The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Corbyn’s Plan

This is post-WWII liberalism, updated for social justice:

  1. Full employment and “an economy that works for all.”
  2. “Secure homes for all” by building “at least 1m” new homes over the next five years.
  3. Stronger employment rights and an end to zero hours contracts.
  4. End NHS privatisation, integrate NHS and social care.
  5. A free national education service and universal public childcare.
  6. Commitment to a low-carbon economy and green industries.
  7. Expand public services by renationalising railways and local leisure and sports centres.
  8. Shrink the gap between highest and lowest paid via “progressive taxation.”
  9. Act to end discrimination based on race, sex, or disability.
  10. Conflict resolution “at the heart of foreign policy.”

I find nothing radical here. Corbyn has also suggested a six hour work day, which is long overdue. The nations which work the longest aren’t the most productive nations; we might as well share jobs, and for people over 40, productivity drops radically after 30 hours a week anyway.

Jeremy CorbynI have little patience for all the Brits who are wringing their hands about Labour and parking their votes in the Conservative party. This is a good, non-radical plan that will work. It is a plan of a government that wants to be good to the poor and the young. Corbyn is entirely credible regarding the lot of it, as he’s stuck by these principles all through the Thatcher and Blairite years.

If you’re planning to vote Conservative in the UK, when this is on offer, you’re just an asshole, an “I”ve got mine, fuck you Jack,” or someone who has bought so far into neoliberal ideology that your political actions make you indistinguishable from an asshole, whether or not you think neoliberal policies “work.” (Especially as all the evidence is that they only work for a  minority, presumably a minority which you belong to.)

Brits have something which most of the rest of us don’t in most of the Western world: The opportunity to vote for a government which is not the lesser evil, but which is actually good. If they blow it, as far as I’m concerned, the majority blame will be on Brits, not on Corbyn. This is a character test: Do enough Brits still want a government which tries to take care of everyone?

Remember, the Conservative government, among other policies, cut a program which gave disabled people things like wheelchairs. That resulted, literally, wheelchairs being taken away from cripples. That’s what you’re voting for if you vote Conservative, and yes, you should be judged on that.

So, Brits have Corbyn to vote for. (He will defeat this revolt, there is no question in my mind, especially as the Courts have restored the voting rights of members who signed up since January and his supporters swept the NEP elections).

This is the potential first crack in the Anglo-world: The end of the neoliberal monopoly on power. Let’s see if the British are ready for it.

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  1. The English want the Tory party, no matter what the results are.

  2. V. Arnold

    Yes, this is the first crack in the “neoliberal monopoly on power”; but it’s not the only crack. Germany, France, Italy, and Spain want the sanctions against Russia dropped.
    The U.S. is trying for too much control under its questionable hegemon of its western allies.
    China has openly invited Russia to an alliance to counter NATO; it’s going to happen. India has been courted by the U.S., but not won (Russia is firmly in with India).
    The game of RISK is ending badly for the U.S.; bullies never win and soft power rules the day.
    The only question is; will the U.S. concede reality gracefully or blow up the world like a spoiled child denied his sand-box?

  3. V. Arnold

    Addendum: It’s also very apparent in S.E. Asia that Thailand has started to distance itself from the U.S..
    They are buying military equipment from Russia (tanks and small arms), China (submarines), Sweden (fighter aircraft), thereby moving away from the U.S.’s influence. Glyn Davies the U.S. ambassador here has pissed off the prime minister with his democracy bullshit/hypocrisy.

  4. Some Guy

    Agree on Corbyn.

    As for cracks, they are everywhere now, although things can last in cracked condition for decades and cracks can be patched (things looked rough after the 90’s recession, Canada nearly split up with a mainstream party fractured and in the U.S. Perot was credible for a while – but the elites weathered that storm).

    If we look at the anglo world we have the NDP first sweeping Quebec, and then threatening to win the next Canadian election (Canadians chickened out on this one), Trump’s nomination, Sanders coming close, Corbyn, Brexit, the SNP taking over Scotland, I could go on.

    Outside the Anglo world, of course, cracks are further advanced – the 5-star movement in Italy, Podemos, Syrzia, etc., far right gains across Europe, Brexit, troubles on CETA and TPP.

    As V. Arnold says, if we widen the view further, things only look worse, Thailand is one example, Duterte in the Philippines another, Turkey is drifting away and on and on.

    Still it would be a blinkered view to deny that the elites are winning battles as well, in Ukraine, across a number of countries in Central / South America, restoring (for now) Liberal/Conservative duopoly in Canada, etc., but I do think the overall tide is against them at the moment.

  5. Dan Lynch

    Corbyn’s 10 point plan is very good as far as it goes.
    Note he calls for PUBLIC health care, not the B.S. “medicare for all” private system that the American fake left advocates.
    Note he calls for PUBLIC child care, not a tax credit or a subsidy for private child care.
    What Corbyn does not address, at least not in these 10 points, is the UK’s parasitic financial sector.

  6. Synoia

    What Corbyn does not address, at least not in these 10 points, is the UK’s parasitic financial sector.

    Umm…you missed the “progressive taxation” bullet point?

  7. The Plan is is fine. Just two tricks that need to be pulled off;
    1) Persuading enough people to actually vote for it to give the Labour party a majority in the Commons after the next election. Tricky on two counts. Scotland is effectively lost because the vote there no longer splits along left/right lines but along nationalist/unionist lines. There does not appear to be a spot on the political spectrum for a left-leaning unionist party. Secondly the British or to be more precise English electorate – even those who would normally vote Labour are a fair bit to the right of the membership of the Labour party.
    2) Having performed trick No 1 implementing it. The Establishment, especially most of the press and the City are not going to like it and will, even if Labour wins in a landslide that eclipses their 1997 victory, wield a lot of power to disrupt and derail.

  8. Hugh

    Sorry to go off topic but as this post is somewhat economic in nature…

    In the US, in July, the private sector added 85,000 jobs, not seasonally (as in what actually happened in July) adjusted. Job creation traditionally peaks in June and is flat June through August. This is expected. What is not expected is that year to date job creation in the private sector lags 2014 and 2015 by around 300,000 jobs. Now the BLS has a nasty habit of doing year end “revisions” that will reduce any shortfalls. Even so, when they are of this magnitude, a substantial shortfall will remain. What this means is in the private sector, the powerhouse of the economy, 2016 already looks like it will be worse in terms of job creation than 2015 which was worse than 2014.

    It seems completely nuts, OK strike that, ideological for the Fed to be working itself up to a rate increase in the face of a slow deflationary trend in the real economy.

    As for the 255,000 reported added in July, this is a seasonally adjusted number, that is trendline, not real, and refers to total nonfarm jobs (private sector plus public/government sector). If you look at this number, not seasonally adjusted, it fell by one million. This is because due to oddities in how the BLS reports data many workers in education who lose their jobs in June due to the summer break don’t get reported as jobless until July. Because most of these workers will be picked back up by September with the end of the summer break, the BLS, in seasonally adjusted terms, simply ignores this whole process.

    Looking at production and nonsupervisory employees who comprise 82.5% of workers, which works out well if you are analyzing the economy in terms of a bottom 80%/top 20% split, their average weekly wages increased 2.7% year over year in July not seasonally adjusted. This is in keeping with employers hiring less and working their current workers slightly longer, hence a rise also in full time employees, i.e. those working 35 hours a week or longer.

    Again sorry for the off-topic.

  9. BlizzardOfOz

    Nothing radical, except this:

    Act to end discrimination based on race, sex or disability

    The subordination of every national purpose including survival, to a utopian delusion. Planned extinction of the native British races within a few generations.

    Otherwise, what does this plank exist for? Non-discrimination, affirmative action, the end to freedom of association, criminalization of counter-social justice speech, all became law five decades ago.

  10. Hugh

    I always cringe at the use of the word liberal in a positive sense. As a USian, liberal to me means Wilsonian liberal, that is elitist, pro-corporate, pro-interventionist, and virulently anti-populist. Neoliberalism is identical with and a return to Wilsonian liberalism. Obama and Hillary and Bill Clinton are, for me, liberals. For me looking thorugh this US lens, Tony Blair is the quinessential British liberal.

    I would call Corbyn’s program progressive. I would not call it socialist because the term has been so debased, at least in the US.

    I think progressive tax rates only slow the bleed. They need to be coupled with high estate taxes (90%+), treating all income from whatever source the same, and high marginal tax rates (90%+). Together these place a cap on income and limit the transmission of hereditary wealth.

    Corbyn’s plan appears reasonable. I think the goal of society should be to provide to its members the basic building blocks for a good and meaningful life. But it is important to remember that the paradigm for all the world’s government is kleptocracy and that the looters/winners in this system will resist tooth and nail any attempt at anything that smells of fairness, decency, and justice.

    To Dan Lynch, two Medicare for All systems, the Australian and French, have consistently rated higher in terms of satisfaction and outcomes than British NHS systems, and at roughly the same costs.

  11. John Hogan


    You have been saying for awhile now that neoliberalism’s days are numbered. I am usually fairly cynical about the ability of most people to form a reasonable worldview and have until recently felt that you were wrong about this. However, other thoughtful people are starting to make a case for this using some pretty strong arguments. In the US, for example, demographics, polls showing that younger people are overwhelmingly progressive, and other polls showing that younger people get more of their information from the internet than from mainstream media (suggesting that they are likely to be able to acquire the information necessary to form a decent worldview), predict that when older people die off the US will likely start to shift progressive. Andrew Levine, for example, just posted essentially these arguments on Consortium News in a piece examining whether it is possible for Donald Trump to win the upcoming US election. The upshot of all of this is that I am starting to feel something that I have not felt in a long time, which is hope. I am still not convinced, however, that we will adapt well enough to climate change and species extinction to see this shift reach fruition. Jeremy Diamond’s work on civilization collapse in cases where isolated groups of people overstretched their resources paint a pretty scary picture.

  12. @John Hogan, re “polls showing that younger people are overwhelmingly progressive.”

    Unfortunately, they also show that younger people are overwhelmingly unwilling to absorb the cost of that progressivism, preferring to make “the rich” or “corporations” pay for all of the social programs they want provided. We want to do all this good stuff, is their mantra, as long as we don’t get stuck with the bill for it.

    I’m afraid I don’t share your sense of hope.

  13. Mike

    @Hugh, being English and married to an Australian living in Britain for the last 5 years, my wife definitely thinks that the NHS is better than the Australian medicare system, simply because it’s always free, whereas she knows many people who can’t see a doctor or go to hospital or get prescriptions in Aus because they can’t afford to even with the medicare rebates.

    @Ian, I think the main problem in the UK is that Corbyn just won’t persuade the majority of English people to vote for him because ‘he looks funny’ or ‘he isn’t credible’ or ‘we cant afford to do all these things’. I just don’t see 30 years of neoliberal media and Government conditioning being overturned quickly enough.

  14. markfromireland

    @ Mike August 10, 2016

    The NHS should be the pride and joy of the British. One of the more insidious changes worked by conservatives from Thatcher’s time on is the perception in the UK that the NHS is a problem and is too expensive.

  15. markfromireland

    @ Hugh

    I would not call it socialist because the term has been so debased, at least in the US.

    Why would any British socialist* give a flying fuck about what Americans think about or understand by the term “socialist”? They’re not trying to get socialists elected to office in America they’re trying to get them elected to office in the UK. Other than as a dire warning of how not to do things you Americans have nothing to offer them.


    *or indeed any socialist outside of the US

  16. paul

    Scotland is effectively lost because the vote there no longer splits along left/right lines but along nationalist/unionist lines.

    Not really, generally the unionists are on the right and the nationalists are on the left. The popularity of the rather cautious but socially minded SNP was due to this approach as and a labour party that took Scotland for granted, and treated it with contempt.

    Nationalist sentiment rose with their policy positions and the relative quality of their candidates. Labour in Scotland was always seen as a backwater compared to Westminster, so we ended up with a rather mediocre set representing labour in our devolved parliament.

    The SNP performed well locally and this allowed them to wipe out Scottish Labour in Westminster, becoming the third largest party (in membership and parliamentary seats) in the UK.

    This was all done in the face of an implacably opposed media and establishment, which should be an encouragement to Jeremy Corbyn.

    The same conflict is happening south of the border within the labour party for the same reasons, the neoliberal wing are petulant machine populations, confident in their networks and utterly divorced from their constituents.

    They see Corbyn as a threat to their lifestyle more than anything else.

    I wish him well.

  17. @Paul:

    generally the unionists are on the right and the nationalists are on the left.

    The SNP are best understood as a centrist party — with respect to the centre of Scottish politics, which is well to the left of England. During their minority government in 2007-11, the SNP were able to cooperate with the Scottish Conservatives. During the 2016 election, Scottish Labour explicitly positioned themselves to the left of the SNP (calling for greater tax rises) but crashed to third place in the vote.

    The centre-left vote in Scotland is further splintered by the Liberal Democrats (unionist) and Greens (nationalist). This doesn’t leave much for Labour, who are additionally hampered by a woeful lack of good candidates and (as you point out) a long and dismal record of taking Scotland for granted.

    This was all done in the face of an implacably opposed media and establishment,

    The SNP were not trying to overthrow the Scottish establishment, but to become the establishment. In this respect they have largely succeeded.

  18. @Ian Welsh:

    The opportunity to vote for a government which is not the lesser evil, but which is actually good. If they blow it, as far as I’m concerned, the majority blame will be on Brits, not on Corbyn.

    I have no particular objections to Corbyn’s 10-point plan. By all indications, Owen Smith wouldn’t either. The question is whether Corbyn has the communication and managerial skills to win an election and serve as Prime Minister. 80% of Labour MPs (not all of them Evil Blairites by any means) believe he doesn’t.

    As a result, the British public do not have an opportunity to vote for a progressive party of government. We have an opportunity to vote for a party fighting itself like a sack full of angry cats. Judging by current opinion polls, the UK electorate is disinclined to take it. Personally, I don’t particularly care how much you blame us, and I wouldn’t trust Labour in its current state to organise a picnic let alone the country.

  19. Ian Welsh

    Corbyn is credible, Smith is not.

    You can, instead, have the organized Tory party drive you into the ground in an organized way, then.

    Can’t save people who don’t want to be saved. It’s that simple.

  20. Can’t save people who don’t want to be saved. It’s that simple.

    For the time being, Labour is in no position to “save” anybody. Corbyn can’t even appoint a full frontbench team, because not enough MPs are willing to serve. If by some miracle Labour was given a parliamentary majority tomorrow, we would not see an ambitious program of reform; we would see a government completely paralysed by ineptitude and infighting.

    You may believe a dysfunctional government is better than an efficient one which does the wrong thing. But that’s a different argument to the one you make above, and I can’t see it being popular. As an election slogan, “Vote for us, we’re completely useless” leaves something to be desired.

    It may be that two or three years down the road, Labour will be united, capable, and ready to implement Corbyn’s 10-point plan. I sincerely hope so. But for now, that is nothing but an optimistic fantasy.

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