Corbyn’s Car Crash

The current state of British politics is on a knife edge. The smaller parties have crashed and we’re back to the Conservatives and Labour with virtually 85% of the popular vote between them. Despite all the spin and jockeying for position, both parties gained a substantial number of votes at the recent election; and both gained a significant share of the vote, on a significantly higher turnout. But the idiosyncrasies of our electoral system have lead to a hung parliament. Theresa May’s gamble failed, despite her gaining many more votes. So where does all this lead us?

The Conservatives prime focus has been on deficit reduction and Brexit. But despite the need to eliminate the deficit and to address the problem of the spiraling national debt, people have become tired of public sector pay freezes, cuts to many of our public services and the failure to increase funding for health, social care and education in line with demand.

Whether we like it or not, the hard facts of life are that the only way we can address these financial challenges is to expand our economy at a faster rate than the rate at which we wish to expand public spending. Higher tax rates and more borrowing won’t work and will ultimately make the situation worse. Unfortunately, the Conservatives have turned out to be administrators, who are simply juggling the resources they’ve got. They lack any real vision for how this country can develop and grow; how our industry and commerce can become stronger and more successful in world markets and how we can punch above our weight in world affairs. Without a vision, they have no strategy. Furthermore, they have no passion, with which they can enthuse the British public. In this situation, it’s very difficult to see how a minority Conservative government can survive for a full five year term and it’s difficult to see how the result of the next election, whenever it comes, will be anything other than a majority Labour government. So what can we expect from Labour?

Labour has a vision; or at least Jeremy Corbyn has a vision. And there’s no doubt that he has enthused younger voters. He’s promising to end austerity and pump huge additional sums into the economy to increase funding for a whole range of public services. He’s also promising to nationalise the railways and public utilities, with the objective of achieving better services at lower costs to the public. All this will be funded through extra taxes on the rich and increased borrowing. It all sounds good and, in the absence of any competing vision from the Conservatives, it will win votes and probably get him into No 10. But what will happen then?

History tells us that these policies will not only not work but will make matters considerably worse. Nationalisation, in the post war period was a disaster. There is not a single example of a nationalised industry that was a success. They became moribund by bureaucracy. Governments interfered because they constantly sought political outcomes rather than outcomes that benefited customers. The entire management process become completely dysfunctional. Huge losses built up. Governments struggled to fund those losses and consequently cut capital investment. As a result the businesses concerned went into a long term decline. Some like ship building and steel virtually disappeared. Others like the railways were brought back to life through privatisation.

The tax and spend policies of the Attlee Governments from 1945 to 1951 and the Wilson Governments from 1964 to 1970 were equally disastrous. Even then, high rates of tax failed to provide the tax revenue that they were designed to achieve because people and organisations changed their behavior patterns. Borrowing went out of control; the pound was devalued, interest rates went up, inflation went up and economic growth stalled. This all culminated in James Callaghan’s Labour Government (1976 to 1979), having to take loans from the IMF and being forced to make the most drastic cuts in public spending that there have been this side of the second world war. It was a national humiliation and created huge hardship for many people.

I can well understand why younger generations might be attracted by Corbyn’s vision. They don’t remember the carnage and chaos that these policies caused between 1945 and 1976; and, in the absence of any vision from the Conservatives, they offer a welcome change from the austerity of the last nine years. However, before Jeremy Corbyn is given the chance to repeat the mistakes of the past, we urgently need a meaningful debate.

The Conservatives need to challenge Corbyn’s policies, pointing out the likely consequences, if they are implemented. This shouldn’t be in the form of personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn; it should be a robust rebuttal of his policies, evidence based and delivered with passion. They should also be offering a realistic alternative that can bring real prosperity to everyone.

Labour, on the other hand, must explain why they believe that the policies they are proposing will work today, when similar policies between 1945 and 1976 were such a disaster. At the moment, their head of steam is largely as a result of the Conservatives offering no meaningful challenge and younger people being unaware of the risks that these policies present.

Personally, I think it’s probably too late. The Conservative party contains too many people, who believe in some sort of divine right to rule. They probably need a period in opposition to get rid of the dead wood and to reinvent themselves as a vibrant political force with a strong and exciting vision for the future. In the meantime, Corbyn is set to take us back to the austerity of the post war period. It’s a car crash waiting to happen.

 

 

 

Beware: £20,000 Fraud: This Could be You

My daughter is a single mum. She works full time time and has been saving up for a deposit for her first house. Recently she decided to take the plunge; put in an offer for a small house to provide a home for herself and my granddaughter. She had her mortgage application approved and everything was moving towards completion on Friday 16th June.

On Thursday 8th June, she received an email from her solicitor with instructions to transfer her £20,000 deposit to the solicitor’s client account. This email was the last of a full trail of emails that had been going back and forth over several weeks; so there was no reason to doubt its integrity. BUT…..

Fraudsters had hacked into the solicitor’s email account and taken over the correspondence. The bank account details they provided were not those of my daughter’s solicitor; but she didn’t know that and had no reason to suspect that this was the case. She transferred the money and has now lost every penny to someone or some gang that could be anywhere in the world. We’ll now have to see if, as a family, we can find the money to enable my daughter and granddaughter to still have their own home.

My reason for writing this article is not to ask for sympathy. It’s our problem and we’ll solve it. However, people need to be aware of just how clever and professional these criminals are. My daughter is nobody’s fool. She has a maths degree and is a business analyst, working on the development of smart meters for the various utilities. She is acutely aware of on-line security issues; so if she can be fooled, then how vulnerable are all those people, who are less IT savvy.

Sadly, the response from both the police and the banks has been deplorable. The police don’t seem interested and said they may or may not follow it up. The banks are equally half witted. My daughter banks with Lloyds; and the fraudsters’ account was with Barclays. But they don’t talk to each other; it’s been left to my daughter to liaise between them and, as far as they are concerned it’s her fault. So neither the banks nor the police want to know.

Crime in the UK, with the exception of this type of online fraud, is declining rapidly and it’s not surprising. Cyber crime is much easier, more lucrative and less high risk than robbing a bank or other traditional forms of crime. And what are we doing about it? We’re calling for 20,000 more bobbies on the beat, whose contribution to this fast growing cyber crime will be precisely zero. What we actually need is a major investment in the recruitment and training of cyber crime specialists, who do follow up thefts of peoples’ entire life savings and who work with similar agencies all over the world. Banks also have a major role to play. They cannot continue to take no responsibility; if they allow criminals to open and use bank accounts for fraudulent purposes, they must be held accountable.

Crime has moved into an entirely new era and threatens to overwhelm us. We must now act intelligently, purposefully and with great determination to prevent that happening.