Looking at current Labour economic policy is striking – and not in the way that many casual observers might expect. Let’s examine the essence of McDonnell’s “fiscal credibility lock” for instance: “day-to-day spending would not exceed government income although there would be scope for borrowing for capital investment” says the shadow chancellor. Okay, sorry to say this, but that sounds a lot like what Ed Miliband and Ed Balls threw at the electorate last May. There are many problems with this.
First off, if it didn’t work in May 2015, why will it work in May 2020? Particularly when you looks at things presentation-wise. Perhaps someone with greater charisma than Ed Miliband could have sold the “Tory cut cake with Keynesian icing” to the public (I doubt it, but stay with me here). But Ed looks like JFK when compared to Jeremy Corbyn. The same thing in even less attractive wrapping doesn’t sound like a great idea.
But there’s a lot more to consider here anyhow. Wasn’t the purpose of Corbyn’s leadership to get Labour back to a truly socialist platform? There is a lot of bluster from McDonnell in this direction – but then none of that squares back to a fiscal policy that is basically keep and match Tory cuts while spending money on capital projects that most of the Labour membership hates anyway. Unless the idea is to spend money on things that aren’t actually capital projects, such as social housing, thus making a mockery of the pledge to balance day-to-day spending.
All of which makes a mockery of Corbyn’s fights with his own parliamentary party. It boils down in the end to them thinking he’s incompetent, him feeling petulant about that, and a fight over Trident that is totally academic as it’s a vote that is impossible to win even if he got the whole of the PLP behind him on the issue. If this isn’t about “real socialism” then why not try and bring the party together instead of sniping about deselections?
Unless, I’m missing something, which to be fair, I may well be. Ed M didn’t formulate any policies for years after taking over as Labour leader because of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (so much for the notion that they thought the coalition was going to end prematurely, while we’re here; they always appeared to be planning for a 2015 election). That’s fine – unless the next Tory leader calls an early election. Then I suppose we’ll see if there will be more to Labour economic policy than Ed Balls with a Stalinist veneer. For everyone’s sake, I hope they are cooking up something other than Chuka Umunna smear stories.