The Politics of Hope is Left-wing

Election Labour Party

The election showed that people across the country welcomed a left-leaning set of policies.

The financial crisis and the right-wing’s austerity response to it has left the country poorer and more unequal both financially and socially. By offering a comprehensive manifesto that showed a practical route towards more investment in the country, its institutions and its people, Corbyn and McDonnell have broken the assumptions of Labour Party policy-making since 1997.

Political conversation in the UK has moved so far to the right in the last 20 years that social democratic polices commonplace across Europe are seen by the media as radical and left-wing here. And Keynesian economic policy was seen as dangerously radical.

So, at least we can feel on more popular ground demanding an end to privatisation and more investment into the NHS.

The NHS should not even be seen as a cost to the state and to all of us. It is an investment with at least a 4:1 return.

As the economist Ha-Joon Chang says 

Both Labour and the Tories see tax as a burden that needs to be minimised. But would you call the money that you pay for your takeaway curry or Netflix subscription a burden? You wouldn’t, because you recognise that you are getting your curry and TV shows in return. Likewise, you shouldn’t call your taxes a burden because in return you get an array of public services, from education, health and old-age care, through to flood defence and roads to the police and military.

If tax really were a pure burden, all rich individuals and companies would move to Paraguay or Bulgaria, where the top rate of income tax is 10%. Of course, this does not happen because, in those countries, in return for low tax you get poor public services. Conversely, most rich Swedes don’t go into tax exile because of their 60% top income tax rate, because they get a good welfare state and excellent education in return. Japanese and German companies don’t move out of their countries in droves despite some of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world (31% and 30% respectively) because they get good infrastructure, well-educated workers, strong public support for research and development, and so on.

So, we should be demanding right now an end to this unstable DUP/Tory connection – even if the DUP interest in more state investment in public services comes into play. We want a comprehensive set of policies that tackle not only the immediate requirements to prevent a Greek-style collapse of the health service, but an approach that begins to tackle the causes of the causes of ill-health: health inequalities, child poverty, poor housing, degradation of the educational system, isolation, communities under pressure with reducing support and civic life.

While we wait for this unstable arrangement to collapse, we need to keep making clear demands for the NHS and the wider system. If necessary, GPs and nurses must go further than at present towards industrial action. We cannot wait for the NHS to unravel.

We now have a far clearer mandate – we can take forward a left-leaning set of policies and feel that we are not alone.