Monday, July 24, 2017

Corbyn's economics - the Alternative Economic Strategy of 1976

If Peter Harrison, a fellow member of Wrekin Young Socialists with whom Jeremy Corbyn once climbed that Shropshire hill to plant the red flag, is right to say:
"I knew him when we were 18 or 19, and his views have not changed. We are talking about the thick end of 50 years ago."
It follows that we should look back to those days if we want to understand the Labour leader's economic views.

And that brings us to the Alternative Economic Strategy which Tony Benn put to the Labour cabinet (with some support from Peter Shore) in the autumn of 1976.

Bob Rowthorn has listed its proposals as follows:
  • reflation of the economy to raise output and create more employment;
  • import controls to protect industries on the verge of collapse and to keep imports in line with what Britain can afford;
  • price controls to prevent firms from exploiting the sellers' market resulting from import controls and economic expansion;
  • compulsory planning agreements to force big firms, especially multinationals, to pursue different production, employment and investment policies;
  • nationalisation of key industrial firms to provide the public sector with the skill and knowledge required to control the private sector - following the example of the British National Oil Corporation (BNOC) set up by Tony Benn;
  • public ownership of the major financial institutions to give the state control over the investment policies of pension funds and other sources of industrial finance;
  • new powers for workers and their trade unions to bargain with big companies and monitor their activities;
  • withdrawal from the Common Market and abrogation of the Treaty of Rome which outlaws many of the above measures;
  • expansion of the social services to restore the Tory cuts and deal with new problems created by the present crisis;
  • a reduction in military expenditure to help finance expenditure for other purposes;
  • redistribution of income and wealth to eliminate some of the gross inequalities in Britain today.
Note that withdrawal from Europe is central to this strategy, so we should not be surprised at Corbyn's comments on the single market yesterday.

I am up for a fair bit of curbing capital's freedom of operation, but it is obvious that if that is to be done then it must be a multi-national enterprise.

To pretend Britain can act and then prosper in isolation is a nonsense - and a nonsense that Corbyn shares with the Conservative right and Ukip.

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