Thursday, 30 May 2019

Strictly Business

I refuse point blank to be older than the Prime Minister at my age. But Matt Hancock is angling for Chancellor of the Exchequer this time round. His selling point is that he is pro-business. I hope that he is. But I doubt it.

A No Deal Brexit would hold no terrors for Jeremy Corbyn, but it is the only thing that terrifies the people who fund the Conservative Party. Corbyn himself certainly does not. They have more than survived Governments well to the left of anything that he proposes these days, and they do business in countries where much of what he envisages is already in place.

Another hung Parliament is practically certain. The Conservatives had a larger poll lead at the beginning of the last General Election campaign than anyone gives them today, and look how that turned out. In any case, there would have to be another General Election within five years. Whereas a No Deal Brexit would be forever, or at any rate for an awful lot longer than one Parliament.

Moreover, unlike the unions and Labour, they have no sentimental attachment to their party. They have no qualms about turning off the cash tap. It is not a familial relationship, as Labour has with the unions. It is strictly business. Unlike the BBC, they know perfectly well that nothing proposed by Corbyn otherwise exists only in Venezuela. There are things on Corbyn's To Do list that do exist in Venezuela. But those things also exist in, say, Germany. And the people who fund the Conservative Party are desperate to remain in a Single Market and a Customs Union with Germany.

Then again, what if the full Brexit that everyone knows that Corbyn would really prefer were indeed to come to pass? Those companies would be at the front of the queue for State Aid, as they always were in the past. And why not? If New Labour was, and the Conservatives are perennially, "pro-business", then that was not and is not based on any identifiable experience of it. The three Leaders of New Labour were a barrister who had barely practised, a perpetual student, and a man who had never worked outside the private sector.

Meanwhile, there have been 12 Leaders of the Conservative Party since the War, and beyond shareholding, or being married to businessmen, none of them has had any business background worth mentioning, if at all. They have had stopgap jobs and what have you, but nothing more than that, and not even that in some cases. Nearly half have been beneficiaries of the massive public subsidies to landowning.

Winston Churchill, toff. Anthony Eden, toff. Harold Macmillan, toff enough. Alec Douglas-Home, toffee toffee toff toff. Ted Heath, full-time politician since university. Margaret Thatcher, millionaire's wife. John Major, full-time politician all his adult life. William Hague, full-time politician since childhood. Iain Duncan Smith, paid by the Army to go away. Michael Howard, full-time politician since university, more than 40 years earlier. David Cameron, toff. Theresa May, millionaire's wife.

Where is the business experience there? Put together, they have all had less than Jon Lansman has. Use that as some context for the claims that Labour's worker-director proposals would put "a Momentum cadre on the board" of every company with 250 or more employees. Such a person might contribute far more usefully than anyone who had led the Conservative Party since 9th October 1940.

Worker-directors were an idea that the Old Left never used to like. Later than the 1970s, they were first floated in anything like the mainstream by Theresa May. But she then proceeded to come up with nothing in order to give the concept any practical effect. So John McDonnell has done it instead. The last thing that May's party can do is complain, or even object.

The pro-business tradition came down to the Attlee Government from the ultraconservative figures of Colbert and Bismarck, via the Liberals Keynes and Beveridge, and it held sway in Britain until the Callaghan Government's turn to monetarism in 1977.

That tradition corresponds closely but critically to the Hamiltonian American System as expanded by the American School, a pro-business tradition that between the 1860s and the 1970s worked to make the United States the world's largest economy, with the world's highest standard of living, culminating in the glorious achievements of the New Deal, which in turn made possible the rise and triumph of the Civil Rights movement.

That was achieved, by Democrats and Republicans alike, through the strict division between investment banking and retail banking, with large amounts of federal credit (in Britain, that would be central government credit), at low interest rates and over a long term, to build great national projects, notably enormous expansions in infrastructure, which then paid for themselves many times over. There were pro-business tariffs and subsidies, and there was a pro-business National Bank to promote the growth of productive enterprises rather than speculation. Britain and America both need a lot more of this today. North West Durham needs it more than most.

Another hung Parliament is coming, and we need our people to hold the balance of power in it. It has become a local commonplace that I am on 30-30-30 with Labour and the Conservatives here at North West Durham, so that any one of us could be the First Past the Post. I will stand for this seat, if I can raise the £10,000 necessary to mount a serious campaign. Please email Very many thanks.

No comments:

Post a Comment