Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Labour's enemies within.
Too many of Labour's leaders, some of them even in the shadow cabinet, are vying to dissociate themselves from Jeremy Corbyn's policies. Could it be that they don't want him to succeed? Could it be that Corbyn's success would demonstrate that New Labour under Blair was, not necessarily all but mostly, a terrible mistake?
Norman Warner, a Labour member of the House of Lords, this week went further than most and actually left the party, claiming that under Corbyn Labour "hasn't a hope in hell."
Lord Warner is a former civil servant in the Department of Health and (presumably after having left the civil service) was a Health Minister in the Labour Government from 2005 to 2007.
One of the great mysteries to me is why the Liberal Democrats in the Coalition Government (2010 to 2015) went along with the Conservative policy of re-organisation of the NHS when this policy was not included in the Coalition Agreement and, indeed the Conservatives had expressly promised "no top-down reorganisation of the NHS" in their election campaign.
One of my (very few) contacts in the House of Lords explained to me that Lord Warner had assured the Liberal Democrat group that the Tory reforms were "all right" and, since he had been a civil servant in the department, and even a minister, they presumed that he know what he was talking about, so they agreed to be re-assured.
Later they discovered that Lord Warner had financial interests in private health providers. As Wikipedia now puts it:
Lord Warner is a director of Sage Advice Ltd, and an adviser to Xansa (a technology firm) and Byotrol (an antimicrobial company) - all of which sell or are hoping to sell services or products to the NHS, according to website Social Investigations. He also took up a position with Apax Partners – one of the leading private equity investors in healthcare, according to the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency.
Presumable that information wasn't on the web at the time, or maybe the Liberal Democrat peers were too trusting and didn't bother to look.
I suspect that Lord Warner will be no great loss to the progressive side of politics.
That progressive side can be heartened by the fantastic victory of the Canadian Liberals, who have overwhelmingly won their general election on a promise to run a government budget deficit for three years in order to invest in infrastructure and help stimulate Canada's economic growth.
So Keynesian economics is alive and well, and electable, at the other side of the Atlantic. Maybe Corbyn (with Liberal Democrat, Green and SNP support) can pull of a similar coup here. Certainly he has a far better chance than any of the Labour spoilers.
They, and we, should get behind him.