In this week's New Statesman: The death spiral

Is it too late to avert a British Depression? | Mehdi Hasan on Al Jazeera | Mark Mazower: Greeks vs


David Blanchflower: Is it too late to avert a British Depression?

In this week's New Statesman, former Bank of England MPC member and the NS's economics editor David Blanchflower considers whether it is possible for Chancellor George Osborne to change his course of austerity before it is too late for the British economy, or whether we are already in the "death spiral" of another recession:

The Office of Budget Responsibility members Robert Chote, Stephen Nickell and Graham Parker foolishly accepted Osborne's claim that the economy would benefit from 'expansionary fiscal contraction' - in other words, that public spending cuts and austerity would lead to a resurgence in the private sector. It hasn't happened.

He states there is "zero chance of a default", yet, fearing whether the Chancellor has the courage or ability to change course, Blanchflower argues that the government policy "should move from deficit reduction to one of attempting to avoid the death spiral of decline - of falling growth, deflation, increased unemployment, falling living standards and ever-rising business failures."

Mark Mazower: Germany v Greece

In the NS Essay "Grappling with Ghosts", leading historian Mark Mazower, professor at Columbia University and author of the award winning Inside Hitler's Greece, describes the anti-German feelings running high in Greece, where "it is not only protesters who reach back to the era of the Nazi occupation for analogues with the present".

The austerity measures decided on by Angela Merkel "may indeed be reducing Greece to penury," writes Mazower, though the outrage felt by Germans at the invocations of the war is, in fact, "because they feel they are trying to act exactly as the Nazis did not". Yet - Mazower recognises - these are different times:

The absence of armies in the entirely unfolding euro-saga is so obvious to us that we ignore its historical meaning . . . Our troubles [today] are caused by an addiction to cheap credit . . . enabled by the greed of bankers and the deliberate liberalisation of financial flows.

Mehdi Hasan vists Al Jazeera

In "Voice of the Arab spring", Mehdi Hasan travels to Doha, Qatar, to visit the headquarters of Al Jazeera, the TV and internet news network owned by an absolute monarch yet hailed as an independent voice in the Middle East. Hasan asks the managing director of Al Jazeera English and former ITN journalist Al Anstey how often he is rung up by members of the ruling family: "Never."

Anstey doesn't budge:

We are not a mouthpiece [for Qatar]; we are not a tool of public diplomacy. We have come here as journalists to carry out the profession of journalism.

Elsewhere in the New Statesman

In the NS Interview, Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, physicists and co-authors of the new book The Quantum Universe, tell Helen Lewis-Hasteley why Britain is the most efficient scientific nation in the world, how the scientific method is unarguable (". . . because we're not in fucking caves!") and why the best way to teach quantum physics is to think like children.

All this plus Mark Serwotka, leader of the Public and Commercial Services Union, defends the largest strike in a generation; Helen Lewis-Hasteley is disturbed and astonished by the testimonies delivered to the Leveson inquiry; Rafael Behr argues that, following George Osborne's gray-washed Black Tuesday, Ed Miliband must step up to prove the coalition wrong; nature writer Richard Mabey offers the first in an occasional series of "seasonal diaries", and Owen Sheers shares a new poem, "The Carriage Horses: Manhattan".

Pick up a copy at the newstands, or click here to subscribe to the New Statesman today

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Will Jeremy Corbyn stand down if Labour loses the general election?

Defeat at the polls might not be the end of Corbyn’s leadership.

The latest polls suggest that Labour is headed for heavy defeat in the June general election. Usually a general election loss would be the trigger for a leader to quit: Michael Foot, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband all stood down after their first defeat, although Neil Kinnock saw out two losses before resigning in 1992.

It’s possible, if unlikely, that Corbyn could become prime minister. If that prospect doesn’t materialise, however, the question is: will Corbyn follow the majority of his predecessors and resign, or will he hang on in office?

Will Corbyn stand down? The rules

There is no formal process for the parliamentary Labour party to oust its leader, as it discovered in the 2016 leadership challenge. Even after a majority of his MPs had voted no confidence in him, Corbyn stayed on, ultimately winning his second leadership contest after it was decided that the current leader should be automatically included on the ballot.

This year’s conference will vote on to reform the leadership selection process that would make it easier for a left-wing candidate to get on the ballot (nicknamed the “McDonnell amendment” by centrists): Corbyn could be waiting for this motion to pass before he resigns.

Will Corbyn stand down? The membership

Corbyn’s support in the membership is still strong. Without an equally compelling candidate to put before the party, Corbyn’s opponents in the PLP are unlikely to initiate another leadership battle they’re likely to lose.

That said, a general election loss could change that. Polling from March suggests that half of Labour members wanted Corbyn to stand down either immediately or before the general election.

Will Corbyn stand down? The rumours

Sources close to Corbyn have said that he might not stand down, even if he leads Labour to a crushing defeat this June. They mention Kinnock’s survival after the 1987 general election as a precedent (although at the 1987 election, Labour did gain seats).

Will Corbyn stand down? The verdict

Given his struggles to manage his own MPs and the example of other leaders, it would be remarkable if Corbyn did not stand down should Labour lose the general election. However, staying on after a vote of no-confidence in 2016 was also remarkable, and the mooted changes to the leadership election process give him a reason to hold on until September in order to secure a left-wing succession.

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