Thursday, 20 January 2022
For their visceral hatred of us crips, I refer to Rachel Reeves and Yvette Cooper as "the Bloods". And we all know what Reeves means when she strikes preemptively against a Sunak Government by announcing herself "pro-business".
In fact, Reeves's position is markedly less pro-business than Rishi Sunak's would be with someone like Richard Holden as Chancellor of the Exchequer and with the likes of Liz Truss banished, perhaps to international appointments. It is if anything even more markedly less so than that of Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell would have been.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, including the Single Market and the Customs Union, provides a double opportunity, both to reorganise the British economy under State direction, and to begin to develop a fully independent British foreign policy, including in relation to the United States. On that basis, Britain could be entering a new pro-business age.
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 December 1976.
That tradition corresponds closely but critically to the Hamiltonian American School as expanded by the American System of Henry Clay, 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 Civil Rights movement.
With a strict division between investment banking and retail banking, large amounts of central government credit, over a long term and at low if any rates of interest, would build great national projects, notably enormous expansions in infrastructure. Those would then pay for themselves many times over, ably assisted by pro-business tariffs and subsidies, and by a pro-business National Bank to promote the growth of productive enterprises rather than speculation.
A sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency has as much of that currency as it chooses to issue to itself, with readily available fiscal and monetary means of controlling any inflationary effect. Those means therefore require to be under democratic political control.
For the good of business, we should implement Theresa May's original Prime Ministerial agenda of workers' and consumers' representation in corporate governance, shareholders' control over executive pay, restrictions on pay differentials within companies, an investment-based Industrial Strategy and infrastructure programme including greatly increased housebuilding, action against tax avoidance including a ban on public contracts for tax-avoiding companies, a real cap on energy prices, a ban or significant restrictions on foreign takeovers, a ban on unpaid internships, and an inquiry into Orgreave.
For the good of business, all tax havens under British jurisdiction should be closed, non-domiciled tax status should be abolished, the Big Four accounting firms should be broken up, auditors should be banned by Statute from selling extras, they should have unlimited liability, Crown immunity should be abolished, and Limited Partnerships and Limited Liability Partnerships should be required to have at least one member who was a natural person resident in the United Kingdom.
For the good of business, the State should buy a stake in every FTSE 500 company, large enough to secure Board-level representation, for the exercise of which both the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be accountable to the House of Commons, so that after any investment in public services, the dividends would be distributed equally to everyone by the Treasury.
And for the good of business, public bodies and public contractors should be required by Statute to buy British wherever possible and to buy local wherever possible, while employment rights should begin with employment and apply regardless of the number of hours worked, leading to a four-day working week by 2100.