Two stories dominate Labour’s leadership election, firstly, the Trot & Tory hunt but secondly a return to politics by the Burnham & Cooper. The membership hunt was kicked off by John Mann MP’s speech complaining about entryism and long term members being swamped; just as well he’s not shadow spokesperson on Immigration. Cooper argues for investment in Science, Burnham has changed his mind and will now take the railways back into public ownership and both of them argue for a Graduate Tax to replace student loans. Certainly it’s a better approach than describing your rival’s as mad, morons, a virus or needing a heart transplant. Ooops there I go again, taking us back to the muck. …

Turn it off

IT transformation is hard, talking to friends who’s employers are moving to O365; it’s not the future that’s the problem, it’s turning of the old stuff, although MS still have a way to travel with their cloud storage offerings. …

About Shadow Chancellors

While this looks like a technical spat over issues of macroeconomic monetary policy, with Chris Leslie, Labour’s stand in Shadow Chancellor arguing classical monetarist i.e. Thatcherite economics, its also about who benefits in terms of policy and for three people, about career advancement.

Leslie said: “Printing money and ending Bank of England independence would push up inflation, lending rates, squeeze out money for schools and hospitals and mean spending more on debt servicing. Higher inflation and a higher cost of living would hit those on the lowest incomes, the poorest people who couldn’t afford those goods and services. The very people we should be standing up for would pay the price – the poor and vulnerable.”

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Leslie issued a wake-up call to Labour members to reject what he called a “starry-eyed, hard left” economic strategy, amid growing signs that Mr Corbyn could pull off a shock victory next month. Notice – no model of cause… the huge discovery over the last seven years is that printing money doesn’t cause inflation and with interest rates at an all time historic low, now is the time to borrow long term to invest in the future. Leslie is as on most of his economics very wrong on this.

He got another bite of the cherry in the New Statesman, where he focuses on QE, and it’s consequent interest payments (there aren’t any) and the independence of the Bank of the Bank of England which for some reason he holds up as a great reform. There’s no doubt about it – the Labour Party has reached a fork in the road and on 12 September the fate of the progressive centre-left in Britain will be sealed. There are millions whose living standards and working conditions depend on Labour winning government in 2020 to fight for power, wealth and opportunity in the hands of the many not the few. The independence of the Bank and the foundation of the Office of Budget Responsibility are both anti-democratic reforms, reducing the power of the elected Chancellor and the House of Commons. The ideology behind these reforms is that these decisions are too important to be taken by politicians, and I’d like to remind Leslie of Mervyn King, the then Governor of the Bank’s behaviour in both 2008 and 2010.

Chris Dillow performs a technical analysis of the proposition, critically pointing out that with the current levels of unemployment and underemployment, it’s highly unlikely that anything would be inflationary. It’s widely agreed that Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity is due in large part to the mediocrity of the alternatives. As if to demonstrate this, Chris Leslie – Shadow Chancellor – claims that Corbynomics would be inflationary. This isn’t wholly unreasonable. A money-financed fiscal expansion – which is all “people’s QE” is – would increase employment and aggregate demand.

Richard Murphy, a Corbyn advisor and author of opposes Leslie in the most robust terms, in this press version of his radio interview, The author of the economic plan set out by Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has defended “Corbynomics” in the face of an attack by the shadow chancellor, Chris Leslie. Richard Murphy, the fair tax expert recruited by Corbyn to draft his economic policy, deepened divisions on the left by saying “Leslie has got this completely wrong.” The article states that when challenged on Leslie’s point about high inflation, Murphy said: “Any system of people’s QE would be turned off if we got to a situation of high wages and full employment, but we are so far from that at the moment that we have to tackle the low-wage economy and the lack of productivity in the UK by creating new investment, which is the foundation for new prosperity.”

I have heard Chris Leslie speak, and these issues are at the crux of the debate, but it still surprises me to find Labour people using the economics of the ’80s to understand today’s problems; this isn’t the first time he’s spoken this way. QE clearly doesn’t cause inflation, because we have one and not the other. He’s another of Harriet Harman’s partisan decisions taken as interim leader, the job’s beyond him, and he’ll be gone if they reintroduce elections to the shadow cabinet.

Finally if the choice of Shadow Chancellor is between Murphy, Leslie and Rachel Reeves, it’s just another reason for voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

Mind you, Murphy is not an MP and so cannot serve as Shadow Chancellor, Chief Commissioner of HMRC anyone?


This was originally published as a storify and reposted in Oct 2018 as this blog article. …

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Labour’s Human Rights champion

Left Foot Forward publishes an article “Who is the ‘human rights candidate’ for Labour’s leadership?”. This is based on a post on the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, who publish the candidates answers in their own words  on their own blog.  One of the LCHR’s questions was on Surveillance, and none of them have consulted me ;), but Cooper and Burnham both support the need for judicial authorisation and probable cause. Kendall and Corbyn both support strengthening the legal framework in favour of civil liberties. Kendall states she opposes the privacy breaches inherent in mass surveillance. Corbyn that he thinks mass surveillance is ineffective (and thus not justified?). …

Incontrovertible proof

On further consideration of the Guardian’s report of Alan Johnson’s belated support for Yvette Cooper it reminds me of an episode from America’s Next Top Model (#ANTM S1). They had, bravely it seems, cast an atheist, Elyse Sewell, who got into an argument with another contestant who sought to convince her by sharing her bible. As Elyse said, what could possibly convince her by showing her a book that she already knew of. So back to Alan Johnson, it’s madness is it? Well that’s told me, I’ll be voting for Liz Kendall then. 😖 …

An abscence of politics

Labour’s Leadership election is hotting up, and we’ve had the bleatings of the Blairite right and now the desperation of the perpetual “Leadership behind closed doors”. Here are four stories, originally posted as a storify, one on Alan Johnson’s appeal to “Stop the madness”, Owen Jones on the right’s demonisation of Corbyn and his ideas,  Peter Preston, an ex-Guardian editor on the press and John Harris on his conversations and experiences of Labour’s grass roots.

This was originally entitled “An abscence of politics” because I thought that the debate had drfited from the politics of the manifesto to that of abuse of either members or Corbyn. As ever with storify mirrors, backdated to the date of original publication.

I particularly like this, ‘John Harris shows more insight than he knows, when he says, “The cacophony of pro-Corbyn noise on Twitter and those packed meetings symbolise something beautifully simple: people refusing to do what they’re told.”’ …