mrs Thatcher and her most recent apprentice Mr G Osborne.

Just to set the scene – and I cannot guarantee all the details – the Anglo Saxon approach since Thatcher/Reagan (and before) has been to pass control over industry and commerce to private sector banks, finance houses and corporations. It was promised that the wealth would trickle down to the rest of us.

Everything for sale

In the UK that meant the selloff, at bargain prices, of British Telecom, the entire energy supply, water, rail, British Aerospace, Cable and Wireless, British Steel, Rolls Royce, Jaguar, British Petroleum, British Airways, British Leyland, Associated British Ports, Enterprise Oil, British Coal, British Shipbuilders, National Freight Corporation, Amersham International, British Airports Authority, Eurostar and more recently the Post Office and Royal Mail. If anyone is interested the full list can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_privatizations

Whole chunks of the NHS are now in private hands, with £billions being tendered for at any given moment.

We all benefit from privatisation?

So, how does the general population, which the Government is elected to “serve”, benefit from all of this? Because surely, that’s what Osborne’s economics is all about – making sure that we all share in the combined fruits of our labours rather then it being a mechanism to make a tiny number of people very, very rich.

Well, Margaret Thatcher created headlines and excitement with her speech wishing for a society ‘where owning shares is as common as having a car’ in 1985, at the Tory Party conference.

Some 76 per cent of households own a car or van today, whereas only 19 per cent of adults own shares now. Apparently the 1% bought the shares as the poor cashed them in to pay for increasing energy bills etc.

And we were promised that all of our services would be better once they faced competition and were not state owned monopolies. There have no doubt been improvements but, I would argue, those have been more about the advancing technologies than the simple fact that the private sector runs the show. Are our trains cheaper, in real terms, and better? Do we get cheaper energy and better service? Maybe there are lessons to be learnt from East Coast Mainline rail franchise. In 2009 National Express had to give up the franchise because they could not make any money; in 2014, after 5 years in public hands, it gave £225m back to the Treasury (making a total of £1bn over the 5 years); then in 2015 it was privatised again.

And who actually owns our utilities and industries?

When Thatcher had us all dreaming of the day when every citizen would have a stake in our national industries everything looked rosy. In actuality our water, electricity, gas, transport and a host of other utilities are now owned by the state governments of Spain, France, the Netherlands, German and others. Almost every time we take a train journey or turn on a light we are subsidising citizens of one or other of those countries. Fantastic! The dream of privatisation is well and truly fulfilled.

As we watch our steel industry go the way of our coal mines, a far right Conservative government is handing our nuclear power to the Chinese state along with HS2. Now that is irony. But not to worry, the Chinese have promised to build some theme parks, with shopping facilities, which we really, really need.

Oh and there are a few other, British, bits and pieces that the Chinese own :

Investor Value Share Size Partner/Target Sector
Nanjing Auto $100 MG Transport
China Development Bank $800 1% Anglo-American Metals
China Development Bank $3,040 3% Barclays Finance
SAFE $2,010 1% BP Energy
CIC $370 1% Diageo Agriculture
Sinochem $880 100% Emerald Energy Energy
CIC $450 19% Songbird Estates Real estate
CIC $960 2% Apax Finance Finance
CNPC $510 50% INEOS Britain Energy
CIC $920 9% Thames Water Utilities
Bright Foods $1,940 60% Weetabix Agriculture
SAFE $440 Real estate
SAFE $200 10% Veolia Water Utilities
Sinopec $1,500 49% Talisman Energy Energy
CIC $730 10% Ferrovial Transport
CIC $400 Deutsche Bank Real estate
SAFE $110 49% One Angel Square Real estate
SAFE $840 40% UPP Group Real estate
Geely Auto $150 100% Manganese Bronze Transport
Dalian Wanda $1,090 Real estate
Dalian Wanda $500 92% Sunseeker Transport
Ping An $390 Commerz Real Real estate
Fosun $100 Real estate
Huawei $200 Technology
China South Industries $100 Transport
Shanghai Greenland $980 Minerva Real estate
ICBC $690 60% Standard Bank Finance
Shanghai Greenland $990 Commercial Estates Group Real estate
Geely Auto $200 100% Emerald Automotive Transport
Sanpower $790 89% House of Fraser Other
China Life $950 70% Qatar Holding Real estate
China Construction Bank $190 Real estate
Lenovo $1,540 100% PizzaExpress Agriculture
SAFE $170 49% Statkraft Energy
Minsheng Bank and Advanced Business Park $1,510 Real estate
SAFE $290 50% Fosse Shopping Park Other
China General Nuclear $160 100% Electricite du France Energy
Ping An $480 100% Tower Place Real estate
Ctrip $160 100% Travelfusion Tourism
Fosun $140 5% Thomas Cook Group Tourism
Geely Auto $370 Transport
CSR $190 100% Specialist Machine Developments Transport
$28,530

© Data compiled by The American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation. All rights reserved

In the words of the Daily Mail :

“Without a thought to the future, we’ve sold four of our big six energy firms to foreigners who view us as little more than a useful profit centre.

In fact, the day may well come when we no longer own any of our vital public services at all.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2130221/Britain-sale-How-long-foreign-power-turns-Britains-lights.html

Thank you Mrs Thatcher and, of course, Mr Osborne. Simple really.

Contact:

Jim Moores can be contacted at: jim.moores@socialcarenetwork.com