On the day the government part nationalises the banks, seizing the commanding depths of the economy, let’s hark back to Labour’s 1983 manifesto – “the longest suicide note in history” – and see what it has to say about the matter:
It is essential that industry has the finance it needs to support our plans for increased investment. Our proposals are set out in full in our Conference statement, The Financial Institutions. We will:
• Establish a National Investment Bank to put new resources from private institutions and from the government - including North Sea oil revenues - on a large scale into our industrial priorities. The bank will attract and channel savings, by agreement, in a way that guarantees these savings and improves the quality of investment in the UK.
• Exercise, through the Bank of England, much closer direct control over bank lending. Agreed development plans will be concluded with the banks and other financial institutions.
• Create a public bank operating through post offices, by merging the National Girobank, National Savings Bank and the Paymaster General's Office.
• Set up a Securities Commission to regulate the institutions and markets of the City, including Lloyds, within a clear statutory framework.
• Introduce a new Pension Schemes Act to strengthen members' rights in occupational pension schemes, clarify the role of trustees, and give members a right to equal representation, through their trade unions, on controlling bodies of the schemes.
• Set up a tripartite investment monitoring agency to advise trustees and encourage improvements in investment practices and strategies.
We expect the major clearing banks to co operate with us fully on these reforms, in the national interest. However, should they fail to do so, we shall stand ready to take one or more of them into public ownership. This will not in any way affect the integrity of customers' deposits.
Via Chris. Here’s some ancient trade policy from the same source:
Buy our food where it is cheaper, on world markets, following Britain's withdrawal from the EEC.
Ho ho. Overall, I think the manifesto holds up pretty well as a road not traveled, though hampered by Michael Foot’s appallingly prolix introduction. A bit too autarkic for my taste, and showing the traditional social democratic failure to distinguish between the preservation of particular enterprises and the preservation of the welfare of the people who work in them. But there’s very little that wouldn’t have been better than what we actually endured at the time.
Of course, the interesting question was always how a programme designed to secure:
'a fundamental and irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth in favour of working people and their families'.
…got characterized as ‘suicide.’