Tuesday, November 22, 2016

People who remember a socialist government do not want Corbyn as PM

I am in my mid fifties: I am just old enough to remember what Britain was like the last time we had a government which started out by genuinely trying to be socialist.

Not that Harold Wilson or Jim Callaghan were remotely as left-wing as Jeremy Corbyn, but he considered himself a socialist in a way which Blair did not consider himself and Brown was not.

The collision with reality had already forced that government to change many of its policies by the time I had turned 18 - Jim Callaghan's famous quote " We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession ... " being a classic illustration.

In the light of all the polling failures over the past two years, only a fool quotes unsupported polling data without asking if it makes sense. But the opinion polls which show a catastrophic decline in support for Labour, particularly among older voters, do make sense, because people from their mid-fifties and upwards remember what happened the last time anything resembling socialism was tried in Britain (though a more moderate version than Corbyn wants to try now.)

The most powerful thing about the latest Opinium poll is not the fact that, like every published reputable poll since Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Labour leader, it has the Conservatives above 40% or the fact that it shows another large Conservative lead.

It is that, as Mike Smithson of Political Betting points out here, Jeremy Corbyn's approval ratings are low, and much worse than Theresa May's, with all groups above the age of 35 and get worse with increasing age of the person polled.

What this basically means is that almost nobody who remembers living under a socialist government wants to experience another one.

When I was a teenager, right and left-wing newspapers alike referred to "The British disease" and people openly referred to Britain as "the sick man of Europe." The Chancellor had to come back from the airport when he had been about to board a plane when the pound collapsed. The government ran out of money and had to borrow from the International Monetary Fund, which imposed the most savage cuts ever applied to Britain's public services before or since.

When left-wingers accuse Conservative governments of "starving the NHS of funds" those governments have INVARIABLY over the past thirty-four years been increasing the amount of money going into the NHS faster than inflation but by less than the person making the criticism thinks is necessary.

When I was a teenager under Britain's last socialist government, we saw what savage cuts in the NHS actually means - a reduction in the amount of money spent on the NHS in cash terms at a time when inflation was running above 10%.

These cuts caused strikes in essential services which left the dead unburied, rubbish lying in the streets, and hospital operations cancelled. My father was one of those affected, he was phoned up on the day he was due to go into Guys for heart surgery to be told that the operation had been cancelled because shop stewards representing porters and cleaners had decided that they knew better than doctors whether the operation was an emergency. One such NHS shop steward was quoted in the press as saying "If someone dies, so be it."

I will never forget how thoroughly  even  a mild form of socialism bankrupted Britain and what resulted, and it looks like a lot of other people will not forget either. If that is what the polls are saying, then I think this time they are right.


Jim said...

Socialist governments are a lot like fiat currency's. No body can name one that that ever been successful, simply because every one example of both in all of history has failed, 100% of the time.
Yet, people always think they can "make it work this time". There is always blame apportioned to either an individual or a group of people, never does it occur that the system does not work, regardless of how "nice" it may seem on the surface.

Jim said...

Notice, however, that its always blamed on an "individual or a group of people"

In other words the prime problem is Human nature, so no individual or small group of people can ever be trusted, no matter how trust worthy they are. They have a fatal flaw, they are Human.

For currency the answer is to base the currency on something that is rare, divisible, very difficult to replicate, and, above all, isnt human so is not subject to human nature, GOLD anyone?

Churchill said his worst ever error was returning to the gold standard. Whilst this is partly true, its not the whole truth. Its far more accurate to say that the worst error was to return to the gold standard AT THE SAME RATE WE LEFT IT. You see here the problem was that we left the gold standard, de valued the pound during the war years, then tried to rejoin at the same rate, which of course did not work, basically they said to Gold, lets pull this fast one. But gold does not cheat, its not human.

Chris Whiteside said...

Obviously we are in agreement about socialism.

Currencies backed by specie (gold and silver) only work if they are managed intelligently and the supply of specie is related to the size of the overall economy.

Rulers debasing the coinage leads to inflation and economic disruption, and so did the vast amount of extra gold and silver which the Spaniards looted from latin America and brought back to Europe.

Churchill was right to regret going back on the gold standard and you are right to say that a major part of the problem was that Britain went back onto the gold standard at a silly rate.

To be honest I doubt if the gold standard would have been able to cope with the needs of the post-war economy but we will probably not get the chance to test that theory.