Rachel Reeves’ fiscal rule is the same as John McDonnell’s and Jeremy Hunt’s. All three offered austerity.

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In 2018, I wrote a blog post making clear that I profoundly disagreed with the fiscal rule that was proposed at that time by John McDonnell, when he was shadow Labour Chancellor.

You will not find that fiscal rule on a Labour website anymore, but I happened to screenshot it . This is what it said:

A few sensible, and admittedly sensible, words on what happens in a crisis and when interest rates are at the zero bound apart, you literally could not put a fag paper between what is said there and what Rachel Reeves is saying now or, come to that, what Jeremy Hunt says. The commitment is to:

- Match current expenditure with taxation revenue.

- Borrow only to fund investment.

- Cut the deficit as a proportion of GDP over a five year period.

These three commitments are exactly what Rachael Reeves is saying now, which guarantee us austerity.

I stress, they also offered austerity when John McDonnell endorsed these words in 2018, when he even referred to a crass credit card analogy in the process of doing so.

Why make the point now? There are three good reasons for doing so.

First, this shows that John MacDonnell was nothing like the left-winger that he claimed to be. He was as captured by neoliberal thinking on these issues as Hunt and Reeves are. That is why I could never have worked with him.

Second, this shows that Labour has really not changed, and will not when in office. Austerity is its core belief. It is a fundamentally neoliberal party, and has been for thirty years now. Nothing is going to change.

Third, what that makes clear is that there is no viable political option now being offered by the two main political parties to the vast majority of people in this country who want the needs of the people of this country to be met above all else. None of the politicians leading those parties think that is the job that they will ever be asked to do. They see their role as being to deliver growth even if, as we know, that almost entirely benefits the already wealthy. They are, as a consequence, of no use to our our society and we have to now look elsewhere for answers.

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