Monday 5 February 2024

No Time To Be Retiring

What bet would you make with Rishi Sunak? That you will never get your pension? Why do we still have a Department for Work and Pensions? It should be renamed the Department for Working until You Drop. National Insurance is a tax that pays out the benefits claimed now, including the pension. That has always been the case. It has never been some kind of personal pension scheme. If every comparable country manages a much higher pension at a much earlier age, then so can we. If we can afford to kill people in Yemen for a blockade that has killed no one, then we can afford the Triple Lock, and that on something a lot higher than we had now.

Inflation is a political choice. 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, means that therefore require to be under democratic political control. There is no debt. It is an accounting trick. The Treasury, which is the State, has issued bonds to the Bank of England, which is the State. Even if those bonds were held by anyone else, then the State could simply issue itself with enough of its own free floating, fiat currency to redeem them. There is no debt. There is no debt. There is no debt.

Giving up democratic political control of monetary policy has been a disaster. Without a manifesto commitment, Labour farmed out monetary policy. The Liberal Democrats forced the creation of the Office for Budget Responsibility. The Conservatives have created the Economic Advisory Council out of thin air. Yet on none of those occasions have the salaries of the First Lord of the Treasury, of all other Treasury Ministers, and of all senior Treasury civil servants been halved, as in each of those cases they should have been.

If there is an Economic Advisory Council, then what is the Treasury for? And look who is on it. Imperial protectorates and Indian princely states had British advisers whose advice had to be taken, and our nominally sovereign little colony of BlackRock and JP Morgan is in much the same position. Rupert Harrison was George Osborne's long-time Chief of Staff and then Evening Standard employee, while Osborne, Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid are also all advising Jeremy Hunt. Harrison has been selected as the Conservative candidate for Bicester and Woodstock. Yet whom would you have instead? Rachel Reeves? Even if Harrison were a sitting Conservative MP, then would Reeves remove him from the Economic Advisory Council? Merely to ask that question answers it.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not.