Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

We are 3 years into the demonstration to the point of absurdity of the futility of austerity, and the Shadow Chancellor still agrees with it !!!! At no point has he ever suggested that are real alternatives to current policy. His predecessor , the last chancellor, also completely agrees with austerity. There are no fringe groups of MPs pushing for new ideas, nobody advancing alternative analyses. There is just dumb supine acceptance of the status quo. The poor are always with us and neoconservatism is the only game in town.

Well, maybe it's not THAT simple nor SO entirely hopeless, which is not to say that there's cause for rejoicing :-)  However that it's a BIT more complicated is suggested by this:

On the eve of the last GDP figures in October, Mr Cameron promised that the "good news will keep coming". Mr Balls added: "Now that just looks completely out of touch and utterly complacent. It is quite a big moment. [The Government saying] 'our plan is working, we'll just carry on regardless' just looks grossly irresponsible."
But it is not just Labour that is pressing the Chancellor to change course. Following Nick Clegg's admission last week that the Government should have speeded up capital spending in the early days of the coalition, senior figures in both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties are urging the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor to implement Lord Heseltine's growth report, published last October, which calls for Plan A austerity to be replaced by a vigorous programme of construction, handing greater powers to local enterprises and making a decision on airport expansion within months - rather than the current deadline of 2015.
crucially, and despite his presence at the Alte Post gathering, one of the leading critics of Mr Osborne is now the Mayor of London. Mr Johnson, apparently tearing up a temporary truce with the Prime Minister not to rock the boat, laid into the austerity strategy from the Davos platform the next day. He called for investment in housing and transport - two of the key measures in Lord Heseltine's report - lambasting the "hair shirt, Stafford Cripps" agenda.
Even the bankers are weighing in, with Jim O'Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, warning that the GDP figures showed that "policy has been on the wrong path". The International Monetary Fund has also warned there should be a reassessment of tax and spending policy.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-balls-pressure-grows-for-plan-b-as-triple-dip-threa tens-8468379.html

But of course it's true that these people are not calling for radical change, however it's not true to say that "nobody" on the left is, e.g. Labour MP John McDonnell:

Austerity is creating a spiral of economic decline as cuts produce high levels of unemployment which in turn reduces tax income and prompts another round of cuts and job losses.
The Government's austerity measures are also unfair as the only people the Government seems intent on protecting from the recession are the rich.

There is an alternative to austerity.
It simply requires the introduction of a limited range of redistributive measures which will raise the funds we need from those most able to pay and who have profited most out of the boom years.

This redistribution can be achieved through:

  • A wealth tax on the richest 10%;
  • A Robin Hood tax on financial transactions;
  • A Land Value tax;
  • The restoration of progressive income tax of 60% on incomes above £100,000; and
  • And a clamp down on the tax evasion and avoidance that is costing us £95 billion a year.

Investing the resources released can halt the spiral of decline.



Public and Commercial Services Union

Our fringe meeting (at the Labour Party Conference) `austerity isn't working' on Tuesday lunchtime was attended by more than 100 people. They heard from PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey and economist Ann Pettifor, with Katy Clark MP chairing the event.

We received positive feedback about the meeting from visitors who stopped by the stall later in the week. They were encouraged to hear our speakers challenging the ideologically driven cuts agenda and welcomed calls for more investment in public services.

http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/pcs_comment/index.cfm/id/652A29D7-8286-4890-A5F07B7C293F5EC C

Just a couple of the first results turned up by google.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 03:46:29 PM EST
No, that's a hopeful sign. However, I think they also have to address the tax off-shoring industry, of which sadly the City seems to be a global nexus, as ny attempt to simply address revenues in this country will fall when we discover that, for tax purposes, everything happened in hyperspace over Bermuda.

Nevertheless, I'm glad to see this even if it it has yet ot have an impact on the shadow Treasury team

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 04:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The important word there is 'fringe.'
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2013 at 06:15:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Not when the claim is "nobody".

Also, as I show, the non-radical voices, but still against the gov austerity approach, now cover a very wide spectrum - not the impression one gets from the diary.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 06:28:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So let's upgrade the claim to 'Nobody with any observable influence on policy.'
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:14:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]

I wasn't making a comment on the general issue; I was commenting on the over-generalisation in the diary and demonstrated that - if one looked at some available evidence - the issue was more complex than claimed in the diary. Obviously I was not arguing that change of policy is being advocated as much as I and others here would like.

I also pointed out the couple of examples I cited were just some of the first from the results of a quick google search.

As I also pointed out in my previous comment, there is a growing number of people of the kind who could well have an observable influence on policy - but those with some chance of doing so are not of course the more radical types. Then again it would be very difficult for Cameron to in effect admit that he and his team had been making a big mistake for three years.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:32:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even McDonnell is using the language of austerity, redistribution and entitlements. The really radical direction is a universal state job guarantee funded by seigniorage.

On how to start to think about maybe not using the frame of the enemy, see Randy Wray's a new meme for money.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 12:59:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Ah, not REALLY radical -  and no true Scotsman ... :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 06:34:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not "no true Scotsman". This is pointing out that you don't win a political debate by adopting the rhetorical frame of the enemy. And yes, "truly radical" entails using a different frame.

And McDonnell is still talking about how you can balance the books by raising taxes rather than reducing spending.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Then again a lot of people in the UK today WOULD consider his proposals radical - and in political debate one does need to consider one's audience - who may not have achieved the level of radical thinking  you think necessary and who might well reject anything MORE radical.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 11:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About "our plan is working, we'll just carry on": Here's
Jonathan Porthes again:
Q3. Fiscal policy To what extent will George Osborne be able to keep "Plan A" in operation for another year? Should he?

What is Plan A?  Eliminating the structural budget deficit by the end of the Parliament? That was abandoned in 2011.  Reducing the debt-GDP ratio in 2015-16?  That went in the Autumn Statement.  Setting DEL spending targets but allowing the "automatic stabilisers" which the Chancellor once described as a "key part of the flexibility built in to our plan" to function?  The Autumn Statement dropped them too. So there is no "Plan A" anymore; the UK no longer has a credible medium-term fiscal framework, and it would be sensible for the government to consult on a more credible replacement.

So they are not actually "staying the course" as far as keeping to any kind of plan. They may pretend they are, and the goal is of course the same.

sapere aude

by Number 6 on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:08:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's more they've never been honest about what Plan A actually is.

It's clearly not about cutting the deficit. Could it be about cowing the population and lowering the financial and political expectations of most voters, while concentrating wealth and power in the hands of an even smaller minority, perhaps, I wonder idly in passing?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jan 31st, 2013 at 07:16:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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