When in a hole…

As they survey the wasteland created by the Corbynistas’ march through the Labour party, those moderates who signed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership nomination papers are probably telling themselves: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

You will recall that, back in 2015, when Mr Corbyn was having difficulty drumming up the support of the 15% of Labour MPs required to launch a leadership challenge, he was given a leg-up by the endorsement of such party moderates as Frank Field, Sadiq Khan (now Mayor of London and a fierce Corbyn critic) and David Lammy.

The reason given was that they thought it desirable to have a diverse slate of candidates, but, in reality, it was designed to show, once and for all, how little support the far left had in the Labour Party.

As miscalculations go this was about as bad as it gets and, aided by Ed Miliband’s £3 membership wheeze, Jeremy was propelled into top spot with almost 60% of the vote on the first ballot.

Finding themselves at the bottom of a hole the moderates’ response was to keep on digging and after a vote of no-confidence by 170 MPs had failed to dislodge Mr Corbyn they mounted a leadership challenge in the person of Owen Smith.

The rest, as they say, is history.

And so, alas, is Mr Smith.

The pundits, and most of the Labour Party establishment, are predicting that with Corbyn at the helm the prospects of a Labour Government in the next ten years are somewhere between zero and vanishing point.

I’m not so sure about that.

In a speech to the party conference self-confessed Marxist shadow chancellor John McDonnell has been giving his views on the planned economy under the next Labour government.

These include a £10+ per hour living wage, an end to austerity and a huge boost to infrastructure spending funded by public borrowing.

Trade Union laws will be repealed, zero-hours contracts will be abolished and we’ll all have secure well-paid jobs.

What’s not to like?

Of course, talk of socialist utopias became unfashionable following the fall of the Berlin Wall which was seen as a victory for free-market capitalism.

But don’t rule out the possibility of a come-back.

In the audio clip cited above, Mr McDonnell can be heard saying, in respect of the 2008 financial crash: “I’ve been waiting for this for a generation”.

What he had been “waiting for” was the collapse of capitalism long predicted by Marxist theory.

As we know, capitalism didn’t collapse after 2008, though it was a close run thing.

And it only survived on life-support by way of ultra-low interest rates and industrial-scale money printing in the form of quantitative easing.

Despite almost ten years in intensive care the world economy is not looking terribly healthy.

Former IMF chief economist Ken Rogoff is predicting meltdown in China as that country’s debt bubble drags down economic growth.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank is teetering on the brink of insolvency as are several large Italian banks with percentages of non-performing loans in the high teens when anything over 5% is considered dangerous.

And, whichever way the US election goes, it seems we are in for a dose of growth-destroying protectionism.

Closer to home we have an NHS which is struggling to cope with the rising costs of an ageing population.

Ditto local authority budgets for elderly care.

All this when the Central Banks in USA, Japan, EU and the UK are maxed out on their credit cards and ill-prepared to repeat the stimulus used to keep the show on the road in 2008.

History tell us that, when faced with economic hardship, people are liable to grasp at whatever straws are available on the basis that anything is preferable to the system that got us into the present mess.

So don’t rule out the possibility that, in a year or two, John McDonnell’s discredited Marxist nostrums could become mainstream.

After all, who would have predicted even a year ago that both candidates in the US presidential election would be campaigning on the basis of their opposition to TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) the two free trade agreements that President Obama had hoped would form part of his legacy.

There is much discussion about good governance in County Hall, though it is a concept that is more talked about than practised.

I have made a few attempts to write something about this issue, but, because it is such a complex, multi-faceted subject, it has always ended up in the “too difficult” box.

Fortunately, help is at hand because I recently came across this Australian website which deals with the matter with exemplary clarity.

Below is an extract, though I would encourage anyone interested in the subject to spend half an hour reading the whole thing – especially the section on the role of members in the planning process:


Promotes community confidence

People are more likely to have confidence in their local government if decisions are made in a transparent and accountable way.

This helps people feel that local government will act in the community’s overall interest, regardless of differing opinions.

It also encourages local governments to remember that they are acting on behalf of their community and helps them to understand the importance of having open and ethical processes which adhere to the law and stand up to scrutiny.

Encourages elected members and council officers to be confident

Elected members and council officers will feel better about their involvement in local government when good governance is practised.

Councillors will be more confident that they are across the issues, that they can trust the advice they are given, that their views will be respected even if everyone doesn’t agree with them, and that the council chamber is a safe place for debate and decision making.

Officers will feel more confident in providing frank and fearless advice which is acknowledged and respected by councillors.

Leads to better decisions

Decisions that are informed by good information and data, by stakeholder views, and by open and honest debate will generally reflect the broad interests of the community.

This does not assume that everyone will think each decision is the right one. But members of the community are more likely to accept the outcomes if the process has been good, even if they don’t agree with the decision. They will also be less tempted to continue fighting or attempting to overturn the decision. So even the most difficult and controversial decisions are more likely to stick.

Helps local government meet its legislative responsibilities

If decision-making is open and able to be followed by observers, it is more likely that local governments will comply with the relevant legal requirements. They will also be less likely to take shortcuts or bend the rules.

Supports ethical decision making

Good governance creates an environment where elected members and council officers ask themselves ‘what is the right thing to do?’ when making decisions.

All I would say is that ‘what is the right thing to do?’ is infinitely preferable to the ‘what can I get away with?’ that has earned County Hall the nickname Kremlin on Cleddau.