Friday, July 14, 2017

Magnificent words from both Corbyn and May

As half expected, (see the late May blog: 'Election Surprises?' ) we got an eye-opener of a result on June 8th. Teresa May had made an unexpected election decision on 18th April to grasp an apparently unassailable majority given the Tory's stonking poll lead of 17%. It melted away over the campaign to 4%. Her main campaign thrust was to belittle the Labour leader in comparison with the (look at me) - 'strong and stable leadership' mantra. This had the reverse effect and Labour steadily eroded the poll lead with Jeremy Corbyn, the unexpected election star, running a campaign theme: 'For the many, not the few'. Throughout he was refreshingly policy-oriented and non-personal. May actually won - in a very weakened state - and she could remain the leader for some time given the further damage that a self-indulgent Tory leadership challenge could bring to the party.

The 2010 election gave us the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition but an outcome of that alliance was the trashing of the Lib-Dems by the Tories in the 2015 election. A factor is likely to have been their breaking of a pledge not to increase student university fees. The Labour 2017 manifesto included the promise to abolish the fees and is believed to have been one factor in the Labour resurgence. 

It is strange that the Tories who deem themselves to be the UK's natural ruling party have been so deaf as to where political activity is now coming from. The extraordinary Labour party membership rise from 201,000 in 2015 to 517,000 in 2017 is a startling indicator and should have warned. The Lib-Dem's figures rose from 61,000 to 82,000. The last Tory numbers are for 2013 (150,000) and if they are getting better why aren't we told? For a insight of how the Tory's see themselves see Prospect magazine one month prior to the election . Written by Geoffrey Wheatcroft with the expectation that June 8th would bring the Tory party  'its greatest modern triumph', the result is a caution against such hubris. Best leave such comments until after the event.

Austerity is not the only policy
'Austerity' was strangely absent from the election hustings. Perhaps the electorate finally understood that, as this blog has been saying for some years, austerity as preached by George Osborne was mainly a stick to beat Labour with and counterprodutive for the country, as it inhibited investment in infrastructure investment and, anyway did not prevent government debt growing.   As Nicholas Macpherson (FT17 June 2017) has it: 'Osborne's great trick was to talk tough while implementing a pragmatic programme'. The lost time for productive investment means that the UK is lagging in economic performance. Paying for the expenditure could be by government borrowing; or, by creating the money without creating debt and without interest as explained in the Bank of England paper issued by George Osborne in 2013 - CM 8588  ,  see paras 3.34 & 3.35.  The Coalition Government knew that this beneficial monetary tool was available and didn't use it. What sort of blindness is that?

Student fees - one solution
Paul Johnson in The Times (10 July 2017) A birthday present that could solve the university tuition fees dilemma suggests that every young person reaching age 21 receives a gift of £10,000 which would help anyone, student or not. There is sharp divide in opportunities and wealth between young and old and this idea would address some of that unfairness. An idea aligned with Free Lunch principles. See this for a similar suggestion from Prof Richard Werner - a lifetime education grant funded by monetary finance.

When Mrs May became Prime Minister she uttered some 'Magnificent Words' (Blog 6 Aug 2016) :
 ...We will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us'

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Manifesto for 2017 is titled almost identically:
'For the many, not the few'  

With such an aim in common, we ought to expect plenty of agreement.... 

With electoral opinion finely balanced resulting in a precariously balanced parliament there is a great opportunity for MPs to work cooperatively at the problems of our day. It will improve their image if they look like ordinary, reasonable people. Will they? 

Posted by Charles Bazlinton. Author: The Free Lunch - Fairness with Freedom 

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