(Independent, Monday 24 August 2015)
The latest attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy comes from Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow Chancellor, who has appealed to party members “to look at the small print and make sure they are making an informed choice before voting for Mr Corbyn”. In other words, Leslie claims that Corbyn’s numbers don’t add up.
If you think within the broad thrust of neoliberal economic settlement – the primacy of market forces, privatisation, the replacement of manufacturing by financial services as the hub of the UK economy – then the numbers do not add up. However, Corbyn raises issues that go beyond this short-term neoliberal orthodoxy.
Corbyn’s candidacy has at least initiated a productive discussion on longer-term views of what a sustainable UK economy should look like. The central problem of the UK economy currently is that it cannot sustain a reasonable balance of payments at socially acceptable levels of public consumption and employment. The position of the UK economy on this has deteriorated continuously and seriously since early 2000s.
There is now a desperate need for a serious and careful investment policy to increase the level of productivity. This can be done by investing in basic research, technology, skills in general, and essential infrastructure. All this requires a rethink of the relationship between the state and private sector.
None of these can be achieved, even considered, within the parameters of current economic thinking; that’s why what Corbyn’s candidacy offers is different.
If the Labour Party only offers similar policies to the current Conservative government, then why do we need the Labour Party? If it does not offer a realistic and significant alternative then the Labour Party will become redundant.
Corbyn offers a breath of fresh air and debate which the country desperately needs.