The Labour Party has dropped the left wing pledges to spend more money on jobs, pay, public services and the climate crisis promised by Jeremy Corbyn.
Speaking to top bankers on Wednesday, shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds promised them that Labour would be a “responsible government.”
It was a promise that Labour would walk in lockstep with the demands of business and bankers.
Dodds said Labour would focus on “value for money and financial control.” She said Labour now wants to be “a responsible government using fiscal policy to ensure public money is spent effectively and wisely.”
It was framed in an attempt to show that bankers could trust Labour more than the Tories. She promised more state intervention in the economy and infrastructure than the Tories, and hinted at plans to boost wages and protect workers’ rights.
But this was all about making sure the economy would be “viable” and “resilient”—in other words that it allows businesses to keep making profits.
So “responsibility” also meant a focus on “value for public money” and rules to limit government spending.
Dodds said this would mean an end to handing over billions to private companies in outsourcing contracts.
But it can also be a justification for austerity and restricting spending on public services.
Dodds didn’t promise austerity. She wanted to be in step with bankers’ organisations such as the IMF who don’t recommend cuts or tax increases until the coronavirus crisis is over.
So she didn’t mention Labour’s previous promises to massively increase spending, funded by raising taxes on the richest 5 percent either.
And in a swipe at Corbyn’s previous leadership, Dodds said Labour wouldn’t make “eye-catching announcements designed to raise expectations today, only for them to be dashed tomorrow”.
It was a deliberate break from the promises of greatly increased spending in Labour’s election manifestos of 2017 and 2019, which promised to “re-write the rules of a rigged system.”
In contrast, Dodd’s promises to bankers of “responsibility” is a commitment to play by the rules of that system. She’s telling them that Labour will no longer be a threat to their profit-making—and will do as they say.
It comes after the bosses’ Financial Times newspaper reported last year that Dodds had been schmoozing City bankers, who hailed her as a “sea change”.
The speech marked Labour leader Keir Starmer’s latest betrayal of the pledges he made during is leadership election campaign.
Starmer promised during his campaign to “defend the legacy” of Corbyn’s leadership. His first pledge was to increase taxes on the top 5 percent of earners. That policy was missing from Dodd’s speech.
Earlier this week Starmer also said Labour accepts the end of the right of migrants from the European Union (EU) to come to Britain freely after Brexit. His election campaign had promised to “defend free movement as we leave the EU.”
Having been elected Labour leader with the votes of members who backed Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer is now dragging the party to the right. He is showing that Labour’s leaders can ignore their promises to members, and decisions made at conferences, whenever they want.
Starmer wants to make sure Labour will return to being a party that doesn’t challenge the rich or the status quo.
His Labour is not a party that can be relied on to stand up for ordinary people.