Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Letters in defence of Corbyn

It`s disappointing to see Martin Kettle jumping on the bandwagon of political commentators, and, of course, the Blairites, taking delight in predicting the downfall of the Labour party by misusing history, and comparing election results (The strange death of Labour Britain has a worrying precedent,15/08/15). The common comparison made is the apparently inevitable election disaster for Labour under Corbyn in 2020 and the 1983 defeat for Foot`s left-wing manifesto, even though the context and circumstances are obviously completely different, and the so-called "suicide note" was far from being the only reason for Thatcher`s victory. Without the ideological motive, it is equally logical to compare 2020 with the 1945 election. Now we have Kettle seeing parallels between Labour`s "great victory in 1997" and "the Liberal landslide of 1906", when it makes just as much sense to see links between 1997 and 2020; new leader, new direction, party galvanised by groundswell of support for policies, nation tired of Tory misrule, continued inequality and decreasing social mobility.
 Kettle also wrongly includes the "democratic parallel" to justify his "claim of Dangerfield`s pertinence". It is logical to assume that on Corbyn`s agenda will be proposals which extend democracy, by reforming the House of Lords and modernising the voting experience, by moving polling stations to town centres and university campuses. After all, his hopes for victory depend on winning support from the young and the previously indifferent, so a long term objective will be to trial electronic voting, and, contrary to Kettle`s opinion, "industrial and corporate democracy" can also be "energised" by the introduction of co-determination.

 To say that Kettle exaggerates Labour`s problems is something of an understatement! History can be used just as persuasively to claim that the rejuvenated Labour party has re-discovered its raison d`etre!  

Probably like thousands of others, I am getting increasingly fed up with the nonsense about Corbyn`s programme being "a throwback to the past", as the pollster, James Morris insists, taking his turn to dissuade us from supporting the Islington MP ("Pettiness" attacked.19/08/15). Strangely, none of the other candidates` policies, which take Labour back to the days of Blair, are similarly described, whilst proposals from Corbyn, like the introduction of the Financial Transaction Tax, not operational in most of the EU until January next year, and a "people`s Quantitative Easing" programme, where extra funds are created for infrastructure, rather than banks` recapitalisation as in 2009, are deemed as backward looking! Of course, nationalisation of railways and energy providers, and increased taxation of the rich, are not new policies, but that does not mean they are misguided or "ideological obsessions" (Train fares are too high. but the answer is not nationalisation,19/08/15). Corbyn argues that rail companies get so much in the way of government subsidy, they may as well be state-owned, and it was only last month that the Guardian devoted pages to analysis and criticism of the huge amounts of taxpayers` money going on "corporate welfare" (The £93bn handshake: businesses pocket huge subsidies and tax breaks,07/07/15). Much of the £14.5bn spent on subsidies and grants went "to train operators to run services", as well as "corporate tax benefits" to the same companies, which also benefit from a "lower duty on fuel". Yet your editorial now argues against re-nationalisation, mainly because of the "huge rise in rail use".Could this not have something to do with the state of the road network? 
    As for taxing the rich, shadow minister and supporter of Kendall, Jonathan Reynolds might think I am feeling "romantically" about it, but I don`t believe in the myth that is the Laffer curve, and I do want a government that will tackle inequality (Cooper calls truce in clash with Burnham,19/08/15). I disagree with Monbiot about the 2020 election, and believe we should start comparing it, not with 1983, but with 1945, or even 1997, when a new leader with a passion to take the party in a different direction did rather well (It`s Corbyn`s rivals who are chasing an impossible dream,19/08/15)!

As usual, Larry Elliott makes some valid points,especially on the "political blitxkrieg" the Tories will unleash on the new Labour leader, but does he really think Corbyn is wrong when proposing a more robust attack on tax avoidance and evasion (Corbyn has the vision, but his numbers don`t yet add up,21/08/15)? Elliott defends Osborne`s feeble attempts by saying that "every chancellor wants to reduce the tax gap", and that if there was a "magic money-tree", the present incumbent would "have shaken it by now", but there is little evidence to support these claims. The feeble "Google tax" which was introduced by Osborne, is only expected to raise £355m a year by 2019, whilst cutting thousands of jobs at HMRC, including those of tax inspectors, makes no sense, when the man responsible supposedly views tax avoidance as "morally repugnant".
Allowing the government`s tax agency to make "sweetheart" deals with companies like Vodaphone and Starbucks, excusing them from billions owed in tax bills, is hardly the action of a chancellor intent on reducing the tax gap, whilst the insistence on what the CBI boss, John Cridland, calls "going it alone" , at a time when the finance ministers of Germany, France and Italy are urging "tax harmonisation" to control the aggressive tax policies of multi-national companies, is clearly ludicrous.
     Elliott doesn`t usually let the chancellor off so lightly, especially when the rhetoric fails to match the policies, but as he failed to mention Corbyn`s support for a Financial Transaction Tax, which most of the EU countries start implementing in January 2016, he must have been having one of his anti-Corbyn days! 

Your editorial rightly stated that the Scottish National party persuaded voters that it, rather than Labour, is the party of "social justice, nuclear disarmament, anti-austerity, defence of the welfare state and redistribution of wealth", but sadly omitted to state the obvious (Kezia Dugdale takes the poisoned chalice of British politics,17/08/15). These principles form the very basis of Corbyn`s programme, and clearly, if many of the 49.97% of Scottish voters who supported the SNP in the general election are to return to the Labour fold, they are much more likely to do so with Corbyn at the helm.
    You may describe Corbyn`s campaign, with your usual derision, as "playing to packed and sold-out events" as if it was a show or circus, when the truth is that his very serious political and economic message  illustrates the UK`s public`s longing for the transformation of our grossly unfair society.
       According to the Blairite agenda, the Labour party must not have a leader who approves of re-nationalising railways and the greedy energy companies, but one who is "intensely relaxed" about the fact that, as the Guardian recently reported, the taxpayer subsidises private business to the tune of £93bn a year in "corporate welfare", and that the CEOs of FTSE100 companies have an annual payment approximately 183 times the average paid to their employees. Presumably, private landlords should continue to be allowed to charge exorbitant rents, whilst social housing is gradually phased out. The Tory government can, not only continue with its policy of privatisation, but can get away with selling at knock-down prices to City investors, costing the taxpayer billions, whilst austerity, with £12bn of welfare cuts, has to be imposed to save the country money! Brown, like the others, failed to explain why a party promising real change is neither "credible" nor "electable" (Brown:anger is not enough",17/08/15). Is it not time Blairites, and indeed, many Guardian writers, stopped comparing the 2020 election with the one in 1983, and began thinking of how a radical Labour party, with a new leader and direction, galvanised by a groundswell of support for policies, with the nation tired of Tory misrule with continued inequality and decreasing social mobility, can win, as in 1997 and 1945?

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