Wednesday, 7 June 2017
This Existential Ideological Election: Don't Let Labour Turn Us Into Venezuela
All elections are important. Of course they are. But this one is vital in ways few of us could have imagined just a year ago as we approached that referendum. For starters nobody expected to be having an election this soon. It was hoped that by now Labour would have got its act together and dumped Chauncey from the leaders position meaning that the country was no longer in danger of having a Marxist fantasist and liar as its Prime Minister. For make no mistake, his election, foisted on us by the internal follies of the Labour Party, the vicissitudes of electoral fortunes and the cynicism and opportunism of the likes of the SNP would be a disaster.
It is of course perfectly true that the Conservative Party has fought an awful campaign. Theresa May, for all of her many virtues as a leader and a diligent and hard working Prime Minister, is not a charismatic politician. She became popular because the British people saw in her someone who is the opposite of the kind of smooth but insincere politicians they have become so heartily sick of. It is a pity therefore that she has fought the campaign so defensively. Certainly it was laudable that she tried to be honest with us about social care. But it has also made this campaign closer and more uncomfortable than it ought to have been. The only advantage will be that the complacency that led to this mistake means that none of us can be complacent about turning out and voting on Thursday.
The Labour leader has not had a good campaign either. It has been full of glaring errors, missteps, an inability to remember important figures, bogus arguments, tetchy answers to important questions and a complete blanking of inconvenient questions he doesn't like. His campaign has only been relatively successful because he has defied low expectations.
This blog and Video Diary has long called Jeremy Corbyn Chauncey. If you are unaware, this is the character, played by Peter Sellers in the film Being There, who is a simple gardener who speaks in homely platitudes born of the fact he is simple, uneducated and unworldly. He accidentally becomes President of the United States. In present circumstances it is no longer funny.
Though our own Chauncey is certainly not stupid, neither is he the great intellect he imagines himself to be. He is an unbending ideologue; a man who has never changed his mind about anything throughout his career and indeed refuses to acknowledge mistakes. He is attempting in this election to pass himself off as a genial, soft spoken purveyor of homely truths, peace and reasonableness. The benign and fairer form of government he would provide, he claims, would be a socialist paradise as promised so often in the past. Yet in his own and his colleagues past there have been many disturbing references to their true intent. This is why it is important to look at what they used to say before they thought they had the chance of actually governing, before they started telling lies to the British people.
Because when you do that you see the truth. You see that when he was first made leader he childishly refused to sing the national anthem at a service to commemorate our fallen servicemen and women. You see that Chauncey used to be the chairman of the Stop the War coalition, a hard left bunch of fantasists who think that all wars are the consequence of western arrogance and imperialism. You see that he is a lifelong believer in nuclear disarmament, a juvenile approach to a complex issue that ignores important facts in life. Nobody wants to use nuclear arms, of course we don't. But nuclear arms are retained and updated regularly precisely because our having them means that we and our enemies won't use them. They are a deterrent. They have successfully deterred now for 70 years. Why else would the likes of North Korea and Iran be urgently seeking to acquire them? Chauncey has said he accepts that retention of Trident is Labour Party policy. Yet at the same time he has also said that he would simply refuse to use them. So he is lying to the British people and ignoring the democratic policy of his party. But then he has spent his entire career as a Labour member doing that. He has famously voted against his own party in government over 400 times. That's what ideologues do. They should have thrown him out of the party. He has no place in the party, let alone as its leader.
It is why he backed the IRA and still refuses to condemn them despite their 1800 murders. He was not talking peace with them, he was backing them, supporting them and wishing them success. He was not involved in the Northern Ireland peace process and indeed voted against the Good Friday Agreement, seeing it as a surrender when he wanted and advocated complete victory. Someone genuinely seeking peace would talk to both sides. He not only just talked to one side, he supported them and cheered them on even as they bombed and murdered their way through the 70s and 80s, at one point trying to murder the entire British cabinet including the Prime Minister. What did Chauncey do? He invited Sinn Fein to parliament a few weeks later
Peace was achieved in Northern Ireland because the British state held out against terrorism and forced them to the negotiating table. It was one of the great successes of the last Labour government, but one in which Chauncey's contribution was zero. We see the same in his attitude towards the terrorists of the middle east, whom he has called friends and 'serious, hard working and they are not corrupt.' Again he only talked to one side. Again he refuses to apologise.
Again he refuses to condemn the anti-Semitism in his own supporters. It is entirely legitimate to be critical of the Israeli government and its policies. It is vile bigotry to tar all Israelis and all Jews with the same brush as many of Chauncey's supporters do. Chauncey has refused to do anything about them and still tolerates Ken Nazi Livingstone in the party. If he won the election Livingstone would likely be given a role in government.
Chauncey has spent his entire career adopting an ideological position and then never bending from it. It's why he would be so disastrous as a Prime Minister. Governing is about compromise. But for all Chauncey's talk about talk he only talks to one side and never bends let alone compromises. It is his way or no way. Look at his stance on immigration, something Labour has tried not to talk about. They would have an open door immigration policy, one that makes no sense from an economic or a security standpoint but is one that Chauncey has always believed regardless of facts or the opinions of voters. So that, as far as he is concerned, is that.
Government is about finding the middle way, of making difficult choices. Labour found this hard enough under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and went on a wild spending spree that we are still clearing up now. Chauncey seems to think that this will not apply to him, that he can go on another un-costed spending spree, another self indulgent trip down memory lane all paid for by shaking the magic money tree and taxing the rich. Theresa May is getting some criticism this week for her cuts to policing, although this has had little bearing on the terrorism issue as some allege. But the cuts to policing were made because other budgets were protected. The triple lock on pensions, funding for the NHS, schools budgets were protected and have grown. Opponents complain about austerity. Yet public spending has increased every year since 2010. Choices have to be made within budgets. That is what government is about. It is legitimate to now look again at policing and security budgets in the light of recent events. But a choice still has to be made. Money has to come from somewhere. The magic money tree is not an option.
Make the rich pay their fair share, says Chauncey. Yet they are. The top 5% of taxpayers in this country, the ones who earn the most, pay 47% of all income tax revenues. Putting their taxes up to even more punitive levels would either make them work less, take avoidance measures or take the ultimate avoidance measure and go and live somewhere else. It is a fact that when the top tax rate was cut from 50% to 45% it raised more money. So raising the upper tax rate is not about making the rich pay more, it is about politics and ideology.
The same goes for corporation taxes. Labour are operating in a make-believe world in which big companies have nowhere else to go. Our corporation tax rate makes us competitive in an ultra competitive world. This is even more important as we prepare to leave the EU. European countries like France would love to attract the big companies that have made Britain their home bringing huge investment and highly paid jobs to these shores. Raising corporation tax would not raise more money it would drive that money and the jobs abroad. Britain has a number of key advantages including our language, our culture, our benign environment for business, our adherence to the rule of law. Labour would begin undoing that at a stroke. They would erode our tax base. Britain is reliant on the revenues of the City of London to an uncomfortable degree. That is an issue that needs addressing. But you don't address it by driving City firms abroad. We need them. We rely on them. The City and services sector in general is what this country does well. We should encourage them to prosper not resent them and tax them. Taxes need to be cut along with regulations. Labour would do the opposite.
Chauncey would have as his Chancellor John McDonnell, an ideologue even more extreme than he is. McDonnell has joked about going back in time and killing Margaret Thatcher, the woman who did more to make Britain economically successful than any PM in recent history. McDonnell too was a friend of terrorists and takes an extreme view on economic issues and taxation. He wants huge tax rises, not as economic policy but as a policy of vengeance and class warfare. This is the ideology of idiots. Labour policies like punitive taxation on incomes and even on your back garden would cause a collapse in the pound, a collapse in the property market, rising unemployment and a deficit we would be unable to fund because people would stop lending to us. Britain has been remarkably economically successful these last few years. Unemployment is at record lows and at the point where we are at what economists term effective full employment. Labour would undo that within days of entering government. Given that they would only do so by being in league with the SNP and a few others, what other lunacy would they force through to get into power and stay there?
Actually we don't have to look too far. They have stopped talking about it now, but Chauncey's economic model for this country was Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, a country that has the world's largest proven oil reserves and yet has somehow contrived to turn their country into an economic basket case that can cannot feed people, is clamping down on dissent and has turned into yet another socialist dictatorship. Why do they always turn into dictatorships? Because they always ruin the economy, always create poverty and unemployment and then, instead of acknowledging their mistakes clamp down on dissent. If you doubt that Labour are capable of that look at the way they react to awkward questions. Look at their intentions with regard to continuing the Leveson inquiry and clamping down on the freedom of the press.
A Labour government would hit the pound, would lead to an increase in unemployment, would hit your private pension and would raise less in tax despite putting tax rates up. It would drive out high paying jobs, it would struggle to attract doctors and other professionals we need and would create a 1970s style brain drain again. Why do we get brain drains? Because taxes are too high and people vote with their feet. And their wallets. People don't see why they should work hard in order to hand over 50, 60 or 70% of their income to government. It is compulsory confiscation of earnings and it is morally wrong.
Labour's ideologues are trying to refight battles they lost in the 1970s and 1980s. They lost them for the very good reason that they were wrong. Why do they want to renationalise whole swathes of British industry? Ideology. Because, though some privatisations have not been as successful as we might have hoped, none have been as disastrous as public ownership was. Those who yearn for public ownership of the railways forget how awful British Rail was and ignore how London Underground is frequently brought to a standstill by strikes. This is Labour's recipe for whole swathes of our economy from railways to water. It is all born of a teenage resentment of the profit motive and yet ignores the unions protectionist instincts and luddite insistence on resistance to modernisation, new work practices, better productivity all of which lead to better services for us all. Private enterprise has created the technological world we all take for granted. It has delivered us the IT age, the internet, entertainment on demand, information on demand, same day shopping deliveries, instant communications. When the state was in charge of telecommunications there was a six month waiting list to get a phone and everyone had to have the same type of phone. Now we all carry phones around in our pockets and communicate for free with the other side of the world. All delivered by big businesses changing the world and giving us what we want whether or not we know that we want it. The socialist vision is to give you what they say you can have and if you don't like it: tough. Or worse.
Chauncey has proven clueless in running his own party, let alone the country; his reshuffles have been drawn out, chaotic and disastrous. The net result has been that he has Diane Abbott as his shadow Home Secretary, a woman who cannot add up, cannot remember basic facts about her own policy and who, like him, doesn't seem to like this country very much. Labour's spinners have been desperately trying to keep her out of the media so hopeless and clueless is she. Yet Chauncey would have her in charge of our security. There are legitimate questions that need asking about policing and budgets to counter terrorism for sure and in an election campaign they need to be asked. But we can be certain about one thing: Chauncey and Diane Abbott are not the people to answer them.
Chauncey is not a cuddly soft spoken avuncular figure who means well. He is a nasty reactionary zealot who hates this country and all it stands for, backs our enemies, backs terrorists and then poses as a man of peace to cover his past. His juvenile policies are born of class resentment and Marxist pedantry. He wants to turn back the clock and reverse the very policies that made this country governable and prosperous. Since the 1980s when the Thatcher reforms Chauncey resented began, GDP per head in the UK has nearly doubled. We remain a magnet for inward investment and for people to come and work. Our employment rate is now at 75%. All of this would be placed at risk by the ideology of people who never learn, never change, never compromise.
Britain needs competence, firmness and realism in the coming years as we negotiate Brexit, address the challenge of terrorism and continue to try and make Britain a fairer and more prosperous country. That will not be achieved by massive nationalisations, electoral bribes to students who don't want to pay for their own careers and huge and counterproductive tax rises. Every time such policies have been tried in the past, without exception, they have led to economic calamity, unemployment, poverty, national bankruptcy and even to violence and repression.
Britain has a great and prosperous future ahead of it, provided we make the right choice on Thursday. Theresa May is not a good campaigner. She is a woman who takes her time, considers things carefully and then makes her decision. She does not act off the cuff. She is a doughty and firm negotiator. She has tried hard during this election campaign to not make promises she cannot keep. They say we campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Theresa May has campaigned in prose too, often clunking and uninspiring prose. But lofty poetry is not what the country needs right now. It needs realism, hard work and determination. It also needs an open-mindedness and flexibility that the Labour leadership have shown themselves utterly incapable of. It is why they remain unfit for government and why Labour should be punished at the polls for having the temerity to offer them for election. Vote Conservative on Thursday. It is the only viable choice for these difficult times. It's not a romantic or inspiring message. But it is the truth.