Saturday 29 August 2015

National economies are not the same as family budgets

When I heard that the director of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) had attacked Jeremy Corbyn's plan to use direct quantitative easing to fund infrastructure investment, my immediate thought was 'of course he did',. Under John Cridland's leadership the CBI has become a pressure group for George Osborne's extremist ideological austerity agenda and promotion of the interests of the UK establishment.

It was only a few days later that I took the time to read what his actual criticism was. I knew that Cridland and his mates at the CBI must be economically naive, given their undying support for ideological austerity, despite the fact that it has resulted in the slowest post-crisis recovery in economic history, but the sheer economic illiteracy of Cridland's criticism of Corbyn's direct QE policy is still utterly astonishing.

One of the assertions Cridland made during his attack on Jeremy Corbyn's economic plans was that "We all know that household finances and government finances are the same". Not only is the assertion that national economies are equivalent to household budgets a demonstration of utter economic ignorance, the assertion that this idiocy is something that "we all know" just goes to show how much of an ideological bubble austerity fetishists tend to live in. They're so ideologically insulated that they cannot even conceive the idea that there's even anyone out there who doesn't believe in the simplistic and misleading economic fairy stories they hold to be self-evidently true.

Why government finances are not like household budgets

There are many reasons that government finances are not like household budgets. I'm going to outline nine reasons, but this list is hardly exhaustive. If you put your mind to it I'm sure you could think of several more ways in which family budgets differ from national economies.

Issuing currency
The most commonly cited difference between national economies like the UK and US and ordinary family budgets is the fact that nations with central banks have the ability to create more of their own currency, while law abiding families do not have the ability to print their own money.
Legislative power
Another major difference between national economies and family budgets is the fact that nations have the ability to write new laws to restructure their economies, while families have to comply with laws that are imposed externally. 

A national economy relies upon taxes imposed upon its citizens for income. A marginal rise in income taxes would increase the nation's spending power. A household budget generally relies upon wages, meaning a marginal rise in income taxes would cause a fall in family spending power. 

Controlling interest rates

Nations with their own central banks can use monetary policy to control interest rates. For example the Bank of England has held the interest rate at an all-time record low of just 0.5% for seven long years. Families do not have any control over interest rates. 

Issuing bonds
Nations borrow money by selling bonds. In the current economic climate yields on UK government bonds are very low, but they are considered very safe investments because the UK is considered highly unlikely to go bankrupt. The majority of government bonds are held by pension funds and insurance companies. Families have no ability to issue low interest bonds to pension funds and insurance companies in order to raise money, they generally have to borrow from commercial banks, building societies, payday loan companies, or, if they're really lucky, from wealthy relatives.

Geographical constraints
The first five points have been areas in which national economies have distinct advantages over household budgets, but when it comes to location, it is clear that the family unit has a distinct advantage over the modern national economy because they have the ability to move location. If a family is struggling to make ends meet they can downsize to a smaller house, or move to a more prosperous area to seek work. Nation states cannot geographically downsize, or simply move location to a more prosperous part of the world.

The nation state lasts an awful lot longer than the typical family unit. The United Kingdom has existed since 1707, but many of its institutions are much older. The typical family comes to an end after a few decades after the adult members die, it's assets are disbursed and its debts are written off. The only type of family that has similar longevity to nation states are royalty and the aristocracy, where land, wealth and titles are handed down the generations. The vast majority of family budgets do not benefit from enormous hereditary wealth in this way, so the comparison would show how absurdly out-of-touch Cridland is if he's trying to draw parallels between the UK economy and the spending habits of the landed gentry rather than ordinary people.

The typical family unit has a linear demographic progression as the members of the family grow older, until the children grow up and leave the family home, then eventually the adults retire. If nation states had similar demographics to the typical family, the majority of adolescents would emigrate, and the entire UK workforce would retire after a few decades.

Another huge difference between a national economy and a household budget is the way that money is spent. The majority of spending a nation state does is happens internally within the national economy (investment in infrastructure and services, employment, payment of social security etc) while the majority of spending the typical family does is external and flows out of the family unit (payment of taxes and bills, buying food, fuel, clothes etc). If family budgets were like national economies as economically illiterate austerity fetishists like to claim, the majority of family spending would constitute internal investment not external spending.

John Cridland is making the CBI a laughing stock

The Confederation of British Industry claims to be an apolitical business lobby group, but in recent years it has become one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the interests of the Westminster establishment and for 
George Osborne's socially and economically destructive ideological austerity agenda

John Cridland's politically partisan attack on Jeremy Corbyn's economic policies is not the first example of the CBI leadership showing their political bias. A previous example came when they signed up as official supporters of the campaign against Scottish independence without even bothering to consult their Scottish membership first, which caused an exodus of Scottish member organisations.

Not only have the CBI clearly given up any right to claim political neutrality, John Cridland's assertion that "we all know that household finances and government finances are the same" is a crystal clear illustration of the fact that the most powerful business lobby group in the UK is headed by an economic illiterate.

Surely some of the thousands of businesses, trade associations and individuals who are members of the CBI must be worrying that their Director General is making them look utterly foolish with his politically partisan and economically illiterate opinions. I mean, what kind of serious organisation allows their senior staff to embarrass their members by rambling on incoherently about subjects which they blatantly don't understand?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Jeremy Corbyn: the more they attack him the stronger he becomes
The Tory "economic recovery" mantra is a lie
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
Asset stripping "bankrupt Britain"
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Friday 14 August 2015

Who really has "no credibility" in the Labour leadership debate?

In this article I'm going to look at some comments from the Blairite leadership candidate Yvette Cooper and Jack "cash for access" Straw slamming Jeremy Corbyn's economic policies with far more vitriol than they have ever used to describe George Osborne's ideologically driven austerity con.

Jack Straw

I'm not sure why the mainstream media are so keen to give Jack Straw such a big platform to spit his anti-Corbyn bile given that he was caught out with his corrupt "cash for access" scam just six months previously. I really don't believe that a disgraced influence pedlar like Jack Straw deserves to oxygen of publicity, but I do think it's worth noting that his accusation that Jeremy Corbyn;s economic policies are "economically illiterate" illustrate exactly where his ideological allegiances lie.

We never heard Jack Straw speaking out in such strong terms against the economic illiteracy of George Osborne's ideological austerity con, despite the fact that Osborne blatantly missed all of the hubristic economic projections he made in 2010created more new public debt in just five years than every Labour government in history combined; oversaw the longest sustained decline in wages since records began; lost the UK's AAA credit ratings for the first time since the 1970s; caused the slowest post-crisis recovery in British history; and had his ideological austerity agenda criticised as harmful to the UK economy by a clear majority of trained economists.

Despite all of this economic ammunition the likes of Jack Straw had to fire at George Osborne before the General Election they remained resolutely silent, yet as soon as someone dares propose an alternative to George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda, they clamour to spit as much furious bile as possible at him, even though he's a member of the same political party they are!

The venomous rhetoric Jack Straw has reserved for Jeremy Corbyn makes it absolutely clear where his ideological allegiances lie. Not only is the man a disgrace for selling political influence, he's also an ideological blood brother to the Tory party, and an opponent of the massive grass roots movement within the Labour Party to return it to it's social democratic principles.

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper slammed Jeremy Corbyn's economic policies as "not credible" during a speech in Manchester in which she spent far more time attacking her leadership rival than actually detailing her own policies.

If we look a little closer at the arguments she used to criticise Jeremy Corbyn's plan to use money creation in order to fund large public infrastructure projects (Direct Quantitative Easing) it's quite easy to see who is lacking economic credibility, or even any kind of political nous.

Here's the pseudo-economic babble she came out with to attack the idea that newly created money should be invested in infrastructure and services rather than propping up failed banks and enriching the tiny super-rich minority as the original £375 billion in QE was:
"Quantitative Easing to pay for infrastructure now the economy is growing is really bad economics ... QE was a special measure when the economy collapsed, liquidity dried up, interest rates fell as low as they could go. But printing money year after year to pay for things you can't afford doesn't work ... History shows it hits your currency, hits investment, pushes up inflation and makes it harder not easier to get ... sustainable growth."
There are so many things wrong with this garbled pseudo-economic spiel I'm going to have to resort to bullet points to get through it all:
  • Cooper also claimed that QE was a good thing before because "interest rates were at a historic low", which is odd, because interest rates still remain at the all time record low of 0.5% today. If we just skip past the fact that she's blatantly put the cart before the horse in claiming that low interest rates were a reason for QE rather than an effect of QE, we're left with a rather obvious question: If such a low interest rate (0.5%) was such a good reason for QE back in 2009, why is exactly the same rate now (0.5%) not a good reason for more QE (just this time supplied direct to the economy rather than pumped into insolvent banks)?
  • Cooper is also wrong to claim that Corbyn plans to use QE to pay for things we "can't afford". The idea that the UK can't afford modern infrastructure, decent services, high quality education and investment in high-tech industries is completely backwards. What Britain can't afford is to continue our long track record of catastrophic underinvestment in these things. It hardly takes a genius to realise that investment will be far more likely to flow into countries with modern infrastructure, good services and highly skilled workforces, than those which have deliberately curtailed investment in such things as part of an economically illiterate austerity agenda. 
  • Another bizarre claim from Cooper is that she has historical evidence to support her assertion that using direct QE to invest in infrastructure and services "hits your currency", "hits investment" and "pushes up inflation". I'm not really sure what historical data she is even alluding to. Perhaps she's just fearmongering by trying to claim that direct QE would turn the UK into the equivalent of Weimar Germeny or Mugabe's Zimbabwe, even though neither of those historical examples of hyperinflation are remotely similar to Corbyn's proposal for direct QE? She certainly can't be alluding to previous examples of orthodox QE, because it's absolutely clear that Japan has not suffered hyperinflation even though it has been doing QE since the 1990s. The UK, US and Eurozone haven't suffered hyperinflation either since they started using QE to prop up their insolvent banks. It seems that Cooper has no actual idea what effect direct QE would have, and is just lashing out in the hope that the public can be fearmongered into believing that it's better off to just leave money creation to the private banks, rather than trying to direct newly created money towards anything economically beneficial.
All in all, Cooper's criticism of direct QE reads like the rambling of someone who is far too wedded to the crony capitalist orthodoxy to even understand the alternative that is being proposed, let alone assemble a coherent critique of it. If anyone's economic policies are "not credible" it's Yvette Cooper's, because she's incapable of seeing the problem that the private banks will never have any interest in using their money creation powers to do what's best for the UK economy as a whole. All they'll ever do is use their money creation powers to chase quick profits with property speculation schemes and gamble on the global derivatives casino, safe in the knowledge that the taxpayer will bail them out again the next time they render themselves insolvent. 

Not only is she incapable of seeing the problem, she's also incapable of offering anything even remotely resembling a coherent critique of Jeremy Corbyn's proposed alternative.


As I've pointed out before the hysterical ranting of the Blairite old guard about the rise of Jeremy Corbyn is spectacularly counter-productive from their perspective, since condemnation from the likes of Tony Blair (warmonger), Jack Straw (discraced "cash for access" scammer), John McTernan (hilariosly incompetent election strategist) and Chuka Umunna (the living embodiment of the self-serving Westminster careerist) sound like ringing endorsements in the ears of millions of people, meaning the more they attack him, the stronger he gets.

The sheer stupidity of sticking with such a counter-productive strategy is bad enough, but the damage that all of these attacks is doing to the credibility of the Labour Party is even worse. It seems as if the Blairites would rather ruin the Labour Party completely than relinquish control of it to a genuine grass roots social democratic movement.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Corbynomics vs Ideological Austerity
What is ... Fiscal Multiplication?
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
The Tory economic recovery mantra is a lie
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Corbynomics vs Ideological austerity

The incredible surge in popularity of the Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn is proof of the fact that a significant proportion of Labour Party supporters are utterly sick of their party refusing to take a stance against Tory ideological austerity.

The mainstream media reaction has been to deride Corbyn's economic plans as some kind of left-wing lunacy, but this is merely an illustration of the fact for five years the mainstream media and the Labour Party have utterly failed to challenge the Tories on their socially and economically harmful ideological agenda, meaning that anything that contradicts it now lies outside the approved spectrum of debate, not that "Corbynomics" doesn't make an awful lot of sense on a macroeconomic level.

It's no surprise that the mainstream media have given the Tories such an easy ride on George Osborne's failing economic ideology, because the media is so heavily dominated by right-wing billionaires like Rupert Murdoch (S*n, Times, Sky TV), Jonathan Harmsworth (Mail, Metro), Richard Desmond (Express, Star) the Barclay Brothers (Telegraph, Spectator). The refusal of the Labour Party to challenge Tory austerity is a lot harder to fathom. Perhaps they thought they just couldn't win the debate against the right-wing dominated media? Or perhaps it was because the Labour Party had become so dominated by right-wingers (Ed Balls, Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, John Cruddas ...) over the years that they actually favoured the continuation of an economic ideology that results in a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and ordinary to the super-rich minority?

Whatever the case, at least there is now a movement within the Labour Party to actually stand up and challenge George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda as the socially and economically destructive con job that it is.

In this article I'm going to outline some of the important differences between George Osborne's ideological austerity agenda and the Jeremy Corbyn's stimulus and investment policies.

How ideological austerity has failed

In the absence of any coherent criticism of ideological austerity from the Labour leadership, it was left to a few backbenchers, left-wing journalists, trained economists and independent bloggers to make the case against Tory ideological austerity over the last five years. I've written a lot of articles on the subject, so instead of detailing the case all over again, I'll provide bullet points with links to corroborating evidence.

How New Labour failed to challenge ideological austerity

One of the most spectacular failures of Ed Miliband's Labour Party was their abject unwillingness to articulate an alternative to George Osborne's ideological austerity con. In fact Labour were so inept that they even whipped their MPs into voting in favour of ideological austerity in January 2015, less than four months before the General Election.

Given the absolute wealth of evidence that ideological austerity failed to achieve any of the economic projections George Osborne promised back in 2010, it's astonishing that Miliband's Labour Party refused to criticise austerity, preferring to offer the public a bizarrely unappealing prescription of austerity-lite, in the vain hope that "more of the same but not quite as evil about it" would inspire people to flock to the Labour party in droves (which it absolutely didn't).

Offering exactly the same economic ideology as the Tories (but just slightly less harsh about it) was strategically inept, not just because there is so much evidence that ideological austerity is a terrible policy, but also because it commits the fundamental error of accepting their opponents' lunatic proposition, that "cut our way to growth" is the best/only economic strategy.

Labour's failure to counter the failing "cut our way to growth" ideology was bad for them because it cost them a very winnable General Election, but what is worse is that it has created the impression that there is a strong consensus in favour of ideological austerity (outside of Scotland at least) when there really shouldn't be.

Even though there is a strong consensus amongst economists that ideological austerity is economically destructive, swathes of the electorate now tend to believe that there is no alternative to it, which makes it that much harder for anyone who does try to articulate economically coherent alternatives to ideological austerity.

How "Corbynomics" makes sense

As much as the Tories and their allies in the right-wing press will try to fearmonger about "Corbynomics" meaning ever more borrowing, the economic evidence and the historical record is on Jeremy Corbyn's side when he says that public debt can be reduced through intelligent investment in things that stimulate more economic activity than they cost.

From a macroeconomic perspective the policy of using the current ultra-low costs of government borrowing in order to invest in economically beneficial activity like improvements in public infrastructure, housing, education and support for high-tech industries makes sense. Anyone who is familiar with the concept of fiscal multiplication knows that targeted investment makes a lot more sense than severe, target driven funding cuts.

The historical record also supports Jeremy Corbyn's position that large public debts can be reduced through investment. After the Second World War the UK's public debt stood at an enormous 238% of GDP (which is almost four times the public debt inherited by George Osborne in 2010). Even though the debt was so high back then, the post-War Prime Minister Clement Attlee instigated a massive investment programme which included the foundation of the NHS, introduction of Legal Aid, construction of hundreds of thousands of decent houses per year and major improvements to pensions, unemployment benefits and disability allowances. The simplistic worldview that underpins ideological austerity says that such massive investments should have continued to increase the debt, but in reality the debt began to fall dramatically. By the time Attlee left government the debt had fallen by well over 40% of GDP, and by the time the post-war consensus was torn up in 1979 and replaced with the Thatcherite economic ideology, the debt was down to 43% of GDP.

In contrast George Osborne's programme of ideologically driven cuts has seen the public debt continue to soar, resulting in him missing all of the economic projections he made in 2010 and almost doubling the level of public debt in the space of just five years.

Levelling up or levelling down
When it comes to the differences between ideological austerity and "Corbynomics" there are many. There's the fact that "Corbynomics" makes sense from a macroeconomic perspective and ideological austerity doesn't; there's the fact that the historical record supports "Corbynomics" and it shows that ideological austerity has failed to achieve what Osborne said it would; and there's the fact that "Corbynomics" is a long-term holistic strategy of investments with the objective of improving the health of the economy, while ideological austerity is a short-term strategy aimed at altering just one economic indicator (the debt to GDP ratio) way above all other economic considerations.

In my view the biggest difference of all is how the two strategies would change the composition of the UK economy. The endgame for "Corbynomics" is to turn the UK into a high-skill, high-tech economy with world leading infrastructure and services and a highly educated and well-paid workforce (like Germany) while the logical endgame for ideological austerity is to deliberately reduce the wealth and standards of living for the majority of the UK population in order to meet the rising standards in China and India on our way down.

The shocking thing is that there are so many people out there who are unwilling or unable to recognise ideological austerity for what it is, preferring to buy into the economically incoherent narrative that there is no alternative but to have our living standards slashed while the tiny super-rich minority help themselves to ever larger slices of the pie

The people who have swallowed the Tory narrative that there is no alternative to ideological austerity will lap up the anti-Corbyn propaganda because they've been conditioned to believe in simplistic fairytale economics. If Corbyn does win, it's going to take an awful lot of effort to replace these ludicrous economic fairytales with worldviews that make any kind of sense on a basic macroeconomic level, not least because of the abject failure of the Labour Party over the last five years to stand up and criticise ideological austerity or to present anything remotely resembling a coherent alternative.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
What is ... Fiscal Multiplication?
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
How the Lib-Dems were just as compassionless as the Tories
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Thursday 6 August 2015

A guide to the Labour Deputy Leadership Candidates 2015

With all of the attention Jeremy Corbyn has been generating with his bid to become Labour Party leader, it's easy to forget that the position of deputy leader of the Labour Party is also up for election.

Several people have written to me to request an article providing more information on the five candidates to become Labour's second in command, so here it is.

I'm going to profile the five candidates, then conclude by stating some general conclusions.

Tom Watson

Tom Watson is the runaway favourite to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. At 48 he is the second youngest of the candidates, and he's been an MP since 2001.

Watson picked up 61 nominations from his fellow MPs (more than any of the other candidates), many from the small band of Labour "good guys" like Dennis Skinner, Ian Mearns, Richard Burgon and Greame Morris. He also won 164 Constituency Labour Party nominations, which is almost as many as all of the other candidates added together (Stella Creasy came second with 77).

Watson served as Minister for Digital Economy between 2008 and 2009 where he worked to open up government data to public scrutiny, and encourage government departments to consider the use of in-house solutions and open source software instead of signing inflexible and expensive outsourcing contracts every time they needed to deal with an IT issue. It's always nice to see a government minister who has a bit of knowledge in their field and enthusiasm for what they're doing.

It's no surprise that he is the leading candidate for the job of deputy leader, he has a decent amount of ministerial experience, a track record of campaigning on issues like Phone Hacking, the paedophile politicians scandals, and in opposition to his own party's hopelessly botched Digital Economy Bill. Another thing that counts in his favour is that all of this public campaigning has made him a relatively well known face, at least amongst the politically engaged.

The only significant black mark against him is that he was caught out during the expenses scandal. He was nowhere near as egregious as many of his parliamentary colleagues, but he wasn't completely clean either, spending the maximum allowance of £4,800 on food in 2005 (the equivalent of 85 weeks worth of Jobseekers' Allowance in 2005 prices).

Watson has made it clear that he believes that Labour is at its strongest when it is standing up for ordinary people and campaigning against injustice. I'm pretty sure that's a message that anyone could get behind.

Tom Watson's voting record at They Work For You.

Stella Creasy

At 38 Stella Creasy is by far the youngest of the candidates, and having only been an MP since 2010, she's also the least experienced. Despite her age and lack of ministerial experience, she is running second in the race, comfortably ahead of the three other candidates, but significantly behind Tom Watson.

Before becoming an MP Creasy worked in PR and lobbying, which is hardly confidence inspiring stuff, but since entering parliament she's actually impressed a lot by leading the campaign against the exploitative practices of Payday loan companies (that have been known to charge vulnerable people annual interest rates of over 5,000% on their loans).

In 2013 Creasy was subject to vile misogynistic abuse on Twitter, and I couldn't agree more with her assertion that rape threats are criminal behaviour "not a matter of bad manners". The following year one of her abusers was jailed for the rape threats he had made against her.

Creasy has talked a lot about how Labour needs to become a modern grass roots organisation that listens to its party members and to ordinary people rather than dictating terms from above. Even if she doesn't become deputy leader, I'm sure her ideas will still be more than welcome.

Stella Creasy's voting record at They Work For You.

Angela Eagle

Angela Eagle is 54, and having been an MP since 1992, she's the most experienced of the five. Under Gordon Brown's leadership of the party she served in two treasury position and as pensions minister. In opposition she served as Shadow Leader of the Commons for Ed Miliband.

Eagle comes from a working class background, but then she's also an Oxford PPE graduate which is by far the most over-represented demographic in Westminster politics, with dozens of politicians having studied this Oxford University course.

In April 2008 Eagle, who was Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury at the time, made a howler every bit as bad as Liam Byrne's ludicrous "there's no money" note (if not worse because what she said wasn't even intended as a poorly considered joke). Her response to Liberal Democrat concerns that the UK was experiencing a housing bubble was to dismiss them as "a colourful and lurid fiction that has no real bearing on the macroeconomic reality". We all now know what was going on in 2007-08 and how property prices crashed and the financial sector ended up being rescued from complete insolvency with the biggest state sector interventions in history. If anyone had no understanding of the macroeconomic reality at the time it was actually Angela Eagle.

Eagle is probably best known as the MP who was on the receiving end of David Cameron's sexist "calm down dear" put down, which is a bit sad really because she's had a long and successful political career. I don't have anything against her, but she just doesn't strike me as the kind of inspirational politician Labour need in order to fight back against the Tories either.

Angela Eagle's voting record at They Work For You.

Caroline Flint

Caroline Flint is 53 and has been an MP since Tony Blair's landslide victory in 1997. She had a difficult upbringing and knows what it's like to struggle on the breadline, so one would expect her to be able to empathise with the many victims of Tory ideological austerity.

If you think Angela Eagle's gaffe about the state of the economy during the biggest economic crisis in generations was bad, then you're going to be horrified at some of Caroline Flint's blunders.

When Flint was Minister for Europe she made a public admission that she hadn't even read the Lisbon Treaty, which was quite extraordinary given that her role was to oversee the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty! In May 2008 she was photographed entering Downing Street with her briefing papers visible, which included an admission that "we can't tell how bad it will get" in relation to the ongoing economic meltdown that Angela Eagle had been dismissing as "a lurid and colourful fiction" just the month previously!

Flint made headlines again when she resigned from Gordon Brown's government with an attack on his personality and a claim that she'd been treated like "female window dressing". Regular readers will know that I'm no staunch defender of Gordon Brown, but if her job was to be more than "female window dressing" the least she could have done is read the vital documents she obviously should have, and not allowed the press to photograph her confidential briefing papers!

Flint is also responsible for an appalling piece of ideologically driven government legislation that completely ignored the scientific advice. During her stint in the Home Office she pushed through legislation to classify raw psylocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms) as Class A drugs, meaning a potential 7 year prison sentence for anyone who as much as picks one of Britain's most commonly occurring wild mushrooms! The fact that she drove this illogical legislation through parliament marks her out as the kind of authoritarian ideologically driven moral puritan who stands in the way of this country ever adopting a rational evidence based drugs policy.

I find it alarming that Caroline Flint is running third in the contest, but then perhaps that says more about how poor Angela Eagle and Ben Bradshaw are as candidates than it does about her suitability for the job?

Caroline Flint's voting record at They Work For You.

Ben Bradshaw

Bradshaw is 54 and he too became an MP in 1997. Most of the polls having him vying with Angela Eagle to avoid finishing last in the contest, which is no surprise.

When he was a health minister he advised people who couldn't find an NHS dentist to go to their GP - advice that was ridiculed by the British Medical Association; his claim that GPs were operating "gentlemen's agreements" to stop patients moving between surgeries was described as "absolute nonsense" by the BMA, and he even launched a defence of excessive parking fees at NHS hospitals with a bizarre claim that the funds were needed in order to provide NHS services, even though the NHS ran a large £1.8 billion surplus that year.

What is worse than all of Bradshaw's gaffes is the fact that during his time at the Department of Health he oversaw a number of NHS privatisation schemes that laid the groundwork for the outright Tory assault on the NHS that was the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Another black mark against Ben Bradshaw is the fact that he was a staunch defender of the disastrous NHS National Programme for IT that saw costs balloon from £2.3 billion to £12.4 billion before it was scrapped. In 2013 the scheme that Bradshaw was so keen to defend when he was a health minister was lambasted by the Public Accounts Committee as one of "the worst and most expensive contracting fiascos ever".

Despite his appalling track record as a health minister, Bradshaw is clearly a good constituency MP, having won his seat in Exeter off the Tories in 1997 and kept it ever since. On the electoral map of the UK Bradshaw's constituency is a tiny dot of red in a vast ocean of blue down south.

Ben Bradshaw's voting record at They Work For You.


It is worth noting that of the nine candidates for leader and deputy leader, five of them are female. It could be seen as a cause for celebration that there are so many women in the Labour leadership contests, however, in my opinion Stella Creasy is the only one of them with really good leadership potential, and three of the others (Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Caroline Flint) would surely drive people away from the Labour Party in droves, so maybe it's not that good after all.

I don't have much time for Angela Eagle, but in my opinion she's nowhere near as bad as gaffe prone disasters like Caroline Flint and Ben Bradshaw. It should be a relief to most people that these three candidates are all vanishingly unlikely to get the job.

It gives me a bit of faith in the grass roots Labour Party membership that the two leading candidates in the deputy leadership election are the two I consider to be the outstanding candidates. Tom Watson looks very likely to win, but Stella Creasy is still very young so it wouldn't be a disaster for her to come second. I think she would make a very good shadow minister in a Corbyn-Watson led party, and judging by her first five years in parliament, she's got a bright future ahead of her whatever the outcome.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
How you can help Jeremy Corbyn become Labour leader
Ending the ideological "war on drugs"
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
You've been Wonga'd
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies