The Anti-Jeremy Corbyn People: How They Sound to Me

Originally posted on Mark Fiddaman:

I may not have read any of Corbyn’s policies. But I have imagined what he might think, on the basis of an unorthodox hat he once wore. And let me tell you— never have I heard such barmy, bleeding-heart, loony-left, pie-in-the-sky, stuck-in-the-past, socks-and-sandals, mouth-frothing, terrorist-licking, weirdo-beardo Islington pinko codswallop in all my life.

I’m told Corbyn has some fanciful, Trotskyite notions about not treating the poor like vermin and avoiding imbeciliceconomicpolicy. Pfft. Go back to Russia, mate. I think I also read somewhere that he wants to reduce the deficit with a growth strategy, the like of which has never worked ever, apart from all the times it has.

Well, Corbyn can’t trick me with that old ‘saying things that are true’ routine. He can’t pull the wool over my eyes with his manifest skill at harnessing grassroots momentum and his ability…

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The bad economics of ‘top Labour figure’ would keep Tories in power

The Guardian reported comments made by current Shadow Chancellor Chris Leslie today in an article headlined “Corbyn’s economic strategy would keep Tories in power, top Labour figure says”. To me it says much more about the Labour right than anything Corbyn has come up with. It’s the mode of thinking Leslie expresses that will really keep the Tories in power. If Corbyn does win, he needs to make a clean break from the sloppy thinking set out in the Guardian’s article.

The current view on the economy in the Labour Party is identical to to that expressed by the Conservatives (but completely at odds with what most sensible economists would advocate). That is to say they think is the government’s deficit gets too high, and the total stock of debt gets too high, ‘the markets’ will start to doubt the government will be able to repay their debts and interest rates will rise, which will mean the government actually can’t repay its debts and may have to default, leading to economic ‘chaos’. To mitigate this risk, the government needs to cut spending/raise taxes to try and reduce its deficit in order to get the public finances back on a sustainable track.

It’s not clear at all to me that the Conservatives actually believe this argument, but that’s the one they have been endlessly repeating and which Labour apparently agree with. The trouble is though, if you accept this argument as true, Labour’s calls for ‘fairer cuts’ looks incredibly weak and makes it easy to attack. I don’t see how Labour can win with this argument, but the media and the Westminster establishment seem to think it’s an absolute must. I got an email from the Liz Kendall team today giving me a long list of nice sounding ideas (with no detail) about her ‘vision’ for the country, but while maintaining this wrong model of how the economy works, she and others in the Labour Party can argue for nothing more than that they will be better managers that the Conservatives. If you buy the argument on deficits and nobody is disputing that version of reality, surely you would just vote Tory?

The current view however, is nonsense. The economy just doesn’t work like that. The government always has as much money as it needs. High deficits don’t lead to higher rates, and there is no chance the UK would ever default on its debts. What we need is someone who gets this and doesn’t let bad economics prevent them for arguing for what needs to be done. Can Corbyn be that person?

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The s-word

Originally posted on Guts of a Beggar:

Corbyn2

Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was perfectly respectable to call oneself a socialist. It was a badge that one might wear with pride alongside the likes of Albert Einstein, George Orwell and Bertrand Russell. Nowadays, for reasons we’ll come to in a moment, to call oneself a socialist is to risk being perceived as some sort of cartoon amalgam of Arthur Scargill, Wolfie Smith, Derek Hatton, and Rik from The Young Ones. I have a neighbour who thinks it hilarious to tell people as a matter of routine that I am a fan of Joseph Stalin. Happily, I know that you’re not that stupid, so here goes.

I am a socialist. By that I mean that I believe in the socialism of Bevan and Beveridge, the socialism that gave us nationalised utilities, the NHS and the welfare state. Over the past couple of decades, since…

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The Corbyn Effect

Originally posted on The Disorder Of Things:

Moderate Militant-Free Labour Conservative Poster

In the last days, the Labour mainstream has not so much fallen as fully leapt into a fit of apoplexy. The cause an opinion poll – by no means solid, by no means a guarantee of future stock value – placing Jeremy Corbyn as the likely winner of the party’s leadership contest. Labour MPs, some now publicly flagellating themselves, nominated Corbyn for a ‘balanced debate’, but apparently couldn’t countenance that it might actually lead anyone to, you know, debate. Corbyn’s moment of popularity is thus sketched as, among other things, “the emotional spasm…an apocalyptic tendency”. John McTernan – a prime mover in the utter implosion of Labour in Scotland – was invited to hold forth on national TV as an oracle nevertheless, where he showed off his great talent in persuasion by calling Labour supporters “morons”. John Rentoul, that other great passé hack, thought recognising the left-wing appeal of the SNP as a factor in Labour’s…

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Jeremy Corbyn and the Truth about Deficits

Originally posted on Origin of Specious:

corboJeremy Corbyn is in big trouble if he doesn’t start telling the truth about deficits. Other politicians can build card-houses out of the pack of lies that has been handed around since the 1970s. Corbyn’s position can only rest comfortably on a foundation of fact. Sometimes honesty really is the best policy.

Andy Burnham made a bit of trouble for Corbyn in the recent LBC debate. It was a small taste of what could easily kill Corbyn as Labour leader. Burnham asked Corbyn whether he wanted to eliminate the deficit. Corbyn replied that he did, eventually, but added that the best way to do so is to invest in the economy and foster growth. Burnham replied that the economy is already on a steady growth path, yet tax revenues don’t come near to covering expenditure. So, he implied, you need to either raise taxes (unpopular) or cut spending (anathema…

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What’s in the Welfare Bill that Labour just failed to oppose?

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is making its passage through Parliament at the moment. After much hand wringing, Labour instructed its MPs to abstain. Only 48 defied the whip to vote against. Media Commentators including those at the supposedly left-wing Guardian agreed this was smart politics. For others though – including me – it begs the question once again, what is the Labour Party for?

But what is in this Bill that Labour found so difficult to oppose? The explanatory notes to the Bill can be found here. Here are some of the measures Labour felt they could not vote against:

  • Reducing the benefit cap to £20,000, except for £23,000 in Greater London
  • Freezing certain social security benefits and certain tax credit amounts for four tax years
  • Limitation in the amount of support provided by the child tax credit for families who become responsible for a child born on or after 6 April 2017
  • Limiting the child element of universal credit to a maximum of two children and removing the distinction between the first and subsequent children in the rate of the child element
  • Removing the work-related activity component in employment and support allowance and the limited capability for work element in universal credit
  • Changes to conditionality for responsible carers in universal credit
  • Replacing current support for mortgage interest payments for benefit claimants with the offer of a recoverable interest-bearing loan secured as a second charge on claimants’ properties

The one on mortgage interest payments was new to me and appears particularly nasty. If you are unfortunate enough to lose your job, the government will loan you the money to pay the mortgage interest, but if you can’t repay it whilst in work, they will take your house. Not sure that really falls within the definition of social security.

If Labour can’t oppose real terms cuts (for 4 years!) to working-age benefits, replacing support for mortgage interest with interest-bearing loans secured against the property and a 30% cut in social security payments to many who are sick or disabled, then seriously, what is the point of them?

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United In Loathing

Originally posted on Guy Debord's Cat:

The Labour right is in a spin (in more ways than one) and can’t for the life of them fathom Jeremy Corbyn’s growing popularity. In the eyes of these Blairite fossils and their allies in the Simulated Thatcher Government, Corbyn is a “dinosaur” ; a “relic from the past”. These tropes are based entirely on the arrogant assumption that the political positions espoused by the Tories and Blairite ‘modernizers’ are modern and fresh. They’re not. These people manage the circulation and recirculation of stale ideas. That is all they do.

At a time when fresh ideas are called for, the ‘modernizers’ are indulging themselves in a great deal of self-flagellation and name-calling. Having lost the election in May, the party’s ‘modernizers’ are incapable of understanding why they lost so heavily in Scotland and continue to blame the SNP for their failure to win seats that they’d once taken for granted…

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