In the UK, the party conference season is rather curious, as all three major parties present themselves to themselves and the nation as offering solutions, answers and a critique about what is wrong with Britain.
The Liberal Democratic Party - the party without any coherent purpose - was patronising in it presenting itself as "In Government, On Your Side", as if the Conservatives are not. However, it was more curious to watch senior Lib Dem MPs be reminded that they advocated Britain joining the Euro some years ago, as did the entire party. None of them are willing to confess how wrong they were, and although there was a plea that the relationship with Europe cannot be abandoned, they all know they are on the wrong side of history. Neither the party of economic responsibility, nor the party (anymore) of spending promises they need never consider having to keep, they face oblivion.
However now it is Labour - New New Labour. The Labour of Ed Miliband, the unions' choice for leader. The party that on the one hand opposes every single cut in growth of spending of the current government, has its Shadow Chancellor say "we wont promise to reverse any of the cuts". The party that blames "the banks" for budget deficits, yet was running structural (non recession based) budget deficits every year after the 2001 election. A small fraction of the government's public debt is attributable to bank bailouts, most of it is due to overspending over many years. The party that in government loved the high tax revenues from a thriving financial services sector, now declares open war on it - even wanting a discriminatory company tax rate on that sector alone. The party that in government happily schmoozed the entire news media, now declares war on one firm that owns two daily newspapers and one TV news network, calling it, bizarrely a "monopoly" (ignoring its ever beloved compulsorily funded dominant national broadcaster - the BBC).
A series of speeches have revealed more about how nasty, vindictive and utterly specious and false the British Labour Party is, and how willling it is to lie about the past and create a simplistic binary culture of "us and them" to fire up its drones, and those who it has nurtured to suckle on the state tit.
Ed Balls said that Britain entered the financial crisis with lower public debt than the US, France, Germany and Japan. He picked those carefully. The US, which had ballooning debt due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Bush's legacy of bribing the electorate with money. France, which has not run a budget surplus for two generations. Germany, which has had a legacy of reunification that it is addressing through growth, and Japan, which has been stagnant for well over a decade. The UK actually had a higher budget deficit than all of them. However, Labour likes to mix up the words debt and deficit, because too many journalists are too stupid to know the difference, but some are not. Ed Balls pointedly refused to engage with Channel 4 journalist, Krishnan Guru-Murphy about why Labour ran a structural deficit for so many years.
Like a vampire, Ken Livingstone, good friend of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's authoritarian socialist President, made a speech making promises to cut public transport fares, with no money to pay for it. He wouldn't dare discuss raising council tax, which is his main source of income. Then he dares compare the obnoxious antics of the Bullingdon Club of Oxford, which Mayor Boris Johnson once belonged to, to the rioters. Given Ken blamed the riots on spending cuts before, he is a dirty politician, an apologist for criminality and an opportunist.
Then Labour rolled out Rory Weal. A fifteen year old. Who pleaded about how the welfare state saved his family, about the family home being repossessed, with childish hyperboles about how the welfare state is being "destroyed" by the "vicious Tories", not noting it remains the highest item of state spending. He went on about what would be done if he couldn't afford to go to school. Well the Daily Mail has revealed what a ruse that was. Rory is the son of a millionaire property investor whose business went bust, and the homes repossessed went for £359,000 and £500,000 each, now he lives in a 4 bedroom home with his mother and sister. Hard life I think not, but good propaganda while it lasted.
Less publicity was given for Ivan Lewis, Labour's shadow culture secretary, who called for licensing of journalists. Continuing to claim that News Corporation is dominant in a market where others have the vast majority of readers and audiences, he wanted a system to "strike off" journalists who commit "gross malpractice". Of course before that he said free speech was "non-negotiable", except it obviously is? What happens to a journalist struck off who write a story for a newspaper, or a blog, or a broadcaster? Rupert Murdoch was told that he cannot "assert political power in the pursuit of your commercial interests or ideological beliefs", how about the owners of the Guardian, or the Independent, how about the state as owner of dominant broadcasters BBC and Channel 4? As Allister Heath said today:
journalism is a trade, not a profession; the idea that its practitioners should be licensed, that it should be a closed shop that only people who have passed a test can enter; and that a politically created quango can determine who is “right” and who is “wrong” and should therefore be banned is appalling and dangerous. It is a sure route to eliminating free speech and ensuring that only “approved” views can be aired.
However, it was Ed Miliband who has topped it off. Talking about "good" and "bad" businesses, about "predators". After citing only one example (a care home firm bought by a private equity fund that sold properties off), he and his acolytes couldn't name others. He talks about a "a something for nothing culture" yet it was Labour that celebrated the growth of the welfare state, that never questioned allowing people from across the EU to come to Britain to suckle from the British taxpayer for a free home, income, education for the kids and healthcare. He talks about the "the people who don’t make a fuss, who don’t hack phones, loot shops, fiddle their expenses, or earn telephone number salaries at the banks"... "the hard-working majority who do the right thing".
Who stood up for phone hacking, or looters? How many Labour MPs fiddled expenses? How are people who earn large salaries at banks NOT hard working?
Labour's new scapegoats are people who work at banks. Ed Miliband's attitude is effectively to let the City of London go, to gut the financial sector of the country.
He talks of "An economy and a society too often rewarding not the right people with the right values, but the wrong people with the wrong values. Who are the right and wrong ones Ed? Who is going to tell? You? What are you going to do about it? What is a "fast buck"? What sort of regulatory environment will you create to make sure the economy and society reward "the right people"? How do you know best? He says "we must punish those who do wrong". What is "wrong" to you Ed? Given you support a 50p top tax rate, presuming earning more than £150,000 is "doing wrong".
He said "You believe rewards should be for hard work. But you’ve been told we have to tolerate the wealthiest taking what they can." Taking? Is it taking when you get paid a salary for hard work, or get a profit from a business that is thriving?
Well here are presumably bad businesses "Big vested interests like the energy companies have gone unchallenged, while you’re being ripped off." Unchallenged Ed? You mean like how when YOU were Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for 1.5 years? You mean when you implemented policies that force electricity customers to pay extra to subsidise the uneconomic renewable energy programme you forced on the energy companies to meet your fatuous commitment to
hindering Britain's economy to let China grow unchecked and not address climate change. "
"So let’s break the dominance of the big energy companies. Let’s call a rigged market what it is. And get a fairer deal for the people of Britain." The six Ed? The "rigged market" you were happy to support as Secretary for Energy? Are you going to the Competition Commission about this, or just making up accusations again?
He claims Sir Fred Goodwin was paid too much when RBS collapsed, so will he be in favour of laws restricting executive pay? How many businesses will want to stay in the UK after that?
He says "Are you on the side of the wealth creators or the asset strippers? The producers or the predators". Who wants to wait until they are accused of being the wrong sort of business? What does that even mean? Does it mean that when a factory shuts down, nobody should sell off the remaining assets for what they are worth? Rory Weal's father was a speculator, he presumably wasn't a "producer" or "wealth creator". He got loans to buy lots of properties and when the market turned, the bank foreclose and sold the properties for much less than he had paid for them. The bank lost out because of his foolishness. He was exactly what Labour opposes.
He cites "good businesses" which happen to be dependent on state contracts like "companies like Bombardier and BAe systems. Being sold down the river by this Government." So Ed wants more defence spending? He wants to break EU rules on government procurement and competitive tendering, to destroy a system that Labour set up for it to buy railway rolling stock in government? He implies that Nick Clegg should intervene - parochial politics should win out over economic rationalism.
He said of the next Labour government "That we will manage your money properly". Why?: Whose money is it? Who asked you to manage their money? Did you fail to do so over the previous 13 years?
Finally, he tops it off with his worship at the altar of Britain's greatest religion. The NHS, the biggest health authority in the world, and the second biggest government agency in the world that is not in China. He loves the religion so much he would sacrifice everything for it by saying:
"no greater public interest than our National Health Service" So if Hitler had won the war, but set up the NHS it would have been the top priority?
"Cherished by all of us". Bullshit
"Founded by Labour. Saved by Labour. Today defended by Labour once again" Ignoring the Tories are spending the same as you promised to spend.
"Why does Britain care so much for the NHS?" Because you treat it as a religion that anyone who attacks it should be pilloried as a blasphemer?
"Because, more than any other institution in our country, the values of the NHS are our values. It doesn’t matter who you are. Or what you earn. The NHS offers the highest quality care when we need it" Bullshit. I know of several who would have faced months of pain and agony on the NHS who went private. It is not the highest quality, it does not have people coming from overseas to pay for it.
"And nobody asked me for my credit card at the door" What other public health systems do Ed?
So let's really lie profoundly Ed "Hospitals to be fined millions of pounds if they break the rules of David Cameron’s free-market healthcare system. The old values that have failed our economy now being imported to our most prized institution: the NHS." Free market healthcare system? Really? So I can stop paying for the NHS and buy healthcare from whoever I like? Oh no. It's not. It is like claiming North Korea has a free press. The reforms, as little as they are, are not free market, but they are about putting accountability into this institution of centralised socialism, this monolith of bureaucracy, buck-passing and producers' interests.
You see the NHS exemplifies the "something for nothing", "vested interest", "cartel", "unaccountable" culture Miliband talks about, but it is his cherished state entity. The NHS can do no wrong, it should just get hundreds of billions of money to just keep doing as it does, allocating health care by bureaucratic/political fiat, giving people health care regardless of who they are or where they came from, whether they are taxpayers, illegal immigrants or criminals. It exemplifies Labour values - an international class centrally planned taxpayer funded monopoly dominated by strong professional unions, with no ethos of efficiency or customer service.
You might wonder if Ed has dreams of the same for journalism, energy, the financial sector or other parts of the economy.
Ed Miliband and his team have shown themselves for what they are. A bunch of leftwing authoritarians, who want to label businesses as "good" and "bad", Who talk of fiscal responsibility, but oppose any cuts in spending. He wants rules on executive pay and rates bankers who earn large salaries alongside looters. He wants to break up a "cartel" in energy and regulate prices, while (ignoring that he was once in charge of this sector) celebrating the health cartel of the NHS and lying blatantly about the severely cauterised reforms being implemented. He wouldn't know a free market if it danced in front of him. He talks of good businesses who are being let down, because the government didn't spend enough money it doesn't have, on them, or rig the rules to favour them.
Most astonishingly, he almost completely ignores the global economic crisis. One that was not saved by the pseudo-Keynesianism embraced by his party, one that the EU is mismanaging and which he is clueless about.
Labour's lying and spinning was legendary under Tony Blair, it continues with aplomb. Lying about the budget deficit, lying about NHS reforms, lying about the "monopoly" and "dominance" of Rupert Murdoch (which was just great when NewsCorp papers loved Labour) and finally having a kid lie about his family's "poverty", when the kid's father exemplified exactly what Labour (now) despises in business.
It is a party of authoritarianism. It likes to spend other people's money, like to tell businesses what to do. It likes having a punitive tax on the financial sector. It damns private equity firms generically, because it neither understands them, nor does its drones of envy dripping supporters. The latter was perfectly exemplified by a chap from "the North" on BBC's Newsnight angrily demanding money from "the bankers who created this recession" and blaming everything bad on the Tories. Angry, vacuous, intellectually dishonest.
I'll leave the end once again to Allister Heath:
Liberalism is dead in the Labour party: it believes in telling people who can and cannot be journalists, what is and what isn’t morally acceptable, and levying arbitrary double and triple-taxes on people it doesn’t like. Unfortunately, it has also lost touch with economic reality. The only good businesses Miliband mentioned were “real engineering” companies and those who “train, invest, invent, sell” (anybody knows a single firm that doesn’t do at least two or three of these?). The only “good companies” he mentioned by name were Bombardier and BAE Systems; the only business leader he name-checked was Sir John Rose, ex boss of Rolls-Royce. All three are long-established, manufacturers and sell lots to governments; I have nothing against them but it says a lot about Miliband’s priorities. What about the dominant services sector? And aren’t all firms that follow the law, create jobs and thus fund HMRC “good”? The only other firms he likes are small businesses “who can’t get a loan” (what about those that can?).
Labour has abandoned Blairism and is once again a party of the old left. Miliband has no credible plan whatsoever to boost the UK’s growth and competitiveness. How incredibly depressing."