In a speech to the Lib-Dem conference Gina Miller lamented the fact that “centrism is really struggling to make headway” before going on to call people to the left and right “fascists” with “cold hard ideologies”.
The obvious problem with centrism is that the term itself is a complete misnomer that implies that hovering aimlessly around near the centre has some special moral virtue no matter how far off into the political extremes the prevailing political orthodoxy might go.
Thus during the post-war decades the political centre was the mixed economy of public ownership of vital infrastructure, services and industries combined with a strong welfare state and regulated capitalism (a position occupied by Labour, the Liberals, and the Tories), and the privatise everything, “greed is good” deregulate the financial sector right-wingers were fringe lunatics.
Fast forward to 1979 and the hard-right fringe were propelled into power and their mass privatisation, welfare-wrecking, deregulation mania has continued unabated for four decades with truly appalling consequences.
Just look at the behaviour of the self-declared centrists between 2010 and 2016 and you can see the disastrous consequences of this morally weak and utterly wrong-headed determination to occupy the centre ground between raving ideological extremism of the Tories and the Blairism that went before it:
Centrist collusion with Tory austerity dogma had appalling consequences: The longest period of sustained wage devaluation on record, public services put under massive strain or shut down entirely, in-work benefits slashed, soaring food bank dependency, exploitative employment practices like Zero Hours Contracts and fake self-employment spreading like wildfire …
Then it came to the Brexit vote and suddenly the complacent centrists were trapped in a pit of their own digging. The far-right Brextremists opportunistically blamed immigrants and the EU for the wage collapse, the failing public services, the in-work poverty, the suffering … But the centrists couldn’t fight back with the truth that these things were the result of austerity, because they were all complicit with austerity.
The only way the centrists have countered the far-right anti-immigrant anti-EU lies would have been to admit that ‘centrism’ itself was a fraud!
Amazingly centrists still occupy this bubble of delusion that it’s somehow morally superior to triangulate with hard-right Tory austerity dogma than to oppose it. That all the ‘centrist’ MPs abstaining on Theresa May’s vile “hostile environment” policy was acceptable and palatable xenophobia, but the xenophobic Brextremist lies were somehow so much worse than a policy they couldn’t even be bothered to oppose that eventually led to British citizens dying in exile abroad!
The problem is that centrists promised us that their watered down version of neoliberalism would bring prosperity, but what it’s actually delivered is Tory austerity dogma, collapsing wages, failing public services, exploitative employment practices, ridiculous privatisation scams, grotesque “hostile environment” policies, soaring in-work poverty, and eventually the centrist‘s own worst nightmare; Brexit.
But rather than admit their culpability in creating this dreadful situation, they’re intent on moral high-horsing and abusing everyone to the left, and everyone to the right of them as “fascists”!
And it’s exactly this kind of self-aggrandising and aloof sneering that’s going to keep them in the political wilderness, because like it or not, the idea of aimlessly drifting around in the totally artificial territory of the ‘centre ground’ is finished.
The choice now is between the hard-right neoliberals who want to keep us on the same course we’ve been on for four decades (more privatisation, more undermining of workers rights, more public service cutbacks, more under-investment in infrastructure spending and research and development, more welfare cuts for the poor, more tax cuts and lavish handouts for the mega-rich) or those on the left who want to change direction and make Britain more of a high-tech, high-skill society with a decent welfare system like Norway, Finland, Germany, or Denmark.
Of course it’s necessary to take an ideological position to step away from the complacency and aimlessness of the political ‘centre’, but there’s nothing “cold” or “hard” about opposing the political orthodoxy of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable people in society (the sick, the disabled, the working poor, the jobless, the children, the elderly and infirm …) in order to lavish corporations and the mega-rich with ever more tax cuts and handouts.
Quite the contrary, it takes a “cold hard” heart to go along with such barbarity solely because you want to maintain the illusion that by doing so you’re somehow a ‘moderate’ occupying the ‘centre ground’!
When centrism actively helps the Tories grind the most vulnerable people in society into absolute destitution for five years in order to feed the greed of the mega-rich, and then centrists accuse others who object to this horrific agenda of “fascism” and having “cold hard ideologies” then you really can’t expect anyone other than your ever-diminishing echo chamber of delusional ‘centrists’ to applaud your unbelievably hypocritical message.
It’s 10 years to the day since Lehman Brothers collapsed into bankruptcy and practically nothing has been done to rein in the excesses of the mega-rich speculator class who created the Bankers’ insolvency crisis.
First the entire establishment class rallied around to ensure that their mega-rich speculator mates wouldn’t lose out as a result of the crisis they caused with their reckless gambling, with bailouts, and quantitative easing cash galore to prop up the value of the assets of the rich.
Then Tories cynically used the bankers’ economic crisis as an excuse to impose ruinous austerity dogma as a means of pushing the cost of the crisis onto ordinary people through wage repression, in-work benefits cuts, welfare cuts for sick and disabled people, local service cuts, etc.
Meanwhile the Tories actually rigged the economy even further in favour of the mega-rich by slashing corporation tax, slashing taxes on the mega-rich, and lavishing the speculator class with ridiculously one-sided outsourcing contracts, and handing them massive chunks of public infrastructure and services at bargain basement prices (like the Royal Mail) or even for free (like the state schools given away to private academy profiteers).
The bankers’ insolvency crisis called for decisive action to ensure such a meltdown could never happen again. Action like breaking up the “too big to fail” banks, restraining the ridiculous short-term bonus culture to make financial rewards dependent on the long-term sustainability of the institutions paying them, jailing the most reckless and fraudulent of the financial sector gamblers, increasing competition and diversity in the financial sector, reducing the amount of wealth that gets funnelled into non-productive areas of the economy like property price speculation and the vast global derivatives casino …
But instead of decisive action nothing was done, so that the property bubble and the the global derivatives casino have continued sucking vast amounts of wealth away from the real productive economy.
But what’s even worse is what the Tory response to the bankers’ crisis taught the mega-rich speculator class.
It taught them that financial crises are absolutely fantastic news for them. Their losses will be protected through bankers’ bailouts and obscene policies like quantitative easing, while the cost of the meltdown is borne by the poor and ordinary.
And now, instead of waiting for the next crisis to come along (when the housing bubble bursts, or major banks gamble themselves into insolvency on the global derivatives casino again) the mega-rich speculator class are seeking to deliberately cause the next crisis.
They know that they can plunge the entire UK economy into a much bigger crisis than the bankers’ meltdown if they can ensure that the UK conducts a “no deal” flounce out of the EU.
If they know exactly how and when the crisis is going to occur, the opportunities for making £billions by betting against Britain are obviously absolutely huge.
Then once they’ve made a killing by betting against Britain, and against the elements of the real economy they know will suffer huge losses in a “no deal” meltdown (manufacturing, haulage companies, leisure and tourism, aviation, shipping, agriculture, the automotive industry …) they can pile back in with the £billions they made by betting against Britain in order to buy up masses of distressed British assets on the cheap.
The UK establishment response to the bankers’ crisis created moral hazard by proving that the state would not let the mega-rich speculator class fail under any circumstances (even when they gambled themselves into insolvency).
Tory austerity dogma made the moral hazard even worse by demonstrating that the Tory party would deliberately load the cost of the crisis onto ordinary people, whilst actually rigging society even further in favour of the mega-rich speculators who trashed the economy in the first place.
And Brexit is the culmination of this truly outrageous response to the bankers’ crisis.
First the Brexiteers used the wave of public anger at the consequences of austerity madness to deliver the Brexit vote, by attacking immigrants and the EU as the reason wages were collapsing, public services were failing, and poverty was rising …
And now they’re seeking to use this Brexit vote as an excuse to deliberately trigger another economic meltdown so that their greedy billionaire speculator mates can make even bigger fortunes on the social and economic suffering of the rest of us.
You’d have to be a fool to not see how the shockingly inadequate response of the establishment class to the bankers’ crisis, and the imposition of ruinous hard-right Tory austerity dogma are responsible for the absolute state of Britain ten years later.
The Question Time panel for Thursday September 13th 2018 is a clear demonstration that the BBC claims of political impartiality are absolutely ludicrous.
They’ve managed to stuff their panel with four right-wing pro-austerity figures, countered only by a single left-wing pro-investment figure (and by far the lest famous of the five to boot).
The four right-wing panellists are the Tory government minister Rory Stewart, the Tory party donor Theo Paphitis, the hard-right Daily Mail polemicist and Brexiteer Julia Hartley-Brewer, and former Labour Shadow Chancellor and one of the chief architects of Labour’s disastrously unappealing austerity-lite strategy that lost them the 2015 General Election.
Chris Leslie is such an anti-Corbyn right-winger that he’s actually starred in a Tory attack ad, which features one of his trademark economically illiterate rants against Labour’s agreed manifesto policy of investment-based growth strategies and in favour of even imposing even more ruinous hard-right Tory austerity dogma!
Putting Chris Leslie on the panel means that any discussion of Labour’s fantastic manifesto commitment to actually invest in the economy will be marred by the sight of a rebel right-wing pro-austerity Labour MP dynamiting his own party’s economic policies!
The one left-wing panellist is the virtually unknown Faiza Shaheen from the centre-left think tank CLASS.
At the 2017 General Election the UK public was absolutely split down the middle when it came to right-wing austerity dogma with the number of people voting for right-wing pro-austerity parties almost exactly matched by those voting for pro-investment parties.
Ever since then the popularity of right-wing austerity dogma has been waning further, with ever more people cottoning on to the fact that austerity was always just a massive Tory wealth transfer con to enrich the mega-rich at the expense of the rest of us.
But the BBC remains absolutely determined to keep the Tory austerity con going by stacking the Question Time panel with as many right-wing pro-austerity figures as they can get away with.
There’s little doubt that they’ll resort to their usual trick of planting Tory party Councillors/activists in the audience to be given the opportunity to ask ridiculously loaded questions too.
It’s absolutely impossible to imagine the BBC ever stacking the Question Time panel 4-1 in favour of left-wing pro-investment figures, but a panel loaded 4-1 in favour of right-wingers is depressingly unexceptional by the BBC’s ridiculously biased standards.
The decision to cobble together such a transparently biased Question Time panel makes an absolute mockery of the BBC’s claims to political impartiality.
Such transparent political bias at the BBC is unacceptable because they’re a public service broadcaster with a duty to impartiality. They’re not like the right-wing billionaire-owned propaganda rags like the S*n and the Daily Mail, and they’re not like small independent blogs like this one either. They’re funded by licence fee payers and they have a public service duty to avoid displays of overt right-wing pro-austerity bias like this.
But the BBC know that the Tory party control their purse strings, and appoint their Board of Directors, so they’re going to ignore their obligation to political impartiality, and continue actively promoting hard-right Tory austerity dogma just as hard as the right-wing propaganda rags do.
It’s a decade since the bankers’ insolvency crisis and the median earnings of every single age demographic have fallen significantly since 2008, with the under-50s bearing the brunt of it.
In the wake of the bankers’ insolvency crisis Labour attempted to mitigate the worst of the damage by propping up the economy through investment, but their efforts were undermined and reversed when the Liberal Democrats enabled the Tory party back into power and helped them implement their extraordinarily damaging austerity agenda.
All the talk in 2010 was about the importance of reducing the budget deficit, and George Osborne’s promise to eliminate it completely by 2015. However in hindsight it’s glaringly obvious that reducing the deficit wasn’t the real objective at all, especially since the Tories are now projecting 2031 as their deficit elimination date (21 years to do what they said they’d acheive in less than 5!)
The real Tory objective was to use the bankers’ insolvency crisis as an excuse to push through a series of radically right-wing policies aimed at redistributing as much wealth as possible from the majority of British people to corporations and the mega-rich minority who bankroll the Tory party.
You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last eight years to have failed to notice the extreme Tory cuts to all aspects of British life: massive local government cuts, deadly NHS and social care cuts, unprecedented police cuts, ruinous flood defence spending cuts, idiotic infrastructure investment cuts, horrific welfare cuts, killer fire service cuts, punishing in-work benefits cuts …
One of the most damaging aspects of Tory austerity dogma of all has been their deliberate programme of wage repression, especially against public sector workers and the under-50s.
It hardly takes an economic genius to understand that if you reduce the amount of cash that ordinary people have in their pockets, you end up significantly reducing the amount of demand in the economy and/or increasing the amount of debt as people borrow in order to make ends meet.
So not only is the Tory wage repression agenda a disaster for the ordinary people they’re driving into in-work poverty, it’s also a disaster for the economy through restricted demand and increased indebtedness.
One of the most incredible things about this 8-year ideologically driven Tory assault on our wages is the lack of fightback from the British public.
During the summer of 2018 the Westminster political establishment and their chums in the mainstream media ran an extraordinary smear campaign aimed at discrediting the lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn as a terrible racist.
The reason they’ve kept relying on the tactic of continually smearing Jeremy Corbyn is that they know they haven’t got a chance of winning the political debate if they ever allow it to focus on policies and issues, rather than personal attacks.
So in this article I’m going to give brief overviews of some of Labour’s policy positions that have been almost completely drowned out during the summer of smears.
In August 2018 Jeremy Corbyn introduced a very interesting set of proposals for the media. These include reducing government influence over the BBC by democratising the BBC Board of Directors, empowering investigative journalists by giving them more Freedom of Information powers, and taxing social media giants in order to fund local journalism.
Unsurprisingly the right-wing propaganda rags decided to misleadingly attack Corbyn’s proposals to empower local and investigative journalists and reduce his own ability to interfere with the BBC as a terrible attack on free speech, before dropping the subject as quickly as possible and returning to the smear campaign.
Throughout the summer Jeremy Corbyn has continued highlighting Labour’s popular policy of bringing the rail network back under public control so that it can be used for the benefit of British people rather than being milked as a cash cow by corporate profiteers and the state rail companies of foreign states.
Another of Corbyn’s rail policies is the upgrade of rail infrastructure in the north of England, especially a much-needed upgrade to the transpennine route between Liverpool and Hull to create a “Crossrail for the North“.
There is widespread public support for renationalisation of the railways, which is why you’ve probably heard very little about Labour’s rail policies over the summer, buried as they have been under the landslide of smears.
As violent crime continues to soar out of control across the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has reiterated Labour’s policies of reversing the Tory cuts to the police force, putting an additional 10,000 police back on the streets, and actually listening to public order experts like the Police Federation (rather than attacking and belittling them as Theresa May does).
In July 2018 Jeremy Corbyn delivered a detailed speech on Labour’s industrial strategy, outlining multiple policies to make Britain a fairer and more prosperous place, but somehow an absolute hatchet job of an article portraying Corbyn’s speech as some kind of Trumpian anti-immigrant rant went absolutely viral with the anti-Corbyn mob.
In reality the speech focused on issues like reversing the decline of British manufacturing (from 32% of the economy in 1970 to 12% today), creating a level playing field when it comes to taxation, investing in infrastructure, and the importance of establishing a customs agreement with the EU as a matter of priority.
It didn’t matter to the anti-Corbyn mob that the fake news article they were sharing deliberately cherry-picked highly selective quotes and stitched them together to create a shockingly misleading account of Corbyn’s actual speech.
The article attacked Corbyn so they made it go mega-viral by sharing it, despite it being an utterly reprehensible pack of lies.
You can read about what Corbyn actually said in that speech and how it was so brazenly misrepresented by his political opponents here.
Jeremy Corbyn has spent the summer expanding on Labour’s fantastic policy of introducing a National Education Service to provide free education and training for all, from cradle to grave.
Corbyn is often presented as a clueless old duffer who hates business, but his education strategy is actually what’s needed for Britain to become a high-skill high-pay economy like Germany.
With technological developments moving at an ever faster pace, workforce flexibility is increasingly vital. And what better way to increase workplace flexibility than making sure every worker knows that they’re entitled to free education and training to give them the skills to move from one job to the next?
Aside from his unmistakable enthusiasm for higher education, further education, and life-long learning, Corbyn also recognises the damage that Tory cuts to the education system are doing to the younger generations. It’s beyond obvious that kids growing up in over-crowded under-funded classrooms are less likely to be able to make full use of their potential, so that’s why Corbyn is promising to begin the process of reversing the shocking 8% per pupil cut in education spending that’s happened since the Tories came to power in 2010.
Opposing Tory “no deal” Brexit
If you believed Jeremy Corbyn’s detractors you’d think that he was guilty of supporting the Tory Brextremists’ every move, but if you actually look at the parliamentary votes it becomes clear that Labour have opposed the Tories in virtually every House of Commons vote on Brexit.
Over the summer Corbyn has reiterated time and again that Labour oppose the extreme, hard-right anti-democratic, and economically ruinous “no deal” Brexit Theresa May and the Tories are working towards.
In one vital vote on the Tory Trade Bill that could have ruled out a ruinous Tory “no deal” Brexit for good, Corbyn and the majority of the Labour Party voted against the government only to be betrayed by four Labour Brexiteers (including Frank Field who has somehow promoted to political sainthood by the very same people who claim Corbyn doesn’t oppose Brexit enough after he quit the Labour whip with an anti-Corbyn tirade).
Aside from the four Labour Brextremists, the Lib-Dem leader Vince Cable and ex-leader Tim Farron didn’t even bother to turn up to the vote at all. Farron was too busy giving a £5 per head speech about how wrong he thinks gay sex is!
Privatised water companies cost the public £2.3 billion more per year than public ownership. The British public are split 70-30 in favour of water renationalisation.
Over the summer Corbyn has raised the issue of water nationalisation several times, but if you search for mainstream media coverage of “Corbyn Water”, you’ll actually find more mainstream media articles written about the ridiculous Tory Love Island style water bottles they were giving away than on Jeremy Corbyn’s water renationalisation policy!
Saudi war crimes
When the Saudi Arabian tyrants blasted a bus full of small children to pieces with a guided missile in August 2018 as part of their campaign of war crimes against the Yemeni people, Labour strongly opposed it, while the Tories just sat on their hands and refused to do anything to intervene.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s strongest positions is his stance that the UK should not be issuing arms export licences to regimes with poor human rights records at home, or records of committing war crimes abroad.
The Tories still believe in arming countries like Saudi Arabia, despite knowing that they’re using British weapons to commit war crimes!
Jeremy Corbyn is planning to introduce new rules to ensure that all companies that bid for government outsourcing contracts are registered in the UK and pay their fair share of tax.
In a way it just goes to show how warped the political debate has become that people who have allowed tax-dodging corporations to suckle the public teat for decades are routinely described as “moderates” and “centrists”, while the guy who wants to put a stop to this farcical situation is derided as some kind of far-left lunatic.
Rational drug policy
Globally the tide is turning on drug policy with more and more nations ditching criminalisation and punishment in order to adopt sensible evidence-based harm-reduction strategies.
Unfortunately the UK has been left swimming against the tide thanks to Theresa May’s right-wing authoritarian stance at the Home Office, and since she became Prime Minister.
In the summer of 2018 Jeremy Corbyn signalled that he’s open to rational drug policies by talking about how the drugs debate is moving on, and his personal preference for the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis.
In July 2018 Labour announced that they will include proposals for a Basic Income trial in their next manifesto.
Basic Income is the concept of allowing every citizen a basic subsistence income, with the aim of ensuring nobody falls into absolute destitution, but also that everyone who works ends up better off by virtue of the fact that they get to keep their basic income payment as well as their wages.
In June 2018 Jeremy Corbyn addressed thousands of people at the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS where he spoke out against the Tories’ hard-right agenda of cutting NHS and social care funding, and privatising NHS facilities and services.
In his speech he made a clear commitment to ending the 8 years of Tory cuts to NHS funding, so that NHS funding rises as a share of GDP in order to deal with rising demand for services, rather than falling as it has done under the Tories.
Ban employers from stealing staff tips
Even if you’ve never worked in the service sector the fact that employers steal their employees should annoy the hell out of you. When we leave tips we leave them for the staff, not as an additional income stream for the restaurant owners.
Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to put a stop to employers from pinching their staff tips.
Jeremy Corbyn won the 2015 Labour leadership election by virtue of being the only one of the four candidates to actually oppose Tory austerity dogma, so it should come as no surprise that he’s still opposing it.
In the summer of 2018 he went further than ever before by raising the fact that Tory austerity dogma comes with a death toll when he said “there is clear and mounting evidence that austerity and inequality are killing people”.
In a way it’s astounding that people thought that it would be possible to slash funding for the NHS and social care services without thousands upon thousands of people dying as a consequence, to cut the welfare system without extremely vulnerable people being left to die as a consequence, to cut fire services without more people dying in house fires, to cut 21,000 police without violent crime soaring out of control …
Even though Labour failed abysmally in their duty to oppose this ideological madness before Corbyn became leader, at least they’re opposing it now.
The reason the mainstream media have concentrated their efforts on whipping up the anti-Semitism storm is beyond obvious. They know that the majority of British people would be strongly in favour of most, if not all, of these Labour Party policies, so they’re intent on steering the political debate as far away from policy issues as possible.
The more people hear about the Labour anti-Semitism row, the less time and space is dedicated to providing honest coverage of Labour’s actual policies like the 14 I’ve outlined above.
It doesn’t matter a jot to the mainstream media hacks that anti-Semitism is actually much more rife in the Tory ranks, or that senior Tories have been meeting with the extreme-right white-supremacist kingmaker Steve Bannon, they’ll keep on banging on about Labour anti-Semitism because they simply don’t want the public thinking about all of the Labour Party policies that they’re highly likely to agree with.