I find the likes of Martin Kettle extremely annoying. Displaying extraordinary small mindedness, and a willingness to kow-tow to bankers and economists of the sort Simon Jenkins rightly condemns in the Guardian today Kettle argues on another page of the Guardian today that:
So much now depends on Ed Miliband. Only he can tell the Labour party, in the absence of an international boost of demand which shows absolutely no sign of coming, that a Labour Britain would have to cut its coat according to its cloth. Only he has the authority to tell his party that Labour's general election offer to the voters will involve no net extra current expenditure, and maybe even less. Only he can tell his shadow ministers to focus on radical manifesto ideas that involve no more money. It's an incredibly tough call for any Labour leader. Nevertheless, these are incredibly tough times. Whether Miliband is up to it is unclear. But the task is urgent and unavoidable and it will define him one way or the other.
This is simply not true. I will give my almost obligatory reference to The Courageous State for those wanting a fuller explanation, let's deal with the core of this now.
First, there is a £95 billion tax gap to be tackled. How dare he say there's no money? Of course there's money. What Kettle's saying is that he would rather that money be left with the crooks, the cheats and the straightforwardly criminal than be collected top pay for the services we need. That's a choice by him: a choice to support criminality over public services and a choice that those who are criminal should be rewarded. It's not just lazy to ignore this. it's candidl;y and quite literally criminal to do so.
Second, Kettle reveals a remarkably small mind. Money can be printed. We can print as much of it as we need. We let banks do so to fuel a consumer boom. We can do so to meet social need. There is no risk whatsoever of internally generated inflation of we were to do so: you don't have internally generated inflation when there are falling net wages and 2.64 million unemployed. So he is negligently ignoring a reality here. He is choosing to make people unemployed to avoid a fiction: the risk of inflation. That makes him a friend of the 1%.
Third, Kettle shows he has not the faintest idea about the real economy. People generate wealth, not money. It is labour - the process of people working to exchange with each other, which is the foundation of an economy. It is the job of economics and politics to liberate them to do so. But he'd rather they were forced into unemployment, and demands a Labour government that would do just that, to make sure that the failed edicts of neoliberal economics are supported (edicts that Jenkins has seen right through, to his credit). How dare he suggest that Labour should sacrifice the people of this country to such a failure?
Kettle is the sort of person Labour needs to be rid of. They're LINO - Labour In Name Only.
What we need is a Labour Party that stands up for people. That says it will collect tax owing. That says it believes it is its job to get people back to work - and as people like Krugman, Stiglitz, Wolf and Sam Brittan argue, should borrow to do just that. And it's a party that says the bankers and their friends have got it very, very wrong, as the people of this country instinctively know.
Labour won a by-election yesterday. That's good news, and the swing to them was welcome. But not being the Tories is not enough. Labour has to offer a radical economic agenda to win through for this country. If not we faced decades of despair.
And to start it should be telling people in its ranks like Kettle to go forth and join the Coalition, which is where they belong because candidly the last thing we need is another New Labour regeneration - ever.