109 comments on “Len McCluskey’s Newsnight interview on Labour’s election defeat

  1. What a relief to finally hear some scence , totally agree the constant mantra of labour overspent was so frustrating , I wish this interview and view was shown in the mornings rather than the right wing drivel .

  2. JOCK MCTROUSERS on said:

    If Len is Labour leader I’ll vote for them again. Fat chance. Looks like most of the rest of the country now wants to secede to Scotland, so it doesn’t matter any more anyway.

  3. Noah on said:

    Notable that Murphy made a statement this afternoon blaming Len McCluskey for making him resign 🙂

  4. jim mclean on said:

    Noah,

    Problem is with that staement it is not really true and a bit disengenous of the man, Jim stood down because he knew he was going to get shit from everyone, not just Len. Of course the whole Labour strategy was wrong and they have paid dearly. Unfortunately none of the prospective leaders of the Scottish or British parties have a clue to what has just happened. Only the psephologist geeks saw it coming because they knew Crosby’s MO.

  5. jim mclean on said:

    Actually it is time the working class reclaimed Labour and the Unions, McLusky represents the Labour aristocracy on his grand salary, like Murphy he is a professional representative, he hasn’t a clue either.

  6. anonymous on said:

    I don’t understand why McCluskey is blaming Scottish Labour for losing the election.

    The seats lost to the SNP would have had little or no effect on the outcome as the SNP would have had no alternative other than to support a Labour government.

    Scottish Labour face an enormous task in combating the populist nationalism offered by the SNP and the task isn’t made any easier by the left in England talking up the SNP as being left wing.

  7. Noah on said:

    anonymous,

    Murphy’s position as Labour leader in Scotland, alongside taking part in ‘Better Together’, were among the factors helping the SNP to portray themselves as being to the left of the Labour Party.

    And without the crumbling of the Labour vote in Scotland, and the associated surge of the SNP, Lynton Crosby would not have been able to play the card of ‘Miliband being dominated by the SNP’ which was an important factor helping Cameron in England in the last few days of the election campaign.

    Of course there were other factors involved, a key one I think being the holding of the referendum itself, followed so quickly by the General Election. I strongly suspect that, of those (former) Labour supporters who voted SNP in this election, a very high proportion had already rejected Labour’s message in the referendum and voted Yes. That collective breach from Labour having been established, on the basis that Scottish separatism was the solution to austerity etc, it was then possible for the SNP to convert those Yes votes into electoral votes.

  8. anonymous on said:

    Noah,

    Isn’t it a pity then that MCluskey, and the English left in general, didn’t call out the whole ‘SNP will keep Milliband government to the left’ narrative for the crock of shit that it self evidently was?

    Instead they went along with it and in so doing lent it credibility it did not deserve.

  9. Vanya on said:

    #9 And people in Scotland would have listened?

    Seriously?

    Most people in Scotland didn’t listen to other Scots telling them that.

  10. anonymous on said:

    Vanya,

    It would have made a difference in England, and that’s where the damage was done.

    The loss of seats to the SNP was irrelevant to the likliehood of there being a Labour government. The SNP would have had no option but to support Labour.

    The damage was done in England where the myth that the SNP would be able to dictate policy to Labour was allowed to get hold. The Tories seized on that and used it to stir up English nationalism.

    I suspect there was a degree of wishul think involved on parts of the English left hoping for a more lefwing government than Labour was offering.

  11. Vanya on said:

    #11 What influence do you seriously believe the sections of the English left to which you refer have on the mass of ordinary people in England?

    The only people who do have any significant influencence are the Greens, who were standing against Labour in every constituency and the Labour Party itself, and Ed M made it clear that he wasn’t going to do any kind of deal with the SNP.

  12. Uncle Albert on said:

    anonymous: Isn’t it a pity then that MCluskey, and the English left in general, didn’t call out the whole ‘SNP will keep Milliband government to the left’ narrative for the crock of shit that it self evidently was?

    Some on the Left, including a few who post on this blog, contributed to the SNP domination scare by suggesting the Scottish electorate had succumbed to an outbreak of post-rational hysteria and had therefore placed themselves beyond reason.

    Others rightly pointed out that, rather than misrepresent or condemn the rising tide of radicalism, it would be better to learn how to engage with it.

  13. anonymous on said:

    Uncle Albert,

    ‘the rising tide of radicalism’

    I’m reminded of the words of Jim Mather:

    ‘Any notion that an independent Scotland would be a left wing country is delusional nonsense.’

  14. anonymous: The loss of seats to the SNP was irrelevant

    Aye, that’s Scotland: we’re irrelevant. How we vote isn’t supposed to matter. What’s meant to happen is that Scotland votes Labour every time and the south of England decides whether Britain gets a Tory government, or an acceptably right-wing Labour government. This time Scotland voted SNP (of course exaggerated by FPTP) and the south of England gave us a Tory government (quelle fuckin’ suprise!), and somehow that’s Scotland’s fault.

    There are 331 Tory MPs, only 1 of whom was elected in Scotland. That leaves 330. If you want to blame someone for electing a Tory government, maybe you should look elsewhere?

    A few facts Labour needs to face:
    1) They lost in Scotland because the SNP (whatever it’s flaws) has successfully outflanked them on the left.
    2) They lost in England for a combination of reasons, mainly their allowing the Tories/UKIP to set the terms and limits of the various debates. You can not win by being Tory-lite, and as a result satisfying no one.
    3) Returning to Blairism (IE: the diseased root of your current problems) will solve none of this.
    4) Without the link to the trade unions, the Labour party is nothing.

  15. Uncle Albert on said:

    anonymous,

    ‘the rising tide of radicalism’

    No mate, I’m not referring to an independent Scotland. I’m referring to the aspirations of the electorate.

  16. Andy Newman,

    Yeah, unlike the leadership candidates, McCluskey seems to:
    1) Have a decent understanding of the political reality.
    2) Knows how to give a straight answer.
    3) Isn’t scared of being seen as left-wing.

    Speaking of which, the following comment by Andy Burnham is pretty worrying:

    “I am the change candidate, because we have got to reach out to those voters who had doubts about us on immigration and on economic competence.”

    So, reading between the lines (and tell me if I’m wrong) that means anti-immigrant and pro-cuts?

    Also, are Labour planning on opposing the Tory government any time soon, or are they going to concentrate entirely on their internal issues? If the former, then the Human Rights Act would be a really good place to start.

  17. Uncle Albert on said:

    JN: Andy Burnham is pretty worrying:

    There’s a useful piece by Jon Lansman on Left Futures*.

    Among other good points Jon notes how Labour’s Left fails to use what little leverage it has.

    A recent example occurred when Murphy was elected leader of Scottish Labour. Out of a misguided and ultimately disastrous sense of solidarity Labour’s Left fell in behind Murphy.

    Of course, in 2012, when Livingstone stood against Johnson in the London mayoral election, sections of Labour’s Right didn’t hesitate to go high profile with a campaign for abstentions on account of Livingstone’s ‘unsuitability’.

    While Labour’s Right fight their corner, Labour’s Left console themselves with solidarity.

    * http://www.leftfutures.org/2015/05/the-left-should-place-its-trust-in-democracy-not-in-leadership-candidates/

  18. Noah: Notable that Murphy made a statement this afternoon blaming Len McCluskey for making him resign

    Typical right-winger: always looking for a scapegoat. Murphy had to resign because he has no seat at either Westminster or Holyrood; because he presided over the loss of 39 (out of a possible 59 and an actual 40) MPs; because outside the Labour party (apparently) he’s rightly despised by most people who know who he is (a hardcore Blairite and unrepentant war-monger).

  19. Uncle Albert,

    Burnham says:

    “I was loyal to Tony Blair, loyal to Gordon Brown, loyal to Ed Miliband.”

    Does he think that’s a good thing? I mean loyalty might be admirable but not if it’s to Tony Blair.

    And just as Chuka Umunna worried about the rich being excluded from the Labour Party, Andy Burnham wants to reassure them that he has a “pro-business approach”. As if the rich, the ruling class, corporations, “business” ever have to worry about their views, interests, and aims being under-represented in politics as long as we have a capitalist economy. Can you imagine any of these people who want to be leader of the Labour Party coming out and saying unequivocally that they were “pro- trade union”?

    “the London mayoral election”

    Speaking of which, ‘mon Dianne Abbot! She’s not perfect (who is?), but she’s much better than most in Labour or in parliament.

  20. Also interesting: Labour’s Scottish MP (and the majority of Labour MPs generally) opposes Trident, unlike the Labour leadership:

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/labour-mp-ian-murray-breaks-ranks-over-trident-1-3744485

    See, Trident would be one of those instances of the SNP gaining left-wing support from Labour. Labour’s dilemma is whether it care’s more about winning back/consolidating left-wing support or futilely chasing after that of the right. It can’t do both simultaneously, whatever Burnham might think.

  21. anonymous on said:

    JN,

    Are we all agreed that getting rid of Trident (from Scottish soil) and remaining members of NATO is a principled, left wing position we can all rally behind?

  22. anonymous on said:

    #15

    ‘Aye, that’s Scotland: we’re irrelevant. How we vote isn’t supposed to matter. What’s meant to happen is that Scotland votes Labour every time and the south of England decides whether Britain gets a Tory government, or an acceptably right-wing Labour government. This time Scotland voted SNP (of course exaggerated by FPTP) and the south of England gave us a Tory government (quelle fuckin’ suprise!), and somehow that’s Scotland’s fault.’

    ###

    What a characteristically emotional response, so typical of nationalists. Desperate to assume the mantle of victimhood.

    The loss of Labour seats to the SNP was irrelevant to the outcome of the election because, in the event of a hung Parliament, the SNP weren’t going to support the Tories.

    It follows therefore that they would have had to support Labour.

    They would have had no choice.

    So Mcluskey was wrong to lay the blame for the election defeat at the door of Scottish Labour. The blame lies elsewhere.

  23. John Grimshaw on said:

    anonymous:
    JN,

    Are we all agreed that getting rid of Trident (from Scottish soil) and remaining members of NATO is a principled, left wing position we can all rally behind?

    No.

  24. John Grimshaw on said:

    anonymous: What a characteristically emotional response, so typical of nationalists. Desperate to assume the mantle of victimhood.

    Anonymous, why do you persist with this supercilious attitude when presumably as a Labour Party supporter you want to repair the damage done to the LP in Scotland, rather than push people further away? Or have you resigned yourself to rUK?

  25. John Grimshaw on said:

    Paul Kenny was on the radio this morning commenting on McCluskeys spat with Murphy. He said, and I’m sure he’s right, that they’ve been circling each other like western gun fighters for the last ten years. No surprise there really. So it wasn’t just Scotland wot dun it.

    On Len and Unite the media is widely commenting on the story that Len has said that if his union doesn’t get the right candidate they’ll leave the LP in the lurch. Seemingly there are now a number of branches that have submitted motions to the conference in July. I have also heard McCluskey quoted slightly differently on the same thing in different media. My take on this is that the Unite leadership is not serious about leaving Labour but rather they are trying to exert pressure to avoid a full on Blairite revival. I think they would settle for Burnham, but then I suppose it depends on how far right he will be pushed? On the other hand if Unite is serious about pulling the funding I think the LP will be on the verge.

  26. John Grimshaw on said:

    anonymous:
    JN,

    Are we all agreed that getting rid of Trident (from Scottish soil) and remaining members of NATO is a principled, left wing position we can all rally behind?

    Rumour is that unspecified men from a ministry have started talks with the Gibralter government to stick the subs there. I’m guessing the Spanish wouldn’t be happy.

  27. anonymous on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I’m reconcilled to the fact that those who have embraced nationalism are unlikely to return to their senses any time soon. Reason, facts and logic, are of no interest to them, It’s all about feeling and emotion.

    And I don’t think there’s any more people supporting independence now than there was at the referendum.

  28. Uncle Albert on said:

    John Grimshaw: the media is widely commenting on the story that Len has said that if his union doesn’t get the right candidate they’ll leave the LP in the lurch.

    This media spin is interesting – as if it is the unions who are holding the LP to ransom.

    In fact, following Miliband’s fake Falkirk crisis and subsequent Collins review, the Labour Party voted to end the link to the trade unions.

    Labour now find they are in no position to implement state funding for political parties, as supported by Miliband. Perhaps the media spin is intended to prepare public opinion for a Tory move to ban or seriously curtail trade union contributions to political parties. No doubt they’ll receive considerable backing from sections of the LP, led by the distraught and over-emotional Jim Murphy and his extremely rational supporters on this blog…

  29. Sam64 on said:

    How about substituting this:

    ‘I’m reconcilled to the fact that those who have embraced nationalism are unlikely to return to their senses any time soon. Reason, facts and logic, are of no interest to them, It’s all about feeling and emotion’.

    For this:

    I’m reconcilled to the fact that those who have embraced New Labour’s hostility to trade unions because they are supposedly responsible for all of Labour’s electoral failings, in Scotland as in England, are unlikely to return to their senses any time soon. Reason, facts and logic, are of no interest to them, It’s all about feeling and emotion.

    ?

  30. anonymous on said:

    #26
    ‘On Len and Unite the media is widely commenting on the story that Len has said that if his union doesn’t get the right candidate they’ll leave the LP in the lurch.’

    ####

    Paul Mason @paulmasonnews · May 8

    Whole Labour inner circle knows problem: if New Lab stage coup Unite leaves and you get an English Syriza, possibly with more money than Lab

  31. anonymous on said:

    Sam64,

    No, that doesn’t work, because it’s not accurate. In fact, it’s just inane.

    Though if you think about it (and I realise I may be contradicting myself in inviting you to do that) New Labour and the SNP share one defining characteristic: an approach that eschews class politics and attempts to be all things to all people.

  32. Sam64 on said:

    The Man With No Name – or should I perhaps say the Man With No Nation? In fact, how about The man who thinks he’s one of the few rational individuals left In the whole of Scotland? Enough already!

    You see the thing is, New Labour’s – specifically Jim Murphy’s – hostility to trade unions – specifically UNITE’s Len McClusky – is a bit emotional and knee jerkish isn’t it? That’s what I was getting at.

  33. John Grimshaw on said:

    anonymous: Whole Labour inner circle knows problem: if New Lab stage coup Unite leaves and you get an English Syriza, possibly with more money than Lab

    When do we get started then?

  34. Noah on said:

    Uncle Albert: following Miliband’s fake Falkirk crisis and subsequent Collins review, the Labour Party voted to end the link to the trade unions.

    Not true.

    The unions still have their seats on the NEC, Conference representation, and the ‘affiliated supporters’ are potentially the largest group of voters in leadership elections etc. Collins was a retrograde step but it clearly did not end the link.

  35. Uncle Albert on said:

    Noah: ‘affiliated supporters’

    Do your research on ‘affiliated supporters’.

    Collins and the subsequent vote at the Special Conference ended the collective link.

    Trade union members may now affiliate to the LP as individuals, as may members of the Royal Society for the Protection Birds.

    And once the Implementation Committee has finished its work, by 2020, representation on the NEC (for TU and RSPB members) will be decided by the number of affiliated individuals.

  36. Uncle Albert on said:

    John Grimshaw: I’ve not been especially impressed by Syriza’s efforts so far.

    But they’re preferable to PASOK. And all we have, for the moment, is a UK version of PASOK.

  37. Vanya on said:

    #39 In terms of rhetoric they certainly are.

    In terms of action, how much so?

  38. Noah on said:

    Uncle Albert: Trade union members may now affiliate to the LP as individuals, as may members of the Royal Society for the Protection Birds.

    I can’t quite see what the RSPB has got to do with it. But if members of the RSPB are also members of the Labour Animal Welfare Society- or any other affiliated organisation- they can become affiliated supporters for free (because their affiliation is already paid by the affiliated organisation). Otherwise they will need to pay £3 to become a registered supporter.

    As for the trade unions- if they use their machinery and if the motivation is there, their members can become the bulk of those able to vote in Labour Party leadership elections.

    The limiting factor in the current Labour leadership process will not be the lack of trade union members able to (potentially) vote, but rather the lack of a candidate deserving of their votes.

  39. Tim Vanhoof on said:

    anonymous,

    The SNP doesn’t offer populist nationalism. It offers populist social democracy, the thing the Labour Party used to offer. And the voters carry on voting for it. The voters haven’t changed. They’ve just realised that what they want is now represented by a different party. Scottish Labour now imagines it can combat the SNP by … adopting nationalism. They’ve understood nothing.

  40. Vanya on said:

    #42 I’m intrigued by the idea that a party called the Scottish Nationalist Party, whose defining aim is the independence of Scotland, isn’t nationalist.

    Or maybe your objection is to the use of the word “populist”.

    Is it some other form of nationalism?

    Revolutionary nationalism perhaps?

  41. Andy Newman on said:

    Tim Vanhoof: Scottish Labour now imagines it can combat the SNP by … adopting nationalism. They’ve understood nothing.

    It depends. The Welsh Labour Party was rescued by electing Rhodri Morgan as leader, whose “clear red water” distinuishing Welsh Labour from London and his later willingness to enter the One Wales coalition with Plaid means that Labour in Wales is seen as both the tradiational Labour Party, and also as distinctly Welsh.

    It is a path that Scottish Labour could take, especially if they formally seperated from the rest of the party

  42. Noah on said:

    Andy Newman: It is a path that Scottish Labour could take, especially if they formally seperated from the rest of the party

    But the Labour Party in Scotland has already gone some distance down this road and it has impressed nobody.

    Of course the echoing of nationalist ideolology clearly strengthens it and makes it harder to challenge.

  43. anonymous: Are we all agreed that getting rid of Trident (from Scottish soil) and remaining members of NATO is a principled, left wing position we can all rally behind?

    No, it’s very far from ideal, but it would also very obviously bring the whole issue of Trident into question because where the hell else is the British government going to put them? No other part of the UK is going to volunteer, are they? I’m sure a lot of Tories down south are very happy to have nukes in the Clyde, but not in their back yards, so to speak.

    So it would be a significant, albeit perhaps not decisive, blow against Britain’s nukes. Better than nothing.

    You want to bring up NATO membership as a reason for voting/supporting Labour? The first time I ever saw Jim Murphy, former leader of Labour in Scotland, was at a talk CELEBRATING 60 years of NATO. As you might be able to guess, he didn’t fail to make an impression.

  44. Andy Newman: “clear red water”

    Yes, exactly.

    Personally, I think if we’d had a real social democratic Labour party the last 20-30 years, Scottish independence would have remained a minor, possibly even fringe issue.

  45. Noah on said:

    JN: You want to bring up NATO membership as a reason for voting/supporting Labour?

    The issue does however illustrate that the SNP’s policy areas which are ‘improvements’ over Labour still remain within the Western capitalist mainstream, while adding all the downsides that go with parochial nationalism, boosting the balance of power in favour of the Tories, etc etc etc.

  46. And, oh Lenin preserve us from the horror of populist Scottish nationalism! Much better to stick with the militarist, monarchist, Orange, still grieving for the loss of the Empire, unapologetically racist and reactionary British nationalism that we all know so well. Right? Let’s hear it for the new royal baby, right? Let’s hear it for the next catastrophic imperialist war in the Middle East, right?

  47. Noah on said:

    JN: Let’s hear it for the new royal baby, right?

    Ah, would that be the baby produced by the Earl and Countess of Strathearn?

  48. Noah: the SNP’s policy areas which are ‘improvements’ over Labour still remain within the Western capitalist mainstream

    Well, of course they do. I’m sorry, did I underestimate the necessity of stating the incredibly obvious? I try not to.

    Noah: the downsides that go with parochial nationalism, boosting the balance of power in favour of the Tories, etc etc etc.

    How many times do you need this explained to you? Labour lost in England. If the SNP didn’t exist and Labour had won every seat in Scotland, they would still have lost over all. And as far as “Scottish nationalism” goes, firstly it is only part of the reason for the SNP’s support, and secondly, it’s a hell of a lot less ugly than British and English nationalism has shown itself to be in recent years. But Labour doesn’t have the guts to stand up to that.

    Also, can I reitterate the question: Does Labour intend opposing the Tory government any time soon?

  49. Noah: Ah, would that be the baby produced by the Earl and Countess of Strathearn?

    It would be the royal family of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Something else which would undoubtedly be called into question by the ending of the said UK, regardless of what Alex Salmond might previously have said on the matter.

  50. Noah on said:

    JN: How many times do you need this explained to you? Labour lost in England. If the SNP didn’t exist and Labour had won every seat in Scotland, they would still have lost over all.

    You can “explain” until you’re red (or perhaps I should say yellow) in the face . It doesn’t make it true.

    On the contrary, the advance of the SNP in Scotland was a key asset for the Tories in England, allowing them to boost their votes significantly relative to Labour south of the border. The synergy with the SNP was part of the Lynton Crosby strategy, and of course promoted shamelessly by Murdoch.

  51. Noah: llowing them to boost their votes significantly relative to Labour south of the border.

    Maybe so, but if that’s the case it speaks badly of the electorate south of the border, does it not?

  52. Noah on said:

    JN: Something else which would undoubtedly be called into question by the ending of the said UK, regardless of what Alex Salmond might previously have said

    Are you saying that Mr Salmond has since changed his mind?

    But clearly that is doubted, and not only by Alex Salmond and the SNP!

  53. Noah on said:

    JN: it speaks badly of the electorate south of the border, does it not?

    Merely that they are susceptible to nationalist manipulation. If that’s something that is bad in your eyes too, then we agree on something.

  54. Noah: Are you saying that Mr Salmond has since changed his mind?

    No, I do not know Mr Salmond’s personal beliefs. What I do know is that he is not the be all and end all of politics, either British or specifically Scottish, or even SNP voting.

    Noah: Merely that they are susceptible to nationalist manipulation. If that’s something that is bad in your eyes too, then we agree on something.

    No, I’m afraid we don’t. I do not believe that the English electorate was turned away from clear support for Labour by an irrational terror of the SNP. That is a myth that Blairites are now trying to propagate in order to turn the Labour Party further to the right.

    Labour lost IN ENGLAND for a combination of reasons. To pretend that it was due to Scotland or being “too left-wing” is the absolute fucking death sentence for the Labour party. Is that what you want?

  55. Noah on said:

    JN: I reitterate the question: Does Labour intend opposing the Tory government any time soon?

    Well, I’m still hoping for the SNP to follow Labour’s lead (like it did on plenty of manifesto positions) and oppose the Tories on fox hunting.

  56. Noah on said:

    JN: I do not know Mr Salmond’s personal beliefs

    This is hardly something private and personal, this is SNP policy.

    JN: I do not believe that the English electorate was turned away from clear support for Labour by an irrational terror of the SNP

    It wasn’t the whole electorate, just a few percent here and there- enough to swing the election. But are you really trying to deny that English people could be swayed by irrational ideas? Hold on, what was that about being racist and reactionary, and the royal baby?

  57. Noah on said:

    JN: Labour lost […] To pretend that it was due to Scotland or being “too left-wing” is the absolute fucking death sentence for the Labour party.

    These are totally separate issues and should not be conflated. Of course Labour was not ‘too left wing’. It was barely left wing enough! But its defeat in Scotland did contribute to its defeat in England also.

  58. Noah,

    No, simple arithmetic: if Labour had won all 59 Scottish constituencies it would still have lost the election across Britain. That is a fact.

    Do you seriously want to claim that English voters who would have voted Labour were swayed primarily by an irrational fear of being dominated by a country 1/9th to 1/10th the size of England and with an electoral influence proportionate to that? You believe that English voters in general are that stupid?

  59. Noah on said:

    JN: You believe that English voters in general are that stupid?

    You don’t seem to have noticed that, as I pointed out, it wasn’t the whole electorate, just a few percent here and there- enough to swing the election. And it was about getting potential Tory voters to vote Tory, not just scaring off possible Labour voters from voting Labour.

    But it’s nice to have you defending the English in general against any suspicion of being either stupid or irrational.

    Now, sorry to be repetitive, but what was it you were saying a minute ago about the royal baby, racism and being reactionary?

  60. Noah: it wasn’t the whole electorate, just a few percent here and there

    Labour didn’t lose by “a few percent here and there,” did they? They lost by a very significant margin across England, for a number of reasons (Scotland being only one, and I would suspect a comparatively minor one, of them). More important, I would guess, was Labour’s failure to effectively confront the Tories/UKIP over the economy, immigration, and the EU. That doesn’t mean imitating the the Tories and UKIP, it means opposing them.

    “Potential Tory voters” voted Tory? There’s a shocker! Who’da thunk it? Get this through your head: LABOUR CAN NOT SUCCEED BY BEING TORY-LITE, and alienating (what used to be) it’s core support. What you do with core support, is you build on it; you don’t destroy it.

    Labour needs to have the sense and the confidence to offer an undeniable alternative to the Tories and UKIP. That means not pandering to the right on immigration and ‘austerity’. That means not ruling out your best option (IE: co-operation with the SNP and others on aims that both parties claim to share) before the election out of sheer cowardice.

  61. Noah: But it’s nice to have you defending the English in general against any suspicion of being either stupid or irrational.

    I am neither defending or accusing the English electorate, but stupidity/irrationality would be the implication of suggesting that the election was won for the Tories out of fear of the SNP (again, a potential 59 seats out of 650). At most, that would be one factor among several, and a fairly minor one at that.

    I would suggest that most people who voted Tory found the Tories arguments more convincing, and many people who didn’t vote Labour found Labour’s opposition not convincing enough. Labour’s capitulations to right-wing arguments (EG: “4. Controls on immigration”) would be part of that. You don’t win by pre-emptively surrendering.

    Noah: Now, sorry to be repetitive, but what was it you were saying a minute ago about the royal baby, racism and being reactionary?

    You have trouble comprehending English?

    I was referring to British and English nationalism which are the twin elephants in the room in every discussion of the supposed “parochial nationalism” and “anti-Englishness” of support for Scottish independence. The continuation of the United Kingdom is inherently “progressive” and in the interests of the international proletariat, is it? Really?!

    The reality that much (but not all) of the Labour Party refuses to face, is that support for the SNP, and indeed for Scottish independence, is not primarily about Scottish nationalism as such. It’s about the discrepancy between the voting habits and political wishes of the Scottish electorate and the collective English electorate (though that’s complicated by the fact that much of England is politically closer to Scotland than it is to other parts of England). Pointing out the various imperfections of the SNP, or that it isn’t a socialist party, does not change that. Labour is at least as much a capitalist party as the SNP is. You want to pull out your membership cards and show us your Clause 4? You want to point us to the principled socialists standing for the Labour leadership right now?

    Here’s the solution: Give us a Labour Party worth supporting and we’ll support it.

  62. anonymous: What a characteristically emotional response, so typical of nationalists

    Firstly, I’m not a nationalist as such. How much more clear can I be on that point? Back in ’97 I would have voted Labour, if I’d been old enough. In ’01 I’d have considered it and may have done so. By ’05 (when I was old enough to vote), no, definitely not. What happened in those years, do you think, that might have changed a person’s mind with regards to the Labour Party? That might have “radicalised” them, so to speak?

    If the Labour Party today was clearly more left-wing than the SNP and had made a clear break with the war-mongering of it’s recent past, I would vote for Labour. If the UK-wide left-of-Labour had managed to provide a credible alternative, I’d not only vote but join and actively support it

    As for emotion: politics is an emotional business. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand much. There’s no impenetrable wall between our rational thought and our emotional reactions. The two are inseparable. Do you know any humans?

    Socialism is based on the combination of rationality with empathy. Without the latter, what difference does it make if people are exploited? Or, like Che Guevara said, “if Marxism was merely an economic doctrine, I would have no interest in it.”

  63. JN: No, simple arithmetic: if Labour had won all 59 Scottish constituencies it would still have lost the election across Britain. That is a fact.

    No, I must have spoken to litterally hunderds of people during the short campaign, and anxiety about the SNP and the possiblity of Labour being held hostage by the SNP arguing a sectional interest was a major concern, and one of the key reasons that some voters swung to the Conservatives

  64. JN: out of fear of the SNP (again, a potential 59 seats out of 650). At most, that would be one factor among several, and a fairly minor one at that.

    What is your evidence?

    I think it came up in about one on four conversstions

  65. anonymous on said:

    ‘Socialism is based on the combination of rationality with empathy.’

    ######

    Socialism starts with a class analysis. It’s rational.

    Nationalism starts elsewhere. It’s emotional.

    ‘Stronger for Scotland’ is not a socialist slogan. From a socialist perspective it’s gibberish.

  66. anonymous on said:

    Well the Tories certainly thought the SNP helped them win.

    It’s hardly surprising the nats now wish to deny it.

    Though it does suit their purposes for there to be a Tory government, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

    ‘Paul Waugh @paulwaugh • May 6
    Tory sources tell @BBCAllegra they fear they would have been ‘trounced’ by Labour in this election but for the SNP.’

  67. Note that the latest TUC opinion polling shows that 13% of the electorate considered voting Labour but didn’t, of that 13%, a full 22% of them did not vote Labour due to concerns about the SNP.

    That equates to a 2.86 swing away from Labour. Assuming that most of them went to the Conservatives that would have closed the gap by a net figure about 5%, delivering a Labour government.

    SNP lied to the electorate by saying that voting SNP would lock the Conservatives out, this was a cynical playing the card of exaggerating difference between England and Scotland, while the Tories played the same game south of the border. This was a lie, becasue they must have known that the effect of the SNP surge in Scotland would be a swing away from labour to the Conservaives in England.

  68. JN:

    I was referring to British and English nationalism which are the twin elephants in the room in every discussion of the supposed “parochial nationalism” and “anti-Englishness” of support for Scottish independence. The continuation of the United Kingdom is inherently “progressive” and in the interests of the international proletariat, is it? Really?!

    This is rubbish. I have continually warned of the dangers of English nationalism delivering a backlash. It seems to me that a lot of the politics of the Scottish natioalists seems to be a deliberate attempt to stoke up such a backlash

  69. John Grimshaw on said:

    The survey is very helpful Andy and I have sent it out to some of my LP friends and relatives. It seems to me though that some people’s arguments here are seeking to be mutually exclusive when the situation was/is not. So I can easily believe that “fear” of the SNP drove some people to vote Tory. I would be interested in whether there is a regional analysis for this “fear” factor though. Was it more prevalent in in the Home Counties than in say London. In Tower Hamlets for example I had no conversations with anybody about it. If there had of been a hung parliament and Miliband had refused to “rule” in alliance with the SNP and that had led to a minority Con-Dem government how would that have gone down in some of the Northern Labour strongholds? I think a lot of people would’ve been unhappy about that which suggests to me that this “fear” of the Scots is a southern English phenomena, but I could be wrong. That being said the SNP are a nationalist party (they hardly hide it) and they will want a second bite at the cherry sometime probably sooner rather than later BUTexpecting them to think otherwise would’ve been fanciful. I see no reason to criticise them for what is an English problem. They got their chance and they took it. The fact of the matter is that they won beyond their wildest imaginings because the LP opposition was considered to be deeply flawed and unrepresentative. And mathematically JN is correct but he is wrong to dismiss the impact that Scottish fear might’ve had. However the LP needs to stop acting like a football team that’s just been relegated because another team in another game won rather than losing, and blaming that other team rather than themselves for playing badly.

  70. John Grimshaw on said:

    Also in the areas where people encountered Scottish fear did people notice any differentiation by social class?

  71. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: Also in the areas where people encountered Scottish fear did people notice any differentiation by social class?

    I encountered the anxiety about the SNP in both Chippenham (non target seat) and South Swindon (target seat), and I would say from my experience that there was a class element, that middle class and professional people were much less anxious about the SNP than people who were either working class or more poorly educated, who sometimes had a very exaggerated concern

    Indeed, I was very surprised by some of the people who raised this with me. It seemed to tap into a concern of people who were not particularly political.

  72. anonymous on said:

    #75 John Grimshaw

    ‘If there had of been a hung parliament and Miliband had refused to “rule” in alliance with the SNP and that had led to a minority Con-Dem government how would that have gone down in some of the Northern Labour strongholds?’

    ##

    Milliband would not have needed to form an alliance with the SNP.

    He could have invited them to vote for him, without making and concessions to them, and left the ball in their court.

    Their only option then would have been to vote in support of a Labour government or let the Tories in.

    The same argument will apply after the next General election, that’s why it’s important to have a clear understanding of the point now.

  73. Uncle Albert on said:

    Andy Newman: I encountered the anxiety about the SNP

    This should not be surprising – even contributors to this blog succumbed to anti-Scottish hysteria and claimed the Scottish electorate were in the grip of a post-rational fever.

  74. Karl Stewart on said:

    Like AndyN’s and JohnG’s, my view on this is purely anecdotal as well, but I helped a bit with the Labour campaign in south London and my experience was the same as JohnG’s in that absolutely no-one expressed fear of the Scots – it wasn’t mentioned by anyone at all.

    (Maybe we Londoners just don’t scare as easily as Andy’s Wiltshire folk!)

    Anyway, in my experience, those who said they weren’t voting Labour, most of them said it was because they just didn’t like EdM – and a few people said it was because of immigration.

    (It won’t surprise people that the anti-immigration points of view were mainly from older people, but it may surprise people that this s eemed to be equally from older black voters)

  75. Noah on said:

    JN: “Potential Tory voters” voted Tory? There’s a shocker! Who’da thunk it? Get this through your head: LABOUR CAN NOT SUCCEED BY BEING TORY-LITE, and alienating (what used to be) it’s core support

    Not only shouting, but shouting at your own straw man.

    As I pointed out to you earlier:

    Noah: These are totally separate issues and should not be conflated. Of course Labour was not ‘too left wing’. It was barely left wing enough! But its defeat in Scotland did contribute to its defeat in England also

    If you actually read (or listen to) what other people are saying, you will find it makes discussion and debate more productive.

  76. Noah on said:

    Karl Stewart: I helped a bit with the Labour campaign in south London and my experience was the same as JohnG’s in that absolutely no-one expressed fear of the Scots

    This was my experience too, in north London. I strongly suspect you would find this also to be the case in the other urban areas which are ethnically mixed, ie with the non ‘white English’ a significant chunk of the electorate.

    Why? because in such areas, arguments and scares based on English ethno-nationalism and xenophobia can’t get so much traction.

    And in such areas, the Labour vote increased very significantly in this election. No coincidence I think.

  77. Andy Newman on said:

    Noah,

    This is part of the complexity. London had a distinct dynamic, but all the major urban areas were more inclined to vote Labour.

    My anecdotal view matches the experience of many other people I have spoken to, and is consistent with the TUC’s polling evidence.

    the thing is, Labour does need to win in Swindon, as well as London, so an answer does need to be found that addresses those different experiences

  78. Noah on said:

    Andy Newman: an answer does need to be found that addresses those different experiences

    Agreed.

    The issue of immigration in particular is an extremely difficult area for Labour & the left- in my view there just isn’t a satisfactory policy position available within the limits of capitalism, and certainly not without challenging austerity- not to mention EU membership.

    However, it is important to set the issues for debate. As the TUC polling data shows, a position of being tougher on business & the rich- contrary to what the leadership candidates are saying- would be popular. As we know from other polling info, a position of renationalising the railways and other utilities would be very popular indeed.

    Would such a turn to the left on political economy mean that Labour would win the next election? Not necessarily at all, because should Labour do this the ruling class will pull out every machination and means of manipulation, as per 1983.

    This dilemma I suspect lay behind some of Ed Miliband’s apparent nervousness and lack of confidence during his leadership. Every time he inched towards really popular positions that challenged the neo-liberal capitalist concensus- eg, tackling the energy companies, the mansion tax, etc, the media all surged to do him in- landing blows not on those policies (they couldn’t, because the policies were popular), but because of those policies- eg by getting him on the issue of eating a bacon sandwich the wrong way.

    So anyway, my view is that Labour should adopt left policies on the issues of taxation, business control and nationalisation- not because it would result in winning elections (of which there is no guarantee) but because those are the correct policies and are in the interests of the working class and the majority of people.

  79. John Grimshaw on said:

    #84 Agreed also but given the lacklustre and right-wing nature of any of the candidates don’t bet on it.

  80. Andy Newman on said:

    John Grimshaw: Agreed also but given the lacklustre and right-wing nature of any of the candidates don’t bet on it.

    The issue is this, regardng the leadership.

    The Labour Party is currently not fit for purpose, in that it cannot win an election. Ed Miliband was an important transitional leader, in that he represented a partial break from the New Labour era. It is important, in terms of the debate within the party and the unions, to recognise that the Blair era did in fact deliver a number of positive reforms and policies that benefitted working people, and made Britain and a better place.

    However, Britain is not the same place it was in 1997, and along with the positives, the controverises of the Blair era did cost Labour 5 million votes between 1997 and 2005.

    Those leadership candidates who want to party like it is 1997 will guarantee defeat and future irrelevence.

    However, while Miliband did nudge the party in a difefrent direction, he was constrained by a number of factors, and there was insufficient debate about how the party and the movement needed to change to win in the future.

    What is needed is a new election wnning cnsensus and coalition around concrete ideas that make Labour address the changes that have occured since 1997.

    None of the leadership candidates have the answers, that would be to expect too much of them anyway, what we need is a leader who allows the debate to happen,recognises that the party is a broad church, and that we need to regroup.

    I am keeping an open mind

  81. Sam64 on said:

    Whilst policies Miliband favoured may have in themselves been popular, they were generally portrayed in the media (it was ever thus though it might be thought reflective of ‘neoliberal hegemony’) as indicative of all that was wrong with a Labour Party that had reverted to its Old guise: tribal, resentful etc. The ability of the The Scum etc to make Ed look a detached eccentric, lacking the common touch of eating a bacon sarnie furthered this, i.e. out of place, unworthy of trust. I suspect this sort of demeanour around Labour gelled with Labour’s reputation for economic incompetence (in itself a Tory lie that has stuck: when a lie is told a thousand times it becomes a truth) that was the key issue in pushing swing voters to the Tories – combined with relentless and skilful targeted propaganda of this group.

    The other thing that hamstrung Miliband was surely those around him. Whether or not Liz Kendal is just an opportunist as well as a careerist who thinks that acquiring the Blairite mantle will help her chances of winning the leadership contest I don’t know, but judging from what she’s been saying since the election she seems to the right of Peter Mandleson. And then there’s Balls. See the remarks of Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson, above on his pernicious role in holding forthright Labour policies back whilst he reached for the fabled centre ground. The only policy issue that Labour seemed confident of propounding in the run up to May 8th was zero hour contracts, to the extent that even I go tired of hearing about them.

  82. Andy Newman on said:

    Sam64: Whether or not Liz Kendal is just an opportunist as well as a careerist who thinks that acquiring the Blairite mantle will help her chances of winning the leadership contest I don’t know, but judging from what she’s been saying since the election she seems to the right of Peter Mandleson.

    I find her a bit extraordinary. Her objective as a potential leader seems to be to split the party, and then fight the next election on policies which Labour’s own polling shows are unpopular with our voters.

    I suspect that she is playing a game whereby she is not actually seeking to win, but rather to promote herself so that she acheives a more prominent role on the front bench, and also gains the mantle of leadership of the right wing. The Blairites are then going to fight a gueriila war of destablising whoever actually wins. I suspect we would see some stunts from the Blaitites prior to the next euro-election to seek to undermine the Labour vote, which could then be used as an excuse for an attempted coup prior to the 2020 election

  83. George Hallam on said:

    Andy Newman: The Labour Party is currently not fit for purpose, in that it cannot win an election.

    It seems that the sole purpose of the Labour Party is to win elections.
    Is it any wonder that people have given up on it?

  84. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64: Labour’s reputation for economic incompetence (in itself a Tory lie that has stuck

    All the Labour Party did between 1997 and 2010 was to go with the flow. It stuck with the previous government’s spending plans for the first two years thus exacerbating underinvestment. Then, in a belated attempt to address the problem, it massively increased the use of PFI schemes. This enabled the Labour Party to stick to letter of the Stability and Growth Pact (agreed by them in July 1997) but only at the cost of storing up a funding crisis the extent of which is only just beginning to emerge.

    I could go on…

  85. Sam64 on said:

    George Hallam,

    We’ve talked about this before George. Note we are talking in the context of Labour’s defeat of voters’ perception, not fact, the real economic history according to George Hallam etc.

    The perception of economic incompetence stems from the ability of the Tories (and the ‘neutral’ LibDems) to pin the blame for the deficit on Labour’s spending profligacy, rather than the banking bailout – and thus justify, in too many voters’ minds, austerity lest Britain came like Greece as the lazy lie trundled on. Further to the point above about internal division and one of the key observations of McCluskey in his Newsnight interview, Labour was/is hamstrung on this issue. When Ed chose to confront it and say to that woolyback in the TV debate that no, he wasn’t going to accept any blame for building schools and hospitals etc, the remarks only seemed to add to the aura of his economic irresponsibility, not least because half of shadow front benchers had conceded that the deficit was, at least in part, Labour’s fault.

    Liz Kendal’s leadership pitch seems to be that every last penny of the deficit was Labour’s fault, an astonishing feat of New Labour, thank you sir/madam I’ll give myself another, self-flagellation.

  86. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64: Note we are talking in the context of Labour’s defeat of voters’ perception, not fact, the real economic history according to George Hallam etc.

    If you’re only talking about voters’ perceptions then why did you use the word ‘lies’?

    A lie entails a false statement, this means a reference to reality, in this case economic reality.

    This is where I came in.

    If I’ve go my economic history wrong then please show me my error.

  87. Omar on said:

    Andy Newman: people who were either working class or more poorly educated, who sometimes had a very exaggerated concern

    Sorry, Andy, but this doesn’t sound credible. Are you honestly suggesting that working-class voters, who would have otherwise voted Labour, chose, in a fit of English nationalism, to support the Tories instead? The same Tories who have already cut many of the services and benefits they rely upon and have promised to cut even further? That makes no sense.

  88. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: recognises that the party is a broad church, and that we need to regroup.
    I am keeping an open mind

    Your not thinking of throwing your hat in the ring Andy?

  89. Sam64 on said:

    George Hallam,

    Again we’ve been here before and ‘the lie’ is self-evident in what I’ve said above.

    The lie is/was that Britain’s current national deficit is a product of consistent over spending – and by extension financial irresponsibility, often with that stupid household budget analogy thrown in although thankfully that one seems to have gone away a bit – by the Brown Labour government in particular and Labour governments, 97-2010, generally. Now we all know that the dramatic rise in the national debt, that had previously been very low in historic terms, was caused by the financial bailout 2008-9 and the subsequent recession. Whatever criticisms/observations you might wish to make about PFI spending etc does not affect this truth.

    This lie has created the lasting perception in swing voters’ mind that Labour is economically incompetent – to such an extent that they were more likely to blame the last Labour govt for spending cuts than the Coalition as they went into the polling booth. The outcome of this lie, one I have described before as monumental etc, is another Tory govt intent on even more vicious cuts. When they are announced in the coming weeks no doubt the lie will, with slightly modified spin, be rolled out again. And many people who don’t like the cuts and certainly aren’t ideologically orientated to a smaller state etc. and may even directly suffer from them, will begrudgingly accept the given rational – lie.

    Can’t be clearer than that mate.

  90. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64: The lie is/was that Britain’s current national deficit is a product of consistent over spending – and by extension financial irresponsibility, often with that stupid household budget analogy thrown in although thankfully that one seems to have gone away a bit – by the Brown Labour government in particular and Labour governments, 97-2010, generally. Now we all know that the dramatic rise in the national debt, that had previously been very low in historic terms, was caused by the financial bailout 2008-9 and the subsequent recession. Whatever criticisms/observations you might wish to make about PFI spending etc does not affect this truth.

    I agree that the economic crisis that began to manifest itself in the summer of 2007 is the main cause of the current deficit. However, this should not blind one to the record of the Labour Party prior to the crisis. The economy, measured by GDP, was growing. Between 1996-7 and 2006-7 growth was just under 3 per cent per annum (standard deviation 0.6).

    As a percentage of GDP, net tax revenue rose between 1996-97 and 2000-01 while government spending fell. This resulted in a budget surplus of £16.5 bn in 2000-01. that was the only year that the Labour Party ran a surplus; all the other years the budget was in deficit.

    In the six pre-crisis years between 2001-02 and 2006-07 the cumulative deficit was £323.8 bn.
    Obviously, the crisis made things a lot worse. In 2008-9 the deficit was £130.8 bn and in 2009-10 it increased to £185.8 bn. That’s £316.6 bn in just two years. However, it has to be said that the deficit in these two ‘bad’ years as less than the deficit in six ‘good’ years.

    Once cannot but recall Genesis 41:1-57, especially 29-36

    Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

    And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

    And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

    And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

    Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

    Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

    And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

    And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

  91. Sam64 on said:

    George Hallam,

    I would point you to the second and third of the graphs here George. The third one in particular nails the lie, if you know what I mean. As for your biblical stuff, well I’m reminded of this I’m afraid. Sure this isn’t what you get up to when you’re not mixing it on SU George.

  92. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64,
    These figures are for government spending and tax receipts as a percentage of GDP
    The years are for the financial year (e.g. 1996-7 = ’97)

    spending Tax receipts
    97 – 39.9 ________ 33.5
    98 – 38.2 ________ 34.8
    99 – 37.2 ________ 35.2
    00 – 36.3 ________ 35.6
    01 – 34.5 ________ 36.2
    02 – 37.7 ________ 35.4
    03 – 38.5 ________ 34.1
    04 – 39.3 ________ 34.4
    05 – 40.5 ________ 35.1
    06 – 41.2 ________ 36.0
    07 – 40.9 ________ 36.2
    08 – 41.0 ________ 36.1
    09 – 44.5 ________ 35.3
    10 – 47.7 ________ 34.5

  93. Sam64 on said:

    George

    Well you know the old expression there are lies, damned lies…. According to ONS OBR stats, in mid 2007 Britain’s national deficit was fractionally under 0.5% of GDP. By early 2009 it had reached nearly 8% of GDP. That’s quite a jump – although small beer compared to Greece, Ireland etc.

    I trust we can now clearly see the deficit as a product of banking bailout and recession not, repeat not, Labour fiscal profligacy. Hence the Tory lie. Never a bigger Tory in a long history of porkies. Last word on this. Constantly trying to see the trees rather than the wood does become tiresome.

  94. George Hallam on said:

    Sam64: Well you know the old expression there are lies, damned lies…. According to ONS OBR stats…

    If statistics are, not just lies, but “damned lies” then why do you quote them?

    I have never said that the Labour Party was the main cause of the economic crisis.
    What I am saying is that the Labour Party management of the economy was terrible and did nothing to address the fundamental problems.

    The reason for the deficit in the period 1997 to 2007 was that tax revenues were too low.

    The Labour Party cut the basic rate of income tax from 23% (pre-1997) to 22% (2000) and then 20% (2007).
    The Labour Party cut corporation tax from33% (pre-1997) to 30% (1999) and then 28% (2007). (For small businesses the rate fell from 24% to 19%.)

    Capital Gains Tax is a complex issue. Labour made a number of changes which are difficult to summarise. However, in 1998 the long-term rate for Capital Gains Tax was cut from 40% to 10%.

  95. Sam64 on said:

    George Hallam,

    Ahh George! – as I think Mildred once said.

    My point about stats is not that they are lies but, despite giving the appearance of objectivity, they are often interchangeable. In other words, an individual (or a ‘side’, i.e. party, whatever) can present one stat to substantiate a particular argument, whilst another can give another in support of another, both within the same subject area – if you follow me. Having said that, I think the stats I give above (which you typically ignore), both in the form of links to a good BBC overview with telling graphs, and in a numerical form of deficit as a % GDP over the crucial period in question 2007-9, are far more relevant and acute than those you keep churning out of your database.

    But we’ll have to leave that for others to judge – if there is anybody out there fool enough to ‘judge’ on what’s turned out to be a nice sunny afternoon, I’m only writing this because it’s a break from marking – because this really is my last word on the subject.

  96. Omar on said:

    Andy Newman:
    Omar,

    Not English nationalism. Anxiety.

    There was a mood fed by the Sun, Express,etc.

    I cannot explain it, I offer you what I experienced

    I would suggest that , given the polling year on year during Milliband’s tenure showing that people supported Labour over the Tories but distrusted Milliband’s leadership capabilities, that this anxiety you speak of was more about Labour’s leadership and lack of it’s ability to inspire.

  97. John on said:

    Listening to the Telegraph’s Dan Hodges and Labour’s Rushanara Ali discussing the election and Labour’s recovery on BBC Radio 5Live, pondering why they don’t just join the Tories and get it over with.

  98. Matt on said:

    Sam64:
    George Hallam,

    I would point you to the second and third of the graphs here George.The third one in particular nails the lie, if you know what I mean.As for your biblical stuff, well I’m reminded of this I’m afraid.Sure this isn’t what you get up to when you’re not mixing it on SU George.

    It is entirely possible to be anti-austerity at the same time as conceding that Labour may have spent too much money during the time when the economy was growing. This seems to be Krugman’s line in his recent Guardian essay.

    I’m not sure if you think these graphs challenge that view, or just the lie that Labour’s spending was the cause of the current deficit.

    Some questions that are in my mind at the moment:
    – how much was Brown’s approach based on the idea that there would be no return to boom and bust, as long as his hand was somewhere near the tiller? Did he really believe that?
    – at what point does running a constant deficit become a problem?

  99. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think we should shift the debate from “overspending v underspending” to one of “spending on the rich v spending on the people”

    I think George and Sam64 are at cross purposes here. George is right to point to the billions thrown away on PFI projects (“spending on the rich) and Sam64 is also right to point to Labour’s relatively better record in comparison to the Tories.

    We need to shift this debate. Why don’t one of you, or both of you, tell us how much was spent in total on the Iraq and Libyan military interventions, and on tax breaks for the wealthiest, and on giveaways like PFI?

    And compare that total with the total spend on the nation’s lower-income population?

  100. George Hallam on said:

    Matt: It is entirely possible to be anti-austerity at the same time as conceding that Labour may have spent too much money during the time when the economy was growing. This seems to be Krugman’s line in his recent Guardian essay.

    I agree, though I would prefer to say that Labour cut taxes too much rather than It spent too much money. My underlying point is the Labour Party failed in it’s own terms. It attempted to be a ‘good manger’ of capitalism and botched it.

    Matt: Some questions that are in my mind at the moment:
    – how much was Brown’s approach based on the idea that there would be no return to boom and bust, as long as his hand was somewhere near the tiller? Did he really believe that?

    That’s for the psychologists.
    For what it’s worth I think that Brown’s conceit was that he could steer the British economy through a recession more successfully than his Conservative counterparts. He would have been told that international financial institutions were a lot more fragile than they were made out to be and my have agreed but he never suspected that there could be another world depression.

    Matt: – at what point does running a constant deficit become a problem?

    There is no simple answer like ’42’. It all depends on the context.

    If your economy is growing you can run a deficit a rate that matches the increase in GDP so the debt-to-GDP ratio remains constant (sort of what Brown was attempting). That’s sustainable but if the economy suddenly contracts… you have a problem(sort of happened to Darling).

    Otherwise increasing debt is OK so long as people believe that you are OK. It’s like a Ponzi scheme (some people would say that it is a Ponzi scheme).