We exist within a capitalist economy and have for the entirety of all of our lives. Regardless of having been raised in China, one of the Soviet states, Saudi Arabia or in the United Kingdom. The world, throughout the entirety of the last century (and the majority of it for the century before that) has been running a capitalist organisation of money. The closest anyone -including Stalin- has come to running an alternative economy has been the state-capitalist control over industrial export with profit as the motivation for any domestic or international exchange. So –in effect, to ask an electorate to vote for an anti-capitalist party is farfetched –even in spite of it’s obvious benefits to the majority of people living in the UK.
So what we are left with today is a choice of two leaders –both card carrying capitalists and both with a stated mission to balance our budget deficit and run a surplus. Dependent upon your interpretation of the definition of austerity, it is possible to argue that there hasn’t been any austerity on the basis that the cuts the Conservative-Liberal coalition government have implemented -haven’t managed to reduce our debt deficit at all. So we have a Conservative led government in full stated denial that there has been a strain on the working classes during the last five years, whilst they’ve been failing but desperately trying to build a Britain for international companies to come and set up shop here under the promise of a deregulated market and relaxed system of tax under a government which ideologically deems taxes to be meddling in the affairs of private business.
Ed Miliband has actively discouraged this perspective of Britain as a tax haven held by international business elites with his plan to remove the legitimacy of the 200year old non-domicile law. The non-dom law effectively enables wealthy foreign nationals to live here and pay no tax in this country on their earnings or capital gains outside Britain. The Conservative party and the right wing press (which now includes a Con-Lib backing Independent) claim it would cause “flight of capital” just as they did in 2008 when the then Labour government brought forward an annual levy of £30,000 on all those who are claiming non-dom status and have been in Britain for at least 7 of the last 10 years. Classically, George Osborne contradicted this objection in his last budget by extending the policy in introducing a new annual charge of £90,000 which applies to non-doms who have lived in the UK for 17 of the last 20 years.
One of the main Conservative talking points this campaign has been to point out how Miliband is unwilling to apologise for “over-borrowing” during the 13 years that Labour formed our government under Blair and Brown. What they have managed to keep suspiciously quiet is that Cameron and Osborne borrowed more in the three years between May 2010 and May 2013 than Labour did over 13 years. Borrowing the same amount at a 425% faster rate -another classic Conservative fuck up cover up.
A Labour pledge which was made two years ago to freeze all UK energy bills for 20 months after forming government is both, a good effort towards tackling the 65 deaths per day to fuel-poverty every winter and a righteous move towards establishing a healthy culture of state intervention in the price cartelisation of necessities for survival (like household heating) by “the big six” energy giants.
Leaving the European Union has a strong potential to cost Britain up to 56bn in export losses on an annual basis in the years following the potential ‘Brexit’, claims internationally respected pro EU think-tank Open Europe. Labour are absolutely right to not pander to the whims of the racist anti-immigration agenda presented in recent years by both the British Media and the Conservative and Ukip parties by not offering a pointless (fruitless) referendum on our membership of the EU. The EU contains all the countries (with the exception of Russia) who sacrificed the most lives in fighting each other to stop fascism spreading across Europe and it’s beautiful that we’ve now progressed to an arrangement of ‘open-border’ free movement of capital and more virtuously, the ‘open-border’ free movement of humanity.
The Labour leader has said of Rupert Murdoch “he is much less powerful than he used to be. The British people have a lot more sense than some of these people give them credit for. The question is am I willing to stand up to these powerful forces and I am”. Miliband’s stance against the UK’s media monopolies isn’t a recent one. In fact, he called for all parties to legislate against Murdoch’s dominance 4 years ago, in the height of the News of the World phone hacking scandal. Whereas Murdoch has been caught going to “secret meetings” with Cameron a number of times, who enjoys very favourable representation from all News Corporation coverage as a result of them.
The Conservatives have claimed that they will borrow no longer; as soon as they’re elected to government. The Institute for Fiscal Studies says they’ll have to cut £33 billion of public spending to realise this dream. Out of a total of £741 billion public spending per annum this £33 Billion cut renders the most vulnerable members of society 4.5% worse off with George Osborne in charge of deciding which people take the sharpest blades. Labour’s ‘austerity-light’ program will require a cut of £7 billion to public spending less than a quarter of the Conservative plan. A £7 billion cut to public spending will be a tragic loss and even likely to be responsible for deaths in extreme cases, surely though, there is some decent morality in voting to be cut by a 1 inch blade if the other option is the same blade penetrating 4.5 times deeper?
Ed Miliband will borrow to subsidise his ‘austerity-light’, at a predicted rate of £25 billion per annum. However, he will use this borrowed money to build one of the finest ideas of Keynesian economics –a national investment bank (something the Conservative backing Financial times suggested Osborne should have carried out in the midst of the recent recession) to lend at more favourable rates to small business and make safer, longer term investments in the global market to increase state capital.
The mansion tax is ostensibly more of an indicator of who Labour would like to tax; rather than a legitimate effort at reducing the deficit. On the surface (and in most press reportage) it is seems to be a cheap way to generate a relatively small amount of money, £1.2 billion per annum, but it does demonstrate Miliband’s admirable intention to redistribute the burden of our national debt, more appropriately onto the shoulders of those in our society who have the most wealth. To those who claim that this puts people at risk who are asset rich but cash poor the Labour party has stated in their manifesto that, “those on lower incomes will be protected with a right to defer the charge until the property changes hands.”
When still feeling the chill of a Conservative-Liberal coalition government that has been reducing public spending for 5 years at a rate that the Office for Budget Responsibility declared would have public spending at a (pre NHS) 80 year low by 2019, the notion of electing the only relatively socialist party, within the confines of our capitalist paradigm, in our two party system, seems better than abstinence to me.
Vote Labour; they’ll cut you with a shorter blade.
Boris T. Ćorović
Political Editor – International Times