Why Jeremy Corbyn won’t be missed as Labour leader – Bernard Ingham

PERHAPS inevitably Jeremy Corbyn has taken Dylan Thomas’s advice – “Do not go gentle into that good night” – which dawns on Saturday when he will be replaced as Labour leader.

Jeremy Corbyn steps down as Labour leader this weekend.

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Instead he is following the poet’s stage direction to a T: “Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” It is all rather sad.

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He was right at the last election, he says, in proposing to throw the Bank of England and the Crown jewels at the nation’s problems. And now look what the Tories are doing – hosing money into the economy and its services like firemen pouring water into a blazing building.

Sir Keir Starmer - the Shadow Brexit Secretary - is expected to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

As a result he seems to think politics will be changed forever – from the small state and parsimony to the big compassionate state that “invests” in the community.

Please note socialists never spend; they only invest, just like Gordon Brown whose legacy in 2010 was a £153bn budget deficit that we are still paying off.

In short, poor old Corbyn is deluded. And I freely confess I am baffled why anyone can be so blind to economic reality and the lessons to be learned from Venezuela, Russia and assorted dictatorships in Africa. He and his ilk seem to believe that socialist dogma unravels every knot.

It is a pity that headmistress Margaret Thatcher is not staring at him across the dispatch box pointing out that the Government does not have a penny to its name: only what it can raise from the people.

This brings me to the fundamental difference between Tories and the hard Left regime represented by Corbyn. They did not need a coronavirus pandemic to propose vast expenditure. It’s what they do naturally.

In contrast, Boris Johnson, even though economically dripping wet by Mrs Thatcher’s standards, as the recent Budget showed, is throwing hundreds of billions more into the pot to help the NHS to cope with the pandemic, save lives and preserve as much of the economy as possible.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is, I am sure, doing this out of necessity, not inclination. It may be that interest rates are low for the moment, but whatever we spend or invest to bring the virus under control will have to be paid back by our grandchildren and their children. Don’t forget, we did not discharge our World War Two debts and subsequent Marshall Aid until 2006.

Whoever governs us in the future will have to face that fact when already our annual servicing of the national debt costs us more than the entire defence budget.

As for the Government’s unprecedented level of state intervention, you can be absolutely sure it will be wound down at the earliest opportunity.

The virus-infected Boris Johnson is a libertarian of the first water. Corbyn is a totalitarian up to his neck.

But will the totalitarian be supplanted by one who at least believes in a mixed economy, if not the small state? That is the question for this weekend

On the face of it, Sir Keir Starmer, reputedly the favourite to take over, is Labour’s only hope of providing a real Opposition with a chance of eventually governing the nation.

But can he overcome the hard Left’s hold on the membership and the party’s paymaster general in Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite union?

And, if he can, will he be allowed to lead sensibly or will profligacy be forced upon him – and us? If not, Labour is, in Private Fraser’s immortal words, doomed.

Every government for the foreseeable future will have coronavirus and its consequences etched upon its careworn brow.

It will be awash with debt and desperate for industry and commerce to recover, slash unemployment and create the wealth needed to keep us afloat.

It may be that the hardest of Lefties will argue that a free-spending – sorry, investing – super-state is the only answer to our problems.

But that ignores the economics that Mr Micawber identified as the difference between happiness and misery. As coronavirus is showing, the ability of near-bankrupt states to respond to crises is limited by their indebtedness without a Good Samaritan.

I hold no brief for Keir Starmer. I have never met him and I have strong reservations about his known politics.

But, given the chance this weekend, the bigger the break he can make with Labour’s recent past the better, it will be for the governance of this country and the future of the Labour Party as a serious political force.

Meanwhile, let Jeremy Corbyn rage against the dying of his light.