So, what's this I hear about Alastair Darling composing a budget
while I'm out of the country? Just a quick observation, since I've only just got some sleep and am horribly jet-lagged. Paul Mason
made the point at the Left Forum that the idea that social democracy is dead has been disproven. He insisted that social democracy is becoming the dominant response to this crisis, and I think this budget - for all that it still seeks to conserve some kind of neoliberalism - bears this analysis out with its 50% upper tax limit. The policy concedes the principle that the rich should pay at least some of the costs of this crisis, even as the government has lavished billions on the City in a vain effort to maintain it as the hub of their economic strategy. This is only one measure, among others that are far less satisfactory. It is probably inadequate anyway, and certainly shouldn't be as unthinkable as it happens to be. I think that New Labour could easily have accomplished something like this in its first years in office, without substantially eroding its electoral coalition. And in the long run the government is still looking to impose £15bn of spending cuts
. And of course, all of this is based on some unrealistically optimistic projections for economic growth, that see the economy recuperating by 2010 and surging to 3.5% annual growth by 2011. Still, the fact is that New Labour has broken with years of disavowing any redistributive politics. This doesn't mean, at least to me, that anyone should consider rushing back to Labour in a futile attempt to win it to the Left. That game has been tried for over a century and it isn't going to work now. It does mean that there is an opportunity opening to pressure the government from the Left that there hasn't been for some time.
Labels: alastair darling, budget, neoliberalism, new labour, recession, social democracy