Israel/Palestine,  The Left,  UK Politics

A fortune cookie for 2024, be careful what you wish for!

As we start an election year it’s important to mention the Liberal Democrats….. Well, that’s them covered! Seriously though, they’ve shown they can win by-elections by flooding an area with activists and should have more MPs after the forthcoming general election but, apart from that, they’re not really registering. If the opinion polls prove accurate Starmer should have a decent majority and won’t need to make a deal with anyone.

It’s said that if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there, but millions don’t remember the seventies, eighties and nineties. Not all of the current problems are of the government’s making but they’re incumbent.

The Conservatives are threatened on the right by the likes of Reform who’ve been moving up the polls. It’s extremely unlikely they’d win many, if any, seats but they could boost Starmer’s majority and get even more of what they’re against, be careful what you wish for!

It’s extremely difficult for an insurgent party to breakthrough – the last was Labour, facilitated by the tripling of the electorate in 1918. Whilst many in Reform despise the Conservatives the best chance of achieving their aims is through a Conservative government as they’ve historically shown a greater willingness to move towards the electorate than Labour.

In being lucky Starmer would certainly gain Napoleon’s approval, both the Conservatives and SNP have self-inflicted wounds from which Labour look like benefiting. He deserves credit for decorbynising Labour and moving it back towards the centre ground, although the Israel-Hamas war exposed serious divisions. To his credit he took the correct position but he should be concerned at the number of antisemites still in his party and “losing” the Socialist Campaign Group would be beneficial.

Although his poll lead is comfortable and sustained there is nothing like the enthusiasm generated by Blair and many things are still vague.

The usual leftie approach is to throw money at things, but the current levels of debt and taxation make that impossible.

So far, apart from (presumably borrowing) £28bn pa (perhaps, eventually, if the fiscal rules permit!) for green projects, the extra tax raised from independent schools and non-doms may raise a few billion. It’s unlikely either would realise as much as anticipated and it’s equally unlikely they would be able to spend it as planned.

There’s a pent up demand, exacerbated by inflation, for public sector pay rises, and that’s where the unions, many of which are Corbynite with little enthusiasm for Starmer, are strongest. They’ll fund Labour’s election campaign and will expect a payback.

With Rayner promising, be careful what you wish for!, to make striking easier it’s easy to see any extra tax just disappearing into the pockets of public sector workers. Since the end of the closed shop the unions have had to go out and sell membership, pay rises that keep up with or exceed inflation are an excellent marketing tool.

The pips could be squeezed a little more but nothing will raise sufficient to fund, for example, the sort of nationalisation programme many activists would like.

Streeting has articulated some uncomfortable truths about the NHS, but would he be able to reform it? The real question is would the unions, unshackled by Rayner, go along with it?

Wales and Scotland showcase 21st century “progressive” governments; intolerant, authoritarian, virtue signalling and immersed in identity politics, but delivering many things worse than England. It’s what happens when one party rule becomes effectively normalised and London is similar. First Past The Post for the mayoral election means that Khan could probably be removed if the right united around, probably, the Conservative candidate, but Reform, Reclaim, et al may well give him another term, be careful what you wish for!

It’s not difficult to conclude that Labour’s poll lead in many areas is primarily attributable to disillusionment with the Conservatives, “time for a change” is a powerful mantra.

Much has been said about growth and a decent, sustained level would make many things possible.

Labour often boast about the growth achieved under Blair, c. 2% pa, but this was a reduction from the 3 and 4% delivered by Clarke. He would have increased spending more than Brown initially did and it’s interesting to speculate how the post 1997 economy would have fared under him.

Details as to how Labour would actually achieve growth are minimal, if there was a silver bullet the Conservatives would have fired it. Many lefties are anti-business and their first instinct is to tax, interfere and regulate. The non-doms are a source of investment and entrepreneurship, who contribute far more than they can possibly receive, but the politics of envy will push at least some of them out, be careful what you wish for.

If the world was experiencing decent growth there would be more demand for what Britain sells but effectively closing the Suez Canal is inflationary, and there are lefties objecting to Britain and America trying to keep this vital artery open, be careful what you wish for.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused an increase in energy prices, and then there are China’s intentions towards Taiwan. We’re far from controlling our own destiny.

After many years the Post Office scandal unexpectedly dominated the headlines at the start of 2024. Sunak and the Conservatives are in a reasonable position as a compensation scheme is in place and a public enquiry has been running for some years, but questions have been asked of both Starmer and Davey, the latter appears more threatened but further revelations are certainly possible.

Sunak, like Major, is emulating Mr Micawber, but the electorate may have switched off the Conservatives. This happens periodically, by 2019 Corbyn had been found out and his terrorist supporting, antisemitic, economic incontinence rejected. In the 1990s, after Black Wednesday and the subsequent infighting, it was time for a change with Blair waiting.

Although a week is a long time in politics it currently looks like the election is Starmer’s to lose.

“Think the Tories are bad? Be careful what you wish for as Labour would be worse” may not be sufficient to get a fifth term.