London’s Labour Leadership Hustings

So the Leader debate is becoming about winning in 2020, how to win back the Tories and the Presidential qualities of the candidates, that’s what the Press are saying and that’s what the supporters of the three wise monkeys are arguing. The question that needs to be proved by them is that they are any more likely to win than Corbyn with his Keynesian anti-austerity policy. I attended the London Hustings for Labour’s Leadership yesterday. I don’t think it will have changed many people’s minds. The answers on re-nationalisation, inequality and fighting the ugly right were basically pretty bland. I went along with a question, but it wasn’t selected.

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There are two questions I am asking myself,

On the economy, we have a choice of changing the question or changing the answer. Labour’s manifesto put cutting the deficit at its centre. The economics was based on Tory slogans with no theory. Theory is important because it informs us of the effects of our actions, How can we cut our way out of debt? The vast bulk of macro-economic theory is Keynesian, none of it supports “Expansionary Fiscal Consolidation” and Keynesianism recommends deficit financing of public works or investment programmes to stimulate growth and counter recession. Did you know we promised to create a National Investment Bank to inject £30bn of investment into the economy? The Tories are lying anyway so why sit in their straight jacket, they don’t.

Question 1 is who broke Keynesianism?

My second question is

How to do “Better Politics”?

and this applies to inside the Labour Party as well as in the country and now the continent as a whole. Internally, will you listen to the Party? Will you offer shadow cabinet roles to your current rivals? Will you re-establish election for the shadow cabinet? Will you democratise the party so that member’s voice becomes paramount?

And for the country, it’s about decentralising the state, entrenching and rejuvenating the powers of local authorities, abolishing Mayors, Police and Crime Commissioners and the House of Lords, votes at 16, compulsory registration, retaining the Freedom of Information Act and the Human Rights Act and most importantly, fair voting!

My huge disappointment is that no-one is talking about life long education, while several candidates for both positions argue for increases in educational investment for early years and a student funding equivalent for HE age entrepreneurs, there needs to be an answer for people to retrain and access education they were unable to do when younger. We all agree we want a high skills and high wage economy, but who has the skills to perform these new jobs.

As ever this has taken me days to write and I have backdated it to the day after it happened. The featured picture is a derived work, the picture in the article is mine.  (I amended the article when publishing “It’s still the economy, stupid!”, by moving my litany of the Labour Government’s macro-economic successes to that piece.)

3 Comments.

  1. Labour’s putative Leaders were asked what they thought of building a third runway at Heathrow. Corbyn opposes, the other three don’t. They argue that the independent commission has made a recommendation (for Heathrow 3) and that a future Labour Government should get on with it. I question whether increased capacity is really needed, if it couldn’t be built elsewhere in the UK, if Crossrail/Eurostar doesn’t make continental sites feasible and if HS/2 doesn’t make Manchester, Coventry or Leeds/Bradford feasible. It’d be an environmental disaster and we should all be looking for smarter ways of doing this.

    The last Labour government said “No”; so this is disappointing. More so, was talking to the comrades in the seats around me, all of whom had bought the “we need to compete in the global economy” argument, both of whom live in west London. I suppose if it goes ahead it’s non PSBR keynesian demand creation. I wonder what the multiplier is and I wonder how much would go abroad; not so much in the end, since the runway needs to be here.

  2. One question was asked on the BBC and its future, and all four candidates made sterling defences of its worth. Yvette Cooper spoke first and called it the NHS of culture, suggested its destruction was an act of vandalism. The statement that the BBC wastes money on excessive staff costs was made, I think by Yvette. She finished her answer raising the issue of the BBC competing with the private sector by defending its right to make “Strictly”. Liz Kendell, it would seem is also a big “Strictly” fan. It interests me that it’s this show that has come to represent the crux of the arguments about whether and how the BBC should compete with the private sector. It started as a high culture exposition, part of the BBC’s mission to inform and none of the private companies would touch it; they didn’t see the audience. When they had a show SYTYCD that could compete, they canned it and in the UK replaced it with the dreadful “Got to Dance”. Jeremy Corbyn in his answer also defended the BBC and pointed to the USA and the politically motivated evisceration of its PBS.

  3. On the Sunday Politics show earlier in the morning the question as to whether each of them would serve in the other’s cabinet had been asked and it was repeated here. Andy Burnham gave the right answer, saying he’d serve in whatever role the Party wants and needs. Cooper and Kendell both stated that they’d stay in the Party and Cooper made the point that the SDP were wrong to leave. Kendall said that while she admired and liked Jeremy, and would be happy to have him as Strictly Come Dancing partner, she had such serious disagreements on strategy and policy that she wouldn’t serve in a Corbyn shadow cabinet. Jeremy’s reply was that it didn’t look like he’d get the offer from Liz. As we are coming to expect, Corbyn de-personalised the question and argued that the results should be respected, that the views of the Party’s members and supporters should be respected also. Should he fail to win, some MPs supporting his campaign and its ideas should be in the Shadow Cabinet. Sadly the opportunity to state that elections to Shadow Cabinet should be re-established was missed by all of them.