With the general election looming near there is an increasing sense of urgency from the major parties in rapidly outlining their positions to begin canvassing votes – especially if your name is Jeremy Corbyn. As ever, the importance of the economy in political discourse is significant, particularly in the turbulent and uncertain times forecast ahead. What many are calling for is stability. However, for a party still licking the wounds of a divisive leadership contest and infighting rife over various key issues including Brexit and its financial repercussions, defense spending on Trident and how to ‘save’ the NHS, Theresa May’s announcement, arguably, couldn’t have come at a worse time for Labour.
What many are calling for is stability
The all-too-hollow statement from Corbyn welcoming ‘the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’ only added insult to injury; having the look of a weather-beaten old man one can only hope he inserts more vigour into campaigning. The looming threat of Yvette Cooper and her statements of Corbyn’s ‘bad economics’ being ‘not credible’ will surely only add to Corbyn’s woes and sow deeper the seeds of discord amidst party lines
Indeed, his approval rating of 17% lags far behind Mrs May’s 45%, and a large portion of this corresponds to the public’s trust in him leading the country in such financially unstable times. Combine this with his party trailing 13% behind the Tories and it is a bleak picture painted for those on the left. Bleaker still is that this all followed the supposed ‘Easter Policy Blitz’; a set of wide-ranging, generalised goals with little specifics, economically nor socially. What seems a last resort has led the party to abandon traditional political promises (that is; statement and proposed action with firm plans) and instead to suggest broad statements hoping to capture some floating votes. This can only suggest one question – How desperate are Labour?
[Corbyn’s] approval rating of 17% lags far behind Mrs May’s 45%
Whilst we have recently seen the ‘successes’ populist agendas can bring, there comes a point whereby playing to the crowds undermines coherent policy. In other words, the quick support gained from a fantastical promise lasts only as long as it takes a rational human to realise its tangible limitations, and as such the supposed support is as fickle as Theresa May’s previous position on calling this election.
Corbyn’s recent words, harking back to the financial crisis of 2007-2009, were aimed at undermining the system as a whole; proclaiming ‘how dare they crash the economy with their recklessness and greed, and then punish those who had nothing to do with it?’ By differentiating between ‘the true wealth creators, held back by a system rigged for the wealth extractors’, his socialist tendencies are clear for all to see (let us ignore his earnings of over £110,000 for 2015/6). However, this is a tune few want to dance to, and epitomises the proverbial broken-record so associated with Corbyn.
his socialist tendencies are clear for all to see (let us ignore his earnings of over £110,000 for 2015/6)
Hence why the ‘Easter Policy Blitz’ has failed miserably, instantly becoming lost in the background hubbub of Westminster and political chatter of the Six o’Clock news. The idealistic claim of Labour’s so-called blitz to ‘end the gender pay gap’ is with admirable intentions but short on actual methodology. The commitment to ‘ban firms in tax havens bidding for government contracts’ is simple to say but far more complex to implement. With huge amounts of capital resting upon such deals, the value of the investment of private equity into governmental projects is more crucial than ever to continued growth and economic stability.
idealistic claim of Labour’s so-called blitz to ‘end the gender pay gap’ is with admirable intentions but short on actual methodology
Increasing the minimum wage to £10 an hour surely sounds a genius plan, but how will it be accomplished when there is an ongoing discussion regarding the cost of living, the outdated Tory pledge of a ‘living wage’ lingering (the wage that is forecast to still be sub-£9 by 2020), and increasing polarisation between corporations and employees? (‘We will build a big wall’, anyone?). The issue is not with the commitments but the foundation upon which they have been made, and that is to say, none.
Ultimately what was meant to kick-start a radical campaign has in fact handicapped even more so a confused and disjointed party, and fuels questions over both the credibility and accountability of the leadership, and the economic repercussions such an election would have. Mixed messages on Brexit, Trident and the nature of the economy is only convoluting an already complex debate. Rather than offering more false promises, aimed at attracting fickle votes, Mr Corbyn is far better outlining a detailed and select few measures that will prove not only intent but also confirm the ability to carry them out.
Mixed messages on Brexit, Trident and the nature of the economy is only convoluting an already complex debate
Although the rough outline commonly suggested by Jeremy Corbyn is an ‘investment-led economy that restores pride to every economy’, this again features such general goals and could mutate, as Yvette Cooper put it, into ‘private finance on steroids.’ By making the debate a pro-Labour rather than anti-Tory, or worse still pro-Corbyn, there still holds hope for the salvage of an already near-lost battle – especially facing the Conservative campaign of ‘strong and stable leadership.’ However, time is far from on the side of any party, and least of all Labour.
Whilst this has all sounded vehemently anti-Corbyn it purely mirrors general consensus as outlined in recent polls, and reflected in the turbulent year for Labour in 2016. Although the situation seems to be playing directly into Mrs May’s hands there is a worry for anyone who supports democracy, regardless of personal beliefs and allegiances. Democracy demands a working opposition; should Labour’s bid for No. 10 fail, let us hope and pray they can at least fulfil that function for the next five years should the polls hold and the Tories gain an unscalable majority. They owe the country that much.