Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘New Politics’ must not include lying about fiscal deficits

One cannot but be very happy that Jeremy Corbyn has assumed leadership of the British Labour Party if you sit on the progressive side of politics. His elevation to the top job has all but closed the door on the compromised years of New Labour. The so-called Blair-ites have been declared yesterday’s new and not before time. Their embrace of neo-liberalism and the ‘light touch’ approach to the financial sector allowed the destructive period set in place by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s to become more intense (for example, the decline of manufacturing and the increasing dominance of the unproductive financial sector). But as I have indicated before, some of the language and promises coming out of the Corbyn camp appear to be within the neo-liberal paradigm and, in many ways, not an advance on the New Labour shemozzle. I know that the claim will be that they have to be cautious for political reasons not to open themselves to attacks from the conservatives given the public fear of fiscal deficits, after years of indoctrination. But then their claims to be heralding in a ‘new politics’ would seem to be rather lame if they are prepared to lie or obfuscate about the role and meaning of fiscal deficits just to get some political advantage. Further, at some point they will have to take this issue on if they want to forge a truly progressive new political agenda. Otherwise, they will wallow in the confused space where they cannot break out of the neo-liberal mould while banging on about how fair they will be. They have five years before the next election – and that is plenty of time to reeducate the public. That process of messaging and re-framing should start now. Accordingly, they should take the political flack now and trust in their messaging and re-framing.

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