Paul Mason did a standout article on the Chancellor’s statement today, pointing out, among other things, that the government was engineering the collapse of the British economy even before the Euro crisis struck. It’s as though we were governed by lemmings with the gift of prophecy: let us simply run and the chasm will open up before us.
Anyway, among many standout bits, this bit stood out for me:
And don't kid yourself that Britain is somehow immune, either, from the "government by technocrat" virus sweeping Europe. We saw last night the Lib Dems forced to effectively write their manifesto on the set of Newsnight; Labour too will now be wrenched from the leisurely world of blue-skies thinking, by boxfresh young frontbenchers in as yet unwrinkled suits. It will see its core electoral base - the public sector workforce and low-income families - subjected to four more years of demands for givebacks, job losses, service cuts, tax-credit cuts. But it cannot publicly support their protest actions. Those of us who've reported from the streets of Athens, and know what a leaderless mass of angry people looks like, know how disorienting a fiscal crisis can be for social democrats.
The hint here seems to be that Labour will be so hemmed in by lack of economic options that it may throw in behind some kind of government of national unity. I don’t know about Labour as a whole, but there seem to be quite a number of continuity Blairites in and around Labour who broadly support the government agenda, who are currently doing their best to cripple coherent opposition to it, and who would be quite prepared to do a Ramsay. This chap, for instance. On the other side of the question, the Tory vote has started slipping to UKIP, there’s no sign of them pushing beyond the 36% of the vote that they got last time, and so a neoliberal alliance may well seem very tempting for 2015.
In some respects, I think having all the neolibs stuck in the same party would be a good thing: ‘the enemy plain’, and all that. On the other hand, I remember reading that when the last National government took Britain off the gold standard, Philip Snowden, the Labour chancellor in the preceding government, expressed bafflement that anyone could do that: Snowden had been obsessed with preserving the economic orthodoxy of the time as a means of demonstrating the ‘fitness’ of Labour to rule. But any future National government would be full of Snowdens.
UPDATE 1/12. I see I made a bit of a mess of my chancellors. Snowden took us off the Gold Standard as part of the national government, after keeping us on it as part of a Labour admin. It was Baron passfield who said that no-one told Labour they could do that. I still think it true that any potential 'national' government would be full of Snowden markone's, so to speak.