Mr Corbyn. Hailed by many as the virtuous and morally influential saviour of our great nation. But, is he? He has also been submerged in waves of scrutiny for his socialist policies, arguably undemocratic conduct and his questionable ‘extremist’ links. One of the big problems, with people like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, is their policy prescriptions are packaged in a moral wrapping designed to target your moral compass. This makes it very hard to talk about the policy itself without being bombarded with disingenuous statements about how you don’t care about those who these policies appear to help.It is an annoying but, I must admit, very effective political strategy to gain notoriety and popularity in the polls. Because #SocialistSunday was a prominent trend over the weekend, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the policy prescriptions put forward by Labour’s humble leader and see where we line up.
The shutting down of the Trident program
This is one I am very on the fence about. For those that don’t know, the Trident program is the UK’s national nuclear arms and submarine program funded by the government with investments of over £2.8bn a year according to fullfact.Corbyn is against the upgrade of the trident system that would need a £100bn investment over 50 years to work according to The Independent. According to Corbyn, this should be shut down and spent on our ‘national wellbeing’ as we should look to “end support for aggressive wars of intervention”. It is important to note here that long before Corbyn found himself in the political sphere, he was anti-war campaigner. This explains a lot about his anti-war stances.This could be a compelling argument for Corbyn if he decided to specify exactly what sectors the money would be going to. He could make a valiant case for investing the money into education or mental health services.
On the flipside, however, is that investment into ‘national health’ worth the loss within the sector?Shutting down the Trident program would mean an estimated net loss of up to 13,000 jobs, not to mention the impacted families. Opponents of Corbyn have also deemed that it would be problematic with regards to national security. I think you could make the case for it being worth it. However, a lot of Corbyn’s ‘socialist-style’ policies rely on the government taking money from sectors it deems ‘unworthy’ and moving it into other areas, which is seemingly immoral. I would argue that a moral argument he has put forward is not as water-tight as it comes across (which is a common theme in left-wing policy).
Focus on wealth redistribution and striving for egalitarianism
Corbyn, very similar to his seemingly transatlantic cousin, Bernie Sanders, has talked about a more equal sharing of the wealth and a focus on redistribution to the majority and away from the top 1%. Corbyn’s main plan is to undo the Tory tax cuts that sliced the corporate tax rate from 20% to 16% and use investment to clamp down on tax evasion. This is accompanied with a higher personal tax rate on the so called ‘upper-class’ to be ‘redistributed’ back to the working class. It sounds good, right? I don’t think so.
I disagree with Jeremy Corbyn on a lot of things but nowhere do I disagree with him more than on the issue of capitalism and the free markets. Breaking it down, Corbyn’s plan is to increase taxes on the rich and the rich people’s companies and use this money to fund a clamping down on the very same people he’s taken money from, to make sure they pay all of their taxes. This has one fundamental flaw and that is rich people can afford to leave. If you tax the rich too highly, they don’t just take it, they go. Who has to foot the bill? The middle class otherwise known as, the majority. It is not only an immoral policy but a heavily flawed one also.
With regards to egalitarianism and equality of outcome, it is not morally any better to use the government to forcibly take cash from those who have earned it and give it to those who have not. This feeds into the public perception of rich people. For the most part, rich people are not all corrupt, high-end snobs who don’t care about public affairs and the general population by and large. The top 1% is not a finite; people move in and out of the top 1% all of the time. This perception that the upper- echelon of earners have all the power, are all corrupt and need to be stopped is not true for most part. Many of them are just average people who worked hard. Using this political smear tactic to effectively rob the rich is immoral. Just as tax evasion is not morally correct and financial corruption is wrong.
Jeremy Corbyn talks a lot about the beauties of socialist economic structures and what they do for the country, frequently bragging about the NHS. these are socialised structures that I am thankful for. However, his lack of willingness to accept all of the positives of capitalism and the technological innovation it brings and the cheaper goods/services we use today, is astounding. If this is the economic model he wants to shift to, count me out.
Nationalisation of the railway
One of Corbyn’s big aims is to nationalize the railway service. This has generally had growing support as the privatisation of the specific firms hasn’t really worked out like most private firm ventures. The competition didn’t really stimulate a fall in train prices and a boost in quality and comfort, as it should have done, because the companies weren’t in direct competition with each other. Each private train operator ran its own region and on different lines so a need to compete, in their area, was eliminated. Private companies have been frequently accused of hiking up the prices of train fares for its consumers without providing a better service. Especially in the decade of some of the worst delays and service we have seen in a long time. There is a case to be made here for Corbyn, I don’t see this as a horrendous idea. It goes against the traditional, pro-capitalist notion to suggest that but this system never worked well as a capitalist system. I would argue that more competition, in a given region, would achieve the desired result. However, this is an area which could do with reform. This comes especially when we spend £12bn a year on subsidies for the rail service. With so much government investment and little improvements to the service and prices, I would be open to, at the very least, see what a drafted policy prescribes.
Corbyn has many more interesting policy prescriptions but I have decided to not waffle on any longer. There is a common theme among the political left-wing that suggest these morally virtuous policies that look great on the outset, but could falter during a practical implication. I hope this piece demonstrated that and as always, I’m happy to hear your views.