…..by proposing the same old tired neoliberal sh*t
So there you have it. The Labour Party under Sir Keir (the Strimmer) Starmer has finally found its financial policy. It’s going to threaten the Tories with a plan to become economically competent. This radical policy — of basically following the traditional neoliberal playbook of balanced budgets and austerity — was announced by Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds in the annual Mais Lecture on January 13th.
Now follows a rant.
This is a return to playing by right-wing economic rules. It’s a commitment to drain useful money from the economy and ensure it filters upwards. Balanced budgets — or treating the national economy like a household budget where spending should match income — is simply a guarantee of stunted growth, low wages, poor services, inadequate housing, and ever-increasing inequality.
Labour, by returning to this failed notion — this economic illiteracy — is simply showing that they are no longer the party of the working majority of this country. Fiscal responsibility is code for asset stripping. True economic competence would be about ensuring that money is spent where it is needed most. Housing, health, jobs. We have a fiat currency, which means we cannot go broke. There is no direct relationship between tax and spending. Tax is a tool to combat inflation and to manage levels of employment. To pretend otherwise is to commit to increasing the wealth of the plunderers of the national treasury and to lead us further down the road to a right-wing authoritarian nightmare.
It is both depressing and furthering that our main party of opposition has no expert in economics who can guide our shadow chancellor away from making the usual errors of judgment and bowing to the Daily Mail’s view of how an economy works. Couldn’t Labour perhaps think outside the box for once and try to hire someone like Stephanie Kelton?
That it fails to do so sentences the majority of us to a future of greater need, little protection against the climate crisis, and the threat of fascism as the anger of the deprived is used by those benefiting from the growth in inequality. Instead of blaming ignorance of economics, of course, the wealthy will have us blame someone or something ‘other’. Immigrants, the ‘undeserving’ poor, benefit ‘scroungers’, the disabled, ethnic minorities, the plain old unemployed. These all become categories to be despised and targeted. Instead of treating the nation as a community, the right want us to see only competitors for scant resources.
And the irony, of course, is that there is no practical limit on the money to spend on public services. On housing. On transport. On health. It is always an ideological choice how money is spent and how it always seems to be spent upwards.