Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Left failed its biggest test - is there space to make amends?

James Meadway, in an article for Counterfire on Budget Day, acknowledges the British left's failure to seize the moment when the banks crashed 18 months ago, before writing:

'The prospect of another financial crisis has not yet receded. And once the cuts begin to bite, many tens of thousands more will be demanding to know why the City prospers amidst the misery.

Already, campaigns are springing to life around the issue of financial institutions, their wealth, and their power. The Robin Hood Tax is being proposed to take a small slice out of each financial transaction they conduct. Even the Tories have suggested a bank tax.

But we have to move beyond patching up small parts of a rotten system. The power of the City of London, having crippled the national economy, needs breaking.

It means no more bonuses. It means swingeing taxes for over-paid bankers. It means ending the scandal of the non-doms.

It means introducing capital controls to stop speculation. It means ending the Bank of England’s dubious “independence”, putting the interest rate back under democratic control.

It means removing Treasury mandarins and senior bankers from the board overseeing the nationalised banks, and replacing them with elected and accountable representatives.

It means running the nationalised banks in the public interest. That is quite different from trying to return them to profitability as fast as possible: it means cheap loans for green investment projects, for example, or for council house-building, instead of gambling on financial derivatives.

The space is out there for a radical and broad-based campaign against finance and the profit system it serves. A campaign against the banks and corporations could start to undermine some of the damage finance and capital now inflict, pointing the way to more fundamental arguments about the system as a whole. It is up to the Left to make it happen.'

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