Tuesday, 18 October 2022
Not Hiding Under A Desk
Enjoy it, but not too much. We never voted for the City, the money markets, the Bank of England, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility, the International Monetary Fund, or the President of the United States.
We are now governed by something called the Economic Advisory Council, created yesterday out of thin air. 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.
Without a manifesto commitment, Labour farmed out monetary policy. The Liberal Democrats forced the creation of the OBR. And now, from the Conservatives on their own initiative, has come this. 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.
Jeremy Hunt was a mainstay of the Austerity Coalition, and never forget that it was the Coalition. He devastated the National Health Service. While the lifting of the cap on bankers' bonuses remains, there is now a stated threat to the triple lock on such state retirement pension as there is in this country. So much for stimulating growth.
But what is the alternative? Wes Streeting is in politics at all in order to privatise the NHS in England, and the Labour Party is ruthlessly rigging parliamentary selections in favour of candidates who would nominate him for Leader on the strength of his having done so. Still, imagine that it opened its selection process at Liverpool West Derby and no one except Ian Byrne applied. Would you apply against him, against the Hillsborough Law, against the Right to Food? Similarly, who would apply to come no higher than fourth at Islington North against Jeremy Corbyn?
If Emma Dent Coad, champion of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, is so objectionable, then how can she even be a member of the Labour Party, much less the Leader of the Labour Group that this year came within a very few votes of taking control of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council? If, as is rumoured, some excuse were to be found to suspend Diane Abbott from the Labour whip just before the next General Election, then who would dare to seek the Labour nomination from which she had been excluded and then walk the streets of Hackney North and Stoke Newington? If Abbott were indeed to be so treated, then black London might plausibly and reasonably take to the streets in no uncertain terms.
After all, the Forde Report, The Labour Files, the treatment of Apsana Begum, the ennoblement of Ruth Smeeth, the refusal to longlist Maurice Mcleoad at Camberwell and Peckham (the blackest constituency in the country), the presence of only three black male Labour MPs to the Conservatives' four, the failure to select a black candidate for any of 36 held or winnable seats where there were vacancies, the ongoing stitch-up of Sedgefield for Alan Strickland of Haringey Development Vehicle infamy, and Keir Starmer's own record as Director of Public Prosecutions, are among the numerous reasons to recognise that a Government headed by Starmer or by any of his supporters would pose an existential threat to, among a host of others, black people in general, black men in particular, Muslims, Palestinians, and anything up to half of British Jews. Any Government would pose an existential threat to disabled people if it included either or both of our vicious old blood enemies, Rachel Reeves and Yvette Cooper.
Here at North West Durham, the process of selecting a Labour parliamentary candidate has still not begun. The Constituency Labour Party posts Facebook photographs of its "campaigning", but that campaigning is on behalf of no one. It is purely performative, and for the sake of the pub afterwards, like an historical reenactment society. I am quoting from memory, but his sympathetic biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, said something to the effect that JRR Tolkien's writing did not belong to the world of literature and the arts, but to the world of people who did things with model railways in their sheds. Make of that what you will, but dear though some of the stalwarts have been to me for 30 years, North West Durham Constituency Labour Party no longer belongs to the world of politics, but to the world of people who do things with model railways in their sheds.
While Starmer versus Liz Truss may or may not have resulted in a Labour landslide, Starmer versus Hunt or Rishi Sunak will 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.