[Marxism] U.K.’s Labour Party Lurches Sharply Left on Economy
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Sep 25 07:01:05 MDT 2018
(Those expecting the Democratic Party to come up with something like
this after electing a majority of Sandernistas are just kidding
themselves. Labour is capable of taking such a left turn because of its
institutional roots in the labor movement. Even tainted by Fabianism, it
is nothing like the party that rested on slavery and Jim Crow for over a
NY Times, Sept. 25, 2018
U.K.’s Labour Party Lurches Sharply Left on Economy
By Stephen Castle
LIVERPOOL, England — Britain’s opposition Labour Party laid out a
blueprint on Monday for a sharp leftward turn in economic policy,
gambling on the readiness of voters for a big expansion of the state’s
role in the economy.
“The greater the mess we inherit, the more radical we have to be,” the
party’s economic spokesman, John McDonnell, told Labour’s annual
conference in Liverpool to loud applause.
Under the plan, firms with 250 employees or more would set aside a 10th
of their shares for their workers, 10.7 million in all, who would
receive up to $650 a year in dividends. Mr. McDonnell also proposed
nationalizing critical utilities, giving a third of the seats on company
boards to workers and making firms prove that they paid their rightful
share of tax.
Labour’s economic agenda has surprised some with its boldness and put
the party on a collision course with business groups. But that is
unlikely to faze a leadership that says it is rediscovering the party’s
socialist roots and believes that voters will trust a left-wing agenda
to redress some of the failings of a decade marked by stagnating real
wages and poor productivity growth.
Mr. McDonnell even joked about his reputation as a left-wing firebrand,
referring to recent comments by the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the
archbishop of Canterbury, calling for a more inclusive form of capitalism.
“Just a few words of advice though, archbishop,” Mr. McDonnell said.
“When they get around to calling you a Marxist, I’ll give you some tips
on how to handle it.”
Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s most left-wing leader for decades, the
party performed better than many expected in a general election last
year, depriving Prime Minister Theresa May of her parliamentary
majority. In most opinion surveys, Labour is now a few percentage points
behind Mrs. May’s Conservative Party, which is so divided over plans for
Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, or Brexit, that there is
speculation that another election could be called soon.
Labour’s conference has been overshadowed by pressure on the leadership
from members and unions to endorse a second referendum on Brexit. But
Mr. McDonnell suggested that even if there were to be a new vote, it
might not give voters the choice to remain in the European Union. Later,
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, contradicted Mr.
McDonnell, saying the party was not ruling options out, including that
of a second referendum with “remain” on the ballot.
Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Corbyn prefer to talk about an economic agenda
designed to roll back the austerity politics of the last decade —
policies that have helped move Labour to the left of the social
democratic positions it adopted under the previous Labour leaders, Tony
Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.
“The balance of power at work has been tipped against the worker,” Mr.
McDonnell said. “The result is long hours, low productivity, low pay and
the insecurity of zero-hours contracts,” which let companies decide from
day to day how much paid work, if any, an employee receives.
Promising to press ahead with nationalization, Mr. McDonnell identified
water and sewerage companies as the first targets, saying that
shareholders would be compensated with bonds. While most staff members
would keep the same jobs, those of senior executives and directors would
be filled at significantly reduced salaries. Energy utilities and postal
and rail services would also be nationalized.
His other big proposal would apply to companies with more than 250
workers, who would transfer 1 percent of their shares each year to
“inclusive ownership funds” that would ultimately control 10 percent of
Business groups were unimpressed. “With Labour’s current proposals, the
fallout for the U.K., its workers and customers would be a drop in
living standards,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the
Confederation of British Industry.
“At a time of great uncertainty, this is no way to build the foundations
of competitiveness and productivity that will improve people’s lives,”
Stephen Martin, director general of the Institute of Directors, said
that the “overwhelming majority of business leaders are as frustrated as
anyone about poor wage growth, sluggish productivity and corporate
Nevertheless, he added, “the answer will not be found in sweeping
measures and angry rhetoric.”
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