Observations from The Shed – How Left Can Look Right

The Labour Party thinks a groundswell of support for Jeremy Corbyn is evidence of a fatal belief that its problem is not being Left enough. The Shed concurs that anyone who does not share some of the sympathy for capping child benefit is probably doomed. But we also think Corbyn is popular because if he is not right, he does at least come over as real – and it was failure in that direction which scuppered Ed Miliband and which handicaps most of the contenders to replace him.

Having given Corbyn that much credit, The Shed was exasperated to read him advocating the scrapping of student fees and the reintroduction of student maintenance grants at a cost of £9 billion.

If Labour has any future, it is as the party of jobs, not students. And how many jobs could you create for £9 billion?

For the purposes of rough calculation, let us assume that the difference between paying out dole and subsidising a proper job is £9,000. Divide £9 billion by £9,000 and we get a million jobs. No doubt it’s not as simple as all that but there are votes waiting for the first contender to think it is a sum worth considering.

The Shed hear-heared quite a bit to Aditya Chakrabortty, economics writer, in the Guardian on July 13.

His theme was that politicians are as susceptible to “magical thinking” as any tribe blaming its crop failures on witchcraft.

Magical thinking could be defined as “the unshakeable conviction that unconnected things must be related, and that to mess with that relationship is to bring forth calamity”.

Chakrabortty wrote: “Magical thinking runs through today’s Westminster the superstitions politicians hold about the economy. That Britain’s private sector competes, while the public sector’s role is either to cheer it on or to clear up any spills.

“MPs preach from this all-encompassing belief system every day, using the dead language of competition and championing business. You hear it over and over during Labour’s leadership campaign. The frontrunners scrap over who is most pro-business.

“Last week I listened to one of the would-be leaders rhapsodise about how the UK could become a shiny, hi-tech economy, if only it spent more on science. I remembered official statistics showing that while back in 1979 the UK was one of the most research-intensive economies in the world, we have now been comprehensively overtaken by the US, Japan, France and Germany.

“The same self-deception goes on when talking about Britain’s manufacturing base.

“Take the car industry, held up by frontbenchers on all sides as proof that it doesn’t matter that no big British-owned auto firms exist any more – we still make the damned things. Yet Richard Parry-Jones, former senior Ford executive, estimates that just under two out of every three components of cars supposedly made in Britain actually come from abroad. Seen this way, British carmaking is less world-beating success and more the automotive equivalent of a giant Ikea assembler.

“Our workforce increasingly competes on price, not skill – and that’s not a competition any western country can win for long.

“What about the sectors that were meant to fill in where the rustbelt left off? As the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane shows, finance barely created any new jobs, even during the great boom that ran until 2008. The creative industries so beloved of Blair have provided small employment in just a handful of cities – computer games in Dundee, media in Manchester, everything else in London. New Labour’s fallback was the creation of many more public sector jobs and quasi-public sector jobs in the north-east and Wales – which just about worked until this decade of austerity and the culling of the public sector.

“What the crash has revealed is a malfunctioning economic model held together by the public sector: creating jobs where the private sector can’t; bailing out the banks when they come knocking; subsiding companies with £93bn a year of grants and tax breaks.

“After the biggest privatisation programme of any rich capitalist country, we have a regime of businesses that rely on subsidy and shelter from competition.

“Calling this a competitive, dynamic private sector is the real magical thinking, and in subscribing to it Labour is committing a giant act of self-harm – because it’s the party’s natural supporters who are worst served by it. After a crash made in London, it’s the capital that has gone roaring ahead – while old Labour heartlands are still wallowing in a slump.”

Read the whole thing at

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/13/britain-economy-labour/

overandout …

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