Thursday, 11 June 2015

Labour Leadership Contest

After his General Election defeat, Ed Milliband ran off to Ibiza.

Why, here's some definitive and by no means Photoshopped proof:

Ed largin' it with the Ibiza massive. Also in background: Mick Hucknall, John Shuttleworth)

As you can see, Ed's loving it over there. Look at the contented look on his face! All those election worries drained away!

Always the trendsetter, Ed takes to the wheels of steel to spin tunez so hot they've not been recorded yet!

Well, can't say I blame him.

But it does mean that he's out of the way for the upcoming leadership contest!

So, who's up for it? One person who isn't is Chukka Umunna, who announced his candidacy and became the early favourite, only to withdraw three days later, "uncomfortable" with the "added scrutiny" that came with being a candidate (read "I didn't jump, I was pushed", I think), but I couldn't speculate as to the reason. Maybe he just realised that he was actually a Conservative at heart and being Labour leader wasn't actually his main chance.

Anyway, the race is shaping up to be excruciatingly dull. Labour currently have 232 MPs and to be in the race, you need endorsements from at least 35 of those MPs, so that restricts the potential field to 6 for a start. Only three - Andy Burnham (60), Yvette Cooper (43) and Liz Kendall (37) - have them so far and of the others, Jeremy Corbyn (16) and Mary Creagh (7) might not even make it, despite there being 69 MPs yet to endorse anyone. And they wouldn't stand a chance in the election anyway.

Personally I'd like Jeremy Corbyn, simply because he's the only one who isn't buying into the whole austerity thing and - from what he says - seems to at least have some grip on how government economics work, rather than all the other candidates, who are all pro-austerity to one degree or another. At least the absurd story that the profligacy of the last Labour administration caused the world financial crisis seems to have been thoroughly debunked now. I don't claim to be an economic expert but this was absurd from the outset. I really still can't believe that Labour didn't strenuously deny this obvious lie until they realised it's what they should have done. And even now, the main candidates seem to be pushing the line that "yeah, we spent too much which is why we were unprepared for the recession", which I personally don't believe is true either.

If you look at the graph of government expenditure as % of GDP since 1985 (luckily, I have this to hand as I think of little else):

There's the obvious spike in 2008 when the banks needed to be bailed out, but prior to that I would describe Labour's spending as - to use a favourite Gordon Brownism - "prudent". He (Gordon) could've spent quite a lot more from 1997 to 2002 - "make hay while the sun shines" - and made little difference to the public finances in the long term.

He did make mistakes. ("Light tough regulation" of the banks and other financial institutions was never going to work, was it? Bankers are notoriously greedy and were obviously going to see this as an invitation to get away with any chicanery, manipulation or absurd risks they wanted. It was all fair game to them). So having these toxic fuckers around tossing billions of pounds of bank money into extremely risky ventures at absolutely no risk to themselves personally probably didn't help. And towards the end, when he was PM, he definitely went a bit mad. But at least he seemed to understand economics.

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