Thursday 21 November 2019

Labour Makes Its Move

This isn't going to be a full analysis of today's Labour manifesto, just the bits that interest me most, and whether they tell us anything useful.  Let's start with the most revealing.


Notwithstanding we can all read between the lines, they've gone for maximum respectability vis-à-vis the casual reader hoping not to find a knock-dead reason for spurning Corbyn.  Support for renewing Trident (sic); 2%-of-GDP minimum expenditure; "The primary duty of government is to guarantee the security of people in the UK"; "We will maintain our commitment to NATO"; "The UK defence industry is world-leading"; etc etc.   

In short: if they've succeeded with their bribes elsewhere in the document, they're hoping this nose-peg job of their own is enough to avoid a million patriotic vetoes in marginal constituencies.

There's also a continuation here of the workerist strand that runs throughout: the defence industry is lauded for providing skilled jobs; to be encouraged as such.  There's many a Tory who'd salute that particular flag. 

You can bet there's an entire closed-session briefing for dyed-in-the-wool Generation-Wuss Trots that starts: "don't worry about the Defence section, it's for older-generation comrades who are suffering from false consciousness; we don't mean a word of it".  So far, so thoroughly, power-seekingly pragmatic.


If anybody's paying attention, this is a real bugger's muddle.  On the one hand they are hoping to bask in the greenwash they've splattered over everything in sight (though they've realised committing to zero-carbon 2030 is ludicrous, much as that will disappoint some).  Then there's the crazy distraction they propose to bring upon themselves by nationalising not only the wires and pipes (which we've known about for months) but now also the energy supply business, but handing it over to local authorities.  This guarantees (a) a decade in the courts, and (b) power-failures and general chaos.  Or, more likely, (c) a big U-turn in due course.

But overhanging it all is that workerist theme. 
A thriving steel industry will be vital to the Green Industrial Revolution. Labour will support our steel through public procurement, taking action on industrial energy prices, exempting new capital from business rates, investing in R&D, building three new steel recycling plants and upgrading existing production sites. We will ensure that new technologies aren’t just invented here, but are engineered, manufactured and exported from here. We will put British innovation at the heart of our procurement to support local sourcing and reshoring, so that every investment we make strengthens our manufacturing and engineering sectors and supply chains and creates hundreds of thousands of good, unionised jobs here at home. We will use the power of public procurement to strengthen local jobs and supply chains and will require all companies bidding for public contracts to recognise trade unions, pay suppliers on time and demonstrate equalities best practice... we will ensure the UK’s automotive sector isn’t left behind ... by investing in three new gigafactories and four metal reprocessing plants. By supporting UK-made electrical steel we will ensure robust support for an end to end UK supply chain. We’ll also take on the global plastics crisis by investing in a new plastics remanufacturing industry creating thousands of jobs ...
Square that with yer zero-carbon future!  And I think we know which one would get priority, in the party that currently supports a new coal mine in Cumbria.  It has a name, by the way: the "Just Transition".  That'll be used to cover just about anything.

It'd take a bit of squaring with EU rules, as well.  And they wonder whether Corbyn & McDonnell want In or Out!


Received Wisdom solemnly reminds UK politicians of two sobering manifesto data-points.  First is Labour's very own Longest Suicide-Note in History of 1983; and more recently Mrs May's equally ill-judged 2017 version.  Both suffered from being unable to resist sticking down everything they'd ever dreamed of - and highly counterproductive they were.

Has Labour committed the same mistake again?  The franchise for immigrants and 16-year olds is being smuggled through with all the rest of the bribes, and an adroit Tory counter-campaign should be able to make that alone fatal to Corbyn's cause.  (I did say 'adroit'.)  Is this really the election for a compendium of everything the Left has ever dreamed of?   On the Beeb at 1 o'clock, Norman Smith's only point was, what makes them think this lot can be financed?  Not the reaction they were probably hoping for.

Do they really just want to see it all written down in black and white, so that they can go to their graves saying "if we'd won in 2019, it would have been great"?  And "no-one will ever accuse us of not thinking big: we emptied the tank".

We don't have long to wait.



BlokeInBrum said...

I haven't read the manifesto and don't intend to.
Can anyone tell me the point of them?
As we all know too well,they aren't legally binding and the Politicians will change or ignore it as they please.

DJK said...

It does say: "Over the past three decades, Britain has reduced its emissions at the expense of domestic industry by offshoring production. This is an accounting trick, not a solution.", which is rather better than I might expect.

But there does seem to be an awful lot of nationalisation in there --- presumably, mostly by expropriation of private assets. There's a rather strange commitment on the surplus of the National Coal Board pension scheme --- important to somebody, but hardly a burning issue.

I would expect the private pensions of everybody who is not an ex-miner to be seized and reallocated by the state.

Nick Drew said...

Yes, 're-directing' pension funds is a major (and fairly explicit) part of the global deep-green plan; and McDonnell would love to do this in the name of his greenwashed workerist plans

(of course, some of the deep-greens are pure bandits with not an ounce of altruism in their bones, just salivating at the thought of skimming-off from these massive putative transfers - they mean to impose themselves as mandatory brokers on the process, with fees to match)

It'll be ironic if, by overcooking this manifesto, McDonnell has blown his chances of doing so in the UK

Anonymous said...

They're trying to win some heartlands back, who have turned their back due to Brexit.

Quite interesting seeing all the parties adopting to what amounts to Stop Boris - they know if they strip enough votes off the Tories, it means they can coalition.

None of them are saying it, but the aim seems to be on the w/c 16th December that Corbyn, Krankie and Swinson can piously inform the nation that, yes, the Tories got the most seats, but they're going to put their differences aside to stop them governing.

If that does come to pass, quite what the people will make of it is another thing.

CityUnslicker said...

Most worryingly for me, too busy at the moment to access the real world, is the moving of the Overton window far to the left. This may well fail, as it did last time, but the twitter (I know!) and my office is full of people who now think maybe nationalsing broadband has some merit.

Eh? What the hell? This, therefore has worked a little already. As it did last time. The media play along, ignoring the drag left because they equate brexit with the far right.

The only remedy will be a huge Tory win to reset the window, which I hope for but fear may not happen.

Elby the Beserk said...

"A thriving steel industry "

Hmmm. Tried making steel without coal?

E-K said...

All things to all (wom)men, trans, homs, Q...

Which sums up one of the reasons why we can never have sensible politics ever again. The Tory manifesto would have been classed Labourite not so long ago.

(Greenism reconciled with mass immigrationism, female emancipation squared with paternalistic fundamentalism.)

Anonymous said...

It should be possible to make specialised high-tech steels from recycled Iron and steel, using electric furnaces. A nuclear power station would be needed to provide the electricity.

I don't think the number of employees would be very high.

Really, these old Marxists are living in the distant past, when Britain had coal and Iron ore mines, and thousands of miners.

Don Cox

Nick Drew said...

@ I don't think the number of employees would be very high

I once conducted a senior Gazprom exec around my company's UK energy assets. Day 1 was a modern gas processing plant: at the end of the tour, he said (via his translator) Ask him how many men it takes to operate this plant. The answer came back: "2". He said, No, no, he didn't understand the question, ask him again.
When the answer was reaffirmed (and the two men were pointed out to him), he shook his head sadly and said: In Russia, it would take 200 ...

Day 2 was a very big gas-fired power plant**. Same story, except this time it was "10" and "one thousand".

Trouble is, Don, Labour's manifesto is a workerist policy, meaning that they'll be letting the unions insist on "20" and "1,000".

Anonymous said...

" a huge Tory win to reset the window"

I hope it's not too big. We might just get a Brexit of sorts, but Boris would almost certainly go for amnesty for up to ten million criminals.
I'd rather he announced a Border Force beefed up from the ranks of unemployed Brits and with hefty bounty bonuses, although I'm sure some would be bribeable.

I'm never sure why any UK legislation should apply to people who are here illegally. They should be declared outlaws.

Anonymous said...

@CU - the reason nationalising X and Y is gaining traction has been the governments failure to make markets work.

Broadband is a great case in point, BT/OpenReach, along with the lack of skills, should have been dealt with properly at least a decade back as it's a bottleneck across the board.

I don't think nationalising is the solution, but the current setup isn't working and the government has seemed disinclined to deal with it. So, shock horror, people are willing to try a different tack.

Same with trains.

Energy is a fuck-up for a whole raft of reasons.

Just as people were fed up enough with the establishment to vote Leave, so they are with the current system to kick against it.

That's a failing of government, and politicians more interested in sinecures at big companies than the people they're meant to represent.

So the current tolerance for nationalisation is just years of failings coming home to roost.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone think that a government that has made a mess of, for instance, the railways would do well at running nationalised railways ?

The fundamental problem is that the larger an organisation is, the more difficult it is to manage, and the more Parkinson's Law and internal politics take over from getting on with the job. Nationalisation increases the size of the organisation. It is as bad as company mergers.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

@Don - because it's a different government?

Anyone south of 40 won't remember the last lefty Labour government, they do remember tales of Thatcher the Hellspawn without wondering how she kept winning elections though.

And they also know commuting is arse, and broadband can be a crapshoot, and they're two major components of their daily life.

It's not rocket science that if enough of the population think the current way of doing things isn't working out for them, they'll think it's time to try something new.

Now Labour hasn't fully figured that out, if they had then they'd be ahead in the polls, and any overlap is coincidence.

But people *are* fed up, and governments have been terrible at both communicating the benefits of capitalism and blunting the downsides of it.

Personally I think the whole privatised vs nationalised debate is a false dichotomy, the two can co-exist.

Take public transport - routes that are financially viable should be the province of competition, those that aren't but are socially useful should be under the local/national government control.

If the Tories get in and things stay the same, they're just sending RSVPs to the Marxists.

jim said...

Anon @ 9.26pm has it, people are fed up. The current system is not working.

No Deal Brexit looks like a big change, Nationalisation looks like a big change. No one has any idea how either would work out, devil in detail as always. But Boris looks like going for Brino and in the end not much change at all. If you want change then either Farage or Corbyn have it on offer.

Assuming we get Boris and Brino then we get the worst of all worlds, no real change plus economic disadvantage. We will be slowly screwed by the EU. No good whining about 'wicked old EU', Brexit in any form is a self inflicted wound.

We are returning full circle to why are people fed up and what to do about it. Neither No Deal nor Nationalisation nor Brino look like credible solutions, the whole process looks like a huge waste of time. We got into this Brexit schtick because people were fed up. As always Brexit was the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

To see what to do and where to go we would be wiser to look at other cold wet countries and see how they run things. Perhaps we might look at our adversarial political systems. Getting rid of that would be a lot cheaper than any sort of Brexit or Nationalisation and more likely to deliver reasonable results.

Matt said...

Brexit is the right solution to making our own politicians more accountable for things they blamed on Brussels.

BlokeInBrum said...

The current crop of seat warmers in Parliament and the Lord's are just there to give a veneer of accountability to our democratic system.
Brexit was simply the first step in an attempt by ordinary people to make those in power do what we want them to do. And we've failed at the first hurdle.
But no matter, the pretence of democracy has been exposed. If we can't have change through the ballot box, then the gun and rope is next.

Anonymous said...

I see on the BBC website that the Lenin Museum in Ulan Bator has been converted to a Dinosaur Museum.

Perhaps they could use Corbyn and McDonnell as exhibits.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

One thing I have noticed this week, Boris looks haggard.

On the QT special, he looked worse than Corbyn, who Guido keeps suggesting has had a stroke.