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Is the British Labour Party aboard the fiscal dominance train – Part 1?

As I type this (Sunday), I am heading to Brighton, England from Edinburgh. We had two sessions in Edinburgh yesterday (Saturday) and it was great to share ideas with some really committed people. We had to dodge a Hollywood closure of the streets (‘Fast and Furious 9 had commandeered the inner city to film a car or two swerving out of control or whatever, and I hope the city received heaps for the inconvenience to its citizens. But, with the direction now south, and tomorrow’s two events (more later), I am thinking the place of the British Labour Party in the progressive struggle. It doesn’t look good to me. The news overnight has been that the Party’s “head of policy and the author of the party’s last election manifesto” (quoting the Times today) has quit the Party claiming “I no longer have faith we will succeed”. The blame game starts and, as usual, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership is in focus. The Times cartoon had the caption “They’ve got what it takes to form a government” with two ducks (in Brighton) looking at a sign against a wall saying “Labour Civil War Chaos”. What should we make of all this? My take is this: there is a clear paradigm shift going on in macroeconomic policy thinking. Every day (it seems) a new article pops up with someone claiming monetary policy has run its course and a new era of fiscal policy dominance is the only viable way ahead. That means that the central bank imprimatur on policy – determining whether such policy can continue to be effective and relying on interest rate adjustments etc as the primary counter-stabilisation policy – is over. That means that New Keynesian economics is over. That means that fiscal credibility rules that are neoliberal central are over. And that is why I think British Labour are looking poorly in the polls. They have taken advice from a number of characters who have pushed them into a ‘New Keynesian’ mindset and they are now ‘yesterday’s news’. They have missed the boat on these major shifts that have been going on. That is why they need a major shift in macroeconomic thinking. Only Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) offers a consistent and credible path for them to make that shift.

The polling situation in Britain

The latest results from the most recent (September 18, 2019) – Politico Poll of Polls for “National parliament voting intentions” are:

1. Conservative – 33 per cent.

2. Labour – 24 per cent.

3. Liberal Democrats – 20 per cent.

4. Brexit Party – 13 per cent.

5. Greens – 4 per cent.

6. SNP – 4 per cent.

7. UKIP – 1 per cent.

The relevant point is the trend which is shown in the following rather difficult to read graph (given it had to be squeezed into the screen). You can see the clear full graph at the Politico site linked above.

The red line is Labour, the Blue line is the Tories, the aqua line is the Brexit Party and the orange line is the Liberal Democrats.

The data is for the last 12 months. Those little dots around each line are the actual observations that have been smoothed by a Kalman filter to get the ‘trend’ lines as shown.

On November 3, 2018, Labour and the Conservatives were tied on 39 per cent and the Liberal Democrats were on 8 per cent. The Brexit Party did not exist.

The Liberal Democrats rise started on April 24, 2019 and although their appeal started to flatten out in early June 2019, they have surged again in the current month.

While the Tories and Labour took big hits from around April 2019, around the time the Brexit Party emerged, Labour has been stuck around its current proportion since early June.

The Tories have recovered somewhat, mostly at the expense of the Brexit Party. They now look as though they could hold government, which I guess is why Labour refused the Prime Minister’s offer of a General Election. When has an Opposition ever declined to go to the polls?

The on-going paradigm shift in macroeconomic policy

Recent blog posts on this theme are as follows:

1. ECB confirms monetary policy has run its course – Part 1 (September 17, 2019).

2. ECB confirms monetary policy has run its course – Part 1 (September 18, 2019).

3. On money printing and bond issuance – Part 1 (August 26, 2019).

4. On money printing and bond issuance – Part 2 (August 27, 2019).

5. Inverted yield curves signalling a total failure of the dominant mainstream macroeconomics (August 20, 2019).

6. We are approaching a period of fiscal dominance (August 12, 2019).

But this the topic of fiscal dominance has been a core theme of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) since we started this project some 25 years ago.

In fact, MMT economists are the only ones who have consistently argued that a reliance on monetary policy for counter-stabilisation is an ineffective way to run a monetary economy.

We have consistently shown, against massive push back from the dominant New Keynesians, as monetary policy works by altering the cost of borrowing, it is an indirect way of managing aggregate spending fluctuations (in either direction).

It is uncertain because while borrowers face lower costs, those who earn interest income have less purchasing power.

Further, when there is pessimism about future returns on capital investment and a heightened risk of unemployment, potential borrowers will not seek credit no matter how low the costs of funds goes.

The current neoliberal obsession with fiscal surpluses, buttressed by voluntary fiscal rules that restrict the flexibility of fiscal policy – in both good and bad times – is counterproductive and the next period has to see more fiscal stimulus from governments.

Just this morning I read two articles in the popular financial media that signal the shift that is going on.

The Bloomberg article (September 21, 2019) – A Long-Despised and Risky Economic Doctrine Is Now a Hot Idea – says that:

Hardly anyone thinks central banks can fix a stalling world economy with their current tools. So some of the biggest names in finance are trying to invent new ones.

And all the so-called ‘new ideas’, “foresee the once all-powerful central bankers taking a more junior role, and collaborating with governments.”

While I am somewhat tired of reading about fiscal policy dominance as being a ‘Hit Idea’ it remains the fact that more people are converging on it and leaving behind the New Keynesian neoliberalism which privileged central banks above the elected government in macroeconomic policy making.

It also recognises that MMT, which says that:

… government spending and taxes are better tools to steer the economy than interest rates, has also been gaining support. MMT is relaxed about monetary financing of budget deficits, and doesn’t see it as much different from selling bonds.

Totally relaxed in fact.

It is the most effective way to stabilise the cycle to maintain high levels of employment and distribute the rewards of economic growth to all.

They quote a financial market commentator who sounds the death knell for New Keynesian orthodoxy:

Central bank independence increasingly looks like a brief historical episode that peaked around the turn of the century … Like it or not, get used to the new normal of dependent central banks.

Only MMT has consistently supported that “new normal”.

All the Johnny-come-latelys who are now recognising that the neoliberal normal has failed are welcome.

And this article (September 18, 2019) – The Return of Fiscal Policy – tells the same story.

It says:

Policymakers around the world are coming to realize that it is neither wise nor feasible to rely constantly on central banks for economic-policy support.

I don’t agree with a lot of the article as it is still trying to escape from the neoliberal frames but there is no doubt that it is part of the shift going on.

The point is clear.

With governments refusing to use fiscal policy in a responsible way, central banks, in the face of stagnating growth and rising recession risk, have been forced to implement ever ridiculous monetary policy initiatives (see my blog posts on last week’s ECB policy decisions) despite the clear evidence that those policy moves have been largely ineffective in achieving their stated aims and have motivated a number of negative side-effects (for example, asset price inflation).

So is the British Labour Party catching the same train?

So where is the British Labour Party in this shift?

I consider that it is stuck in the old paradigm – with a policy rule that allows for monetary policy dominance. Their major fiscal statement allows for some fiscal flexibility but would be at the behest of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee.

In other words, the elected Chancellor, who is answerable to the people via the ballot box, takes orders from the Monetary Policy Committee and cannot suspend the ‘Fiscal Rule’ until the MPC says so.

The Party is thus being left behind because they have been taking advice from economists that are stuck in the old paradigm, notwithstanding their efforts to claim otherwise.

At the heart of this old paradigm is British Labour Party’s so-called Fiscal Credibility Rule, a product of its liaison with New Keynesian academics.

I have written extensively about the ‘Rule’ – see these blog posts (among others):

1. Forget the official Rule, apparently, there is a secret Fiscal Credibility Rule (June 19. 2019).

2. The British Labour Fiscal Credibility rule – some further final comments (October 23, 2018) – this post has an extensive list of links to earlier blog posts on this topic.

It was designed by economists who have repeatedly written that the conduct of macroeconomic policy, designed to address fluctuations in non-government spending and maintain stable growth and stable inflation, is best left to unelected and largely unaccountable central bank policy committees

This is the mainstream view that is rapidly being discredited by the evidence of the failure of central banks to achieve their stated targets, the array of negative interest rates out to the distant regions of the yield curve, the stagnation in real wages growth, the rising and unsustainable wealth and income inequality, the rising private debt levels, and the low to zero growth that many economies are now trapped in as a result of this reliance on monetary policy and the associated bias towards fiscal austerity.

The ‘Rule’ that they came up with, which I have long argued has trapped the British Labour Party in a neoliberal straitjacket, and, which, is now looking like being left behind by the shifts in policy thinking everywhere, is outlined in this document – British Labour Fiscal Credibility Rule.

Let’s make sure we know exactly what is says because the proponents of the ‘Rule’ and supporters of it have regularly tried to offer spurious interpretations of it to cover their tracks.

First, there is the issue of framing and language.

As the period of fiscal dominance consolidates, we will see new framing and language emerge.

The British Labour Party ‘Fiscal Rule’ exemplifies the way Labour-type parties thought is was being ‘credible’ by dancing with the neoliberals, using their frames and language.

They seem oblivious to the fact that using neoliberal frames only reinforces them.

So, while the Labour Party might claim to advance a progressive agenda, the fact remains that if they frame those intentions in the metaphorical language of the neoliberals then they just privilege those frames and reinforce the attitudes that are triggered by them.

As an example, the ‘household budget’ analogy is one of the most powerful ways in which citizens are mislead by mainstream macroeconomists about fiscal policy and the capacities of government.

The fact is that the currency issuing government is the monopoly issuer of the currency and, thus, has no financial constraints.

Our experience as householders using the currency the government issues, provides us with no knowledge of the choices and constraints facing such a government.

Which raised the question as to why a so-called progressive political party such as the British Labour Party would want to place the household ‘budget’ analogy at the core of its ‘Fiscal Rule’.

The ‘Rule’ does just that:

While there are exceptional times when shocks from the private sector mean that government has to step in to help, everybody knows that if you’re putting the rent on the credit card month after month, things needs to change.

Pure neoliberal framing and language.

The British government does not have a ‘credit card’ that will default if continually spends more than its revenue.

In other words, the ‘Fiscal Rule’ leaves British Labour locked in the old paradigm and it should abandon it forthwith.

But there is more to this and we will explore the broader operational concerns in Part 2 tomorrow.

Conclusion

My view is that to stay abreast the current trends, which are moving quickly towards the basic MMT approach, even though several mainstream economist are trying to claim they knew all this stuff all along, British Labour must refresh the panel that it seeks advice from.

There is no scope anymore for views that espouse the dangers of fiscal deficits and the desirability of fiscal ratios that promise to reduce public debt ratios and the like.

Sure enough, the New Keynesians are desperately trying to reposition themselves as the world passes them by. But if British Labour really wants to be progressive and stay ahead of the curve it should distance itself from these characters and seek advice from genuine MMT economists.

In Part 2, I will argue that the Fiscal Credibility Rule ties British Labour to the old paradigm and makes it look very old-fashioned in terms of the direction of policy debates around the world.

European-UK-US Speaking Tour September 2019 – Where am I today?

I have two events today.

1. September 23, 2019 – Brighton Labour Party Fringe Event (GIMMS – 14:00 start) – public event.

2. I am appearing with British Labour MP Chris Williamson from 16:00 today and we will be talking about MMT and the Green New Deal. I cannot yet disclose the venue given the efforts by some to close all such events down. The thugs associated with the Labour movement have been bullying venue owners to prevent Chris from speaking at the Brighton Fringe Events.

The venue we will be speaking at together will be disclosed later today (Monday) and we will be able to walk from the GIMMS event at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2019 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 16 Comments
    1. Have just been watching (again!) “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”, shown on one of Finnish public-broadcasting’s TV channels.

      Then, happening to read this blog just afterwards – including its closing reference to the behaviour of some of “the thugs associated with the Labour movement” relating to Chris Williamson – instantly recalled the Pythons’ blistering satire aimed at all such sectarianism (seemingly a hallmark of left-wing factions in particular). The only people the zealots of the “People’s Front of Judaea” hate more than the Romans are the “Judaean People’s Front” (while the “Judaean Popular Front” comprises only one lonely – plainly anything but popular – old man).

      Priceless – and not all that far removed from today’s Labour Party.

      (I only wonder how long it will be before they get around to stoning).

    2. A short time ago, in the process of making a comment on another MMT website, it suddenly occurred to me that there may be an alternative, complementary approach to getting the essential concept of MMT (fiat money) across to the general public. Being a U.S. citizen who has watched his country go down the drain ever since Reagan convinced the masses that their government was the problem, their enemy, I have made it a practice to revisit, on a regular basis, the Preamble to the American Declaration of Independence. This succinct and elegant expression of Enlightenment values is the polar opposite of Reagan’s (and Thatcher’s) message. It conceives of democratic government as an instrument, called into existence by the people, to ensure their equality by securing inherent human rights. What popped into my head was the simple proposition that if democratic government itself is created ex nihilo (by the will of the people), then surely its currency must also be created ex nihilo (by the spending decisions of the people’s elected representatives). This would only hold, however, if federal currency were free from artificial, self-imposed constraints like the gold standard or the EU. Might it be useful for MMT, in appealing to the general public and deflecting the absurd but incendiary charge that it is dangerous, to make more clearly this conceptual linkage between the creation of democratic government and the creation of fiat currency–to proudly (yes, even patriotically) present them both as the natural offspring of the best in the Enlightenment tradition?

    3. I have been thinking the same for some time Newton. But as I am not American the Declaration of Independence means nothing to me. But the problem remains the same world wide. Viz. how to get the message across to the Jo Blogs of this world. As most people think there is a grand conspiracy going on I think we have to feed that by telling the truth. When someone says that that they object to their taxes paying for such and such we have to agree with them and then say ‘the bastards lie the whole time don’t they? Like saying that running a government is the same as running a household’. Followed by hysterical laughter. We have to look at the problem differently and so frame our responses differently

    4. Two typos —
      1] The 2nd link to your earlier post says its to Part 1 but it should be to part 2, which it fact does go to.
      2] A little later you quote Bloomberg as “Hot Idea”, then you say “Hit Idea”.

    5. I no now now that I will live long enough to see the whole circus fall down!

      Whether you are in the areas to which capitalism is gone and is growing; or whether you’re in the areas that capitalism is abandoning; you have a level of tension between the controllers and the controlled. That makes it impossible to know whether this is going to be a phase or whether it might be a system that can’t handle the contradictions.

      The system now has produced a network of problems that it cannot solve or at least that I don’t
      see solutions emerging that can begin to manage the level of difficulty made more problematic with neoliberal mantra!

      Does sh##t have to hit the fan before they start listening to different ideas !

    6. A 3rd off topic comment.
      It seems to me that there is another reason that a JG program is better for the economy as a whole than a UBI program, it is that UBI would clearly give more power to workers on strike.
      . . . Right now (when workers have no power to strike) this may seem like a good idea. However, in the long run the power of capital and workers needs to be balanced. Prof. Mark Blyth claims that in the 1970s workers had too much power and were taking too much of the increasing benefit from productivity increases. So much that potential investors decided to stop investing. That inflation was going to rise higher than the return on the specific investment they were considering. So, they chose not to make the investment. And, this was bad for the economy. Personally, this non-expert non-economist blames the inflation of the 70s on the combination of the Vietnam War & Great Society programs, and then later on OPEC using its monopoly power to raise the price of oil spread over an extended period of time.
      . . . Nevertheless, the power of labor and capital needs to be balanced and a UBI might tip the balance toward workers too much.
      . . . Note, that I assume that the JG program would not hire workers who were on strike.

    7. Dear Bill,

      I have done a little bit of research and I think I need to share the results regardless of what someone may think. Chris Williamson MP made himself a target of personal attacks of people supporting the right of Israel to exist, by supporting “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” campaign. You might be a collateral damage and guilty by association. I don’t think this has much to do with the Modern Monetary Theory even if the people with a different macroeconomic agenda are piggybacking on the issue.

      We need to understand why some people feel so strongly about what is framed as antisemitism within the British Labour Party. In the view of many people, BDS effectively delegitimises the State of Israel. Even if someone disagrees with the current Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, that person (not necessarily Jewish), may consider supporting the BDS as a threat to the existence of State of Israel (by denying the historic links with the land and insisting on the “right to return” of the descendants of the refugees). This may also implicitly constitute a threat to the security of Jewish diaspora. We need to understand why, because of the historic experience of the Holocaust. One may disagree whether these arguments are valid. Corbyn has also been attacked because of his position in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Personally i fully accept the right of Israel to exist but don’t like the current policies towards the Palestinians. I don’t think these issues should be debated here. I am just making an observation that there is such a controversy.

      Politics is a multidimensional game. I am not sure whether there is any benefit in allowing for linking the macroeconomic theory and highly controversial issues of Middle Eastern politics – even if this linking happens by accident.

    8. Dear Bill,

      In my opinion, the decline of Labour’s share in recent voting intention polls is entirely due to its move towards becoming a party more fully associated with Remaining in the EU.

      The delicate balance that it needed to maintain in order not to lose Leave supporters in its heartland constituencies has been all but abandoned, with its final bizarre policy of agreeing an EU deal, and then campaigning against it in another referendum, being the final nail in the coffin.

      As a long time Euro-sceptic, Corbyn should have stuck to his guns and made the Bennite case for Lexit, but I can understand that it was probably one too many fronts to battle on in his long drawn out war with the PLP Blairites. Had he done so, and had Labour been identified as a Leave-supporting party, I firmly believe it would be leading in the polls; the Brexit Party may well have never been founded, and the imploding Tories, with nothing to offer the country *except* Brexit, would be floundering.

      Had the EU referendum been organised on a constituency basis, Leave would have had a parliamentary majority of 167 seats.

      Labour has ignored this at its peril; but I think there are those in the party quite happy for Labour to lose the next GE if it means an end to Corbyn’s leadership, and a return to Blairism, which is why they are entirely relaxed about destroying its election chances with the lean towards Remain.

      Unfortunately, for most of us ordinary people, with low or precarious incomes, and no private health provision, a post-Brexit UK under a Boris Johnson-led Tory government will be an absolutely ghastly place to live in, and I’m dreading it.

      @Adam K,

      The reason Bill is in contact with Chris Williamson is because CW is the only MP who has shown any understanding of, and support for, MMT, and is, AFAIK, nothing to do with CW’s position on I/P in general, or BDS in particular.

      It occurs to me, however, that western govts are perfectly happy to advocate, and in some cases even apply, sanctions to countries such as Iran, NK, Russia, China and Venezuela, after genuine, or even just perceived, human rights abuses, yet no-one ever gets accused of racism for supporting those actions.

    9. Mostly agree with Mr S.

      Also a problem with Labour is the sort of gesture politics like the conference vote to try to abolish private schools.

      Everyone knows they will never do this. Many of them went to private schools and send their kids to them.

      Far better to vote for more funding to bring state schools up to the level of private schools and make the latter redundant, rather than this silly policy which will just have the Tory press screaming, and just annoy people.

    10. Thank you @Mike Ellwood.

      I would agree that there is a certain element of dog whistle politics at play here, but given that, as we know, the nation is resource constrained (as opposed to financially constrained), there is a good case, *in principle*, for bringing the private education sector into the public sector, as all those resources that are currently distributed according to wealth can be distributed according to need, with class size reductions especially targeted.

      There are practical and geographical issues, however, which I would see as highly problematic because many if not most of the physical resources in the private educational sector are in the form of boarding schools located in semi-rural areas where the demand is otherwise low. How easy, or even desirable, it would be to transfer these resources directly to the public sector is beyond my knowledge – it may suit some children to be sent to boarding schools, whilst at the same time others have felt that experience to have been brutal.

      The corrosive effect of segregated privilege in the UK urgently needs to be addressed though, so raising this issue, even if the practical problems are considerable, does serve to move the Overton window leftwards so that the subject of ending private education can be considered one for acceptable debate, as it has been in the past.

      If we are talking about compulsorily absorbing the resources of the private sector into the public sector, however, then my preference would be for this to urgently take place in Health; given the limited *real* resources in the Health sector, private healthcare in the UK should be totally and immediately abolished, with all of the labour, equipment, and building resources of private healthcare subsumed into the NHS, so that medical attention and treatment can be allocated on the basis of medical need, and no longer on the basis of depth of wallet. I’m actually surprised that Labour hasn’t suggested this either instead of, or in addition to, its proposed policy on private education.

      Re: your final para, I think that there would actually be quite a substantial number of fee-paying parents who would be secretly quite pleased to no longer have to pay extortionate school fees – and in the event of the abolition of private schools, would then be clamouring for places as school governors in order to ensure that their offspring were receiving the best possible education, albeit in the newly expanded state sector. Which is how it should be, of course.

    11. ‘As a long time Euro-sceptic, Corbyn should have stuck to his guns and made the Bennite case for Lexit, but I can understand that it was probably one too many fronts to battle on in his long drawn out war with the PLP Blairites. ‘

      Agreed, Mr. S.

      Instead we’ve had tribal polarisation and ZERO actual debate about any of the real issues around the failings of the EU and the EZ. So the whole thing has been a decoy which takes the floodlight away from the fundamentals.

      At conference they are now facing three mutually contradictory motions about whether to back Remainn or or not: One against, one for and one to delay the decission until after a putative Labour Victory.

      Things are still volatile but I can’t see a Corbyn surge happening again unless a banking collapse and world recession even happens in the next few weeks and even that might have perverse consequences.

    12. ‘As a long time Euro-sceptic, Corbyn should have stuck to his guns and made the Bennite case for Lexit, but I can understand that it was probably one too many fronts to battle on in his long drawn out war with the PLP Blairites. ‘

      IF that was how he reasoned then, yes, I too could understand it.

      But I still wouldn’t exonerate him. His mentor, Benn, went down with all guns blazing as a candidate for the Labour Party leadership (he lost to Callaghan), uncompromisingly propounding his “alternative economic policy” (which among other things demanded leaving the EU, as a prerequisite). That ended his political career.

      Corbyn ought to have followed his mentor’s example in all respects, including attacking the EU with the same piercing eloquence that Benn did while being prepared to go down fighting if he lost.

      Benn although derided and lampooned by the MSM of the day nevertheless earned respect for his indomitable commitment, and went on even to garner adulation in his old age (still campaigning!). Corbyn might have done worse than to have emulated him. But Corbyn seems a pygmy in comparison.

    13. I know Bill is interested in labour’s fiscal credibility rule, but the reality is that the vast majority of the electorate do not read manifestos, and most do not in the words of John Bercow give a flying flamingo about FCR either.

      The main issue for UK political parties is Brexit. And the ones doing best in the polls are those with a clear message.

      Left wing, right wing… Yeah whatever… It no longer really matters. After all the Brexit party has managed to combine communists with rabid free marketeers, with barely a murmur.

      The Brexit party polls have fallen, mostly I suspect because why would you vote for them when you can have the real deal via the new and improved narcissistic train wreck that is the Conservative party.

      Meanwhile the lib dems have gone full remain crazy, with referendum? What referendum? If you vote for us we will revoke article 50… And they are doing well in the polls too.

      So in the middle of this is the Labour Party whose lack of support has more to do with its confused message over Brexit… Or the fence-sitting party as they are now known.

      Now if they declare for leave, this will please their historic vote in the North, but their youth vote is likely to evaporate away to the lib dems… And they won’t be picking up the leave vote in the south, who would rather be hung up by their entrails than vote for Corbyn.

      Meanwhile if they declare for remain, they are very likely to hold more of their vote share, because those Northern Labour voters would rather stick their heads in a bucket of pig sick than vote Tory. And whether the Brexit party could pick up enough the vote to make a difference remains to be seen.

    14. @Steve_American

      Prof. Mark Blyth claims that in the 1970s workers had too much power and were taking too much of the increasing benefit from productivity increases. So much that potential investors decided to stop investing. That inflation was going to rise higher than the return on the specific investment they were considering.

      Doesn’t sound particularly plausible, how is sitting on cash a good hedge against inflation? I doubt they stopped investing, more likely they diverted investments offshore and put more effort into influencing fiscal and labour relations policies. Denying workers the fruits of productivity increases is not a solution to this problem that would have my support.

      In any case, I doubt that a JG would do much to suppress strike behaviour or increase the profit share. The 60s and 70s are the closest things to JG conditions we have ever had and strikes were not unheard of.

    15. As I pointed out at the Brighton meeting, I was at a fringe meeting on Saturday where James Meadway and IFS chief Paul Johnson were on the panel. It was a Resolution Foundation (RF) fringe and I spoke to CEO Torsten Bell beforehand who chaired the meeting. I had just been to another fringe where UBI was raised and there was a fringe meeting about UBI with Guy Standing (on whom I’m on hugging terms, despite the fact that I was the only one who challenged him at an event organised by John McDonnell!) but had no intention of going along just to do so again. I once asked Bell at a RF UBI queried the likelihood of its implementation again. He said, as before, “it ain’t gonna happen”. He’s very flippant and I don’t believe he knows at all. (It was fun that someone raised UBI at the MMT fringe and Bill, I hope, put her firmly to rights.)

      The fringe was supposed to be about taxation and I had framed a nice question which skirted around MMT but focused on the purposes of tax other than revenue raising. However, I could tell immediately that Bell was not going to choose me.

      Anyway, Meadway was going on about how Labour policies were all strictly costed, which was immediately rubbished by Johnson. Meadway isn’t an advisor anymore but he’s left them with a great big hole which they are continuing to dig.

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