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Thread: 110m bonus! Can an annual bonus of this size ever be justified.

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylib View Post
    Also known as spreading some of the proceeds of economic activity to all who contribute by their labour, and not merely to those who own and make money off the backs of the labour of others.

    A bit like giving 10% of the milk to those who look after and milk the cow.
    If it were not for entrepreneurs, investors and those with the ideas, skills, knowledge, energy, courage and determination to create commercial concerns there would be nobody in work to make money off the backs of.

    Both sectors deserve a fair return on their respective contributions whether it be the workers in the businesses set up by others, or the entrepreneurs and investors who create the business in the first place and continue to invest in it as required. I don't accept the image of a capitalist feeding off the back of the worker, although it is a central image to you own ideology. I believe it is more akin to a partnership where each needs the other, albeit in different numbers. The reality however is that there are far fewer people with the skills, ability and courage to create a business than there are people willing to work within it, hence the considerable pay differentials. Now I doubt that we can agree on what 'fair' differentials are but I am damn certain that we both agree that no man on earth deserves 75m for one year's performance so we have a starting point!

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major Sinic View Post
    If it were not for entrepreneurs, investors and those with the ideas, skills, knowledge, energy, courage and determination to create commercial concerns there would be nobody in work to make money off the backs of.

    Both sectors deserve a fair return on their respective contributions whether it be the workers in the businesses set up by others, or the entrepreneurs and investors who create the business in the first place and continue to invest in it as required. I don't accept the image of a capitalist feeding off the back of the worker, although it is a central image to you own ideology. I believe it is more akin to a partnership where each needs the other, albeit in different numbers. The reality however is that there are far fewer people with the skills, ability and courage to create a business than there are people willing to work within it, hence the considerable pay differentials. Now I doubt that we can agree on what 'fair' differentials are but I am damn certain that we both agree that no man on earth deserves 75m for one year's performance so we have a starting point!
    Although we come at this from very different ideological perspectives, surprisingly perhaps we do not disagree all that much really. I am not some kind of communist who thinks all people should be paid the same, whatever they do. Clearly that wouldn't work. Some jobs require more innate skill or more education and knowledge than others. Some carry more risk of one kind or another. Some involve much more innate responsibility. I totally accept that it is wholly reasonable for any entrepreneur who has built up a successful business and created jobs for others, quite possibly taking big financial risks with his own livelihood, to pay himself substantially more than his employees, who are just showing up during working hours to do a job they are paid to do. Although when it comes to real examples we might differ on what is excessive or not, we really do not disagree on that basic principle.

    I also of course agree that 75 million is excessive for any one individual for one year.

    You have said elsewhere that you regard anything above about 5 million per year as more than any one individual person can possibly be worth. You suggested an 80% tax on any income above this with a crackdown on any and all means of avoiding that. Well, I'd buy into that completely. And I suspect you'd agree with me that it is not the state's role to dictate executive pay limits, so no absolute cap, just some kind of excessive pay supertax rate on all incomes above say 5 million as suggested.

    I also agree with reforming remuneration committees, though we might possibly differ on the details. I for example would like worker representation as well as shareholder representation on such committees.

    I would also suggest making all top pay packages subject to binding shareholder votes to approve or reject, empowering shareholders further in this area.

    And any bonus payment larger than salary should be subject perhaps to additional shareholder approval before being paid out, with shareholders having the right to cap it. This right should be a legally binding one automatically written into pay contracts. I might also mandate making any part of a bonus payment over and above the level of basic salary - ie any bonus that goes further than doubling pay - be deducted directly from company profits. If there are none because the company made a loss, then there can be no legal bonus that more than doubles pay.

    Again, you may differ on some of the details and have different ideas of your own, but I do suspect this looks like one of those areas where we'd be able to reach an agreeable compromise.

    We do have fundamental ideological differences, though. I view capitalism as an inherent but necessary evil, which needs good regulation and guidance from the law to ensure that it does the maximum good and minimum harm, with the state intervening via the use of taxation and welfare to diminish inherent inequalities and discourage excessive greed, which I regard as intrinsic to unfettered capitalism. Only by being constrained within the right legal and regulatory framework can it be made to do more good than harm and be a force for good. It is a destructive tiger which we must harness and ride, and not allow to run amok.

    I suspect - and by all means clarify further or correct me if I am wrong - that your view of capitalism is a much more positive one and you see it as largely a force for good, and that the state should get out of the way as much as reasonably possible in order to allow it maximum productive potential. I do not think you are an ideologically driven deregulator. I suspect you recognise the need for some regulation, but just don't want what you'd regard as an excess of it.

    Whilst I believe that excesses are absolutely intrinsic to the necessary evil of capitalism, and will keep happening insofar as they are not legally or regulatorily restrained, you probably see them more as occasional excesses in what is otherwise largely a force for good. We both want to restrain those excesses because we think they are bad. Me because they are an intrinsic evil of capitalist greed and excess that needs to be restrained in the name of fairness and the greater good. You because they are aberrations in what you regard as the otherwise great beneficial force that is capitalism - aberrations that run the risk of marring the image of capitalism and providing ammunition to people like me. By restraining the excesses, you strengthen capitalist conservatism and remove emotive ammunition from the left. Though you also have a moral dimension and see excessive excess as morally wrong and hard to justify in it's own right.

    I think I have the gist of what we share and where we differ pinned down. But like I said, correct me if I am wrong.
    Thatcherism is an evil dragon. Let's be Saint George

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylib View Post
    Although we come at this from very different ideological perspectives, surprisingly perhaps we do not disagree all that much really. I am not some kind of communist who thinks all people should be paid the same, whatever they do. Clearly that wouldn't work. Some jobs require more innate skill or more education and knowledge than others. Some carry more risk of one kind or another. Some involve much more innate responsibility. I totally accept that it is wholly reasonable for any entrepreneur who has built up a successful business and created jobs for others, quite possibly taking big financial risks with his own livelihood, to pay himself substantially more than his employees, who are just showing up during working hours to do a job they are paid to do. Although when it comes to real examples we might differ on what is excessive or not, we really do not disagree on that basic principle.

    I also of course agree that 75 million is excessive for any one individual for one year.

    You have said elsewhere that you regard anything above about 5 million per year as more than any one individual person can possibly be worth. You suggested an 80% tax on any income above this with a crackdown on any and all means of avoiding that. Well, I'd buy into that completely. And I suspect you'd agree with me that it is not the state's role to dictate executive pay limits, so no absolute cap, just some kind of excessive pay supertax rate on all incomes above say 5 million as suggested.

    I also agree with reforming remuneration committees, though we might possibly differ on the details. I for example would like worker representation as well as shareholder representation on such committees.

    I would also suggest making all top pay packages subject to binding shareholder votes to approve or reject, empowering shareholders further in this area.

    And any bonus payment larger than salary should be subject perhaps to additional shareholder approval before being paid out, with shareholders having the right to cap it. This right should be a legally binding one automatically written into pay contracts. I might also mandate making any part of a bonus payment over and above the level of basic salary - ie any bonus that goes further than doubling pay - be deducted directly from company profits. If there are none because the company made a loss, then there can be no legal bonus that more than doubles pay.

    Again, you may differ on some of the details and have different ideas of your own, but I do suspect this looks like one of those areas where we'd be able to reach an agreeable compromise.

    We do have fundamental ideological differences, though. I view capitalism as an inherent but necessary evil, which needs good regulation and guidance from the law to ensure that it does the maximum good and minimum harm, with the state intervening via the use of taxation and welfare to diminish inherent inequalities and discourage excessive greed, which I regard as intrinsic to unfettered capitalism. Only by being constrained within the right legal and regulatory framework can it be made to do more good than harm and be a force for good. It is a destructive tiger which we must harness and ride, and not allow to run amok.

    I suspect - and by all means clarify further or correct me if I am wrong - that your view of capitalism is a much more positive one and you see it as largely a force for good, and that the state should get out of the way as much as reasonably possible in order to allow it maximum productive potential. I do not think you are an ideologically driven deregulator. I suspect you recognise the need for some regulation, but just don't want what you'd regard as an excess of it.

    Whilst I believe that excesses are absolutely intrinsic to the necessary evil of capitalism, and will keep happening insofar as they are not legally or regulatorily restrained, you probably see them more as occasional excesses in what is otherwise largely a force for good. We both want to restrain those excesses because we think they are bad. Me because they are an intrinsic evil of capitalist greed and excess that needs to be restrained in the name of fairness and the greater good. You because they are aberrations in what you regard as the otherwise great beneficial force that is capitalism - aberrations that run the risk of marring the image of capitalism and providing ammunition to people like me. By restraining the excesses, you strengthen capitalist conservatism and remove emotive ammunition from the left. Though you also have a moral dimension and see excessive excess as morally wrong and hard to justify in it's own right.

    I think I have the gist of what we share and where we differ pinned down. But like I said, correct me if I am wrong.
    Good post Lefty. One thing that immediately strikes me is that despite your stated allegiance to Corbyn politics, you are in reality far more politically moderate than you claim. Broadly speaking I agree with your post and also your highlighting of those areas where we differ. Certainly my view is that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others (rather like democracy ! But here in the UK and indeed throughout western Europe we haven't had pure capitalism for decades; we have a mixed economy based on market forces and private enterprise to create our wealth and prosperity with state intervention ostensibly to perform the roles of economic control to ensure a favourable environment for commerce to prosper within a fair and balanced society, to include health, welfare, education, defence, law and order, transport etc.

    Like you I believe in such a 'compromise' system. It is the balance and extent of control and the sheer size of the state where we differ. I find pure capitalism, as I suppose most widely epitomised by the US economic model almost as 'distasteful' as socialism. However I can not think of a socialist state which ever remains both socialist and democratic; they inevitably gravitate to increased authoritarianism and often totalitarianism before they implode or there is a change of social and economic system. A typical case in point is Venezuela, until very recently much admired by John McDonnell. I can fully accept that socialism can be a success, for instance Cuba, but not within anything even approaching a democratic framework. Capitalist based systems however continue to exist and over time to prosper within a democratic framework and adapt to changing social needs.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Major Sinic View Post
    One thing that immediately strikes me is that despite your stated allegiance to Corbyn politics, you are in reality far more politically moderate than you claim.
    Because I sound reasonable? In fact, much as our current leadership are portrayed as a bunch of far left Marxist extremists, our 2017 manifesto was actually a very modestly social democratic one in comparison with anything from the 80s or earlier. And very popular. It was released early by Blairites to damage Corbyn but did the exact opposite by latching onto so many issues that had been ignored by both parties for so long. That manifesto became our secret weapon and it almost destroyed the Tory government, with some not inconsiderable help from May's own abysmal performance and cowardly failure to show up at debates.

    I do actually stand four square behind where Corbyn is coming from. I passionately believe in rent control and security of tenure for private tenants, a Keynesian spend on more council housing, an end to exploitative work contracts, bringing the essential services back into public ownership, abolition of tuition fees. You may remember I have been arguing for these - sometimes in debates with you (remember some of our debates on housing?) - since well before they became fashionable in the upper echelons of the Labour Party.

    The thing is, Corbyn and co look more scary and extreme to right wingers than they actually are, in part because they are genuinely passionate about helping the poor and downtrodden even if that means opposing wealthy vested interests, but also because their loud denunciations of the evils of capitalism are heard loud and clear, but their quiet acceptance of the reality of it as a necessary evil is barely whispered. So they can look anti-business when they are not automatically. They are just anti-those businesses who don't offer a fair deal to employees or customers. McDonnel is in fact quietly engaged upon a behind the scenes campaign to reassure businesses that we are not out to destroy them and want them to prosper and thereby deliver prosperity. Whilst the reality we offer is real change in favour of the downtrodden millions, our rhetoric is potentially more scary to the right than the reality would be.

    Lefties are also very fond of their moralistic anti-oppression hobby horses, and Corbyn is no exception. Speaking up for and championing the causes of oppressed people everywhere is in our DNA. We tend to be more overly moralistic whereas the right tends more towards pragmatic ambiguity and moral fuzziness, as clearly demonstrated by the very different reactions of left and right to Saudi Arabia. Broadly speaking, the right thinks we'd lose way too much business if we stopped trading with the Saudis and that would be terrible for British jobs. The left tends to think that doing the right thing is more important than money.

    Hobby horse number 1 of the left always used to be "free Nelson Mandela" "abolish apartheid" and all that jazz. These days it tends to be "let's stand up for the oppressed Palestinians" which is something Corbyn himself has been very big on. On some level the Labour left has always seen itself primarily as a moral crusade. You may think it's direction sadly deluded, but that the feeling is heartfelt is key to understanding us. But this moral crusading attitude and absolute conviction that right is on our side does lend itself to making us appear more intransigent and extreme than we really are. Likewise our rhetoric on capitalism, where we speak out against its excesses loudly and with heartfelt disgust, whilst quietly recognising that capitalism nevertheless is here to stay and needs to work well for all of us because there is no alternative.

    Most of us on the left aspire to something akin to the Nordic model (how social democratic Sweden was governed for decades) not the Cuban one. When we get into power we will not be lining anyone up against walls and we will not be eating your babies. The fear of us - often whipped up by a hostile media - is exaggerated, because we are not bad people with malice in our hearts. We want our program to work for everybody without ruining anyone.

    Broadly speaking I agree with your post and also your highlighting of those areas where we differ. Certainly my view is that capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the others (rather like democracy ! But here in the UK and indeed throughout western Europe we haven't had pure capitalism for decades; we have a mixed economy based on market forces and private enterprise to create our wealth and prosperity with state intervention ostensibly to perform the roles of economic control to ensure a favourable environment for commerce to prosper within a fair and balanced society, to include health, welfare, education, defence, law and order, transport etc.
    We on the left differ from you quite probably in the exact nature of the mixed economy. Clearly you too recognise the desirability of a mixed economy to some extent. But where I think we may just possibly disagree is where the boundary between state and private should be. Private enterprise is fuelled by the profit motive and the ambition for personal financial and status gain from individuals within it. As long as there is sufficient regulation to guarantee honest trading, customer protections, decent conditions and pay for employees, and so on, these imperatives work fairly well for companies selling things that the public may or may not choose to buy, and for wider society too, especially where there is effective competition I doubt you'd disagree with that last sentence. But where we might disagree is that I - in common with almost all of the left in my party - believe that the profit motive and pursuit of personal gain is not the best driver of good outcomes in essential public services, and certainly not where they function as natural monopolies or cartels and/or where there is no effective competition. I think - and three quarters of the public agree with me now - that privatisation of gas, electricity, water, and the railways, has proven to be an expensive ideologically driven disaster. Which is why I along with Corbyn and co want to see these industries publicly owned once more, as they are in almost every other western economy. Our trains for example are known to be the most expensive and one of the least efficient in Europe, yet have vastly more taxpayer cash pumped in than they ever did in the days of BR. And gas, electricity, and water are in real terms some 40% more expensive than when publicly owned. Yet water wastage in particular is at almost unprecedented levels.


    Like you I believe in such a 'compromise' system. It is the balance and extent of control and the sheer size of the state where we differ.
    Indeed, as my points re nationalisation above would probably tend to suggest.

    I find pure capitalism, as I suppose most widely epitomised by the US economic model almost as 'distasteful' as socialism.
    Unsurprisingly I find pure capitalism considerably more distasteful than democratic socialism.

    However I can not think of a socialist state which ever remains both socialist and democratic; they inevitably gravitate to increased authoritarianism and often totalitarianism before they implode or there is a change of social and economic system. A typical case in point is Venezuela, until very recently much admired by John McDonnell. I can fully accept that socialism can be a success, for instance Cuba, but not within anything even approaching a democratic framework. Capitalist based systems however continue to exist and over time to prosper within a democratic framework and adapt to changing social needs.
    Well a democratic socialist state can only remain socialist for as long as the people are prepared to vote for that. When they no longer are, the powers that be end up choosing whether they prefer democracy or socialism. If they choose the latter, then socialism is preserved for a while against the wishes of the people by suppressing democracy. This is a hiding to nothing in the long run though, because at heart true socialism relies upon the backing of the people. Without it it will wither and eventually be overthrown, with anything good about it also being discredited in the process.

    In fairness though this has tended to be the outcome in nations without strong democratic traditions. Often they are nations that have at times experienced right wing dictatorships and military coups, and where the opposition to the left has itself rarely been a great respecter of democracy. In nations with firmer democratic traditions, this tends not to occur. If socialists are elected into office they introduce some socialist policies but when voted out again they, however reluctantly - because no party likes losing - accept this and go quietly, and oppose the new guys in power from Opposition. In nations where democracy has deep roots, ALL parties tend to value democracy itself above their own ideologies.

    We on the left of Labour- with the possible exception of only a tiny number of genuinely extreme left infiltrators - are democrats to our core. We believe in democracy totally. Any constitutional changes any of us advocate, eg replacing the lords with an elected body, or introducing proportional representation, are designed to extend democracy, not limit it. And internally we are engaged in a process of extending and strengthening internal party democracy. Abolishing the New Labour control freakery, allowing meaningful decisions on policy to be decided at party conference votes, allowing local parties to choose their own candidates without outsiders with alien values being imposed upon them, ie "parachuted in". More power to local parties to deselect MPs who bring the party into disrepute, making them more democratically accountable to the party whose banner they have been elected under, so they cannot see themselves as bigger and more important than the party, and cannot assume an automatic job for life however they behave. And the internal discussion of policy rather than it all being handed down to us from a small cabal at the top, is being actively encouraged. You feel like just a small but thinking cog in a big machine with a common goal, and not just an unthinking automaton expected to obey orders with no say.

    Let me tell you this, Major. We on the left of Labour are the true democratic believers in our party, not the Blairite control freaks who used to be in charge.
    Thatcherism is an evil dragon. Let's be Saint George

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    The good news is that 33.75 million should go straight back into the public purse.
    Which will be spent on a commission to investigate why we have a housing shortage.

    And in a decade or so the commission will report back and recommend more planning regulations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Major Sinic View Post
    Lefty, who I like but disagree with at almost every turn, if he is as he claims a true follower of Corbyn and McDonnell would advocate these type of draconian tax measures on middle management, successful tradesmen and aspiring professionals at as little as 80,000 per annum , not above as I do, on greedy and undeserving executives who through the poor management of their peers, receive many times the income they deserve, earn or are worth, which would be still measured in low millions.
    This is a disappointing misrepresentation of where I and my party stands on this. I might have expected it from others but you are capable of more honest debating.

    You have suggested an 80% tax rate on all incomes above 5million which I personally have come forward to recognise as a good idea. Note that this is your idea which I have agreed with and not Labour party policy. You then, however, go on to suggest that my party wishes to impose such draconianly high taxes on all incomes above 80k. In doing this you are projecting your own idea onto us and imagining we'd have an 80% tax rate above 80k.

    You may not have meant to imply that because I am sure you must know better, but - even if unintentionally - that is exactly what your words seem to be trying to suggest.

    Yes we have a policy of making the top 5% of earners pay a little more - note the word "little" - a policy very popular with a majority of the electorate all too aware of excessive inequality. And yes, these are those earning above about 80k. But nowhere - NOWHERE - do we propose an 80% tax rate at any income level, certainly not at 80k. We have no intention of imposing an income tax rate any higher than 50% on anyone.

    I know this is probably expecting too much of any right winger, but it would be nice if you at least can avoid straw man attacks so we can debate reality.
    Thatcherism is an evil dragon. Let's be Saint George

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylib View Post

    You have suggested an 80% tax rate on all incomes above 5million which I personally have come forward to recognise as a good idea.
    Are we to assume that you are referring to direct income (ie wages ) as opposed to indirect (dividends and such)?

    The old racket whereby directors were paid washers but made it up in dividends which were taxed at a lower rate still has some mileage in it and should do my boy's accountancy business no harm at all.

    It isn't so much that governments rarely gain anything from their attempts to soak the rich, although they don't, but that much of the anticipated revenue stream ends up in the pockets of their tax advisors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylib View Post
    This is a disappointing misrepresentation of where I and my party stands on this. I might have expected it from others but you are capable of more honest debating.

    You have suggested an 80% tax rate on all incomes above 5million which I personally have come forward to recognise as a good idea. Note that this is your idea which I have agreed with and not Labour party policy. You then, however, go on to suggest that my party wishes to impose such draconianly high taxes on all incomes above 80k. In doing this you are projecting your own idea onto us and imagining we'd have an 80% tax rate above 80k.

    You may not have meant to imply that because I am sure you must know better, but - even if unintentionally - that is exactly what your words seem to be trying to suggest.

    Yes we have a policy of making the top 5% of earners pay a little more - note the word "little" - a policy very popular with a majority of the electorate all too aware of excessive inequality. And yes, these are those earning above about 80k. But nowhere - NOWHERE - do we propose an 80% tax rate at any income level, certainly not at 80k. We have no intention of imposing an income tax rate any higher than 50% on anyone.

    I know this is probably expecting too much of any right winger, but it would be nice if you at least can avoid straw man attacks so we can debate reality.
    My apologies, it was not my intention to suggest that there was any stated Labour Party intent to introduce an 80% tax band although I accept it came over as that. My intent was that Labour intended to introduce and enforce tax increases at the relatively low level of income of 80,000, inaccurately referring to such earners as 'rich'. It is this I object to since junior hospital consultants, plumbers, chain store managers etc can hardly be described as rich.

    Now I know that your mistake in claiming that Labour has no intention in putting anyone's tax level above 50% was genuinely made, but if you examine the current tax tables you will realise that Labour's tax increase of 5% will put people earning between 100k-120k onto a marginal rate o 67% up from an already excessive 62%.

    It is the irst time that I can recall being accused of making a straw man argument, a tactic which indicates a lack of intellectual rigour in debate and one which I abhor. The pointing out of what you seem to acknowledge may not have been deliberate was sufficient; such as accusation has cut me to the quick!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leftylib View Post
    Because I sound reasonable? In fact, much as our current leadership are portrayed as a bunch of far left Marxist extremists, our 2017 manifesto was actually a very modestly social democratic one in comparison with anything from the 80s or earlier. And very popular. It was released early by Blairites to damage Corbyn but did the exact opposite by latching onto so many issues that had been ignored by both parties for so long. That manifesto became our secret weapon and it almost destroyed the Tory government, with some not inconsiderable help from May's own abysmal performance and cowardly failure to show up at debates.

    I do actually stand four square behind where Corbyn is coming from. I passionately believe in rent control and security of tenure for private tenants, a Keynesian spend on more council housing, an end to exploitative work contracts, bringing the essential services back into public ownership, abolition of tuition fees. You may remember I have been arguing for these - sometimes in debates with you (remember some of our debates on housing?) - since well before they became fashionable in the upper echelons of the Labour Party.

    The thing is, Corbyn and co look more scary and extreme to right wingers than they actually are, in part because they are genuinely passionate about helping the poor and downtrodden even if that means opposing wealthy vested interests, but also because their loud denunciations of the evils of capitalism are heard loud and clear, but their quiet acceptance of the reality of it as a necessary evil is barely whispered. So they can look anti-business when they are not automatically. They are just anti-those businesses who don't offer a fair deal to employees or customers. McDonnel is in fact quietly engaged upon a behind the scenes campaign to reassure businesses that we are not out to destroy them and want them to prosper and thereby deliver prosperity. Whilst the reality we offer is real change in favour of the downtrodden millions, our rhetoric is potentially more scary to the right than the reality would be.

    Lefties are also very fond of their moralistic anti-oppression hobby horses, and Corbyn is no exception. Speaking up for and championing the causes of oppressed people everywhere is in our DNA. We tend to be more overly moralistic whereas the right tends more towards pragmatic ambiguity and moral fuzziness, as clearly demonstrated by the very different reactions of left and right to Saudi Arabia. Broadly speaking, the right thinks we'd lose way too much business if we stopped trading with the Saudis and that would be terrible for British jobs. The left tends to think that doing the right thing is more important than money.

    Hobby horse number 1 of the left always used to be "free Nelson Mandela" "abolish apartheid" and all that jazz. These days it tends to be "let's stand up for the oppressed Palestinians" which is something Corbyn himself has been very big on. On some level the Labour left has always seen itself primarily as a moral crusade. You may think it's direction sadly deluded, but that the feeling is heartfelt is key to understanding us. But this moral crusading attitude and absolute conviction that right is on our side does lend itself to making us appear more intransigent and extreme than we really are. Likewise our rhetoric on capitalism, where we speak out against its excesses loudly and with heartfelt disgust, whilst quietly recognising that capitalism nevertheless is here to stay and needs to work well for all of us because there is no alternative.

    Most of us on the left aspire to something akin to the Nordic model (how social democratic Sweden was governed for decades) not the Cuban one. When we get into power we will not be lining anyone up against walls and we will not be eating your babies. The fear of us - often whipped up by a hostile media - is exaggerated, because we are not bad people with malice in our hearts. We want our program to work for everybody without ruining anyone.



    We on the left differ from you quite probably in the exact nature of the mixed economy. Clearly you too recognise the desirability of a mixed economy to some extent. But where I think we may just possibly disagree is where the boundary between state and private should be. Private enterprise is fuelled by the profit motive and the ambition for personal financial and status gain from individuals within it. As long as there is sufficient regulation to guarantee honest trading, customer protections, decent conditions and pay for employees, and so on, these imperatives work fairly well for companies selling things that the public may or may not choose to buy, and for wider society too, especially where there is effective competition I doubt you'd disagree with that last sentence. But where we might disagree is that I - in common with almost all of the left in my party - believe that the profit motive and pursuit of personal gain is not the best driver of good outcomes in essential public services, and certainly not where they function as natural monopolies or cartels and/or where there is no effective competition. I think - and three quarters of the public agree with me now - that privatisation of gas, electricity, water, and the railways, has proven to be an expensive ideologically driven disaster. Which is why I along with Corbyn and co want to see these industries publicly owned once more, as they are in almost every other western economy. Our trains for example are known to be the most expensive and one of the least efficient in Europe, yet have vastly more taxpayer cash pumped in than they ever did in the days of BR. And gas, electricity, and water are in real terms some 40% more expensive than when publicly owned. Yet water wastage in particular is at almost unprecedented levels.




    Indeed, as my points re nationalisation above would probably tend to suggest.



    Unsurprisingly I find pure capitalism considerably more distasteful than democratic socialism.



    Well a democratic socialist state can only remain socialist for as long as the people are prepared to vote for that. When they no longer are, the powers that be end up choosing whether they prefer democracy or socialism. If they choose the latter, then socialism is preserved for a while against the wishes of the people by suppressing democracy. This is a hiding to nothing in the long run though, because at heart true socialism relies upon the backing of the people. Without it it will wither and eventually be overthrown, with anything good about it also being discredited in the process.

    In fairness though this has tended to be the outcome in nations without strong democratic traditions. Often they are nations that have at times experienced right wing dictatorships and military coups, and where the opposition to the left has itself rarely been a great respecter of democracy. In nations with firmer democratic traditions, this tends not to occur. If socialists are elected into office they introduce some socialist policies but when voted out again they, however reluctantly - because no party likes losing - accept this and go quietly, and oppose the new guys in power from Opposition. In nations where democracy has deep roots, ALL parties tend to value democracy itself above their own ideologies.

    We on the left of Labour- with the possible exception of only a tiny number of genuinely extreme left infiltrators - are democrats to our core. We believe in democracy totally. Any constitutional changes any of us advocate, eg replacing the lords with an elected body, or introducing proportional representation, are designed to extend democracy, not limit it. And internally we are engaged in a process of extending and strengthening internal party democracy. Abolishing the New Labour control freakery, allowing meaningful decisions on policy to be decided at party conference votes, allowing local parties to choose their own candidates without outsiders with alien values being imposed upon them, ie "parachuted in". More power to local parties to deselect MPs who bring the party into disrepute, making them more democratically accountable to the party whose banner they have been elected under, so they cannot see themselves as bigger and more important than the party, and cannot assume an automatic job for life however they behave. And the internal discussion of policy rather than it all being handed down to us from a small cabal at the top, is being actively encouraged. You feel like just a small but thinking cog in a big machine with a common goal, and not just an unthinking automaton expected to obey orders with no say.

    Let me tell you this, Major. We on the left of Labour are the true democratic believers in our party, not the Blairite control freaks who used to be in charge.
    Too much! Too much! You defeat me under a mountain of words, irrespective of their quality. I will read this thesis when I have more time and respond as and when on the main thrust!

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    Excellent debate Major and Lefty. I will not intervene as it adds complexity. Keep going! Though I will just say that he current Labour leadership IS a bunch of Marxist extremists and their manifesto is toned down to have a chance of getting elected.

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