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July 12, 2017



It's more than "out of dateness" though. There's been a real failure of "centrists" to put in the hard yards of "technocracy" and actually work on picking "policies that work." The most obvious part of this is the way so many doubled down and swallowed Osbornomics, but there are plenty of other example of plain foolishness. The TEF is another one that springs to mind - how do you watch decades of NHS targets warping priorities and disrupting trust and quality in the system and then turn around and say "I know, let's put really bad targets into education next"?

(Of course, blind spots about power are still a problem for competent technocrats, but I'm sort of mind-boggled how we ended up with centrists who are such failures even on their own terms.)

gastro george

Isn't it the point that failure on their own (rhetorical) terms is still acceptable to centrists because they're only mediating the power of the rich, for whom this is all very successful. And, as they are the courtiers to the rich, "failure" doesn't affect them personally either.


You wrote that work was a route out of poverty when, among other things, in-work benefits were generous. In fact, due to the introduction and extension of tax credits, they've never been more significant.

Putting this together with the deflationary effect of mass low-skilled migration, both within the EU and from outside (largely the a result of largely bogus asylum claims), the centrists have in effect demoted the working class and much of the middle class to a precarious life of dependency on the state.

In the Blair/Brown era, when the money was easy, the collective view seemed to be that the proles wouldn't mind, provided that benefits allowed them to sit at home watching daytime TV on their plasmas, this largesse being funded by a combination of taxes levied on the bankers' rents.

Now, those rents are diminished and borrowing is close to being under control, so the party has been called to a halt. The centre needs to set aside its cognitive biases, including welfarism and support for immigration and labour movement, and start considering how the labour market can be reformed to deliver wages that enable the indigenous working and lower-middle class to be self-supporting, and ideally even to make a net contribution to the exchequer.


Twenty years of falling real median male wages - they were higher in 1997 than 2016.


Time, I suggest, to revisit the thinking of a centrist from a previous generation: Maynard Keynes.

A major boost to public spending would do a power of good. It is not as though there is a shortage of infrastructure products that could be undertaken and justify themselves with long term interest rates so low.


Dominic Cummings a centrist?


Mark hits the nail on the head.

We seem to be reaching a pointy where work is not a route out of poverty, but victimhood is. Under Corbyn, the key to increasing your personal wealth will be finding a way of making a claim on the state, not improving your skills or working harder.

Andreas Paterson

Anonymous2 - Big problem with that particular old centrist policy is that only Corbyn and co are coming close to advocating anything like it.


Dominic Cummings a centrist?


Dominic Cummings a centrist?


It certainly seems that the fake reformers of new labour and old tory plus clegg sell out Fib dems have concentrated wealth in ever fewer hands and managed to produce a very incompetent ruling class. The choice of a semi senile bigot like trump shows up the bad effects of allowing the undeserving rich so much power!

The Tory leadership of dilettante charlatans is ever more absurd in their meaningless rhetoric. Even shameless tory trolls like dipper and their army of online deception cannot hide the reality! Brexit means Brexit, because circular arguments are always the best!!

derrida derider

"In the 90s, New Labour focused upon income inequality between the 90th and 10th percentiles. Today, though, the inequality that matters most is that between the 1% or even 0.1% and the rest of us"

A shrewd insight that extends to New Labour analogues (Clintonites, the ALP, SDP) all over the developed world. To give those people their due they were and are sincere in wanting to reduce inequality by improving opportunity.

Where the problem is denying hegemony to the top 0.1% rather than ensuring opportunity for people in the bottom quintile to move to the second quintile then the solutions have to be very different. Neoliberalism softened with tax-and-spend can plausibly manage the second - indeed I think it mostly did - but will worsen the first.


Keith ... Fib Dems ... Trump .. "dilettante charlatans". What are you on about? Are you just a badly written bot putting random words and phrases together? Are these the left-overs from a comment written somewhere else?


Keith - "Even shameless tory trolls like dipper"

just to go on, the current manifestation of the Tory party is a coalition of free-market libertarian Thatcherites and centrists like myself who regard the May government as the current resting place of a belief in a state that intervenes to level the playing field and enable those at the disadvantaged end of society to realise their talents and receive the fruits of their labours. I balk at a socialism that mandates equality of outcome as that seems to reduce people to a number and suppresses their individuality, and mysteriously never applies to the leadership elite who get a "friends and family" special ticket to the top.

So I dispute the "shameless tory troll" tag. I don't think I'm a proper tory.


All the evidence finds immigration is a net benefit. Peoples inability to accept reality is very telling.
Dipper you're a troll. Everyone knows. You want your fellow human beings to suffer because you can't get over your failed ideology. It's cartoon character evil.


«Ten years of falling real wages and productivity tell us that centrist policies and institutions have failed.»

Side note: that "productivity" has been falling mainly in scottish oil extraction and in financial services...

«acceptable to centrists because they're only mediating the power of the rich, for whom this is all very successful.»

And that's indeed the point: because the centrist policies are not of "austerity" for everybody, but of redistribution upwards from "low productivity" workers to "wealth creating" rentiers.
And the base of centrist policies is the large number of small, greedy, fearful rentiers that Old Labour created, by improving the standards of living of the working class to the point many ended up owning property and having pensions, and voting for higher rents and lower wages.


«All the evidence finds immigration is a net benefit»

Not all evidence, but what evidence is there shows that when there is an *aggregate* benefit that is distributed equally only if there is no wage arbitrage, that is immigration is from countries with equivalent levels of wage.

Suppose instead that two £15/hour job is replaced by three £11/hour jobs, one of them going to an immigrant from a country with a low wage: profits have grown, let's say by £2/hour (from say 2x £5/hour to 3x £4/hour), total wages have grown by £3/hour, so GDP has grown by £5/hour and the immigrant now has a £11/hour job.

So everybody wins! :-)


@Oakchair oh just get off your high horse. "Net benefit" - what does that mean exactly? Who is being sacrificed so you can be better off? And how can academics do definitive studies when no-one has any idea how many immigrants are here and what they are doing?

As long as folks like you keep congratulating yourselves on your superior wisdom and humanity, I'll keep trolling.

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