Bill Carmichael: Spectre of Karl Marx still haunting Labour and Jeremy Corbyn's manifesto

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell spent much of this week singing the praises of revolutionary Karl Marx.
Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in York.Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in York.
Jeremy Corbyn on the campaign trail in York.

And the influence of the father of modern communism was certainly in evidence when the party’s manifesto for next month’s general election was leaked to the Press on Wednesday night.

In what has been described as the most left wing programme since Michael Foot’s infamous “longest suicide note in history” back in 1983, Labour has set out a bold plan for the state to seize the “commanding heights of the economy”, as Marx would have put it.

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The manifesto pledges the party to a radical agenda of re-nationalisation by bringing the railways, the energy companies, the bus companies and the Royal Mail back under state control.

Austerity will be thrown into reverse. Tuition fees for students will be abolished; benefit reforms, including the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax, will be scrapped and the cap on public sector salary increases will be removed.

There will be no “false promises” on controlling immigration, or indeed any pledge to limit numbers at all, and Brexit is ruled out unless Brussels is kind enough to offer us a deal. Pretty please, Jean-Claude!

As for the Trident nuclear deterrent, Labour pledges its decidedly lukewarm support but warns: “Any prime minister should be extremely cautious about ordering the use of weapons of mass destruction which would result in the indiscriminate killing of millions of innocent civilians.”

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Phew! That’s a relief. And there is no arguing with that one. We wouldn’t want to elect a prime minister who was careless about dropping nuclear bombs.

All that is missing so far is for Diane Abbott to come up with some carefully thought through calculations as to what all this is going to cost us.

You may think all this is bonkers on stilts – and you would be right. These “solutions” have been tried many times around the world – and every single time they have ended in miserable failure.

So why does the left keep coming up with the same demonstrably false ideas? The answer can be summed up in two words – Karl Marx.

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Marx, who died in 1883, retains a remarkable grip on the political mindset of the modern left.

Even the language used by socialists – “alienation”, “false consciousness”, “controlling the means of production”, “the crisis of capitalism” all stem directly from Marx’s work.

Does Marx deserve the adulation poured on his head by modern lefties? Let’s look at the historical record.

Marx laid the intellectual foundations of the Soviet Union, which led to the deaths of an estimated 20 million people, not including about six million Ukrainians deliberately starved to death by Marxist Joseph Stalin.

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Even these shocking figures pale beside the mass slaughter in China after another Marxist, Mao Zedong, ordered that “one tenth of the peasantry” (about 50 million people) “would have to be destroyed” in a programme of agrarian reform.

But in proportional terms the most deadly communist regime of all was the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia which killed about two million people out of a population of seven million.

The political repression and immiseration of millions of people across Eastern Europe after the Second World War would never have happened without Marx’s guidance.

Zimbabwe would never have descended from the bread basket of southern Africa to the continent’s economic basket case.

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North Korea would never have seen its people enslaved and starved, even while its neighbour South Korea, which embraced free market capitalism, has seen astonishing increases in prosperity.

And the latest poster child for communism, Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves outside of the Middle East, can thank Marx for a system which last year saw infant mortality increase by 30 per cent and maternal deaths by 66 per cent.

There are two inevitable consequences of socialist policies – poverty and political repression. Every single time.

So if you are curious to discover what Britain would look like if we are mad enough to elect a Labour government, just take a look in a history book or take a look around you at the world today. The answer is staring you in the face.