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This idea had already been shown to fail by the 70s, the naitonalised industries were bywords for inefficiecy, the ossification, indeed deification, of out-dated work practices and a failure to adapt and move forward to embrace new ideas.

No less so than privatised industries today. I think it's hard to argue that privatised rail is doing a better, cheaper job than BR used to - or would have been able to with equivalent funding.

The idea that nationalisation never works was part of the Thatcherite mythology. Privatisation never works either, and large corporations are at least as incoherent and sclerotic - with the difference that some, like the UK's arms trade (the one that can't design an aircraft carrier that works in warm weather), are also corrupt.

All of which came crashing down in the "Winter of Discontent" in 1978/9.

Which is another legendary moment in the Thatcherite retelling of history. What really happened was that the UK - like most countries - had been through severe inflation caused by oil price shocks.

Unions attempted to protect their workers by pushing up wages. Callaghan was Labour in Name Only, and was effectively just a neoliberal stooge. Of course he took on the unions, and of course he lost.

Which led to the next part of received Thatcherite mythology - the idea that wage increases cause runaway inflation, and that the unions somehow run the country, and will run it into the ground if not castrated.

In fact import costs have far more influence on inflation than wages do. And viable companies always have the option to trim profits to pay a higher wage bill.

If they choose not, that's a choice, not an economic inevitability.

As for the rest - these are also standard Tory talking points. Here's Boris laying them out back in October:

Boris on Corbyn

That's certainly Corbyn's heritage, but it's not so clear what Corbyn has turned into today. I don't think we'd see a Trot being quite as cool about the abuse that Corbyn has received, or being quite so good at getting members to join the party.

Corbyn isn't business as usual. Nor is he necessarily just a throwback. But even if all he wants is to roll back the Thatcherite consensus a lot of Labour voters, old and new, are just fine with that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jul 23rd, 2016 at 10:40:47 PM EST
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