The Film “I Daniel Blake” is a brilliant film for all the reasons that the makers did not intend.
For it shows, in my view, the mindset of the modern Labour voter: Daniel Blake is a regular working class hero. The people he interacts with are the same virtuous working class champions struggling nobly against the evil “in-the-process-of-being-privatised” system.
In short, Daniel Blake and his cast of characters are not real people, but idealised projections of what the middle class film makers imagine working class people to be. The film makers have, as is quite clear from watching the film, no understanding or interest in working class people at all.
And it is this mindset, so unwittingly captured in the film, that is at the core of modern Labour. They are now exclusively middle class and do not relate to, much less like, the people they imagine they represent.
In the minds of these particular middle class thinkers, working class people are simply concepts that allow a sense of moral virtue to be felt. When the concepts don’t conform to what is imagined, the same middle class people show nothing but contempt for the real people beneath the projected figurines, as the Guardian so frequently demonstrates.
My sense is that the only thing that will save labour is abandoning their ideological obsession with race, gender and Critical Theory, and focus on real issues like job creation, immigration control to protect low end wages, education, health, and national patriotism.
Keir Starmer shows no signs of doing any of this. Instead, he is doubling down on irrelevant issues to appease middle class Twitter mobs.
He and his party will therefore continue to be the second choice against the Tory’s. Which says a lot given how incompetent the Tory’s have shown themselves to be.
Beautifully put and I agree wholeheartedly with your view on the Ken Loach view of the working class.
I remember Loach once receiving a gong, it might have been for ‘I Daniel Blake’ and he had a real rant at people for not being more welcoming to the record number of asylum seekers entering the country at the time. The irony is that Loach lived in Bath at the time (if memory serves me right) which had the shame of not having housed a single Syrian refugee at that time, whereas the city who could boast being the most accomodating to Syrian refugees at that time was Bradford. Why do people like Loach gravitate to cities like Bath and not Bradford?
The Labour Party of today is summed up by Loach, ie. happy to preach and lecture the ‘normal’ people, but completely disconnected from what is really going on.
With the huge and disgusting differentials in wealth, the normalisation of dishonesty in government, a leader who isn’t fit to lead, and an economic model that needs seriously updating, there has never been a better time for a Labour Party victory, but this version of the Labour party is as worthy of an election victory as Boris Johnson is for winning the Man of Integrity Award 2022.
Thank you, I’d forgotten it was Ken Loach who was the chief culprit in the making of that film. His choice of residence, as you point out, comes as no surprise!
I don’t share Loach’s politics, but why the heck shouldn’t he live in Bath?
This sounds like a right wing version of the identitarian Left’s obsession with cultural integrity..
Because, Andrew, he spends a great deal of his life lecturing us on the merits of living with mass immigration that he himself is not willing to do. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
“the only thing that will save labour is abandoning their ideological obsession with race, gender and Critical Theory, and focus on real issues like job creation, immigration control to protect low end wages, education, health, and national patriotism.”
Yes, that is it in a nutshell. But is it in the political DNA of the current LINO lineup? If Starmer loses the next election, the most obvious contender for his job (Angela Rayner) is much worse.
At least with Rayner we’d get a laugh.
Yeah there always appears to be someone much worse waiting in the wings of the Labour party. The real opposition would be parties like Reform, Respect and UKIP etc. Why for the life of me can’t they unite and at least make a good opposition?
I dunno, she’s a lot more ‘authentic’ at least……
Ken Loach has long been the darling of the Islington fauxialist left. Despite – or perhaps because of – his insistence that accusations of anti-Semitism within Labour were fabricated and ‘weaponised to undermine the Corbyn Labour party’.
It’s hard to tell whether Ken is more Pro-Palestinian, or just anti-Israel. A few years ago, the BBC, Guardian and Indy all gave time and space to Ken to berate Radiohead for daring to play a concert in Tel Aviv. Having mounted his soapbox, he condemned the band insisting that they “only want to hear one side – the one that supports apartheid”. The hypocrisy was staggering – though wholly unsurprising. Ken went on to claim that the band chose “to stand with the oppressor rather than the oppressed”, but failed to mention that whilst he is happy to criticise any artist who has any commercial dealings with Israel or Israelis, that doesn’t actually stop him from releasing his own films there!
God forbid his much-publicised social conscience should stop him banking the money that his films have earned there. One has to wonder why his morals do not extend to cover his own work, only those of other artists?
Our Ken has form – for many years he’s been frightfully keen on suggesting how the rest of us ought to live our lives whilst steadfastly refusing to follow his own advice.
Witness his castigating people for flying and his campaigning against Heathrow expansion – not that that ever actually stopped him flying all over the world to accept awards and promote his movies. He has supported McDonald’s workers fight for higher wages and used his social media profile to encourage McStrikes – yet doesn’t mention he’s not averse to taking money off the nasty meat-is-murder capitalist company himself – when he filmed an advert for them some years back.
His tireless campaigns for a variety of causes always seem to chime with whichever film he is currently promoting. One has to ask whether his social conscience has a commercial motive?
For all his bleating about the plight of Palestinians, he seems to regard the victims of oppression differently – based on who is doing the oppressing.
Ken trumpeted his virtue about human rights abuses, by insisting no one should perform at Eurovision when it was held in Israel – but was there even a squeak from Ken and other useful idiots when Russia hosted Eurovision?
And how about human rights violations in Venezuela? There was widespread and global condemnation of Venezuelan security forces shooting dead civilians after anti-govt demonstrations in 2014. Dozens of the protest leaders were locked up and tortured. In 2015 Ken was front and centre as the keynote speaker of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – giving the regime support and legitimacy. Where were his principles then as a defender of opposition movements?
A man who calls for a boycott, castigates those who don’t follow his boycott – and then personally benefits from breaking the boycott himself – what should we call him? A national treasure? An artist? Confused? Or a steaming, canting hypocrite?
Sounds like a hypocrite to me and a typical champion of woke.
Thanks, that was an absolute tour de force.
My reaction to ‘I Daniel Blake’ was how wrong it was that a skilled worker, who had worked hard for years and paid into society, should have to jump through the same hoops when he became disabled in later life as a single mother who had been shipped in from somewhere else and never done a hand’s turn. Most working people believe that benefits should be based on contributions, not ‘needs’.
May be it is because we ship in the single mothers and benefit migrants that pot has nothing for those that have paid in all their lives when they need it
She had been shipped into Newcastle from the south of England. We’ve got enough spongers of our own in the North; the South can keep theirs.
In other words to please his woke class of people.
Labour sees their voters as the waster guy on ‘Shameless’.
It is said that allergies today are more widespread in large part because people are less exposed, especially as infants, to dust and dangerous germs and parasitic worms and other such nasties, so their immune systems being underworked become hyper-sensitive and over-react to what are for most fairly innocuous substances.
I think much of the wokery that preoccupies guilt-ridden moralising middle class people is analogous to this, and is a consequence of having little of real import to worry about or more genuinely serious causes to champion so they clutch at trivia.
Very well said.
As much as I admire Paul Embery, I think he is completely wrong about this. His line of argument parallels Jen Psaki’s remark that radical gender ideology is “not a kitchen table issue”. It is a wilful misreading of what concerns people most of all. As worthy as Embery’s economic turnaround might be, until Labour stops indulging ever smaller groups of fanatical activists, applying its own moral standards selectively depending on skin colour or religion, and flat-out denying what we all know to be true (that women are adult human females, not men in dresses), then no matter who the leader is, the party deserves to lose. Over and over again.
Their denial of what a woman is displays to all the madness within in it’s soul.
But that’s exactly what Embery is saying, and has been for some time. If labour want to be a serious electoral force again they need to concentrate on bread and butter issues such as housing and wages, while shelving all the culture war nonsense. However unfortunately there’s a large divide between those running the party and those who traditionally voted for it
Completely agree about housing, where the market is a rigged scandal. George Monbiot produced a policy that ran to 70 pages! Who is going to read that…
Even if Labour reshaped itself in the way Paul suggests, if they were still pretending not to know what a woman is I couldn’t vote for them. It’s the canary in the mine
Yep, I would vote for what Paul describes. But unfortunately even if Labour did offer what he describes, I wouldn’t vote for them because I don’t trust their activists not to continue to bring about the destruction of all community in this country.
Labour supporters spent the first half of the pandemic arguing, “You see – there is a magic money tree!” when Rishi was splashing the cash .
But the election is still a couple of years away and we have plenty of time to suffer the consequences of this profligacy.
They also spent the whole two years arguing for harsher lockdowns.
Austerity? (you mean in the Cameron era?)
That wasn’t austerity.
You ain’t seen nothing yet.
As it was said in another article, “Covid has just begun!”
My father was a fireman. Fireman are sensible people – of neccesity. But c’mon: How on earth can a party promote the concept of a family wage, when it is frightened to admit that one of the lynchpins of a family – a woman – can have an objective reality?
I tore up my ballot paper at the last election and can see no reason to deviate from my new found freedom.
A family wage would be a brilliant policy, for all the reasons no party will ever advocate it.
It’s interesting to think about the companion question to “what does party X stand for?” – “what do I want to vote for?” As in, can you sum up your desired end state for the country at the end of the next parliament in a single sentence?
It’s surprisingly tricky, but I think mine would be something like: “It should be possible and normal for a married couple to raise their three children, in a home that they own, on one median full-time salary.” By that standard no party’s doing particularly well to get my vote.
It is an appalling policy. Girls need to be educated and encouraged to be self supporting and not to breed.
You are being sarcastic I take it?
Absolutely and most definitely not. There are far too many idle women and useless children as it is. Why should employers fund more?
Always nice to hear from the Rt Hon. Member for Dickens’s London!
Women have that choice. Nobody is compelled to reproduce. But the facts of biology are the facts. I say that as a woman who has had a career and a child, but who was almost felled by the stresses of trying to combine these as a single parent, and whose child suffered even more. Having children is the most important and fulfilling thing most of us ever get the chance to do. It is to feminism’s detriment that it does not recognise this or attempt to address the issues it raises.
I don’t believe Tom ever said the man had to be the breadwinner, merely that families should be able to have a comfortable existence on a single full time wage. That could mean the mother working and dad staying home with the kids could it not?
Indeed I didn’t, quite deliberately! Nor as it happens did I specify the couple need be heterosexual; if we get to the world I describe, that’s a victory in my book whether or not some of those married couples are gay! And of course, by definition 49.999…% of those working full time will be earning less than the median salary anyway. Nothing wrong with both parents juggling part-time hours, or having 1 or 2 kids instead of 3, or renting because they aren’t in a position to buy, if that’s the best option in their circumstances.
So I’m far from saying “get women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, while men go out and do men’s work.” But it should be our priority as a country, and would be the priority of the hypothetical party I’d most want to vote for, that setting up a family with one parent devoting most of their time to childcare but wihout a constant feeling of financial precarity, not be unusual.
Women do not want to be dependent on men, who are largely selfish and unreliable. A great many don’t want to live with them. If employers were expected to pay ‘a family wage’, they would find a way of paying women and childless men less. Probably you think that would be acceptable. I don’t. People should be paid for the job that they do, regardless of the number of economically inactive people they are keeping.
People who support this appalling, regressive, misogynistic, homophobic idea will say that they are opposed to ‘gender’ ideology, but telling women that all they should want is to have children and be dependent on a man is also ‘gender’ ideology. The misogyny of the Right and Left go hand in hand.
Did you read Tom’s reply or is this a prepared rant against a straw adult male?
Don’t hide your lights under a bushel.
I agree. The tories are semi woke as well.
That’s the way it used to be. When I first married in 1976 house prices had been fairly stable and my husband’s salary was enough. We sold 10 years later for twice the price, still manageable.. Once two incomes were taken into account the prices rose fast so you needed two incomes to be able to buy.
Interest rates were above 10% in 1975 and remained that way until the late 90s. (I was paying 16.5% for a while in the early 90s) Since 2010 they have flatlined at near-zero.
Just one of the factors fuelling house-price inflation but can’t be ignored.
That era ended 40 years ago.
What an advance it has been that both parents now need to work in order to support a family but still struggle to afford a home
Who actually benefited?
Such economic change if not taken to extremes and laudable as some aspects of it may be, will not appeal to the electorate unless accompanied by respect and support for the family, the community and the nation and most of all the working man ( and woman ! ) as well as abandonment of all labour’s huge number of wokist policies and abandonment of support for unsustainable mass immigration.
You missed out that Corbyn is an IRA supporting Jew obsessed nutter. That might thrill Islington and the universities but perhaps not the sane people in the UK.
As in the USA the left have been feeding our school children for decades while we have been looking the other way. Now we will pay a heavy price unless we are willing to drastically deal with it by roooting out those left wing destroyers and providing a mass expose of it.
Funnily enough Embery wasn’t endorsing Corbyn the man, merely pointing out that some of his more sane economic proposals at the last election were reasonably popular. If Starmer used some of them as a base to build from, and did away with all the pointless culture war stuff he would likely now have a healthy lead in the polls
But he only achieved leadership through his extreme positions mobilising militant factions. And nobody I knew among Labor supporters, which is practically everyone I know who isn’t rabid SNP, had a problem with that until he was crushed in the 2019 election. Up til then, they were still thinking “one more push” would get their man over the line and would n’t hear a word against him.
Yes, perhaps ‘Corbynomics’ had some popular policies, and still would even today. But – a key question for the Labour Party – are there enough of the electorate, in the right places, to vote for a Party that proposes them? It’s not enough for a few ex-industrial constituencies to vote for such a party if the numbers don’t work in other more middle class constituencies.
The Labour Party’s problem is that when they turn towards attracting the support of the middle class constituencies they lose support in the ex-industrial ones, and vice versa.
Paul E usually gets it right on Labour. This is really foggy and almost naive. First – he is supportive of ‘neo Keynsianism’. A posh word for catastrophic economic mismanagement which is the reason for the massive grinding tax burden bearing down on growth and the poor. No mention of QE and the prior unstable asset booming macro economic conditions which made a monster crash inevitable even before the Covid Lock magic money tree. Labour were even more aggressive than the Tories in demanding the total suffocation of the economy. All such advocates of hard lockdown and the crazed authoritarian reaction (where were our human rights Keir?) will in time be seen as the agents of our ruin. Labour has been exposed as the party not of the nation nor middle class but of divisive metro identitarians and as the servant of the vast WFH public sector and unions only. Keir and Rachel still show utter indifference to the plight of the SME and enterprise culture. They really do not like wealth creators!! They similarly show zero imagination with their bossy groupthink Net Zero virtue signalling. Constantly wailing tax BP! & attacking Rishi for his wealth shows that the spirit of class envy and animus toward capitalism still lives and breath in his party. The chancer Boris has – incredibly – stolen 90% of Labours and Corbyn’s clothes – NHS worship? Big State, Big Spend – and will suffer for it. But all Keir can offer is meek knee bending confusion on identity and a shallow cocktail of pro public sector think & class envy. There is no distinct economic policy. Its all so shallow and indequate. It will be rolled over by the tsunami of the Reckoning. This is why the polls are not shifting. We see right through him.
This is a splendid essay in many ways but it entirely misses the point.
Labour is in deep, existential trouble because it is rightly perceived as the party of the smug middle-class mainly (but not entirely) public sector Left; the white collar town-hall technocrats, the non-STEM teachers and lecturers, the middle-to-upper echelon civil servants, etc. Theirs is an ideology (“woke” in many respects) which just does not resonate with the often extremely hedonistic lifestyles of the working class. The extreme hedonism is a symptom of the failure of successive governments to recognise that globalism is extremely unpopular (in a nutshell, those in their twenties and thirties know they’ll probably never be able to afford to buy a house, so they might as well get hammered and enjoy themselves), to say the least.
But to embrace that in the form of policy would mean Labour walking away from “bend-the-knee” identity politics, from doubling down on nonsensical Green policies which are going to further impoverish the working and lower middle class taxpayers, to recognise just how deeply unpopular virtually uncontrolled immigration is (whether legal or not). They would have to come to terms with the popularity of Brexit amongst the voters of the “red wall” constituencies. It would mean that they would, in effect, position themselves to the right of the Tories.
It’s not Corbynism they need to disavow- it’s just about everything else they’ve come to embody. Can you imagine Starmer doing that? Think back to the Covid lunacy and how he revealed himself to be a pompous, scolding, stiff-necked little fart in his dealings with the pub landlord in Bath. Nah- he’s a miserable, bequiffed, Camden Town/Islington middle class trendy from top to toe. So, not Starmer.
The task facing the “not-Starmer” is this: you’re going to have to position your party so that it’s on the side of the average bloke, and be convincing about it. That means you’re going to have to really, really upset James O’Brien.
Can you see that happening any time soon? Because I can’t.
…as a patriotic resident of this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, I am perfectly happy to vote either Red Tory or Blue Labour, and I would be pleased to see the economic proposals described above properly explored…but I cannot and will not EVER vote for a Party which all too obviously hates my Country, it’s history, values and institutions…as well as most of the people who live here that actually value them.
Labour shows no sign whatsoever of loving this Country…unless they are supported in changing it so much that it becomes a completely different Country. It’s no longer “The Economy, Stupid”…for most of us it is the Culture War…and We, and Labour…are on different sides.
Just to clarify: Ireland is not in the UK.
“And one day, God willing, the whole of Ireland” Partridge.
Apologies…typed in haste…the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. No offence (nor annexation!) intended…
“It’s a moment for the party to display again its historical radical impulse”
That would be a gamble. Australia is in the midst of a federal election campaign, and after 10 years of conservatives we could expect a desire for change. I think it’s fair to say that most people aren’t enthusiastic about any of the major parties.
Last time, Labor went to that election with some proposals for small increases of taxes that would mainly affect the investing class. Not much, and the polls predicted they would win, but they lost. I suspect that if things are going fairly well, most people won’t vote for change, especially tax increases. Things need to be obviously not working for voters to look for a paradigm change.
So this time Labor is offering practically no change, and the election result may come down to the formidable campaigning skills of the PM, rather than exciting policy differences. Australia used to have a ‘family wage’ – it started with a court decision in 1907 which decided that the basic, minimum wage should meet ‘the normal needs of the average employee, regarded as a human being living in a civilised community … set at a level which would supposedly allow an unskilled labourer to support a wife and three children, to feed, house, and clothe them’. That was how it was when I was growing up – a decent basic wage. All seems very quaint now.
Labor went to the last election not promising “some small increases in taxes” but destruction of jobs, in Queensland particularly, to pander to their green wing.
They, and you, also seem to forget that “the investing classes” are the majority of Australians not on the state payroll who have private pensions or superannuation.
The only way to counter this is to put more people on the state payroll which certain state premiers have been busy doing. So it may work for Labor.
‘… our long-neglected productive sector — the real economy in which most people live and work…’
If by ‘the productive sector’ and ‘the real economy’ we mean manufacturing industry, it has been many, many years since most people lived and worked there. Has the Labour party noticed this? I ask because, if not, it may explain why their economic policies still seem to be rooted in the 1970s.
I proffer a new word for Starmer .. a “Procrasturbator”….
What Paul Embery and the other political commentators of the day are getting wrong is its no longer a left right debate – Boris has become a closet leftie in many aspects of policy anyway.
The modern divide is more akin to town versus country (but not in the old fashioned 1970 way) – Urban Liberal versus Provincial Realist – its the same in France … everyone trying to work out why a so called “Far Right” candidate is close to winning a Brexit style victory
All the commentators want to see the world in terms of the old left right divide – but both left and right have been overtaken by an Urban Liberal core that Provincial voters no longer identify with.
Farage type politicians are the only ones cutting through to that new grouping – its not that important if they are right or left – or indeed how far to the right or left they are …. what matters is do they exist in a purely urban liberal bubble or can they express ‘politically incorrect’ views that most voters actually agree with.
To cite Bojo as the first Prime Minister to break the law is absurd. Lloyd George? Disraeli? Ramsay MacDonald? And a fixed penalty ticket is hardly law breaking; how many PM’s and cabinet ministers have been done for fixed penalty speeding fines and parking offences? And what about whats’er’name in Scotland this week; let off by her own police force?
There are good reasons why Boris should not be PM for much longer, but breaking the law is not one of them. And letting the other lot in is a good reason why he should keep the job.
While I sympathise with Paul Embery’s aim of redressing the power imbalance between capital and labour, I can’t help wondering whether his policy remedy of spending more money would not, in the present circumstances, just lead to spiralling inflation and increased cost of servicing government debt. This would be counterproductive and lead to spending retrenchment and more poverty. A focus on improving productivity (encouraging investment over dividend payouts for example) would be a more fruitful policy objective.
I don’t understand what he is proposing other than a nationalised, centrally controlled economy, which I’m unaware has worked before? If he really wants what he says, I’d start with a set of policies promoting fracking and a huge investment in renewable energy, coupled with a land tax and an aggressive stance on stopping inheritance tax avoidance.
How can Embery (a writer I normally admire greatly for his honesty and clarity of thought) possibly advocate for more government spending using newly-printed money? Doesn’t he realise that this is the direct cause of the cost-of-living crisis, and the impoverishment of those who don’t own assets such as property or equity?
The mechanism is simple – supply and demand. When governments print money to spend it, the supply of money increases, and so the value of money goes down. In particular, it goes down relative to things of which the supply is more limited (land, houses, natural resources) leading to the prices of those things increasing, exactly as we’ve seen over the last 30 years or more.
Conversely, those who do not have assets but rely on their salaries – working people, in other words – see the value of their salaries, in real terms, decrease. To remedy that we’d need to see salaries increase in proportion to the amount of new money circulating in the economy, but that doesn’t happen because of additional downwards pressure on salaries caused by globalisation (for goods) and immigration (for services).
So Embery has the right diagnosis, but his prescription would make things far worse.
Sooner or later this excess money will need to be pulled out of the economy, or at least the creation of yet more excess money will need to pause while the real economy catches up. This will inevitably lead to deflation of asset prices, and in the prices of goods imported from overseas, both of which will have consequences of their own. Yet I can’t see any other way out of this.
A good straight forward and understandable analysis – thank you.
My hard left labour friend said to me when I pointed out that economies would be crushed by lockdowns, that people would just roll up their sleeves and build the economy again.
I do agree about bringing back manufacturing away from China, but I’m not sure that this sort of Trumpism would appeal to labour voters?
I used to be a Lib Dem member but could not stir myself to support a second referendum. I’m in the political wilderness. I’ll vote Labour but only if I see evidence of a desire to what’s being hinted at in Paul’s piece. There is a real opportunity for Labour to capture a huge swath of voters who are in the centre and where history tells us, elections are won.
If the left of the party accept there is a significant chunk of the electorate who feel lost and would class themselves as either left or centre or centre, then a bold vision with no mention of neo-liberalism but instilling patriotic values, fairer redistribution etc, well that could lead to people returning to Labour in their droves.
Blair himself is toxic, Corbyn himself seems to stoke varying emotions in the broad church of Labour. But I personally liked various aspects of both their domestic and economic agendas. Why do we have to be so tribal. Life is complicated and nuanced.
If Labour Party members or strategists are reading this, check out a book called ‘non violent communication’. It may just help you win the next election. Stop squabbling with each other, make sure you all feel heard and understood and go and speak to us. There’s millions of us impatiently waiting to hear what you plan for us in the lead up to the next general election.
I’m personally not looking to see what Labour have planned for us but I get the point that we can be too tribalist which saves us thinking too hard. Just put your cross on red or blue. I am a great believer in voting for the best person not for the best colour. Surely that is how politics started off. I have a blue MP but cannot vote for her as she represents the woke element within the tories.
First thought on what Starmer can learn from Corbyn was ‘nothing’. As for a criminal PM how dare these lefty types forget about the bloodshed in Iraq after a certain PM and his attack dog Campbell lied about WMD?
10.3 million people give or take a few fraudulent postal votes from the RoP and double voting by students went to Corbyn. General comment would not give Starmer that level of support. He only offers more of the same with minor ‘tweaks’ like an invasion of refugees and removal of investment incentives, oh, and realignment with the EU in their favour, again.
A fine article by PE of course, but face it, the problem is more fundamental. If the Labour Party were a person, you would, in the words of the lovely Lana Del Rey, tunefully proclaim:
“… Youuuuuu are unfixxxxxxxxaaaaaabbbblllllle….”
Why the Youtube? It’s just an irrelevant song to the subject. I’ve just wasted five minutes.
You are on the internet, posting below the line in the middle of the day, and you’re gonna complain about wasting five minutes?!!?
“ Corbynomics amounted to little more than the type of Keynesian interventionist approach which was adopted by every British government for three decades after the end of the Second World War, “
Has Mr Embery forgotten that 30 years after the end of WW2 was 1977. I remember these times and the UK was widely seen as “The Sick Man of Europe”. The “Winter of Discontent” was 1978-79. History teaches us that these policies lead to ruine. The country did not recover untill years of pain whilst Thatchers modernisation policies worked their way through after her win in the 1979 election. All in all I can’t see any benefit to Labour in going down this path, it will just lead to hardship.
“The pandemic revealed dangerous flaws in globalisation — from supply chains and Britain’s missing industrial base. Our over reliance on global markets was utterly exposed. Voters understand all of this.”
Er … do we?!?
UK is a trading nation. Hopefully some voters still understand that.
The Labour party, like the Conservative party, and indeed the whole of nu britn has been hi-jacked by the urban petit bourgeois who have one particular trait in ( excuse the pun) common, aside from appalling dress sense and whiney ” reound veowel seound” accents….. no feeling, understanding, care or respect for of of industrial working class people.
The problem with the “Family Wage” is that it depends on families and families come in different shapes and sizes and there is not a “one size fits all” model to be had. 2 Parents 2 children is the usual, would that mean a family with 3 children would be regarded as being profligate and only 1 child as undeserving? And what about Grandma or mother’s child from a previous relationship? A Lesbian couple with an adopted child. This way madness lies. Surely the job of Trade Unions is to push for the best wage they can get not the one that a couple with two children can live off?
The only serious weakness, after all of the post-war welfare state was that it took “the family” as its basic unit. Mr Embery is probably not old enough to remember the point at which family allowance or child benefit moved from a tax allowance paid to the father to a cash benefit usually paid to the mother; it was not welcomed by some trade unions! If Embery was around at the time he would probably have described that move as “Wokery” About the only thing I would give the Thatcher Government credit for was the way, over a period of time it shifted the unit from the “family” to the “individual” with regard for tax, benefits and Pensions.
The welfare state I grew up in (I was born in 1952) probably was the most benign in history when Child Allowance was roughly the cost of having a child, Unemployment Benefit was paid for over 6 months and at a big proportion of your earnings and the pension was sufficient to live on so that people did not need to accumulate capital in their working lives. This had the effecting of freeing poorer people from fear (the title of a book by Bevan that Embery should read was “In Place of Fear”) and once fear was removed they spend money buying goods and services which grew the economy. The easiest way not to achieve that is by some form of Universal Basic Income, that is the idea whose time has now come.
You can’t legislate for all eventualities, but you can work on averages. I don’t think it’s too unreasonable for a worker on the median wage to expect to be able to own a basic family home and raise 2 or 3 children. The fact this isn’t possible for most means either wages are too low or the cost of living is too high
My kind of leftism exactly. Insisting the monopolies of utilities should should be in private hands was one of the most egregious fiats of neoliberalism. Trouble with current left thinking is the total divorce from the traditional concerns listed in this piece in favour of cultural progressivism.
“But ask yourself what the party actually does, and the answer pops up instantly.”
It does woke fascism.
Corbyn’s biggest error was abandoning his well established Bennite opposition to the EU imperial project.
Well the problem is that there is a magic money tree, but its not necessarily a good idea to use it. During the recently ended era of imported deflation, QE and cheap debt has been used to excess and has completely undermined any idea of sound money. This has now resulted in uncontrollable inflation and a cost of living crisis which will be ruinous. This has happened in the US, the UK and the Euro zone alike.
Politicians often talk about the undemocratic power of the market, while at the same time constructing their programs on the basis of debt purchased from those very markets. As incredible as the Labour party clearly are, the Conservatives, once the party of sound money, have now burnt their reputation for economic management.
I believe we will need new political parties and a new international monetary system, but not until after a long period of chaos and decline.
So true. The plane has hit. The building is on fire. But the collapse has not yet come. The staggering truth is – our entire political class have surrendered to shallow groupthink and cower under the complexity of modern life. Parties are almost irrelevant as Boris and Keir both dance jerkily like puppets to the tune set by the Quangos and technocrats whom Blair surrendered levers of power too. Net Zero is a prime example of quasi religious fervour they signed up to blindly. No one argued against the hardcore suffocation of the economy and obliteration of our human rights in lockdown. All let globalism rip. They all have now played the same cards…big state NHS worship and obsession with identity, all fiddling while Rome burns. I just cannot see any new parties emerging with fresh agendas. Blairs revolution in law and governance sits too heavy. The duffusion of power to inadequate technocrats like the inflation bunglers at BoE or useless PHE has made pygmies of not just parliamentarians..but even the executive.
The borrower is servant to the lender in the long run. Proverbs 22:7
A dose of common sense. Doubtless it will be ignored.
“With Number 10 now housing the first sitting Prime Minister to break the law,”
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Cough. Wheeze.
So the suggestion is, ‘we create money out of nothing and increase wages so that a family needs but a single earner’.
If a company was essentially forced to pay double wages to facilitate this, no goods created could be sold as they would be far more expensive than imported goods.
Alternatively, if wages were artificially increased via printed state money, our inflation would rapidly become unmanageable for the same reason as above, i.e. goods would be more expensive to create. We would therefore rely entirely on imported goods and would soon have high unemployment, zero exports AND hyperinflation.
These mistakes would repeat the problems of the past to catastrophic effect, probably WW3 given present world tensions.
The present crisis is predicted to lower living standards by 6 to 8% over the next 18 months before things begin to improve (dependent possibly on Ukraine not spiraling out of control). This will take living standards back to around 2012 not to the Dark Ages.
All present problems are due to excess borrowing during Covid. Borrowing more would not solve anything. We have to take our medicine whilst helping the worst hit. There is nothing intrinsically broken about the economic model.
To get things in perspective, When we all have heat pumps we will have to get used to a home temperature of about 17C, Most people keep houses at 20-21C and turning down to 17C would cover the increased heating costs. Also, a £100 shopping basket would only buy what £96 would buy a year ago, so eat a bit less, cut out the sweets and biscuits.
Help the poorest and everyone else get a grip. Be a bit more careful with cash. Wear a jumper at home more often and cut he rubbish from the diet.
”Labour was, for instance, right under Corbyn to declare that austerity was not an economic necessity but a political choice”.This is an empirical point. It needs to be justified with data – not mere assertion. It might be correct but I rather doubt it. Certainly previous efforts in the implied course of action have not covered themselves in glory. Governments do have greater flexibility with their spending than ordinary households, but there is no cornucopia and the chickens nearly always come home to roost. I suppose that, if we tried out Mr Embery’s approach we might be pleasantly surprised. We might also end up in the same fix as did Labour governments in the 70s. I would advise a surplus of caution and an abundance of further analysis.
What, exactly, were the failed Thatherite policies you speak of?
Maybe that workers wages as a percentage of the countries earnings has plummeted since the 80’s, while asset prices have soared creating a new category of the working poor. Productivity has flatlined, and the privatised public services are neither cheap or efficient and still reliant on billions of pounds of taxpayer money to function
But that’s nothing to do with Thatcherism; in fact it’s a direct result of excessive government spending and, in particular, the sort of money-printing that Embery seems to be advocating. See my longer reply below.
Do the decline of workers wages as a percentage of business earnings just happened to coincide with Thatchers policies? The exact same thing happened in NZ when Roger Douglas copied the policies of Thatcher, wages and productivity stagnated while asset prices skyrocketed, and I’d wager the same process began in the States under Reagan. This to my implies it’s the Thatcherist policies that are the cause personally
Because business was being crushed by pre-Thatcher policy. Percentage-thinking is a dead end here.
Workers’ earnings didn’t decline after 1980 – they rose sharply, along with businesses, as normally happens in a prosperous economy.
Paul Embury is always an interesting writer. But if he thinks we can by simple act of will, conjure up a welfare state nirvana, then he is sadly misinformed. Does he, or does he nor, believe that taxes should be substantially increased, (and, no, taxing the likes of Amazon etc, even if we could do it, won’t do the job) for the majority of people in this country? If so, then at least the numbers start to add up. We already have the highest level of peace time taxes for decades and, now, increasing inflation is returning as well.
Scandinavian countries have in recent decades been rather going in the opposite direction. If pure will was enough to instate a social democratic paradise, we might have accomplished it in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s.
“Corbynomics amounted to little more than the type of Keynesian interventionist approach which was adopted by every British government for three decades after the end of the Second World War”. Of course! That’s why the UK was such an economic powerhouse through those three decades.
we had higher rates of economic growth from 1950 -1980 than we have ever sustained since
“It would mean elevating the needs of our long-neglected productive sector … over those of finance.” Very true. However under both Miliband and Corbyn Labour was not interested in production but only consumption.
Does “working class” even exist anymore? Is any one “upper class” ? Maybe its time to get rid of these obsolete definitions.
You are right about Keynsian economics, but absolutely wrong about the ‘family wage’. We need fewer idle women and fewer children, not more. The jobs traditionally done by women, such as care workers, are the ones in which there are desperate shortages. We need care homes run by the public sector with staff on proper wages and contracts, with pension provision. We also need rejuvenated Sure Start centres which emphasise family planning, responsibility, healthy food and outdoor exercise, and childcare provided for working parents.
Girls need to be educated out of ‘the family’, not told that it is their only destiny.
What’s the weather like, back there in 1900?
What about those girls who develop that human urge and instinct to have a family, Caroline? Sounds a little draconian and drastic to me. So, you see no primary place or function for the concept of family in the future…?
No. There is nothing ‘natural’ about the nuclear family. It was created in the industrial revolution to service the needs of capitalism. Before that people lived in extended families with the younger people of both sexes working on the land or the family business and the older people looking after the children. That is how many working class families live today; they just don’t live in the same house as their relatives.
We don’t need unintelligent children. The working class should be discouraged from breeding.
Wow, you should have your own reality TV show.
As a fellow member I agree with much of the sentiment of this. My overall feeling is one of frustration. However, I think something more needs to change than just Labour re-discovering its supposedly ‘radical’ past (it would never have been elected if it had been that ‘radical’.)
The self-parodying ridiculousness of the current ‘Nasty-Party’-government is absurd but the dread that they will be re-elected won’t go away. This cannot be ‘Labour’s fault’ for not coming up with a Big Idea at this point in time. Yes, were there an election tomorrow the Tories would lose dozens of seats and the ‘Convict’ would probably have to accept the verdict: Walk. But in 18 month’s time, with the connivance of much of the media, so many would still be won over by Johnson. That after all must be the strategy now: many people will have forgotten – stay put.
Personally I still want to be involved, or at least have an informed interest in politics (it is my ‘duty’ as a citizen of a Democracy) but the current display of what is supposed to be the ‘best’ of us is demoralising. It was not always ‘ever thus’. Not all representatives aspired to be heroic statesmen but I am sure many more had the nation’s interest at heart – they were public servants. The contemporary attitude of expecting privilege and power, with a salary of £84,000 plus expenses, of course changes calculations and notions self-interest.
Starmer, for all his shifting and contrived ‘hard-man’ persona does at least represent something ‘decent’. That has to be enough for these times; to get back to normality.