Sunday 17 July 2016

In his first tweet after being sacked as Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne chirped "Others will judge - I hope I've left the economy in a better state than I found it".

It so happens two weeks earlier the excellent Andy Haldane, executive director at the Bank of England, made his judgement. The date is important, as Osborne was still sitting confidently on his stool in the Treasury, so Haldane wasn't simply knifing a political corpse. Haldane was speaking truth to power, as so many others who should be doing so had long since ceased.

Haldane's speech in June 2016, titled "Whose Recovery?", should be essential reading in particular for the revolting Labour MPs. The speech offers them an insight into why the ordinary Labour Party membership backed Jeremy Corbyn. And why the Labour Party actually is a party of protest, both in Government and in Opposition. 

The Golden Rule states "Whoever has the Gold makes the Rules". Whether in Government or in Opposition, the Labour Party should represent those without the Gold, and should act as a counterbalance to those who make the Rules even when it is in Government. Because when the Labour Party was not a party of protest, it became the de facto Tory Party (a.k.a. "New Labour"). In truth, had Tory leaders during the Blair years been brighter they could have more quickly undermined Blair by supporting, not opposing, his policies.

Britain needs strong parties of all complexions, from left to right. Regime change in the Tory Party is done with ruthless corporate efficiency, while in the Labour Party it is done with all the blood and broken noses of a pub brawl. Both methods are fine, so long as both emerge representing their members.

Haldane, a product of state school and redbrick university, whether he is in an oak panelled room or in a whitewashed community centre listens to what he hears and  he sees what he looks at. Listening and seeing are talents sadly missing in the revolting Labour MPs. 

In his speech Haldane says:
"I began by speaking about the UK’s economic recovery.  I never got as far as the improvement in the jobs market or surging confidence.  I was stopped in my tracks by a forest of furrowed brows and a phalanx of probing questions, not all of them gentle.  “What exactly do you mean by recovery?” one asked.  “My charity is dealing with 50% more homeless people than three years ago.”   Every other charity in the room had similar stories to tell.  Whether it was food banks, mental health problems or drug addiction, all of the numbers were up.  The language of “recovery” simply did not fit their facts."

We leave it to Haldane to explain whether Osborne left the economy better than he found it, and why ordinary Labour Party members support Jeremy Corbyn:

1) Haldane points out that the UK economy as a whole can improve by making the rich slightly richer and the poor much poorer:

2) Regional income inequality has widened.
Haldane says:
"Another notable pattern in regional income gains and losses is that the largest gains have come in regions where income was already high – London (incomes more than 30% above the UK average) and the
South-East (14% higher). Contrarily, some of the larger losses have been in regions where income was already-low – Northern Ireland (18% lower than the UK average) and Yorkshire and Humberside (14% lower). Put differently, since the crisis the regional distribution of incomes has widened."

3) In recent years the rich have been given more and the poor have been made poorer. Haldane says: 
"in a subjective well-being sense, there may have been no recovery in the UK over the past few years"

He states:
"aggregate GDP figures may over-state somewhat the impact of the recovery on societal well-being: gains by the already-rich boost well-being by less than equivalent losses by the already-poor. To demonstrate that, Chart 12 plots an illustrative measure of “social welfare”. "
3) The recovery from the 2008 recession has been the slowest in decades:

4) By 2015 GDP per person was only 1% above pre-crash levels.
5) The GDP figure includes all UK income, including that which is sent overseas. Office for National Statistics figures show over half of UK quoted shares are owned by the 'rest of the World'. Illustrating how boosting company profits by holding down wages isn't good for Britons.
% of UK stock market owned by "rest of the World"
Haldane states that in terms of GDP per head that is actually kept in the UK there has been no recovery:

6) The "jobs recovery" has not been a "wages recovery". Noting that more people are in poorer paying jobs, Haldane states: 
"Although the recovery of the past few years has been jobs-rich, it has been notably pay-poor."
Haldane goes on to say:
"This is the longest period of flat or falling wages since at least the middle of the 19th Century". 

7) Bank of England and Office for National Statistics figures for 2015 show that in fact only London and the South East have passed their pre-crash peak. Haldane says:
"For example, in Northern Ireland GDP per head remains 11% below its peak, in Yorkshire and Humberside 6% below and here in Wales 2% below."

8) When it comes to Wealth, Haldane says:
"If we turn from income to wealth, the picture is much the same...This has risen across all regions. But the pattern is again uneven, with the largest gains in London (47%) and the South-East (25%), whereas in Wales the gains are smaller (8%) and in the North East there has been a small fall in wealth. 
"..these gains have come principally from rises in property and pension wealth. In other words, the gains have been skewed towards those in society who own their own home or who have sizable pension pots."

Andy Haldane says in this speech:
"The rising economic tide has not lifted all boats. Indeed, a sizable fraction of households have seen no recovery in their disposable incomes, a rise in job insecurity and at best modest rises in their wealth. For them, the “recovery puzzle” may not be so puzzling. These data also suggest that distributional factors may be important when understanding “whose recovery”. "
"This has been an uneven economic recovery, looking across regions, income and age cohorts. Large parts of the UK – many regions, those on lower incomes, the young, renters - have not experienced any meaningful recovery in their incomes or in their wealth."

The revolting Labour MPs desperately hope to cling to their well compensated jobs. The poor things have invested years sucking up to one set of leaders, only to find them chucked out and replaced by Jeremy Corbyn of all people! Probably Corbyn has so little support among the MPs because nobody had bothered licking their spittle onto him.

Labour MPs need to emulate Andy Haldane. Instead of cloaking themselves in self-importance, convinced that only they can "save the Party", they need to go out and see what they look at, and listen to what they hear.  

Labour MPs must stop peeping out of the windows of their Westminster Chambers, demonising their own party members. 

Instead of plotting engrossed in their Westminster mutual admiration society, they need to understand the reasons why Labour Party Members around Britain overwhelmingly supported Jeremy Corbyn.


  1. Please note the Irish GDP has increased by 26% according to the offical figures. This just reinforces my scepticism about the reliability of the measurement of GDP

  2. Haldane's presentation is better than most because it look at disaggregated data, even by income. But it is still quite optimistic, because it relies on official data which is slightly but significantly "improved" thanks to "better methodologies".

    On inflation:
    «Sir Stuart Rose, who as chairman of M&S could be described as the voice of Middle England, says that the real inflation rate is around eight per cent, while pay rises are closer to three.»

    On "improving" GDP:

  3. Problem is Labour has frequently betrayed its members rather than representing them.


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