16 January 2016

Populism Done Right, UK Edition

By being the first Labour leader in a generation to actually take that whole "labo(u)r" bit seriously, Jeremy Corbyn has presided over an explosion in interest and members:
Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes of remoulding Labour have been boosted by a detailed Guardian survey into the party at grassroots level that shows overwhelming support for him, a decisive shift to the left and unhappiness with squabbling among MPs.

The Guardian has interviewed Labour secretaries, chairs, other office holders and members from more than 100 of the 632 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales. Almost every constituency party across the country we contacted reported doubling, trebling, quadrupling or even quintupling membership, and a revival of branches that had been moribund for years and close to folding.

100 Labour officials from across Britain tell of the new members surging to join the party, some young idealists, some returning prodigals - and one who was last a member when Harold Wilson was prime minister

Reflecting increased interest among the young, university cities and towns recorded some of the biggest rises, with Bath jumping from 300 to 1,322 members (911 full members, 120 affiliated supporters and 291 registered supporters) and Colchester from 200-250 to almost 1,000. Neither are traditional Labour seats.

The survey findings are borne out by Labour’s national figures, released to the Guardian in a break with party tradition of keeping them secret. Membership jumped from 201,293 on 6 May last year, the day before the general election, to 388,407 on 10 January.
The Blairites, of course, of course are apoplectic, because they think that the "Wrong Sort" are joining, even at a 10:1 ratio of joiners to leavers.

But if the strikingly good membership numbers have the Blairites freaking out, then Corbyn's proposals to limit excessive executive pay has their heads exploding:
Companies would be banned from paying senior executives vastly higher wages than junior employees, and would not be allowed to hand out dividends until all staff were earning the Living Wage, under plans signalled today by Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader, who is setting out proposals to close the gap between top earners and low-paid staff, will commit the party to act to “institutionalise fairness”.

He also repeated his support for bringing the railways back into public ownership and for “democratic control” of the energy giants.

Mr Corbyn’s critics, both inside and outside the party, will seize on his plans as evidence that he is trying to drive its platform to the left. Any move to intervene in company pay is also bound to face fierce criticism from business.

But the Labour leader’s allies insist his commitment to tackling inequality will strike a chord with the public who are dismayed by the excesses of company bosses.

Mr Corbyn told a Fabian conference in London: “Too much of the proceeds of growth have accumulated to those at the top.”

He argued: “Everyone benefits when companies succeed. One proposal is pay ratios between top and bottom, so that the rewards don’t just accrue to those at the top.


Mr Corbyn also floated a plan to ban or restrict firms from distributing dividends to shareholders if they are not paying the Living Wage to all staff. “Only profitable employers will be paying dividends. If they depend on cheap labour for those profits, then I think there is a question over whether that is a business model to which we should be turning a blind eye.”

He pointed to research by the OECD which concluded that failure to distribute wealth more evenly hinders economic growth. “A more equal society is not only fairer, it does better in terms of economic stability and wealth creation,” he said.

The Labour leader argued that train fares would fall and investment increase if the railways were returned to public ownership. “It would be governed not remotely from Whitehall, but by passengers, rail workers and politicians, local and national,” he added.

Bringing gas and electricity companies under “democratic control” would also help to reduce costs and ease the transition to carbon-free energy supplies, he claimed.
Without excessive executive compensation, how will Blairites cash in when they retire from politics?

We've had about 40 years of so-called liberal politicians buying into conservative framing, and the only beneficiaries are the top 1% of the top 1%.

It's time for a change.


Post a Comment