Friday, 29 January 2016

Shouldn't we be ashamed to have such leaders? Take your pick. Cameron's migrant "gaffe" (or is it his "dead cat"?). Osbornes's 3% Google tax deal.

Well, shouldn't we be ashamed to have a Prime Minister and a Chancellor of the Exchequer who speak and behave in such a manner?

Scene: Prime Minister's Question Time

Location: House of Commons

Prime Minister's intention: Rubbish the Opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn. and the shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.

Cameron's words: 'They met a bunch of migrants in Calais; they said they could all  come to Britain'.

Did they say this?  No.  Does Cameron believe they said this?  No.

Shameful. The politics of the gutter.

'Bunch of migrants''?  Alex Salmond said this was 'pretty disgusting' language. Was this what the psychologists call 'seepage'? Cameron's real feelings slipping out when he was under pressure? My wife and I thought so at first.

Shameful. The politics of the gutter.

But then we picked up the story in the Independent newspaper that this was no gaffe. Instead, it was a reply scripted in advance to deflect attention away from issues that Jeremy Corbyn had used to attack the government earlier in P.M. questions. We found out that this could have been the "dead cat strategy" in operation - the Conservative election campaign manager Lynton Crosby is a known advocate of such a strategy. "Throwing a dead cat on the table " will distract people from a topic you wish they would stop discussing. In this case, Osborne's 3% Goggle tax deal.

Shameful. The politics of the gutter. Whichever of the two explanations.

And Jeremy Corbyn? Is his the politics of the gutter? Was he lying when he said he would bring a more kindly approach to politics?  His opponents would love to have people believe that Corbyn's politics and policies would have us all in the gutter. But their own neo-liberal economic theories deliver a stagnating economy that generates only low-growth for a few and very high dividends for the very small number at the top. Corbyn's economic vision is broadly similar to all the main economists who reject the failed neo-liberal economics that have underpinned such suffering across the world. If you are happy with low growth and increasing inequality, attack Corbyn. If you want a world shaped by kinder, more productive and more humane values, shame Cameron and Osborne.

The Prime Minister does look more rattled at times, these days. Should he be? Well, in the concluding chapter of my 'Road to Corbyn' - to be published before the summer - I use a little publicised article in the Huffington Post (3 August 2015) to show why these shameful leader of ours might well be rattled. It's an interview with the former Conservative chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, in which Clarke warned that Mr Corbyn's brand of left-wing populism could be hard to campaign against in certain circumstances. "If you have another recession or if the Conservative government becomes very unpopular, he could win."

There. You've heard it from the lips of a former Conservative chancellor. The end of the politics of the gutter is a possibility. And have you looked at the news from the world's stock exchanges recently? If I were Cameron and Osborne, I would be a little rattled.

What do you think?