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Another day, another attempt by Labour to define its message. When it comes to salvaging the economy, let alone their credibility, they are utterly bankrupt.

To words and phrases such as ‘credit crunch’ and ‘quantative easing’, let us add ‘preditribution’ to the ongoing befuddlement that is the politio-economic lexicon. Or is that the ongoing befuddlement that is the Labour party’s latest response to stimulate the near-death pulse of the UK economy?

At his podium, Mr Miliband presented himself not unlike an evangelist preacher spreading The Word, an affectation that had a bearing on his lexical choices – on being quizzed about how he would feel working with the Lib Dems in a future coalition, the insipid Rev. Miliband replied ‘They made a tragic mistake, but I welcome all people who recant’. How benevolent. Ultimately, this Good Shepherd offered his political equivalent of turning water into wine through ‘predistribution’ (the old New Labour habits of buzz words and spin obviously die hard):

Our aim must be to transform our economy so it is a much higher skill, much higher wage economy. Think about somebody working in a call centre, a supermarket, or in an old peoples’ home. Redistribution offers a top-up to their wages. Predistribution seeks to go further – higher skills with higher wages. [1]

Rev. Miliband proposes that lower paid workers will, through a better skills index, be able to access higher wages previously unavailable to them. This is a radical message from Labour, effectively reversing a philosophy which has hitherto suggested that low paid workers would benefit from wealth distribution – that is, receiving hand outs from those with better opportunities – the cynical may even suggest that this implies they are living off the hard work of others. But like any evangelist, Rev. Milliband issued forth garbled false promises of salvation backed up by no evidence, let alone substance. One person on the BBC News website remarked:

Not sure I get it. Surely simple supply and demand economics means that you’re just down grading skilled workers jobs. The UK only needs a finite supply of electricians for example, say 20,000, if you training 40,000 to do the job your likely to get them cheaper and then have 20,000 people trained for jobs that don’t exist. That or companies will just wack up the prices to cover costs? [2]

Just so. Once again Rev. Miliband continues to deliver the sermon that time and again proves its own vacuity: politicians cannot create jobs. In the costly and unproductive public sector they can, but the private sector is not theirs to master. Indeed, Rev. Miliband has found another use for the bankers bonus tax; this time his populist panacea could be used to fund 25,000 new affordable homes. True to form, Labour have far exceeded the revenue such a tax would grant them with promise after promise about where and how the money would be spent. Listen carefully and one can hear the greasy fat hands of Friar Balls rubbing together with delight.

Rev. Miliband (who, as it transpires, has a hotline to St. Cable the Business Secretary) is a charlatan of the highest order. His promises of a better post-depression afterlife are the stuff of whimsy and outright fantasy, with ‘predistribution’ the latest gimmick to ensnare those members of the electorate who have not yet gone through political Enlightenment of their own. Rev. Miliband can promise idealism because it comes as cheap fodder to the uncritical mind. He may be willing to forgive the Lib Dems who recant the current economic policy under which this country endures, but anyone with sense, who uses their eyes, their ears and their mind will know never to forgive Labour for the ruinous state in which they left this country, nor to entrust them with responsibility for the economy ever gain [3].

Amen to that.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

Support for the Lib Dems equates to an open declaration that one is politically, morally and intellectually dead. They are not just a party in denial of reality, from their lords to their backbench tea-boys, they are party of naked hypocrisy that denies precisely the liberal democracy they call their own. The disparity between their calls for Lords reform and their denial of a EU referendum exhibits the point.

For reasons beyond the ken of any thinking person, it seems that Lord Patrick Ashdown is somehow protected from criticism, even by those who rightly condemn the party he formerly led. Yet far from being a political sage, he is mired in the same hypocrisy and capable of issuing the sort of fatuous rhetoric that characterises the whimsy of his party.

In a recent article on Lords reform, he writes that ‘on streets worldwide they’re pleading for democracy’ and that ‘we can’t sit in our golden chamber resisting it’ [1]. He continues: ‘In a democracy, those who make the people’s laws should be the people’s representatives’, that ‘We send our young soldiers to other people’s countries to die for democracy – and kill for it too. Yet we haven’t got it in our own country.’ Amen to that Lord Patrick Ashdown. His home truths continue in earnest:

We think we are facing an  economic crisis. But we are also facing a political one. The people have lost confidence in politicians – and with good reason. The gap between government and governed has grown dangerously wide. If we will not refresh our democracy we could see it under threat.

Just so. Disaffection in politics is at an all time high to the extent that the electorate are becoming a disenfranchised minority; one might even be inclined to nod in agreement. Lord Ashdown continues:

Some say our priority should be the economy. And so it should. But Parliament can do more than one thing at a time. Others ask, ‘Why reform now?’ Because we have to refresh our democracy to put politics in touch with the people. Because the Lords can’t be exempt from that. Because the Lords can’t hold the Government to account while we are its creature. Because while everyone else  is having to cut, the Lords is  only set to get fatter. Above all, because in a nation proud of its democracy we should be ashamed that a part of our Parliament remains an undemocratic leftover from a bygone age.

The penny drops. How does Lord Ashdown square his indignation at the lack of democracy in the House of Lords with his attitude towards the EU? Repeatedly he and his tin-pot party are quick to remind the British public that now is not right time for a referendum on the EU because of the unfavourable economic circumstances; but here claims that the economic circumstances are secondary to the issue of a democratic crisis of identity, so the need for reform is absolute. He talks of cutting the engorged House of Lords, but continues to advocate closer political union with the EU, a bureaucratically obese institution greedily fatting its stomach on a financially ruinous and democratically suspect tax-payer substituted diet.

Rather like Lord Ashdown, Vince Cable also seems to be revered by critics of the Lib Dems, yet he is no less evasive and no less hypocritical. He, too, claims ‘Reopening a big debate about Britain being in or out the European Union and the referendum associated with it is horribly irrelevant at a time of upheaval taking place in Europe’ [2] yet he also insists that the UK (also a country in upheaval) ‘get on with’ Lords reform [3]. It is small wonder, as Lord Ashdown laments, that democracy is out of touch with the people when a subject that has repeatedly shown itself to be a major concern of and for the electorate, is dismissed as an irrelevance by a party and a person as incongruous as Dr Cable.

There will be little surprise that this message is filtered down to the Lib Dem back bench where it is lovingly issued by fawning acolytes. Take John Leech MP who without a hint of irony tweeted about Lords reform saying ‘I believe that the people who make the law of the land should be elected by the people who have to obey the law of the land.’ This from the man who seems happy to advocate the jurisdiction of the EU over the UK with an article entitled ‘why a euro referendum now would be barmy’ wherein he claims he is not against an EU referendum (proudly announcing he voted for the Lisbon treaty) but expresses rather theatrical astonishment at the demands to have such a vote immediately:

I’m amazed that during a time of real economic uncertainty there are people who would support a referendum that, by the uncertainty it would create, would further destabilise the European Economy and threaten the UK recovery. [4]

Mr Leech then parades a list of tawdry ‘facts’ that, had he researched his subject, would reveal themselves as erroneous:

[…] for the record, I would vote to stay in the EU because it means more jobs for my constituents. An estimated 3.5m jobs in the UK depend on the EU economy.  40% of the UK’s exports are to the EU, compared to just 2% to China. Some or all of those jobs would be lost if we left the EU.

Mr Leech’s article would not pass a GCSE exam on politics with its ingratiating register, its simplistic regurgitation of unsubstantiated ideas, its recourse to an emotional rather than an intellectual argument and with its meandering line of argument and flat prose style.

What the Lib Dems choose not to appreciate is the gulf between their calls for domestic democratic reform and their insistence that the UK is better off with the pronouncedly undemocratic EU. Lord Ashdown claims that the House of Lords is adrift from the electorate, that by turns both it, parliament and democracy risk become an irrelevance. With unintended precision he describes his own position and that of his party and its elected representatives. Never has the discussion on the UK’s political relationship with the EU been more prominent; denial of this not only sounds absurd but has the affect of making those who say so look even more foolish, a state to which the Lib Dems are by now accustomed.

Afterword

During the composition of this article I tried to think of a collective noun for the Lib Dems. I came up with ‘an  irrelevance of Lib Dems’. Contributions are welcome, please leave a comment.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012.

Notes

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