Monday, September 27, 2010

It's quite a jump to the left

After losing this year's election, the British Labour Party purged Gordon Brown, as he proved himself to be one of a long list of Labour leaders who only lose elections (he joins Neil Kinnock, Michael Foot, James Callaghan, Hugh Gaitskell as post war Labour leaders who never won an election).  It has been on the search for a new leader, and had five candidates get nominated.  

Only one was a woman, demonstrating once again that the party that claims to do so much for women, can't bring itself to get led by one, and Diane Abbott (the first black woman to be elected to the House of Commons) came last, not helped by being the most leftwing candidate by far.  It is telling that the winner said patronisingly that she was "right to stand", if only to avoid Labour looking embarrassingly like what it hates.  She and unionist Andy Burnham were not serious contenders.

Ed Balls, former Education Secretary, was a Brownite, and came third, but the real battle was the bizarre spectacle of two brothers contesting for the leadership, each with a different taste to offer.

The Milibands (as comedian Andy Hamilton quipped he wasn't used to the new metric politicians) were raised by Marxists.  The difference is that David Miliband, the older brother, grew up and was strongly affiliated with Tony Blair.  Ed Miliband, the baby, preferred Labour of the 1980s. 

Ed Miliband was an intern to Tony Benn, one of Britain's most ludicrous Marxist cabinet Ministers.  Benn once argued that the British government should nationalise the 50 largest companies in the country - in the 1970s, having been Secretary of State for Industry.  A Marxist dad, a Marxist mentor, it was little surprise that in the 1990s he started writing speeches for Harriet Harman and then Gordon Brown.

It is also little surprise that he won the Labour leadership for only one reason, the trade union movement overwhelmingly backed him.  You see the British Labour Party leadership race is decided in part by the rank and file, in part by MPs and MEPs and in part by "affiliates", which is code for the unions claiming weight by assuming that members of the union are Labour supporters.

The 1.3% margin over David Miliband means Ed is not the choice of MPs or Labour members.  More importantly it means Labour is sliding back to whence it came - the politics of class warfare, wealth envy and hatred of capitalism.

Ed Miliband wants to keep a 50% top rate of income tax, he wants new taxes on banks (all banks, whether bailed out by the state or not) to reduce the deficit.  He has indicated he wants to slow down the reduction in the budget deficit (remember this is the rate of overspending, not the level of debt, he just wants to grow debt more slowly), he wants to grow welfare and chase more jobs overseas with a new minimum "living wage" and most disturbingly he wants a High Pay Commission to regulate private sector pay.

How much of this was to get the unions on side or not is unclear, what is clear is that even after being elected as Labour leader he continues to trot out the Gramscian rewriting of history that covers up Labour's role in the decimation of the British economy.

The story told is:
-  The banks weren't regulated, they acted recklessly and all needed bailing out.
-  Gordon Brown cleverly saved the world the country by saving the banks, and by running a huge deficit to keep the economy functioning;
-  Without a big government borrowing money and spending it, the economy would collapse.

The truth of fiat money, Labour riding off the back of consumers borrowing and spending and speculating on property, that only three banks were bailed out by the state, that bank deposits for over 95% of the population were protected anyway, that Labour had run budget deficits almost continually whilst in power, that Labour had wasted fortunes of money on bureaucracies and vanity projects (the Olympics will be the last one) that destroy wealth not create it, and finally that Labour's goal of reducing inequalities was hindered by the promotion of a welfare dependent society, with state housing, state jobs, health and education, all are whitewashed over.

The best that can be said about the last 13 years is that they could have been worse.  That Labour still supported privatisation in government tells you how much more mature it was compared to New Zealand Labour.   However, the only reason Labour gets away with it is the cultural dominance of the BBC which happily perpetuates a  centre-left view of the economy, and the ineptness of the Conservative Party and the business sector, both of which are scared of backing capitalism or in the latter case, rather keen to engage in  continued corporatism.

Allister Heath in City AM is particularly worried that the trend has now moved clearly leftward, on Miliband:

"He supports high tax not primarily because he thinks it will raise revenue but to punish the better-off. Ken Livingstone wants to go even further. Even though bonuses are already mostly taxed at a marginal rate of 51.5 per cent, Miliband wants to increase the bank tax, reintroduce a bonus tax and slap a Tobin tax on financial transactions. He believes in the need for the government to regulate pay levels in the private sector. He supports a new graduate tax."

He concludes with a bleak forecast:

"There is no place in Miliband’s intellectual framework for the idea, shared by Thatcher, John Major and Blair alike that too much tax and too much red tape is counter-productive, reduces effort and investment, chases away capital and talent, impoverishes the nation and destroys the public finances. Instead, to Miliband, the private sector can be taxed and beaten and throttled – and it will always come back for more. This view of the world is shared almost entirely by the coalition’s Vince Cable wing. The two men appear to agree on everything apart from the budget deficit, about which Miliband is in denial.


The opposition hates the City and wants to tax everything that moves; Cable agrees; the Tories are too scared to resist. The public, which has not been exposed to a proper defence of capitalism for years, wants to lash out. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult to remain optimistic about Britain’s long-term future. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear for the UK’s jobs and prosperity."

I am slightly more optimistic, as I think the Vince Cable wing of the government is just about releasing steam from the left of the Liberal Democrats with no real substances behind it. I also think the British public wont stomach the Labour Party of the 1980s today any more than it did then. However a decent defence of capitalism is rare in the UK, with only the Adam Smith Institute and City AM being consistent on this.

Is it time for a UK TeaParty to bolster the Coalition to cut spending?

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