The cuts won’t work – time for a Green New Deal

The dominant media meme in the wake of the pre-budget report continues to be the alleged need for government cuts. This has now taken a shriller tone.

The dominant media meme in the wake of the pre-budget report continues to be the alleged need for government cuts. This has now taken a shriller tone, with allegations of a rift between Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling over how deeply to cut.

Brown is being cast as the bad guy in this; as resisting Darling’s ‘prudent’ desire to come up with real cuts in this pre-Budget Report, rather than delaying the ‘necessary’ cuts until 2011.

However, as Tony Juniper argues in today’s Independent, the hysteria about the ‘need’ for cuts is all wrong. The Green New Deal Group have just published their second report, to discouragingly little fanfare. This important document presents a powerful blueprint for how Britain could stabilise its economy, through a further and thoroughly-green expansion of ‘quantitative easing’.

This could enable us to avoid a repeat of the ‘Roosevelt recession’ – the kind of downturn through premature cuts that occurred in the States in 1936-8, and would occur here too, if the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives got their way and put into place the ‘savage’ cuts they are promising.

Cuts are not needed, certainly not at this time. The beauty of green Keynesian measures is that they pay for themselves, in that they guarantee future savings (lower fuel bills etc) that will repay any elements of the package which do not already pay for themselves through their positive effect on the economy.

The current attacks on Brown, then, are completely misplaced. The government should take more pride in not putting spending cuts into place. This should mark a clear dividing line between Left (Labour and Greens) and Right (Tories and Lib Dems). But at present it does not – because the government has not resisted openly the cuts meme – and because it has not bought into green Keynesianism in any meaningful way.

It is an incredible disappointment that the PBR did not embody substantive moves towards a Green New Deal (except for the boiler scrappage scheme, brilliantly and now-successfully promoted by Mick Williams.

At this time of all times, with Copenhagen in the balance, the need for leadership and for us to think of the future should have been manifested in Darling’s proposals. That, and not the welcome absence of public spending cuts, is the real scandal of yesterday.

29 Responses to “The cuts won’t work – time for a Green New Deal”

  1. RupertRead

    Check out my newest piece @leftfootfwd: The cuts won’t work – time for a #Green New Deal: http://is.gd/5jzYF [ #cop15 #Copenhagen #climate ]

  2. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert Read – Are you seriously asking us to believe that this article is not just another of your attempts to court favour from the readers of this blog and forward the “Rupert Read” brand?

    It seems to me that you are simply saying what you think people want to hear but you are consistently inconsistent on this blog Rupert – I thought you were passionate about “Green” issues and not motivated by big business…

    You say: “This should mark a clear dividing line between Left (Labour and Greens) and Right (Tories and Lib Dems)”. So the greens are now aligned with Labour. OK. Gets you some support here.

    Explain then why you claim the most important issue in our lifetime is Global Warming and you make an excuse to align yourself with Labour and get support from LFF. The Lib Dems and the Tories both oppose Runway 3 at Heathrow yet this government has approved it.

    In fact: “Green Party Principal Speaker Dr. Caroline Lucas has submitted damning evidence to the Government’s consultation on the proposed expansion of Heathrow Airport, and today labelled the plans for a third runway as ‘irresponsible, deceptive and environmentally disastrous’.”

    They ignored her Rupert. And don’t give me that “It’s Carbon Neutral” hogwash either – I don’t believe it any more than you do so your comments seems to me to be a cynical ploy to gain support from Labour activists.

    One can therefore conclude on this blog that Rupert Read aligns himself with the Labour Party on his “green/Keynesian” measures and excuses/ignores the fact they support Runway 3 at Heathrow and (Carbon Capture is non existent at present)Coal Fired power stations. Well done Rupert, hypocrisy is alive and well it seems.

  3. Henry

    I’m not in the business of defending everything the LibDems do, but it’s a bit absurd to descibe them as part of the Right, just because of a silly soundbite by Clegg on ‘savage’ cuts. Some of their tax proposals are pretty progressive.

  4. Rupert Read

    My dear Mouse;
    [I won’t respond to your ad hominem stuff, because it is pointless to do so.]
    On the question of substance: One very important dividing line between the Parties at present is over whether there should be cuts or not. It is not the only dividing line – on others, I would indeed as you say be closer to the LibDems or even to the Tories. But on this critical issue, Labour is much closer to getting it right than either of them are.
    I write on this blog because I am an eco-socialist, a left-Green. So: I am addressing others on the Left who are thinking about what is to be done, and what I am urging here is that the Left should embrace the Green New Deal.

  5. willstraw

    I agree with Henry. The Lib Dems’ mansion tax policy is more progressive than many of Labour’s tax policies and should have been introduced in the PBR as an additional revenue raising measure.

    But I’m happy to give Rupert a platform on Left Foot Forward since he offers a different perspective.

    And to the person who just submitted a vindictive comment about Rupert with the name “Freddy M”. We don’t want it on this blog so start your own.

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert Read – Fair enough although I would say that realistically all parties know there need to be cuts, it’s just the timing that seems to differ. Even the size of the cuts it would appear are around the same, Labour 9.3% – Tories 10%.

    Still think you’ve only done this article as a means of self promotion though.

  7. Rupert Read

    The mansion tax is good; agreed. But the fundamental positioning of the LibDems on this crucial issue of cuts is very telling – they buy into the cuts narrative completely. The LibDems have been captured by neoliberalism – that is the single biggest reason why I left them, in 1999. Look at all the people with power in the LibDems, and tell me honestly how many of them couldn’t be comfortable in the same Party as Cameron. Look at the Orange Book. Etc.
    New Labour too has been captured by neoliberalism. But there are some key elements of the Labour Party that remain genuinely Left.
    What I meant by my admittedly-blunt invocation of the Left vs. Right spectrum in the piece was this: Any Party that wants to stand against the would-be-economically-disastrous neo-Hooverian Rightism of Osborne’s Conservative Party needs to start leading on this, and opposing the media’s narrative on it (a narrative fully endorsed at present even by the BBC). We need politicians who are prepared to join Caroline Lucas in saying that we don’t need cuts, we need a Green New Deal. Clegg is so far standing with Cameron and Osborne on this. Brown is on the fence: he is at least against immediate cuts, and that is what is good about the PBR. If he came down clearly onto the left-green side of the equation, then the next General Election would be genuinely interesting countrywide. So far, he is quite failing to do so, as I made clear at the end of my piece. He will therefore lose badly: if the electorate are merely offered a choice between different versions of cuts-promises, they will choose the people who are offering the ‘toughest’ cuts. See my 1st post on LFF, here:
    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2009/10/who-can-cut-the-hardest-the-narrative-firms-up/
    The NARRATIVE has to be challenged. As things stand, it is only the Green Party that is stating clearly what Keynesians know: that the cuts narrative could yet land us in a Depression…

  8. Finn

    Well actually Rupert, the Green Party is part of the cutting narrative look at Ireland where the Green Party is in government. Will you be challenging that.

  9. David

    The Liberal Democrat’s policy paper ‘A Fresh Start for Britain’ with its commitment to “put people back to work and combat climate change by investing in green jobs” and “cut taxes for people on low and middle incomes, funded by closing loopholes for the rich and green taxes, ensuring that no one pays a penny on the first £10,000 of income they earn”; would seem to be at odds with your caricature.
    That doesn’t mean the parties agree, the Lib Dems and the Canadian Green Party have almost identical policies to use green taxes, to cut tax for people on low incomes; the Green Party England/Wales (or at least Jenny Jones) opposes the policy.

  10. nef

    RT @leftfootfwd The cuts won’t work – time for a Green New Deal: http://is.gd/5jzYF

  11. Ian Wardle

    RT @theneweconomics: RT @leftfootfwd The cuts won’t work – time for a Green New Deal: http://is.gd/5jzYF

  12. Rupert Read

    Indeed; the Green Party here doesn’t support that policy, because it is in practice regressive and doesn’t go far enough. We support carbon rights (DTQs) instead.

  13. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert Read – So do you agree with what you wrote or are you just trying to garner support from other quarters?

    Is this article your opinion or the Greens opinion or what?

  14. Rupert Read

    [Sigh]. Yes, of course I agree with what I wrote. All I have been endeavouring to do here in my comments is to clarify and to respond to objections.
    Yes, the article is my opinion. I hope that other Greens will agree with it – but that’s up to them. Our Party doesn’t have a whipping system, and we are not controlled from on high. Which is why, hopefully, we make interesting bloggers.

  15. David

    “We support carbon rights (DTQs) instead” according to Jenny Jones the Green Party’s alternative to green taxes is income tax – so it’s tax rises or cuts. Are the Green Party going to oppose Nick Clegg’s savage cuts in Trident, new aircraft carriers and top civil servant golden pensions?

  16. David

    PS How is it regressive to have a £10,000 income tax threshold? Along with the education policy for under 7’s, it’s the first step to making the UK a more equal society – it’s stealth redistribution.

  17. me

    Rupert, Anon E Mouse seems to have it in for you !

  18. Anon E Mouse

    me – Anon E Mouse isn’t keen on people that speak with forked tongue and act in an undemocratic way, not allowing any dissent or debating any opinion that they do not agree with.

    I also believe in protecting the weak, poorer and less fortunate members in societies around the world and I don’t like more powerful people taking advantage of them with tax increases to pay for their own lavish lifestyles.

    I just do not like the injustice and inequity that Rupert Read and his ilk seek to impose on us, especially as nearly every article written by him involves his self promotion. I just care about people, that’s all and when I see the nonsense he spouts I feel an opposing opinion should be aired.

    I’m not alone. Here’s part of his letter to the Guardian newspaper:

    Rupert Read states: “By doing interviews like that, that you chose to air this morning, you are materially damaging the chances of an agreement at Copenhagen, an agreement that might just save our civilisation and species from self-destruction.”

    The Guardians response: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2009/nov/13/climate-deniers-today-programme

    The Guardian, also agree with me. I am sick of these self appointed “Saviour’s of the Universe” and their silly alarmist talk.

    It’s a free country – if the likes of Rupert Read get their way it won’t be and pictures of him grinning from every post he makes will adorn our lamp posts if we’re not careful.

  19. Rupert Read

    David: In answer to your rhetorical question: The Green Party of course agrees with savage cuts to Trident, ID cards, etc – and also to fossil fuel subsidies, tax havens, etc. . But Clegg wants to ‘savagely’ (his word – he must be regretting that one very much) cut some public services – and there we part company.
    ‘Me’: Yes, Anon E Mouse tries to dog me (mouse me?) around the net. I take it as a badge of honour that a fearless (anonymous) troll thinks it worth his time to do this. I think that people mostly judge perfectly well for themselves the quality (sic.) of his interventions, and so reply from me is superfluous. On one specific point, in reply to his latest masterly comment: It wasn’t the _Guardian_’s response, it was Monbiot’s response. Monbiot thinks that it is fine for the BBC etc to provide air-space to climate-deniers, so long as they are firmly dealt with by BBC interviewers, etc. I agree; that would be fine. The reason that I don’t believe that they should be given air-space is a pragmatic one – they are NOT firmly dealt with. So the pathetic miasma of non-existent doubt is allowed to spread. If climate-deniers were destroyed on air as Nick Griffin was on QuestionTime, then fine; but they are treated with kid-gloves by scientifically-illiterate presenters like the dismal Justin Webb. Until such time as that changes, then it is wrong to have them on, just as it would be wrong to have Nick Griffin on if he then got treated so gently that his endless falsehoods on air (such as his manmade-climate-change-denial) were not rebutted. That would not be public service broadcasting.

  20. Rupert Read

    The bottomline is this: There’s no room for ‘Skepticism’, no more time for it. Dangerous Climate Change is Here NOW – Urgent Climate Action is what’s Needed. The debate now needs to be about questions such as, how can we get behind the Tuvalu proposals and make them happen. If the debate with loons such as Monckton, Griffin, and Anon E Mouse goes on and on, then they will have won – because their only aim is to keep delaying action. It’s time to get a meaningful agreement at Copenhagen, or to build a movement that can produce such an agreement. Everything else is just a slow betrayal of our children.

  21. Rupert Read

    The excellent Mehdi Hasan over at _NS_ has this to say, which buttresses my argument in this piece:
    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2009/12/160-spending-credit-debt

  22. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert Read – You are off again making outlandish claims to inflate your ego further (should that be possible). If you answer post an article then at least have the courtesy to defend it or don’t post it I say.

    You will not answer any specific point put to you about your idea that Governments have the rights to oppress their peoples just because it suits your flawed science. It is a shameful position to adopt.

    You know full well that I am far from a so called “Climate Change Denier” but that doesn’t suit your case so you ignore it and continue posting articles like the one here.

    What I find disturbing is the fact you must now know the Hockey Stick graph used as an excuse to tax the poor is flawed you still defend it. Why?

    You state the CRU email leaks: the ones showing how the (so called) scientists dishonestly altered the data to fake their case then destroyed the original data to prevent themselves being caught was not important – rubbish.

    Explain exactly why posting questions to you, because of the deception you attempt to perpetrate, will hamper the wasted time and money spent on that farce over in Copenhagen? What important position do you hold at the talks?

    Why not start by producing science that proves your case and work from there.

    Why are you right and David Rind from Nasa wrong?
    Why are you right and Keith Briffa from the CRU wrong?
    Why are you right and Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at MIT wrong?
    Why are you right and Tom Segalstad, head of geology Oslo University wrong?

    I suggest Rupert Read that since you have no academic scientific qualifications that they are right and you are wrong.

    Stop advocating the taxing of decent hard working people using this nonsense and stop these silly, alarmist remarks. Why should the poor suffer for this drivel?

  23. David

    Rupert I agree, Nick Clegg probably regrets using the word “savage” it was a stunt that went wrong, most media just reported the “savage cuts” as if the Liberal Democrats were joining the cutting consciences, without looking at the substance. Look at what Nick said at the time, it was about protecting the vulnerable. “If ending tax credits for high earners is the price we pay for cutting class sizes and investing in disadvantaged pupils, so be it. We need to tell the highest paid public sector staff they won’t get an increase in their pensions, so that we can afford to keep teachers, nurses, policemen and women in their jobs, so be it.” The very opposite of the Fianna Fail/Green Party cuts across the Irish Sea.

  24. Rupert Read

    Thanks, David.
    Look, the question you have to ask is WHY Clegg thought the stunt one that he wanted to undertake in the first place. And the answer is this: That he wanted to be seen to be going along with the public mood in favour of substantial cuts to the government’s budget. That is (1) an abnegation of leadership, (2) a rejection of Green Keynesianism, (3) a right-wing quasi-Hooverist stance. There’s no way around this.
    You are quite right that elements of the LibDems’ fiscal programme are progressive (though I disagree with the LibDems’ movement away from universal provision, a movement which in the long run will undermine the welfare state, as the rich will not see themselves getting ANY benefits from it). But points (1) thru (3) above stand, no matter how progressive they are.
    p.s. Purely fyi, on Ireland, this is an interesting (!) clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8TRXJ0SHm4

  25. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert Read – Not even 9 O’Clock and you’ve obviously been on the coffee already – start the week the way you mean to go on I say.

    Your three point are YOUR points Rupert Read, just because you say it does not make them so – they simply do not stand.

    A rejection of Green Keynesianism? What a meaningless comment and Nick Clegg shows more leadership than anyone in the Green Party where your comments in this blog make it clear you’ll say anything just to make yourself more popular – but what you never do is address the pressing issues on Climate Change.

    The way around it Rupert, as you’ll discover next year, is the election of a new government. Although presently they share your blind belief in this Climate Change nonsense, one can only hope that once this waste of time and taxes in Copenhagen is over people will realise the handshakes and grins are as worthless as the last ones.

    Then whole world can set up a genuine and radical means of reducing CO2 and saving the planet unlike the frankly delusional strategies you advocate.

  26. Rupert Read

    Anon: _As explained above_, Green Keynesianism = The Green New Deal.
    IN FACT, you more or less use the term yourself on your first comment in this string!! Go back and look.
    So: there is little possibiity of concluding anything other than that you are merely stirring / creating flak. I shan’t trouble to respond to comments that are MERELY trouble-making in this way, in future.

  27. David

    “…use Gordon Brown’s wasted billions to create thousands of jobs
    today by investing in homes, hospitals, schools and public
    transport to build the green economy of tomorrow…” Nick Clegg
    Sounds like green Keynesianism to me.
    There are many areas of agreement in Lib Dem policy
    http://www.libdems.org.uk/siteFiles/resources/PDF/Pocket%20Guide%20July%202009.pdf and the core principles of the Green New Deal. http://www.greennewdealgroup.org/?page_id=88
    I see David Boyle of the Lib Dem Fed Policy Committee edited the GDN.

  28. Rupert Read

    Thanks David. Let’s get the LibDems signed up to the GND, then; and let’s have no more LibDem talk of large-scale public spending cuts.

  29. me

    Anon E Mouse – I’m intrigued as to why you are anonymous in your ‘mousing’ of Rupert around the net. Your comments would have more interest and be more meaningful perhaps if you weren’t.

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