The last thing Labour needs is its own ‘Tea Party’….
Although, as anybody who reads this will know, I am left-wing and want Labour to enact left-wing, socialist, policies, I do recognise that our constant contarians on the right, the likes of Tom Harris, Dan Hodges, and Luke Boizer are a crucial part of this Party. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with them one inch, but nonetheless they play a key role in the melting pot that is Labour and we are better off for having them than not, even though they exasperate and annoy frequently. Sometimes they even cross the line and we wonder why, oh why, they carry a Party card but the Party would ultimately be poorer if they didn’t.
All of which brings us to Luke’s latest piece on LabourList. His basic riff is that Labour has been fiscally reckless and should say so;
” let’s get real – the reason there’s a deficit is because tax income didn’t cover the high public spending before the credit crunch/banking crash”.
Fine, let’s get real. Any discussion of the real would have to take into account the decades of underinvestment that blighted our public services during the Conservative years who starved them of cash. ‘Getting real’ would also involve acknowledged that one of the principal reasons tax revenues did suffer is that we are burdened with a tax system which has more holes than your average Swiss cheese – so, the rich pay nearly not as much as they should in tax and the burden is shouldered by those lower down the scale. The same people who in fact have been afflicted by a collapse in real-terms income. We squeezed and bled these people until we could no more, yet we let the rich simply get away with it, because we still needed for literally decades of under-investment in public services.
Luke, unsurprisingly, doesnt have an awful lot to say about all this. Like most ideologues of the right, he is oh so opposed to our debt, but unwilling to accept the real causes – which are a) the structural necessity of debt for capitalism to function and b) the bleeding of money out of the system by those at its very apex. The brutal facts is that the concentration of wealth, undemocratically, in the hands of those we were happy to have ‘filthy rich’ is what has destroyed this system and brought this debt down on us.
So, maybe we should take responsibility, but not for the debt per se, but for allowing this to happen on our watch – for the light-touch regulation, for the billions upon billions of our money taken off-shore to tax havens by the very rich and powerful. For saying it’s ok for people to be ‘filthy rich’ and not contribute their fair share back. The last thing Labour needs is a blinkered, zealotry shower of utter morons, which is what the Tea Party actually are, what we need is to take the right kind of responsibility and return to our founding values.