Richard Murphy on Keir Starmer

3 May

Writing yesterday on his Tax Research site – see Starmer makes me despair – accountant, tax specialist and modern monetary theorist Richard Murphy has this to say:

Keir Starmer was interviewed by the ever-affable Justin Webb on the Tory Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning. Paul Waugh, chief political correspondent of the Independent, summarised one exchange as follows:

Starmer was actually asked about taxes on wealth. He rejected the idea.

What is Starmer saying as a result? There are at least three obvious things.

The first is that inequality does not matter, when it very clearly does.

The second is that he does not think redistributing wealth, from those who only save their excess income to those who might spend it in the economy, can have an impact on the economy as a whole. This reveals a staggering level of incomprehension of the impact of multiplier effects.

Third, he really does not believe in the ability of government to meet need. If he thinks high tax delivers low growth he is clearly saying low tax, which is associated with small government, does deliver growth. In other words, he is suggesting that the private sector is to be preferred as a delivery mechanism to the state.

I could dig deeper but I am not sure I need to. This is neoliberal thinking of the most basic, dogmatic, mantra-driven and unchallenging type. The message could not be clearer. Everything Labour once stood for will not be embraced by him, his team or any government he leads. We will instead get austerity, shrinking services, growing inequality and  kow-towing to the markets, bankers, and the supposed entrepreneurs in big business whose sole objective is to gouge out their companies for their own private gain.

I despair.

I can say with a very clear conscience that I will not be voting Labour this week.

Me neither. I’ll leave you – and Richard – with two thoughts. One is that Caitlin Johnstone’s observations on America’s oligarchy thinly disguised as democracy …

The US doesn’t have political parties, it has narrative control ops disguised as political parties. One of them overtly promotes capitalism and imperialism by appealing to Americans’ worst impulses, the other covertly diverts healthy impulses back into capitalism and imperialism.

An elephant and a donkey fight in a puppet show and the crowd cheers for one or the other while thieves pick their pockets. And when people start to notice their wallets are missing, they’re told they can stop the pickpocketing by cheering louder for their favorite puppet.

People ask why the Democrats never codified Roe vs Wade into law, and the answer is, because that’s not their job. Their job is not to enact the policies you elected them to enact. Their job is not even to win elections. Their job is to keep you staring at the puppet show while the empire has its way with the world.

….are equally applicable to Britain.

The second, which should be obvious after the ousting of Corbyn and his replacement by a safer pair of hands for the said oligarchs, was voiced a while ago on this site in a comment by bevin:

The natural political division in the UK right now is between Blairism and Socialism. The Tory ‘brand’ is no longer fit for purpose – Blairism serves the ruling class far better. And when it is opposed by Toryism it is unbeatable because the only alternative is a clumsier version of itself.


I’m holidaying in Cromarty. Here’s a picture from yesterday. It’s no award winner but is my first of a wild dolphin. Between May and September, Atlantic Salmon enter the Moray Firth – which stabs its southwesterly dagger into the Scottish Highlands all the way to Inverness – and from there run up the Beauly and Ness rivers to spawn in fresh water.

Southwest of Cromarty, close to Fortrose, the firth narrows . At low tide only a few hundred metres separate Chanonry Point on the west shore from Fort George on the east. Here the fish must navigate the deep water channel a few metres off the point, here they face the greatest danger of ambush by waiting bottlenose dolphins, and here I and a dozen others arrived an hour or so after low tide. For the first hour, zilch. Then the action began. My kit was adequate. My reflexes were not. I’ll be back.

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5 Replies to “Richard Murphy on Keir Starmer

  1. Starmer’s view seems similar to that of Liz Truss! Amazing.
    I realised some time back that every single day I read something Starmer has said or done that’s more extreme and shitty. I’m in a bit of a rush so that’s probably not very well put but you’ll get my point.
    Good photo. We’re going to Northumberland next week. Have seen dolphins there while on boat trips.
    Enjoy your travels.

    • Extreme and shitty will do, Margaret.

      Saw dolphins twice yesterday, from a boat in the morning and the shore at Chanonry Point in the evening.

      Enjoy your own travels x

    • As is this:

      “In essence, the distinctively innovative and moralistic culture that distinguished England from Europe, most fully expressed in Puritanism and Cromwellian republicanism, flowed into America’s east coast elites even as it was crushed by the aristocracy at home. Britain’s version of the modernizing class—represented elsewhere by Washington, Napoleon, Garibaldi, Bismarck, the Meiji Emperor, Lenin, Mao, and Nasser—even arose far earlier, during the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution. It died a premature death, unable to provide the refounding moment for Britain that occurred in 1776 in America, 1789 in France, 1868 in Japan, and 1949 in China.

      Because of its status as an initially advantaged first mover, the UK now has a fortified elite content to live on the rents of bygone ages. Its social order is constituted by the cultural legacy of the old aristocracy, underwritten by London financial brokers, and serviced by a shrinking middle class. Its administrative and political classes developed a culture of amateurism, uninterested in either the business of classically informed generalism or that of deep technical specialism. The modern result is a system that incentivizes speculative, consultative, and financial service work over manufacturing, research, and production.”

      As contributor Zoltan Jorovic on the Richard Murphy Tax blog: observed:

      “offering people a future where everything gets worse, from environment to economy via healthcare, education, public transport, politics and discourse, is not a viable project. If you keep telling people there is no alternative and things can only get worse, we all end up killing ourselves, each other, or them.”

      Starmer’s Labour have made very clear, figuratively speaking, in 100 foot high neon lighted letters, that this remains the only permitted operating model or paradigm. The notion that this represents any kind of “alternative” is the political equivalent of claiming a man is a woman; up is down; black is white; shit is edible and the Moon is made of green cheese.

      Right now the only crumb of comfort is that the weather forecast for London on Saturday apparently involves cats and dogs. The sight of the self-appointed almighty and their sycophants of this ‘Rotten Borough’ of a State getting piss wet through as they piss £100 million of our money down our backs in a fantasy pageant would just about sum up the state of the Country.

  2. Britain as rotten borough is excellent. The Palladium piece looks good too. I’ve set it aside for reading later. The second para of the extract you cite notes two well known phenomena. One is the cult of amateurism in Britain. (Its Civil Service upper echelons were Eton/Oxbridge, armed with classics degrees. Harold Wilson’s “white heat of technology” was posited as pushback but the degeneration of one of its products, the polytechnics, into second class universities which have now axed science and languages in favour of film studies, is one sign of that white heat having cooled to tepid accommodation to Thatcher’s beloved market forces.) The other, related, is that historic ascendance of finance over industrial capital.

    I’d add however that unfavourable comparisons of UK with European capitalism now look to be overstated as Berlin and Brussels sacrifice their own industries over Ukraine, in obeisance to Washington and Wall Street.

    Zoltan and I have history. I appreciated his at times insightful comments on this site but the equivalences he drew – between US imperialism and a supposed Chinese empire – are as unsupported by the facts as they are widely made. I still await his reply to an open letter I wrote almost two years ago.

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