The British Labour Party and the ‘New Economics’
Labour Party member and Momentum activist.
Please cite the paper as:
Lyn Eynon, (2016), The British Labour Party and the ‘New Economics’, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 1 2016, Capital Accumulation, Production and Employment:, 15th May to 15th July 2016
The election in September 2015 of the socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party came as a profound shock to the British political establishment. Few dreamed it possible just a few months earlier. Corbyn’s campaign platform was overtly left-wing in its economic proposals, including condemnation of austerity, increased public investment, targeted public ownership, and tax justice against avoidance by corporations and rich individuals. Since his election, Corbyn and his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have continued to develop the ideas sketched in the campaign towards a coherent programme for the party’s next election manifesto. Central to that will be an alternative approach for managing public finances to the austerity of the Conservative government aiming at fiscal surpluses, but the discussion on the ‘New Economics’ goes well beyond macroeconomic policy into questions such as innovation, inequality and the labour market. Reviews of key institutions such as the Bank of England and Treasury are promised. This paper explains the background to Labour’s electoral defeat and Corbyn’s subsequent victory, then discusses economic policy before briefly considering what we should learn for campaigning and narratives. It investigates the underpinnings of the emerging programme and its potential to ‘bend the arc of global capital towards justice’ on issues such as investment, taxation or wages, discussing the UK in the international context of the aftermath of the financial crash. At issue here is not an exercise in criticising capitalism, but the practical problem of defining a realistic programme offering genuine progress in contemporary Britain, with sufficient credibility to attract both electoral backing and active support against hostility from global elites. There are lessons and questions here that go beyond the British Labour Party. I give an overview of the issues and during the Conference discussion will offer more detail on areas that attract interest.