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by Lamiat Sabin
LABOUR is being warned against turning its back on Jeremy Corbyn’s popular manifesto policies after the party signalled that it will compete with the Conservatives on “economic competence.”
Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds was due to call for a “responsible economic, fiscal and monetary policy” based on “pragmatism, not dogmatism” to protect Britain’s recovery from the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in a speech last night.
The annual Mais Lecture took place after the Morning Star went to print.
An advance summary of her speech states that she will commit Labour to a “responsible fiscal framework” with “forward-looking targeting of a balanced budget but allowing for flexibility in times of crisis and for productivity-enhancing investment.”
The Financial Times (FT) reported that her speech mentions “responsible” policies 23 times, distancing Labour from its 2019 election manifesto by avoiding any mention of public-spending increases intended to fund polices such as council housing, a green new deal, universal free home broadband and public ownership.
The pandemic has raised the appeal of such policies, especially as unemployment has spiked, children are in need of IT equipment and rough sleepers require housing.
Asked in the FT’s pre-speech interview why she would not mention plans to increase public spending financed by higher taxes, Ms Dodds said that the party would examine detailed taxation and spending policies “in the normal way over the coming years.”
Labour under leader Sir Keir Starmer is distancing itself from his predecessor’s economic strategy.
But Labour MP Richard Burgon told the Morning Star: “We can’t rely on the market to get out of what’s set to be the deepest economic crisis in decades.
“With the threat of mass unemployment and collapsing incomes, Labour needs to be pushing for a huge programme of public works, including a green new deal and the rebuilding of our public services.
“It’s vital that Labour doesn’t move away from the core economic ideas — serving the many, not the few — that were at the heart of the recent manifestos and for which the polls show there’s still popular support.
“This crisis is the time to deepen those responses, not abandon them.”
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