Sunday 25 June 2023


"Labour's fiscal rules are non-negotiable," declares Rachel Reeves as she promises to overrule the School Teachers' Review Body rather than permit a 6.5 per cent pay increase. It is deliciously entertaining to watch people realise what they had done, first in knifing Jeremy Corbyn, not that he helped himself, and then in elevating Keir Starmer. The Guardian and The Observer positively sing with wailing, accompanied by gnashing of teeth. Labour MPs are told that only 10 of them are capable of being Ministers, with peerages being planned to fill the other positions. And now the teachers. The teachers!

Reeves has no view on interest rates, lest that compromise the independence of the Bank of England, but she has no such scruple about the STRB. The difference must be that the Bank of England used to employ her. As, for future reference, did the British Embassy in Washington. But we never voted for any of these "independent" pay review bodies, which are in fact appointed by the Ministers who set their terms of reference, any more than we voted for the Bank of England to which Labour farmed out monetary policy without a manifesto commitment, or for the Office for Budget Responsibility that the Liberal Democrats decreed into existence, or for the Economic Advisory Council that Jeremy Hunt has created out of thin air.

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. Likewise, if Ministers are not going to set the rates of pay in their areas of responsibility, then their own pay ought to be reduced accordingly. Better still, those Ministers should indeed set those rates, accountable to Parliament.

The trade unions are winning pay rises at or above the rate of inflation all over the private sector. But half of your exorbitant rail fare is profit to a contractor that the Government undertakes to pay whatever that contractor, usually foreign and often a foreign state, feels like charging, while the Royal Mail, which no one seems to grasp is now a private company because the only thing more bizarre than that is the fact that it is now separate from the Post Office, has flipped from recording a £750 million profit to a £250 million loss rather than pay its staff fairly. And that is before we even start about unambiguously public provision such as the National Health Service.

Michelle Mone, the VIP lane in general, all sorts of other things from the lockdowns, however much money we are really spending to be beaten in Ukraine: of course we could afford this, even before we mentioned that a sovereign state with its own free floating, fiat currency had as much of that currency as it chose 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.

If a minimum service level were to be defined in, say, the NHS, less than everything that it did anyway, then why should the State pay for anything above that minimum? If companies were empowered to sue unions over strikes, then how would their directors not have a fiduciary duty to do so? And so on, and on, and on, and on, and on.

Not a word of this will come from the Official Opposition. If you believe that it would repeal the latest round of anti-union legislation, then I have some magic beans to sell you. Reeves parrots Trussonomics, even talking about "growing the pie", while entirely falsely claiming that the last two Labour manifestos had been uncosted and that Corbyn had left the party in deficit.

Funded by private healthcare, Wes Streeting wants to give public money to that interest rather than, you know, to the NHS. Once anything had gone, then try getting it back, and be in no doubt that we would indeed end up having to pay upfront for it. Rishi Sunak's declared plan for more of that instead of the NHS was made politically possible by the fact that Streeting had already announced it, meaning that there would be no Official Opposition to it.

Labour is now endorsed by Jeremy Clarkson, who is close to David Cameron, as well as by Austerity Coalition stalwarts such as Anna Soubry, Ken Clarke, Claire Perry O'Neill, and the bet-hedging George Osborne, whose long-time Chief of Staff and then Evening Standard employee, Rupert Harrison, is on the Economic Advisory Council and has just been selected as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Bicester and Woodstock.

Starmer, Reeves, Streeting, Sadiq Khan and Anas Sarwar were all at Rupert Murdoch's summer party with Rebekah Brooks, even though Starmer's campaign video for Labour Leader had made much of his prosecution of her, failing to mention that she had been acquitted.

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 I say again that on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and 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.


  1. The heat has fired you up.

  2. A 6.5% pay rise for teachers is still a 4.5% real terms cut.