The Left in 2022

As an advocate of social democratic left-of-centre politics and economics I am disappointed, like many people, at the continued failure of the Labour party to achieve office. I wrote this piece after the 2015 general election and I am pleased that the Labour Party has finally begun to assert its policies proudly under Jeremy Corbyn instead of apologising for them as they did under Ed Milliband. I was delighted by Labour's manifesto for the 2017 election but their offering needs to widen to capture the votes of many habitual conservative voters if it is to win office.

A common theme of my MaverickMan articles on politics and economics is how I believe that right-wing ideas are fundamentally flawed and are actually bad for the effective operation of the free market that right wingers supposedly claim to know so much about. Many of the policies of Labour, such as greater regulation of the housing rental market, are not 'leftwing' at all but are bourne out of a proper understanding of how markets operate and where they go wrong. I have plenty of ideas on how the Left in England can present itself in a way that will appeal to floating voters tempted to vote Conservative (in Scotland and Wales, and indeed much of the North of England the argument has already been won).

Mass-immigration is not leftwing

Scandavavian countries are pro-business AND pro-people

The British Left started out being about family, self-discipline, hard work, education - all supposedly Tory values, the difference is the Left will have a state to pick you up as a last resort whereas the Tories will not

In many ways, the 1970s were a good decade for Britain, apart from the over-powerful Unions

The Left should have policies that directly help people fund a new business

Taxing the rich is about raising money rather than all this crap about "envy"

The free market only makes rich people richer if left unregulated. It should be about creating a level-playing field. For example, landlords have more power than tenants - it is a free-market policy of making it more equal. Plus, fewer landlords will mean more homeowners, so, in fact, Labour's housing policy would be more Thatcherite than the Tories. Aiming for 100% homeownership (never achievable but a worthwhile goal) should be core to the Left's manifesto in 2022.

No-one wins unless everyone wins.

We need more entreprenuers, but not all business people are "wealth creators" and some are more valuable to the country than others. We don't need to incentivise more estate agents and recruitment consultants particularly, we need more manufacturing and more servicing-sector businesses that have products and services that can be sold abroad. Tax and business policy should focus of delivering more of one kind of business person and not worry too much about others.

New York taxes expensive properties far more than in London so it needs to be argued that it can hardly be regarded as Leftwing to do so.

Labour did spend too much money on social programmes that achieved little and only created a cycle of dependency. That state does have the right to moralise and assert values to those not bringing up their children properly. Welfare and social services should do the minimum required to stop poverty and hopelessness but no more.

In the past the Left was concerned with economic growth because it would lead to higher living standards. The Left should advocate policies that maximise general economic growth, new business formation (especially from people without money behind them), focus on exports, and building up the skills of the population. The left should celebrate success stories and emphasise that demanding more tax from the rich is for the purpose of creating a fairer society to enable more people to become rich in the first place. Sweden and Denmark have high taxes on the rich but are MORE entreprenuerial because more people find themselves prosperous enough to be able to set up their own businesses (however, I'm also suggesting that the government issues convertible loans to people to set up their own businesses who do not have enough security to get a bank loan).

35 years of sucking up to business (including New Labour) has delivered to this country one of the worst records on productivity in the developed world, one of the lowest levels of research and development in the developed world, one of the worst records on capital expenditure in the entire world, an appallingly bad trade deficit, and an appalling and dangerous current account deficit. We're a nation spending money we haven't got buying goods we didn't produce and we're not going to build a world-class economy carrying on like this.

Being pro-business is not the same as sucking up to business. Just because Business says something doesn't mean it is true and doesn't mean it should go unchallenged. Saying yes to every demand from your children doesn't make you pro-your-children; on the contrary, sometimes you have to be firm to be truely pro-your-children in order that they are properly prepared for the sometimes difficult realities of the outside world. The same mentality should apply to the Left's attitude to Business. This sucking up to business has delivered mediocrity and laziness from our business community. Sometimes you have to tell truth to power and being firm and honest about the failure of British business would be a very pro-business thing to do.

Labour did very well in the 2017 general election to deny the Conservatives an overall majority given the state of play in the months before the election campaign. Labour's manifesto was, despite the insults from the usual right-wing suspects, well thought-out and centre-left by the standards of most European counntries. Their policies are not the problem; the route to government is in convincing mindless Tory voters that Labour's policies are more pro-business than the Tories and will lead to a better society for everyone.