Friday, April 03, 2015

The Misleaders Debate

Did you watch the "Leaders Debate" on ITV last night? At least it was more democratic than last time, all parties contesting all or most of the seats in England, Scotland or Wales getting equal time irrespective of how many outgoing MPs they had. That's how it should be if electors are to be able to make an informed choice.

Unfortunately they didn't get all the information they need to make such a choice: they weren't told that what the seven politicians said was all hot air since it is economics (the capitalist economy) not politics (the government) that is in the driving seat and determines what happens.

A revealing division emerged between the three parties that have had experience of being in national government under capitalism (the Tories, Labour and the Liberals) and those that hadn't. Those with the experience argued that austerity couldn't be avoided given the current state of the capitalist economy. Government spending, they argued, had to be cut to facilitate a profit-led recovery. They just argued over the amount and pace.

The Greens, the SNP and the Welsh Nationalists advocated the old, discredited Keynes policy of a government spending led recovery, which, whenever it has been tried, has failed and more often than not made things worse. But, then, when there's no chance of you forming the government you can make unrealistic promises.

The elephant in the room, which nobody saw, was that governments don't and can't control capitalism and that all they can do is react to what the capitalist economy throws at them. They can only navigate on sight. Which means that all the promises they make -- and there were plenty of what "we" or "I" (Miliband gave the impression that he was going to solve things single-handedly) would do last night -- are worthless.

Acknowledging this would have let Miliband off the hook in the face of Cameron's repeated claim that the crash of 2008 and consequent slump was due to the then Labour government's mishandling of the economy. It wasn't, just as the timid recovery now taking place hasn't been the result of government policy. Both resulted from the spontaneous working of the capitalist economy as it has been going through one of its regular boom/slump cycles.

As to the rest, Farage made his usual appeal to xenophobic prejudice by blaming everything on EU and immigration. The Welsh Nationalist unashamedly played pork barrel politics saying that, in the event of a hung parliament, her party would make it a condition for supporting any government that more money should be allocated to the Welsh administration to spend. Nicola Sturgeon was doing the same but more subtly but also more meaningfully as the SNP could end up with forty or so MPs as a bargaining chip compared to Plaid Cymru's three or four.

Bur whatever government emerges from the election it won't be able to make capitalism work to benefit the majority. It will have to let capitalism run in the only way it can: as a profit-making system that puts making profits before meeting people's needs. Which made the debate rather pointless; in fact worse than this, misleading, as it encouraged the illusion that whichever party or parties is in government makes any real difference when it won't.

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