Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers and the web

The Independent's Johann Hari explains why state spending should be increased, not cut:

The cut-cut-cut chorus appears not to have heard of what John Maynard Keynes called "the paradox of thrift". In a recession, it is rational for you and I to cut back on our spending. You holiday at home, put any spending plans on ice and save what you can. So it seems instinctively right to expect governments to do the same. But Keynes showed that if governments cut back at the same time as its citizens cut back, the recession gets even worse. Nobody is buying anything; demand collapses. More people are laid off, and the state has to spend even more in the end.

If only Gordon Brown could argue like that.

Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times that the ugly town hall demonstrations against Obama's healthcare reforms reflect cultural and racial prejudice:

That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that's behind the "birther" movement, which denies Mr. Obama's citizenship.

He invokes Yeats's The Second Coming to describe the muted state of the American left:

But right now Mr. Obama's backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn't living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity.

Steve Richards argues in The Independent that neither Harriet Harman nor Peter Mandelson will be the next Labour leader. Of Mandelson he writes:

Personally he has enjoyed the best media ever. All would change if he were to change from king-maker to king-seeker. If Labour loses the election, the focus will be on the next generation even if the party does not have a single credible younger candidate yet.

Earlier this week I explained why Mandelson, an obedient courtier, would wither like a salted snail in power.

Richards also reveals that Gordon Brown was planning to announce during his party conference speech that he was willing to take part in live debates with Cameron.

The Daily Telegraph's Con Coughlin explains how Bill Clinton's failures as president allowed North Korea to achieve full nuclear capability.

The Clinton administration handed over millions of dollars in aid, food, oil and even a nuclear reactor in the hope of persuading the North Koreans to ditch their military programme. They simply took the aid and carried on with nuclear development regardless, so that by 2006 they were able to detonate a device.

Jenni Russell on Comment Is Free eloquently rails against a TUC motion calling for "extremely sexist" high heels to be banned from the workplace.

It's been one of the great mistakes of the left in Britain to confuse equality with sameness, and to think that if we can just eliminate sexual differences, or sexual awareness in the workplace, the world would be a better, happier, more egalitarian place. Well, it's nonsense. People's minds and skills should all be taken seriously, and treated equally, but not at the cost of a sexless uniformity.

 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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This is no time for a coup against a successful Labour leader

Don't blame Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour Party's crisis.

"The people who are sovereign in our party are the members," said John McDonnell this morning. As the coup against Jeremy Corbyn gains pace, the Shadow Chancellor has been talking a lot of sense. "It is time for people to come together to work in the interest of the country," he told Peston on Sunday, while emphasising that people will quickly lose trust in politics altogether if this internal squabbling continues. 

The Tory party is in complete disarray. Just days ago, the first Tory leader in 23 years to win a majority for his party was forced to resign from Government after just over a year in charge. We have some form of caretaker Government. Those who led the Brexit campaign now have no idea what to do. 

It is disappointing that a handful of Labour parliamentarians have decided to join in with the disintegration of British politics.

The Labour Party had the opportunity to keep its head while all about it lost theirs. It could have positioned itself as a credible alternative to a broken Government and a Tory party in chaos. Instead we have been left with a pathetic attempt to overturn the democratic will of the membership. 

But this has been coming for some time. In my opinion it has very little to do with the ramifications of the referendum result. Jeremy Corbyn was asked to do two things throughout the campaign: first, get Labour voters to side with Remain, and second, get young people to do the same.

Nearly seven in ten Labour supporters backed Remain. Young voters supported Remain by a 4:1 margin. This is about much more than an allegedly half-hearted referendum performance.

The Parliamentary Labour Party has failed to come to terms with Jeremy Corbyn’s emphatic victory. In September of last year he was elected with 59.5 per cent of the vote, some 170,000 ahead of his closest rival. It is a fact worth repeating. If another Labour leadership election were to be called I would expect Jeremy Corbyn to win by a similar margin.

In the recent local elections Jeremy managed to increase Labour’s share of the national vote on the 2015 general election. They said he would lose every by-election. He has won them emphatically. Time and time again Jeremy has exceeded expectation while also having to deal with an embittered wing within his own party.

This is no time for a leadership coup. I am dumbfounded by the attempt to remove Jeremy. The only thing that will come out of this attempted coup is another leadership election that Jeremy will win. Those opposed to him will then find themselves back at square one. Such moves only hurt Labour’s electoral chances. Labour could be offering an ambitious plan to the country concerning our current relationship with Europe, if opponents of Jeremy Corbyn hadn't decided to drop a nuke on the party.

This is a crisis Jeremy should take no responsibility for. The "bitterites" will try and they will fail. Corbyn may face a crisis of confidence. But it's the handful of rebel Labour MPs that have forced the party into a crisis of existence.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.