I have watched with fascination on social media the waves of adoration that washed towards Jeremy Corbyn on the run up to the Labour Leadership, especially by younger people.
Worldwide, there seems to be a 1960s type wave of left-wing calls to change the world and politicians’ messages have been adaptive to that, especially with Francois Hollande in France and Hilary Clinton in the US – with her increased neo-liberalism. But if the general waive is 1960s, then Corbyn and and his new shadow chancellor John McDonnell are definitely more 1969.
Revolution is usually appealing when you are young, so to some extent one can understand the initial adoration. As one grows older, more experience prompts many in a different direction. Already, the Corbyn zealots are having to come to terms with his first betrayal, the amazing lack of equality for women in his opposition front ranks. The first questions are setting in. There will be a great deal more to come.
The establishment has more immediate worries. Mark Carney is among many who have come out with dire warnings against the economics of Corbyn and McDonnell, suggesting their plans, including quantitative easing and the reclaiming of control of the Bank of England, would increase inflation and could turn down the economy.
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The Labour government under Tony Blair had much economic success, seeing higher employment and higher productivity – that elusive necessity we are currently searching for – but the success was always overshadowed by their total failure on fiscal controls. Corbyn and his ilk are able to focus on the increase to salaries to the top one per cent (predominantly bankers bonuses) and ignore the fact that middle Labour did succeed in narrowing the gap between the highest and the lowest. Focussing on the one per cent enables Corbynites to claim the need for massively increasing the power of the unions and reversing nationalisation.
His shadow chancellor’s policies are more extreme (not surprising from a man who has been known to call for the overthrowing of capitalism) and include promises to raise taxation of anyone earning over £50,000 and a £10 minimum wage, a cut to the working week to 35 hours from current 48, and laws to cap directors salaries, super taxation at higher brackets.
Carney points out that it is the people Labour claim to represent, the poor and the elderly, who suffer most from inflation. He is, of course, right. Inflation would follow, from this and from MacDonnell’s other policies. We would see many of the higher paid depart these shores and no doubt suffer from the brain drain again. We would see small businesses collapse under economics that will not work, once they are disenabled to compete against foreign imports, with higher costs on wages and shorter working hours. Will entrepreneurship all over Britain lose all incentive to succeed?
Many in Labour are wondering about the move to appoint someone as shadow chancellor who has championed the IRA, and been sacked by Ken Livingstone, as too left wing. It ranks along with the other mystery, why a party whose failure in the last election was attributed to the public’s perception of non-viability of its economic policies and its attitude towards business, should then turn to such extremists to change the situation.
Let us pray that the moderates of this country and within Labour ensure that this insanity is stopped before Britain becomes not the leader of entrepreneurship of David Cameron’s vision, but a ghost land of what could have been under a terrifying loony left.
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