Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Corbyn Conundrum - part one.

Whatever your opinion of Jeremy Corbyn - and mine is not very high - an awful lot of people have seriously underestimated him.

He only got onto the ballot for Labour leader because a number of Labour MPs who did not support him, or think he had a snowball's chance in hell of winning, nominated him to widen the debate.

One of those MPs, Margaret Beckett, subsequently said she felt like a "moron" for having nominated Jeremy Corbyn and added that it was one  of the "worst political mistakes I have ever made."

Then there were the opponents of the Labour party who paid their £3 to join Labour and vote for Corbyn as Labour leader in order to wreck the Labour party.

I thought at the time that was a damn silly thing to do and I hope the people who did it realise now that they were every bit as unwise as the moderate Labour MPs who nominated him.

Actually, whichever way the next general election goes, in the medium term the people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn will indeed have wrecked the Labour party, one way or another.

If the Conservative party gets our act back together and wins the next few elections, fear of the damage that a hard-left government could do to the country will have been a major factor in enabling this to happen.

But if Labour under Jeremy Corbyn or anyone like him actually gets into power, they will do such catastrophic damage to Britain that Labour will be out of power at the following election and for decades after that.

But wrecking the Labour party at the price of wrecking Britain is hardly a price worth paying.

Some people reading this will discount the fact that I hold that opinion because I'm a Tory, and others - especially those under forty - will think I'm exaggerating.

My views on the subject are not based on speculation but on memory of what the last period of socialist government did to Britain under Harold Wilson - a more moderate socialist in many ways than Jeremy Corbyn, but still a real socialist as opposed to the Blair/Brown the "New Labour" brand of left-winger who had learned from some of the mistakes of the Wilson era and made a genuine attempt to compromise with reality.

Because make no mistake, the economic and social policies of Jeremy Corbyn are a return to the disastrous socialist economic dogmas which were tried and failed in the sixties and seventies with catastrophic consequences which I remember only too well, with the result that when I was a teenager Britain was openly referred to as "The sick man of Europe."

At the conclusion of that period a bankrupt Labour government had to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to borrow money and the price of that loan was the most savage cuts in government spending ever imposed by a British government, including far and away the worst cuts ever imposed on the NHS. That in turn provoked a wave of strikes which left the dead unburied, rubbish piling up in the streets, and the sick deprived of medical treatments.

One of the reasons I remember this vividly is that my father was one of the patients deprived of treatment as a result: when I was seventeen he was rung up on the day he was due to go into hospital for a heart operation and told that it had been cancelled because shop stewards representing striking cleaners and porters thought they knew better than doctors whether his operation was an emergency.

The policy of high tax - up to ninety-eight pence in the pound - did not bring in more revenue, but less. The policy of high spending led to inflation at nearly 30% and then to a crash.

Even the Labour Prime Minister who followed Harold Wilson recognised that policies which in some ways are very similar to those which Jeremy Corbyn is now advocating had failed. James Callaghan told the Labour conference.

"We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession, and increase employ­ment by cutting taxes and boosting Government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and that in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of infla­tion into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step. Higher inflation followed by higher unemployment. We have just escaped from the highest rate of inflation this country has known; we have not yet escaped from the consequences: high unemployment.

That is the history of the last 20 years. Each time we did this the twin evils of unemployment and inflation have hit hardest those least able to stand them. Not those with the strongest bargaining power, no, it has not hit those. It has hit the poor, the old and the sick."

Whatever else he got wrong, when he made that speech Callaghan was right.

And because Jeremy Corbyn and his ilk refuse to learn the lesson that Callaghan had learned - his Momentum followers would tell any Labour member who quoted Callaghan today to "go and join the Tories" - they would put Britain right back into the disastrous situation that Callaghan was trying unsuccessfully to deal with.

That's on the economy. I'll leave the question of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell's attitude to national security and terrorism to another post.

In spite of how disastrously the policies which Corbyn's Labour party want to try now have failed in the past, that was long enough ago that harping on those past disasters will not be enough to win elections now.

Many people have been let down by the present system. They want change for the better. If we want to avoid the catastrophe which a far-left government would cause, attacking Corbyn is not enough - the Conservatives must put forward a positive vision.

More in the next post.

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