Corbyn, Cooper, Thatcher, Savage



I looked at ipredict this evening for their odds on a Corbyn victory in today’s UK vote for Labour leader. In ipredict’s most traded prediction of the moment, ‘Other’ apparently has a 97% chance of winning. ‘Other’ is of course Jeremy Corbyn, who did not even make ipredict’s shortlist of seven likely contestants. (The 97% needs to be taken with caution, because the sum of the probabilities given adds to 107.5%, with scary Yvette Cooper, the clear Blairite candidate, on 7%. Seemingly she’s the only one who can beat Corbyn.)

I watched the debate screened in New Zealand last Sunday (6 Sept), on TV3’s Three60 programme. Andy Burnham looked like he would move his position on any issue based on the latest focus group interviews. Liz Kendall spoke well, and may be a leader to watch out for in the future. Yvette Cooper played the ‘sound money’ candidate, and looked to me like, if given power, she could become a new Iron Lady (possibly more Merkel than Thatcher), committed to monetarist principles and rigid rules-based politics. Jeremy Corbyn spoke very well, and tellingly refuted every bit of neoliberal spin that was presented to him.

On 22 August, I compared Jeremy Corbyn with our much-loved Aussie import, Mickey Savage. Both were of a similar age (60-something), similarly caring more about people than monetary propriety, transparently sincere, and capable of reaching out to people who often do not vote Labour (including people who often do not vote at all) and young people. The orthodox candidates (and their backers), the establishment media, and the Conservative Party all have reason to fear a Corbyn-helmed Labour Party. He’s the kind of guy who, the more the establishment try to knock him, the better he looks. (See Polly Toynbee’s column in the Guardian, 13 August, about Cooper’s attack on Corbyn.) I’m guessing that, in 2020 when the next UK election is due, ‘Corbynomics’ will be one of the few nomics not discredited. Indeed it’s not much different to Japan’s Abenomics; and Shinzo Abe is hardly a left-winger.

I have three main points to add to my earlier posting. First, I lived in London – my OE – from May 1974 to September 1978. So I was there when, in February 1975, Margaret Thatcher defeated Ted Heath in a close-fought poll to become Conservative Party leader. Around my then workplace, the middle-aged white men thought this was a big mistake. She would be unelectable as Prime Minister, they thought. She wasn’t unelectable of course. Times were changing, and she was a woman for her time. Significant numbers of unemployed, and lifelong Labour voters, voted for her in 1979, 1983 and 1987. She had crossover appeal, without being a centrist. And she made a permanent imprint on the United Kingdom, just as Mickey Savage did on New Zealand. Jeremy Corbyn, while the polar opposite of Thatcher, may be equally able to harvest the votes of the uncertain; the votes that make the difference when they align. He is no doctrinaire socialist; like Savage, he’s a compassionate pragmatist.

My second point is about that bone of contention that really animated Yvette Cooper; Corbyn’s proposals to adapt QE (quantitative easing; ‘printing’ money) towards a Japanese-style programme of public spending. This is precisely what Mickey Savage did in 1936 and 1937 – especially to fund the large scale investment in ‘state’ housing. Savage was fortunate to have access to a Reserve Bank that was created less than two years before his party gained power. It was because of the success of this policy that Savage’s legacy is so enduring.

The inflation that monetarists say inevitably follows such monetary policies never came close to being a problem in the late 1930s. And there was no shortage of monetarist economists in the 1920s and 1930s to condemn Savage’s anti-monetarist ‘experiments’. (As in the late 1930s, inflation has not been even close to being a problem in the post-2008 world of QE and near-zero interest rates.) This inflation-concern is the monetarist canard that Ms Cooper appears to be putting about. The evidence of history (especially but not only post-1935 and post-2008) is that inflation is not a simple function of the money supply. [My suspicion is that it’s more a function of a closely contested class-war than a result of too much bank credit.]

The final matter to mention here is the preferential voting being used in this leadership election. It’s the same voting method used by New Zealand Labour in 2014, the method that will be used in the coming flag referendum, and the method used in Australian lower house elections.

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In one Guardian article (Liz Kendall camp claims vote for Yvette Cooper will let in Jeremy Corbyn), Liz Kendall’s campaign head muses about “the complexities of the alternative vote [preferential] system”. Well it’s not actually complex; rather it does allow you to vote ‘for’ someone, rather than (as ‘First-Past-the-Post’ requires) having to vote ‘against’ someone. It means that a vote for a non-contestant (probably Burnham and Kendall are the non-contestants) is not a wasted vote. It simply means that any vote that ranks Corbyn ahead of Cooper will count as a vote for Corbyn, and any that ranks Cooper ahead of Corbyn will count for Cooper. (Kendall’s only chance is if Cooper can be eliminated; so she wants anti-Corbyn voters to choose her ahead of Cooper.)

According to ipredict, Kendall will be first to be eliminated, and Burnham will be second. The polling suggests that half of Burnham’s supporters will choose Corbyn over Cooper. If so Corbyn will win. The only scenario as I see it that Corbyn can lose is if just about everyone who does not rank Corbyn as 1 will rank him as 4. I just don’t think that enough Labour people dislike Corbyn that much.

If Corban becomes UK Labour leader tomorrow, there will almost certainly be a long period as Opposition Leader. It will be four years in which a constructive contest of ideas can take place. I look forward to ‘people-first’ rather than a ‘money-first’ approaches emerging from this contest. Money is a social technology. It can serve us if we don’t let it rule us. Jeremy Corbyn appears to understand this.


  1. Corbyn’s big chance comes with the long time before the next election. This is when his army of supporters will have to do real politics, over the selection of candidates, some in the seats Labour now holds, mainly in the ones Labour needs to win from other parties.

    Because they have FPP, there will be specially difficult decisions to make in Scotland.

    These four-plus years are more than Andrew Little has now, and much more than David Cunliffe had last time (especially with Key’s canny call of an early election). There and here there are many placeholders with the capacity to passively resist change in policy or personnel.

  2. Yes Keith,

    Jeremy Corbyn has an honest rustic appearance that commands some quiet respect most like slick smiling assassin Shokey does not convey.

    Perhaps it is the final realisation that slick fast talking politicians have finally been seen as “Hollow shells of the corporate world and have caused much division between rich & poor.

    Jeremy Corbyn does shine as a bright light of hope that the egalitarian society we all grew up with and were protected by through the 50’s & 60’s.

    We all hope Jeremy & all supporters are not stymied by yet more corrupt election rigging such as this which no doubt corrupted our election process to ensure Shonkey clings to power.

    Good article Keith.

  3. If a large number of people who have not participated in the electoral process for a long time because they see nothing in anything on offer, are sparked into action by someone like Corbyn (and in the States Bernie Sanders) then the right will be wiped away in one election.

    • It’s interesting to read the Daily Mail howl this morning about how much Corbyn’s t-shirts cost to make. If that’s all they can drag up, he has a chance.

  4. An excellent observation Keith.

    One of the things that is different or special about Corbyn (and you do allude to it quite strongly in your blog) from all the other plastic wannabes is that he actually means what he says. He is not merely spouting what he thinks (or his speech writers think) will make him popular.

    The effect of people like this cannot be overstated. The general public can usually detect quite readily and easily when someone believes in what they are saying. It is a force of motivation and overcomes the inertia fueled by dreary political hacks.

    I made reference to this in Chris Trotter’s blog on Little’s dreary leaden effort at Whanganui recently.

    The mindless pursuit of the centre ground has obscured the fact that there are a million missing votes here in NZ/Aotearoa. It is interesting to speculate how many of those voters can be stimulated to return their votes when presented with a candidate such as Corbyn, who speaks directly and from the heart.

    The middle ground would be seen as the wasteland it is…

    • The middle are starting to feel poorer now and are frustrated that their hard work is not yielding the lollies promised. They are ripe for an alternative viewpoint.

  5. Keith, I see the elevation of Corbyn to the leadership role more like returning Labour to the days when Michael Foot and Tony Benn ran the party.

    Their loony left policies made them totally unelectable and gifted the Treasury Seats to Thatcher for three terms.

    • It is definitely returning UK Labour to its correct style. Isn’t it wonderful!

      Your second sentence is assumtive and makes odd and false jumps in logic.

      Britain is not going to the polls right now and it is not 1979 now…

      • You’re right. It’s not 1979. Things have moved forward a long way since then.

        Do you really think today’s middle class electorate would put up with the inept & slovenly service, the lack of choice offered by those old state owned assets?

        Do you think today’s traveller wants to go to Wellington on a old train and be served up insipid tea and a cold meat pie at Taumarunui?

        Do you think the voters don’t look at places like Venezuela and note what socialism stands for?

        Corbyn with his carefully crafted appearance to look like a modern day Lenin is about as relevant today as a buggy whip.

        • Do you think today’s traveller wants to go to Wellington on a old train and be served up insipid tea and a cold meat pie at Taumarunui?

          With most train services closed down, those travellers won’t be going anywhere by rail.

          Corbyn with his carefully crafted appearance to look like a modern day Lenin is about as relevant today as a buggy whip.

          So? Don’t vote for him.

          That’s what free choice is all about in a pluralistic democracy; you get a range of options to choose from. As a Rightie, you’re well catered for.

          Time to give voters other options. You do believe in choice, don’t you, Andrew?

    • What were the loony left policies, please articulate a little more. Everything I have heard from Corbyn made a great deal of sense – re-nationalising the rail, sharing the dough more equitably, stopping the beneficiary bash.

      I sincerely hope he gets the leadership.

      • You don’t know what you’re talking about. I vividly remember the disaster that was British Railways. It’s taken private investments decades to fix that disaster.

        Same applies to the National Coal Board and British Steel. All monuments to socialist failure.

        • Really, Andrew?!?!?!


          What about the near collapse of Air NZ in October 2001?

          Or the bail-out and re-nationalisation of NZ Rail/Kiwirail?

          And what was the Global Financial Crisis, pray tell? A shining beacon to capitalist triumphant success?

          Or the collapse of all the finance companies that left investors over a billion dollars out of pocket?

          If those were all State owned enterprises, what would your verdict be?

          • What about them?

            Kiwirail is just a liability which the the taxpayer should not have been forced to invest in.

            Air NZ still hasn’t paid back the full amount invested in it. At least by running it as a hands-off private entity it is operated efficiently.

            • Air NZ still hasn’t paid back the full amount invested in it. At least by running it as a hands-off private entity it is operated efficiently.

              Until it collapsed into liquidation. Very efficient.


              • That’s the thing your type doesn’t understand about Capitalism: You’re supposed to let things fail if they’re not successful. Because something will quickly take its place in a free market.

                Take the case of Air NZ. It was a company run out of Singapore with basically no fixed assets. The only Kiwi thing about it was the Koru on the tail.

                So the Clark government rescued this essentially foreign private entity to the tune of a billion dollars, one suspects because well connected individuals stood to lose if it folded.

                If it has been allowed to fold, there was a queue of other carriers waiting to take their space who no doubt would have provided the same service without needing my money via taxes to prop them up.

                • If Air NZ had collapsed, the on-going chaos caused to travellers and businesses relying on air-freight would’ve been colossal. For example, fresh flower exports to Japan would’ve suffered.

                  By supporting Air NZ and putting it back into stable State ownership, (a) the airline was saved, (b) travellers were saved from chaos, and (c) export businesses were not hit hard by one firm going under.

                  Your precious free market dogma is not free. It comes at a cost – and one that most sensible New Zealanders were not prepared to tolerate.

                  Therein lies the stark similarity between your free market ideology and the former Soviet Union’s centralised economy; neither take into account realities and demands of society as a whole, and the well-being of a nation. You’re too wedded to your ideology; too fixated by Black & Whites; not flexible enough to adapt to practical needs.

                  That is why the neo-liberal experiment will eventually go the way of the Soviet system; neither were practical enough to benefit ordinary folk.

            • [If you and Andrew want to discuss right-wing policies and support each other in doing so, I suggest you take it to the appropriate forum. TDB is not that Forum. – ScarletMod]

        • Bo Ho Andrew,

          Go cry a NatZ river.

          Go Corbyn you have the hearts and wishes of the people in your hands to care for now, and show Keyster the door.

          Socialism is about caring for the masses not the Elite rich mean spirited greediness we have today

          Socialism also involves the voice of the people and their input to set the agenda not like Tories who have their rich mates lobbyists that blackmail Government to run their agenda so good day today as Corbyn wins the leadership.

          • Cleangreen, you misunderstand what I’m saying on several levels:

            Firstly, I do hope for the sake of the British that they get Corbyn as the head of the Labour party because that will ensure the Conservatives remain in power for the foreseeable future.

            Secondly, IN THEORY socialism seeks to address the needs of the masses but in practice it often entrenches just another rich elite, oppresses the masses and causes economic destruction. We have the evidence of a 100 years of socialist experiments to draw on: all failures.

        • How does being in opposition for 23 of the last 36 years help the poor, the impoverished, the dispossessed and the inarticulate? Labour’s agenda under Foote and Kinnock kept them in opposition for 18 years. Much of what they advocated then is being revived by Corbyn it seems in terms of nationalisation, nuclear disarmament and free universities. It will be interesting to follow his party’s fortunes over the coming parliamentary term.

    • running with that big rightwing/neoliberal

      the reason labour lost when michael foot was leader in the 80’s was because of the war-fever around the falkland war..which the tories cashed in on.. wasn’t because of ‘lefty-policies’..

      ..glad to have cleared that up for you won’t need to repeat that misunderstanding again..will you..?

          • Yep, do the test and find out where you really are:


            They might have to extend the scale out to the left a bit to accommodate you.

            I’m slap bag in the middle and a couple of notches below the mid point.

            The logic is really quite simple: I helped elect the current MAJORITY government – am I therefore centrist by definition.

            • I did the test. One square to the right of the intersection of the cross and bang on the horizontal.

              There is a significant amount of confusion about the political ‘centre’. In NZ the current Govt is centrist, somewhere close to the Clinton Democrats. Labour, in truth, is in a very similar place.

              As to Corbyn, well time will tell. However comparing him to Savage, who had done a real days work before entering politics, is about as silly as it gets.

              • Barn – doing an internet test is not a real determinant of your political stance.

                There’s more to it than that.

                Your stand on the role of government in providing free or low-cost social services; progressive taxation; environmental issues; supporting those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder – these are all better indicators,

                The perception of National as “centrist” doesn’t wash with me. They simply execute their ongoing right-wing agenda more slowly, so people don’t notice.

                Instead of the “slash and burn ” policies of the ’80s and ’90s, they carry out their neo-liberal “reforms” incrementally.

                That way the voter doesn’t realise what’s going on and the media doesn’t know what questions to ask. Otherwise people react badly and vote governments out. (Thing of the frog in the gradually warming pot of water.)

                These are the lessons learned from the ’90s and ’80s.

              • Exactly right. Today the far left fringe (and far right too for that matter) can’t attract 5% of the vote. If you don’t believe me, look at the results of the last election.

                The world of politics has matured since the 50’s when Clement Attlee was confiscating private assets and nationalizing them. It just won’t wash today – people expect better.

                • The world of politics has matured since the 50’s when Clement Attlee was confiscating private assets and nationalizing them.

                  Now the neo-liberal state does the reverse; it confiscates state assets (owned by us, the people) and privatises them.

                  It’s still theft, just by another party, under a different guise.

                • [If you and Andrew want to discuss right-wing policies and support each other in doing so, I suggest you take it to the appropriate forum. TDB is not that Forum. – ScarletMod]

                  • So what happened to my reply to Frank, which was agreeing with him about the internet test and replying to HIS comment above? Surely your job is to moderate, not censor?

        • Centrists are famous for their ability to believe in everything or nothing, depending on what is at stake personally for them.

    • The looney right have been in control since Thatcher time to move over here comes the looney left should be fun.

    • Four consecutive terms for the Tories if you count Thatcher’s successor John Major. 18 years of fanatical Tory rule thanks to the divisions in the Labour Party of the UK caused largely by the internal divisions in the party itself following the ousting of Callaghan and the election of Foote.

  6. >>The inflation that monetarists say inevitably follows such monetary policies never came close to being a problem in the late 1930s .
    We live in curious times, countries such as Japan, Switzerland and Germany are almost paying you to borrow money. It’s time for our masters in Washington to dream up a new Theology. Remember how quickly they dumped the policy of targeting growth in the money supply (M3) under Ronald Reagan.
    As you said before why can’t our government borrow money to buy more housing ? these would appear as assets on the Government balance sheet.
    Conversely economic Libertarians believe only markets should set interest rates and oppose a centralised Reserve bank. (Hong Kong is usually given as their model).

    • Farmer guy, you appear to be unaware that the money that the Reserve Bank produced to build all those state houses in 1935 was not borrowed. It was created by the Reserve Bank and issued to the Labour Government at 1% interest. Why cant that be done again?

  7. Farmer Guy: The inflation that monetarists say inevitably follows such monetary policies never came close to being a problem in the late 1930s.

    Unless you were in Germany where the SDP were in charge…

    • Andrew, are you saying that the inflation in Germany was caused by reckless spending by the state owned reserve bank? So far as I can recall the bank of that period was privately owned and that it was under supervision from J P Morgan.

      • The Weimar Republic printed its own currency.

        Where JPM was involved was in trying (and failing) to organize repayment schedules for Germany’s war loans.

        • Dunno where you’re going with your weird view on history, Andrew. Hyper-inflation also occurred in other countries. (My father recalls his father bringing home his day’s pay in a suitcase bulging with billion-forint notes. )

          At the same time as hyper-inflation in Europe in the 1920s/30s, the United States was pulling the rest of the global economy into the Great Depression.

          That paragon of capitalism – the US of A – destroying lives, families, businesses, and entire economies. What’s the next trick – wrecking the planet’s environment by unsustainable over-development and pollution?

          If you’re trying to be a rah-rah cheerleader for capitalism, I think you’re going entirely the wrong way about it.

    • Hitler was in charge in Germany in the late 1930s.
      Unorthodox monetary and fiscal policies were pursued there, and inflation was not a problem in Germany at that time. It’s just a pity that, among others things, the government spending was so misdirected.

    • Inflation in Germany in 1923 was a very unusual event during a deflationary decade; an event that reflected Germany’s situation as the defeated power in WW1. For monetarists to keep referring to this as the justification for monetarism today is about as silly as the English claiming that they are the best footballers in the world because they won the World Cup in 1966.

  8. Corbyn emphatically wins:

    There 540,272 eligible voters.

    Some 422,664 people cast votes

    There were 207 spoilt votes.

    Jeremy Corbyn: 251,417 – 59.5%

    Andy Burnham: 80,462 – 19%

    Yvette Cooper: 71,928 – 17%

    Liz Kendall: 18,857 – 4.5%

    • Thanks for that Pasupial.

      What is significant to me is how far back neolib Blairite Yvette Cooper was placed. Seems to me like the rank ‘n’ file have had a gutsful of Cool Britannia. Good on ’em…

  9. Just read that Jeremy Corbyn has won the labour leadership!
    Ever heard of the snowball effect? Well I think it’s finally about to happen.

  10. Tough titty my little right-leaning anacoluthons.

    I just heard on the midnight news…

    Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the UK Labour Party.


    • Fantastic!

      This gives people a real choice as to what direction they want for their country.

      And more still, this is the cross-roads; do the British want to be Consumers or Citizens?

  11. The Right won’t like this. Not one bit.

    The Right want “free choice” only for consumer goods and services – not for real diverse political options.

    Watch the hysteria mount…

      • no no andrew..look for a resurgence on the left..

        i am picking that young people here who care will see what their cousins in britain have done..

        ..and will join the labour party here in droves..

        ..and hasten that change from within..

        ..after 30 years of the rich getting richer and everyone else getting poorer..i think folks have had

        ..and i think you will see a labour party in 2017 with policies very different to ’14..(if they don’t..they will just wither further..)

        ..and also if labour don’t/won’t..we have someone else can..

        ..the greens could ride that wave of populism..peters could also thread some social justice thru his economic-nationalism..and catch the wave..

        ..but the wave will be there…labour will ignore it at their peril..

        • Historically the angry and disenfranchised have headed toward the extremes of politics. Both right and left.

          So there are two questions to be answered:

          1/ Exactly how many angry young people are there in the UK and are they of sufficient size to affect the result of an election?

          2/ Will they jump to the left or the right? Judging by recent results in Europe, they’re heading to the right – which is just as scary to me as heading left.

          I don’t have answers to either of these questions and only time will tell!

          Niels Bohr: Making predictions is difficult, especially about the future… 😉

          (The growing immigrant and particularly Muslim population is an interesting issue in this regard: Corbyn favours delegation of power to local authorities but the consequence of that may be that individual local authorities may then effectively be operate under Sharia Law. Extremely Sexist and Homophobic – how would that sit with Labour voters?)

      • “Fragmentation”?!

        You call real choice in who to vote for “fragmentation”?

        That’s a strange thing to say, Andrew. Do you call product choice in supermarkets “fragmentation” as well?

        It seems you’d be happier if all political parties were varying shades of blue…

  12. that jeremy corbyn’s really ‘weird’…eh..?

    ..i mean..he doesn’t even eat animals..(!)

    ..whoever heard of a leftwing political-leader who doesn’t eat

    ..even the green party-leadership/m.p.’s like to chow down on a bit of animal when they

    ..only ‘weird’ people don’t eat

    ..i mean..even leftie/greenies are able to ignore the environmental-chaos/gross-institutional-cruelties to animals…and still eat what’s wrong with corbyn..?..and those other ‘weird’ people..?

    ..i mean..greenpeace have long had/held bbq’s..
    (think about that for a the fat from one animal off yr you emote about the cruel-fate of some other animal..that’s some amazing/serious compartmentalisation going on

    ..w.t.f. is wrong with that corbyn..and those other ‘weird’ people who won’t eat animals..?

    ..i mean..they are so tasty..!..with all those sauces and everything..

    ..and i am worried about this jeremy corbyn and his ‘weird’ don’t-eat-animals!-ideas..

    ..i mean..he may even spur other lefties/greenies who still just love to chow-down on some recently twitching animal.. think again/on about the environmental-impacts..and the cruelties done..that choice

    ..’cos that revolution also has to’s all just an exercise in

    ..that ‘care’ shown by those animal-eating lefties/ in:..’yes..i really really want to help save the planet..but you’ll tear my bacon from my cold/dead hands!’..

  13. I’m delighted! Very good news. At the very least JC will let the voters know what they have been missing for all these years, an honest Politician.

    Voters finally, after all these years of abuse have been given a real choice, and opposition MP’s will have to show they represent the British people, not the corrupting lobby groups who have almost destroyed democracy in the UK. It’s just a shame it had to take so long.

    • Mike

      He’s been an ignored backbencher for all his political career. It’s easy to remain ‘ideologically pure’ when you don’t actually DO anything, other than take a salary.

      It would be very interesting to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when he’s dragged from the shadows and into the bright lights of modern politics and all the pressure that goes with it.

      Time to put popcorn in the microwave.

  14. @Mike – all sounds very familiar, as to what we have here in NZ and in Australia. It makes me wonder as to how much influence ‘big business’ has had into the politics of our countries. Time for it to stop.

    • You can bet your backside Kim, that big business has had bucket loads of influence over politics here. And the neanderthals still do unfortunately.

      • It is a great win for a decent man and the humane politics that he stands for. I remember the euphoria when Labour (under Tory Bliar) won after all the years of Thatcher/Major governments only for this to fade away rapidly when the real complexion of those at the top came out – I suppose the less informed folk (like me) should have been aware of the real prospect of ‘New Labour’ – an election later I had to hold my nose when voting for them again.

        I just cross my fingers that this momentum is is maintained and when the Tories continue their scare tactics about how much the new policies will cost, that Labour reminds then – or even asks them – how much the British taxpayer has bailed out the banks for (hundreds of billions?) over the last decade.

        Anyway, I hope things go well and wish there was something like that here. Chris Trotter’s totally pathetic performance on the radio this morning saying the NZ was ahead of the game (that old Colonial Ubermensch trope won’t go away) because of the Cunliffe leadership just seemed risible. No mention of Andrew Little either who is at least a union person like Corbyn.

        • Actually Liminal, I don’t think Andy “Capp” Little is a trade unionist remotely like Jeremy Corbyn. He’s a Lawyer amd professional trade union leader; I very much doubt he has ever touched a lathe or even just a hammer…

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