The depravity of Rachel Reeves’ Mais lecture

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It seems that everyone with time on their hands and nothing constructive to think about is talking about Rachael Reeves Mais lecture speech to be presented this evening at City, University of London.

Since it would appear that this speech has been almost entirely leaked in time to advance, let me throw in my tuppence worth, meaning that I am restricting my comments to the overall tenor of her proposals rather than to any detail, not least because she herself appears to avoid all detail, as ever.

The entire substance of her speech seems to be encapsulated in this paragraph, which is apparently at the core of the Labour promise to the country:

When we speak of a decade of national renewal, that is what we mean. As we did at the end of the 1970s, we stand at an inflection point, and as in earlier decades, the solution lies in wide-ranging supply-side reform to drive investment, remove the blockages constraining our productive capacity, and fashion a new economic settlement, drawing on evolutions in economic thought.

It takes no reading between the lines to realise that she believes that if only the restrictions on unfettered market capitalism were removed, we would have growth. This removal of regulatory restrictions on business is, after all, exactly what the euphemism "supply side reforms" means. There is no other possible interpretation.

This has always been the 55 Tufton Street agenda. Even the Conservative Party, in more extreme moments, has failed to embrace much of this idea, but now it would seem that Rachael Reeves has. In particular, I can hear her talking about planning reforms in a way that echoes comments made by Mark Littlewood of the Institute of Economic Affairs while sitting beside me in the BBC studios over many years.

I have to admit that I never expected Labour to adopt such an absurd or even depraved policy. What Reeves is, in effect, saying is that businesses should have the right to trample over the interests of anyone else in society in the pursuit of profit, whatever the externalities (or costs) they might impose on others as a consequence, both now and in the future.

If you want a precise description of everything that is wrong with modern capitalism and why it has caused the destruction that is resulting in so many of our current crises, including on climate change, then it is the fact that politicians persistently ignored those externalities or costs that Rachael Reaves is now saying that she will also turn a blind eye towards.

Please forgive me if I cannot be bothered to spend much time on the remainder of what she will say. When you have embraced an idea as hideous as this one, any footnote that you wish to add to try to ameliorate the impact of your proposal has to necessarily be ignored because you have already decided, as a matter of policy, to treat nothing but the pursuit of profit as being of any concern.

How did the Labour Party reach such a low point?

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