Patterico's Pontifications


Labour’s Campaign Manifesto: Same Old, Same Old

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:18 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Ten days out from the U.K.’s coming election and the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn has released its campaign platform, more stylishly described by our overseas cousins as a manifesto. Over at City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes an effective argument that Labour essentially calls for left-wing “quasi-totalitarianism,” empowering bureaucracies, trade unions, and public sector employees, the same formula that brought Britain to the brink of insolvency in the mid-Seventies before Margaret Thatcher was invited by Her Majesty to form a government.

Labour is betting that the people of Great Britain desire sweeping change. Whereas the word “radical” is largely eschewed by Democrats and Republicans here in the U.S., except when describing an opponent’s ideas, Mr. Corbyn and his leadership embrace it, promising in their preamble “Our manifesto is the most radical, hopeful, people-focused, fully-costed plan in modern times.” And they ain’t just whistling Dixie. Naturally, Labour favors all of the trendy Green ideas, but where the American left invokes what they believe was a golden age of government activism by calling their economic restructuring “the Green New Deal,” the British left ironically invokes what many of them believe was the historic ruin of their homeland by dubbing their plan “the Green Industrial Revolution.” It’s a platform that our delightfully clueless but earnest niece might recognize, praising windmills and solar panels while inveighing against cow farts and fossil fuel emissions; fetishizing public transportation while decrying private automobiles and ride-share companies; promising to seize energy and water systems from private hands and placing them into public ownership, though unconvincingly insisting that they will be community-owned and not micromanaged from London. In fact, much of the entire platform promises that the newly empowered government regulators will operate on a local, community-based level, which is certainly an attempt to allay the fears of rural residents that they will be thoroughly brought under the thumb of Whitehall.

The rest of the manifesto is no better than the green dreck. Like American Democrats, Labour no longer spends money, it “invests” in social projects. So the new railways, upgraded highways (at the same time they are discouraging private automobile travel), bike paths, pedestrian ways, etc. will naturally pay dividends of some sort, probably in securing the vote of all of the construction workers who will be employed by this taxpayer largesse. In fact, Labour unsurprisingly wants to “rebuild” the public sector after “a decade of Tory cuts,” and to that end they promise to spend £150 billion to build new schools, hospitals, public housing, and retirement homes. Public employees will be guaranteed an immediate pay increase of 5%, and thereafter see their wages rise annually with the rate of inflation, irrespective of economic growth. All of this will be paid for by a tax increase on anyone making more than £80,000 per year (about $103,000 here) and an increase in the corporate tax rate from 19% to 26%, neither of which according to Labour will affect economic productivity. The minimum wage will be hiked to £10 per hour ($12.94, much more reasonable than the Democrats’ proposal!), the work-week will be lowered to 32 hours yet somehow with no reduction in weekly pay, and at the same time Labour will not let any private sector executive be paid more than twenty times the wage of the lowest-paid worker at that firm. Workers will be designated a minimum of 10 percent of a company’s annual profits, and they will be given one-third of the seats on a company’s board of directors. Labour promises not to increase the VAT, since that is regressive taxation, but vows to “launch the biggest ever crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion,” further empowering bureaucrats to wreck havoc in the lives of Her Majesty’s subjects.

There is so much more dim-witted demagoguery and rank pandering to unpack in this manifesto, but suffice it to say that any left-wing idea that has been bandied about here or abroad is represented: from subsidized rent for college students to universal basic income to hiring set-asides and quotas for women and minorities to giving the LGBT+ (Labour mercifully cuts off the alphabet soup at the end there) community whatever the hell it demands on any given day. And of course there is Labour’s barely-concealed anti-semitism and anti-Zionism. While Corbyn’s Labour Party talks a good game about eradicating anti-semitism and the party manifesto stresses the desire for a peaceful Israeli state living side-by-side with a peaceful Palestinian state, the manifesto also makes a pivot towards trendy left-wing third worldism by immediately banning arms sales to Israel, granting recognition to the state of Palestine, and advocating for every government which claims historical victimization by colonial powers, no matter how nasty and brutal their societies might currently be.

Finally, on the important matter of Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has historically be very cagey with respect to the EU, at times signaling that he resents the influence wielded by capitalists in Paris, Berlin, and Brussels, but at other times singing the praises of multi-national governments and regulatory bodies. Labour’s manifesto leaves the party’s disposition on the issue of Brexit unspoken — a wise move considering that a large chunk of Labour voters are believed to have supported the Brexit referendum nearly four years ago — but promises to negotiate a new deal for Brexit within three months and then put it up for a new binding public referendum shortly thereafter. Because Labour has preemptively foreclosed on the idea of a no-deal Brexit, it’s kind of hard to see what sort of negotiating leverage Mr. Corbyn would have in securing a new deal, but if he can get enough voters to buy in to his nonsense then I guess more power to him. Even if the Brexit movement wins the second vote, the Labour manifesto pledges so much continued cooperation with the EU (for example, a promise to voters that Britain’s green policies will be no less strict than the EU’s) that it’s definitely a stretch to imagine that Britain would be rid of the meddlesome Brussels busy-bodies anyway.

This vote on December 12 could very well be a harbinger of what to expect next year. Just as the narrow pro-Brexit vote in June 2016 served as a indication of an anti-status quo sentiment which swept Donald Trump into the Oval Office less than five months later, so too might a Labour victory later this month act as a warning shot of a resurgent left who could stampede an Elizabeth Warren (or, crazily enough, a Bernard Sanders) into the White House. The polls today suggest that the Conservatives are on their way to a strong victory, but I wouldn’t be popping any champagne corks until Boris locks the doors at 10 Downing Street on December 13.


23 Responses to “Labour’s Campaign Manifesto: Same Old, Same Old”

  1. I think Mr. Dalrymple might be overstating it a bit when he suggests that a Corbyn-led Labour Government could be subject to a military coup, but he is entirely correct in expressing incredulity that millions of Britons are going to vote for it.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. Vote Labour get free stuff.

    Mattsky (55d339)

  3. You misspelled “Labor”.

    But anyway, from what I understand of parliamentary politics, Labor will be a permanent minority unless they win back the Scottish seats they lost to the SNP, and the SNP are unabashed nanny-staters at least as far left as Labor itself.

    So there may be a sort of bidding war going on between the two parties to see who can promise the most. And since the SNP will (obviously) never lead a British government, they’re free to promise anything and everything they can think of…

    Dave (fcd131)

  4. they’re free to promise anything and everything they can think of…

    Not quite. They have to avoid overpromising on any topic that is devolved to the the Scottish government/ Parliament, where SNP is the dominant ( but not majority) party and holds the First Ministership.

    The specific devolved matters are all subjects which are not explicitly stated in Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act as reserved matters. All matters that are not specifically reserved are automatically devolved to the Scottish Parliament.[56] Most importantly, this includes agriculture, fisheries and forestry, economic development, education, environment, food standards, consumer advocacy, health, home affairs, legal system, courts, legal profession, police and fire services, prisons, control of air guns, local government, sport and the arts, many aspects of transport (including rail franchising), training, tourism, research and statistics, social work, and some powers over social security.[56] In terms of tax powers, the Scottish Parliament has full control over income tax rates and thresholds on all non-savings and non-dividend income liable for tax by taxpayers resident in Scotland.[59] The Scottish Parliament also has full control over Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Scottish Landfill Tax.[60]

    Reserved matters are subjects that are outside the legislative competence of the Scotland Parliament.[57] The Scottish Parliament is unable to legislate on such issues that are reserved to, and dealt with at, Westminster (and where Ministerial functions usually lie with UK Government ministers). These include broadcasting policy, civil service, common markets for UK goods and services, constitution, electricity, coal, oil, gas, nuclear energy, defence and national security, drug policy, employment, foreign policy and relations with Europe, welfare, reserved tax powers, most aspects of transport safety and regulation, National Lottery, protection of borders, most aspects of social security and stability of UK’s fiscal, economic and monetary system.[56]

    Kishnevi (2f404f)

  5. I think the Dalrymple essay mentions that Labour has promised the SNP a(nother) vote on Scottish Independence, right after the vote second Brexit vote takes place. But yeah, I agree with you Dave, that Labour needs the SNP as part of a coalition, but that pandering too much to them could weaken the Corbyn coalition that keeps him as party leader. It will be a fine line for him to walk.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  6. Note: I have made some post-publication copyediting changes to this post in order to correct grammar errors and provide clarity.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  7. Labour is NOT being “cagey” on Brexit. They are being dishonest. They are against Brexit, always have been, and their “caginess” is just lying to the UK voters.

    See, they’ll leave it up to the UK voters with a new referendum. They can have a “customs Union” plus EU control over immigration and labor laws, etc. or they can stay 100% in the EU. IOW, the people will be given two choices: Remain-Light or Full Remain.

    And since Corbyn lied in May 2017 about “respecting the will of the people” on Brexit, there’s NO REASON to believe they’ll respect a 2nd referendum.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  8. I love how American libertarians approach everything. Open borders and staying in the EU is A-OK, but who can vote labour when they believe in a Green Tax? And maybe business will pay more taxes and broadband will be nationalized! Heavens. They’ll never get the .001% UK Libertarian vote with that attitude!

    rcocean (1a839e)

  9. I’m an American libertarian. I figure the British can do with their country as they please. I think people will be richer and more free with free trade, but if they disagree it’s up to them.

    Time123 (f5cf77)

  10. ”According to the Register, a total of 2,500 Londoners have been arrested over the past five years for allegedly sending “offensive” messages via social media. In 2015, 857 people were detained, up 37 per cent increase since 2010.“

    Good thing they don’t have more dangerous people to keep track of.

    harkin (337580)

  11. Their public transport is really good, though. It’s significantly faster to cross London by tube than by taxi and their national train system goes pretty much everywhere. (no, I did not attempt to drive on the wrong side of the road. I am not nuts.)

    We can’t really look at the UK through the issues we have in our country. They have a much different set of circumstances than we do. Though I can’t say that their choices are much better.

    Nic (896fdf)

  12. Socialism kicks in a rotting door. If capitalism really works the door will stand firm if it doesn’t then pull an aliende in chile and send in the troops to crush the people.

    asset (3cfbfe)

  13. Uh, FWIW, it was conservative PM Ted Heath who formed and helmed a government in the UK from ’70 to ’74– a fair chunk of the decade; was living there. And it is essential to remember Cold War policies were still a factor is domestic and foreign policy making; as well as heated debate over what was then called the Common Market [EU/Brexit debates redux]. Heath and Wilson were the jousters at the time so dumping on Labour alone is a bit unfair; the problems facing Britain at the time, which we lived through first hand [including the rail strikes and brownouts with candle light dinners in Central London due to the coal strikers] were chiefly a confluence of post-WW2 policies with factions from both sides– and of a certain age– resisting any sort of reform or change. There was some definite over reach to people living in the real world– for instance, a roving ‘guard’ charging Hyde Park patrons 6d to sit in a park chair for an hour [never got over that silliness] and when you purchased an electrical appliance [lamps, record players, TVs, etc.,] you actually had to buy the plug separately and attach it yourself. And of course, you had to purchase a license for your TV [yes, we helped fund the BBC so thank us for ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ etc.,] and they have detector vans running around town to check on homes and businesses pirating signals w/o a lisc. OTOH, the Royal Mail delivered twice a day but not on weekends. Thatcher eased some of this log jam and her investment in London’s East End docklands was a master stroke of revitalization– it was still a ruin 30 years after WW2 which was quite a sight to see; still, she was damn near canned until the Falklands War pulled her bacon out of the fire– and was “Majorly” rogered over that poll tax issue. The place never has fully adjusted to losing the Empire and their status as a global power. When sterling was dropped and the dollar became the world’s reserve currency after 1945, the writing was on the wall. A lesson Americans best learn– or learn the hard way, like the UK.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  14. @12. The public transit is awesome; clean and efficient, too. Even back in the day, before the place was festooned w/cameras, marveled at the fact we could walk out of our London flat, take a ten cent bus ride to the Underground station in Knightsbridge; a quarter ride to the train station; the train to Dover; the ferry to Calais; another train to Paris– or all the way to Moscow. All post-war rebuilt public transportation.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  15. @6. They’ve had this Shakespearian identity arguement w/themselves for centuries– “to be or not to be” part of Europe;– island nation; “1066 and all that.” It waxes and wanes over the decades. Back in the ’70’s, they thought they eventually joined the Common Market and figured they’d run it; Empire experience and all that, wot?! But the end of the USSR, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, German reunification, the ‘Euro’ etc., changed the playing field swiftly and taking dictums from Brussels isn’t their cup of tea. It’s as much a matter of geography as it is economics– and it may seem peculiar to Americans who routinely trade w/Canada and Mexico – just as our obsession w/cowboys and guns is peculiar to them. The identity thing is deeply rooted in their culture and you’ll strike up a heated debate -or a fist fight- in any pub if you bring it up. It’s just British– like warm beer and Stilton. Churchill dreamed of a ‘United States of Europe’ – these days he’d be locked up in the Tower.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  16. he thing is, historicall, the British Labour Party was against British membership in the Common Market, and the subsequent European Union.

    The Labour Party is to much controlled by its small official membership – that’s why the manifesto is so radical. The UK doesn’t actually have a good electoral system

    Sammy Finkelman (ce04e1)

  17. delightfully clueless but earnest niece

    I have one of those. A recent high school grad, she thinks that if she doesn’t want to work, she won’t have to. And no, she’s not rich.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  18. the newly empowered government regulators will operate on a local, community-based level, which is certainly an attempt to allay the fears of rural residents

    Shorter: block committees. All Labour members are free to join.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  19. And no, she’s not rich.

    “They say hard work never killed anyone, but I always figured why take the chance.”
    – Ronald Reagan


    Dave (0f0736)

  20. “Dave, you’re not afraid of work – you could sit and watch it all day.”
    – my Gramps

    Dave (0f0736)

  21. @18. In fact, it does, Sammy- much more representative than the major U.S. parties are.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

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