Friends advise me not to write ‘ad hominem’ posts. This one is ad feminam. Anne Pettifor can’t be all bad. She supports CASSE, devoted to ‘Steady state’ or no-growth economics, one of the founding principles of the Green Party.
Ms Pettifor has come to prominence as one of Jeremy Corbyn’s economic advisers. But a less well publicised member of Team Corbyn is Richard Murphy. Mr. Murphy has published a costed version of a Basic Income. You might think this would be my idea of a dream team. What could possibly go wrong?
The problem is that Anne Pettifor is dead against the Basic Income, and Richard Murphy’s plans to end austerity depend heavily on kick-starting economic growth. Most of the paper “Financing the Social State”, by Murphy and Howard Reed did indeed appear fairly comprehensively in Jeremy Corbyn’s final push to his overwhelming election victory: using something akin to Quantitive Easing to finance a massive programme of infrastructure projects which would guarantee full employment. I assumed that the absence of any mention of the Basic Income, an integral part of the paper, was due to the difficulty in introducing the idea ‘cold’ at that crucial stage.
Although I am a passionate advocate of a Basic, or Citizens’ Income, I am keenly aware that it is a dangerous tool. I fear that Murphy & Reed’s use of it, in apparent disregard of ecological constraints, would do more harm than good.
But the continued failure to mention the Basic income as a part of the package now becomes clear. I know of Anne Pettifor’s blanket opposition to the Basic Income because she was an invited speaker at a CASSE event in Leeds some months ago. The Basic Income is mentioned as a part of the case for a steady state economy in ‘Enough is Enough’, a book by Dan O’Neill, chair of the Leeds event, and Bob Dietz. As a member of the audience, I asked why her presentation did not include any mention of the Basic Income. I was taken aback by her reply. As a mere questioner, I did not get a right of reply. Incidentally, if new readers are puzzled at the Basic income being linked to no-growth, please read the book résumé, one of the ‘Pages’ on this blog.
In view of Jeremy Corbyn’s obviously weak grasp of real Green issues, I never did share the enthusiasm for him of most of the Green Party, though I did think that his entry to centre stage might lead to opportunities for the Green Party to present a different take on anti-austerity. I was never happy about the Green Party positioning itself as the Party Labour should have been, so my exasperation at Corbyn stealing that role is not wisdom after the event. Damage limitation by renewed emphasis on environmental policies will only work if it is underpinned by a true understanding of how to achieve social justice within ecological realities. (Clue: some Tories think drastic redistribution to save the planet might be value for money, and a lot of Tory ideas, rightly condemned as oppressive at present, make sense with a Basic Income).
I still believe that Team Corbyn will recover from the gaffes of his first 6 weeks in office, though I cannot take seriously the notion of the arch rebel being in charge. It is painfully obvious that neither Corbyn nor McDonnell had done any preparation, presumably because they did not expect to be where they are today. But are Anne Pettifor and Richard Murphy capable of dialogue?
_ _ _ _ _
Am I really ‘ad hominem’? Yes, I regularly name names, but only ever by stating what they have said or done. If I have ever said anything which could be interpreted as a personal attack unrelated to something I disagreed with, explaining why, please draw my attention to it (them?).