Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Balls to 'PLAN B'

Len McCluskey says: the Alternative is 'Austerity Apocalypse'!

MONTHS ago Ed Balls, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, was asked by John Humphies on the Radio 4 Today Program what was his 'Plan B'? Ed Balls asserted: 'Everyone needs a "Plan B": the E.U. needs a "Plan B"; the USA needs a "Plan B"!' It was no answer at all.

Yet now, we know that for Ed Balls 'Plan B' is, in reality, 'Plan A', the same as the governing Coalition Government and yesterday the political editor of The Guardian wrote: 'Balls believes he has to reassure an electorate that his support for a short-term Keynesian stimulus to kick-start growth now does not mean that he thinks cuts are avoidable later.'

On Monday, Len McCluskey, the Unite union General Secretary, commenting in The Guardian on Mr. Balls and the Labour Party, wrote: 'The political elite that was united in promoting the City-first deregulation policies that led to the crash is now united in asserting that ordinary people must pick up the tab for it.' He thinks this takes us back to effectively a 'National Government', such as existed in 1931 under Ramsay MacDonald. What troubles Mr. McCluskey now is what has troubled anarchists in England: 'The real points of differentiation between Labour and the government on the economy are now very hard to identify ...' Mr. McCluskey expresses surprise that neither Ed Balls or Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party, bothered to 'consult with the trade unions' before announcing its new open approach to 'austerity'.

Mr. McCluskey, formerly a clerk on Liverpool docks, clearly believes that the trade unions are being treated like poor relations by the Labour leadership of Miliband and Balls, and that the City is in full charge of navigation of the economy. Of Ed Miliband, McCluskey writes: 'His leadership has been undermined as he is dragged back into the swamp of bond market orthodoxy.' Earlier last year, I claimed on this Northern Voices' Blog that the Labour Party had outlived its mission as a radical party of social change. Its demise as a party was only delayed temporarily by Tony Blair's skills as a devious politician when he seemed to create a new mission under the label of 'New Labour'. What is now happening may come as a surprise to McCluskey, but even he does not explain how the Labour Party, as a properly constituted parliamentary party, can get us out of 'the swamp of the bond market orthodoxy', nor indeed, has the Keynesian economist Robert Skidelsky or anyone else so far as I'm aware.

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