ARTICLES


  • Easy to fall prey to lure of nostalgia

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    06 October 2017

    Last week from a platform at the Labour Party conference in Brighton the call went out to renationalise the railways.  It is easy to fall prey to the lure of nostalgia; easy to think that things were better in the old days. Well they weren’t. British Rail’s slogan, which I well remember when I was growing up, was ‘We’re getting there.’ It was hardly inspiring and some joked that it should have had the word ‘eventually’ tagged to its end – service was poor and strikes and associated delays all too frequent. And the volume of journeys was far lower than today – these having doubled since 1997.
     
    As well as the spending on rail nationalisation Labour intends to spend to bring PFI contracts ‘back in-house’. Their shadow Health Secretary called for an additional £500m for accident and emergency this winter, even though the Government has already increased investment in the NHS by £13bn in real terms compared with the level it inherited in 2010.
     
    Also in the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s sights are water, energy and Royal Mail nationalisation – with the suggestion that some investors in these utilities (including many people’s pensions) will not be fully compensated for their loss.  Then there are student loans about which the party has been ambiguous – Mr Corbyn’s suggestion that he will ‘sort’ the issue led many young people during the last election to believe that he was going to scrap student loans and perhaps write off those outstanding at a cost of £100 billion. And all this money has to come from somewhere – higher taxes and/or significantly more borrowing at a time when we still need to eliminate the deficit. We need to know the costs of Labour’s plans, how they would meet those costs, and how they would make services better.
     
    Carolyn Fairburn, CBI Director-General has said that Labour’s ‘vision of massive state intervention is the wrong plan at the wrong time… will send investors running for the hills, and puts misplaced nostalgia ahead of progressive vision.’  She is right. But there is something else going on here, for the lure of state intervention is not driven just by misplaced nostalgia or memories lost through the passage of time. It is driven, and this is where those on the right have to be honest with themselves, by the recent serious failures of capitalism. The financial crash, markets that appear rigged against consumers, large businesses that don’t seem to pay their fair share in tax. For this vital part of the argument it falls to Conservatives to take up the challenge. To lead.
     
    John McDonnell told his conference that "another world… is in sight." The effectiveness of those remaking the case in favour of market capitalism will play the decisive part in determining just what that other world will look like. There must be no delay in winning the argument. The consequences of failure will be born by us all.







CONTACT DETAILS: