DIARY: Predistribution, The Jesuits have it, Collapse of Centre, Poppycock Watch: Unions, Profundity of the Week: Thoreau
“The Jesuit Legacy”, Jesuit High School, by Jack Jaubert.
“Predistribution” is Labour’s new wheeze for winning the next election. Not surprisingly, it’s getting a rough ride in the media.
The consensus seems to be that, if this is the best idea they can come up with, they are far from ready to return to government, however poor the performance of the Conservatives.
What does the word mean? Even socialism’s new poster boy, the effortlessly smug Chuka Umunna, struggled to explain it on Saturday’s Today programme. His inquisitor, Jim Naughtie was also somewhat lost for words.
To clarify, here’s the short Wikipedia version: “Predistribution is a term coined by Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker [not Jim Hacker?] that refers to the idea that the state should try to prevent inequalities occurring in the first place rather than ameliorating inequalities through the tax and benefits system once they have occurred as occurs under redistribution.”
So, it’s public spending before the money is earned and taxed. It seems to be the well-worn credit-card route to bankruptcy and relies on even bigger government.
It’s also indistinguishable from higher taxes because it places an additional burden on private wealth creators to do the work of the public sector in advance. Everyone gets dragged into the public realm, not quite the Big Society.
There’s something Dr Whoish about predistribution’s tinkering with time. Anticipating the future is fraught with risk, as any gambler will tell you.
Neil O’Brien, Director of Policy Exchange, has called it “the sort of stupid made-up word that only a policy wonk could love.”
Even the Leftish BBC is sceptical. Its Political Correspondent Ian Watson has suggested that a “predistributive” policy might require a business, bidding for a government contract, to pay a living wage rather than the national minimum wage, something that might be difficult during times of austerity … and lead to more unemployment.
Ed Balls on the Andrew Marr show shrugged it off with a jowly, tigerish grin. At the next election, we will not see posters proclaiming: “Labour, the party of Predistribution”. It will be a subtext concealed by the copywriter’s art.
Europe is seeing a collapse of centrist parties and a sharp polarisation between Right and Left.
With elections in Germany due early next year, the voice of voters is being taken more seriously. There is no guarantee they will put up with the Depression-making Eurozone deadlock for long.
The defeat of Sarkozy in France and the arrival of Francois Hollande has seen a sea-change in European politics. Almost gone is the Franco-German axis as the post-war consensus breaks down.
A new Latin Bloc has arisen, led by France, which suggests that an organic transformation of the EU into two distinct parts is underway. Realism is returning, albeit slowly.
As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reveals today in a brilliant Telegraph piece from the Ambrosetti forum in Italy: “President Barack Obama found his intellectual soulmate in Mr [Mario] Monti, telephoning him for every update on Europe’s drama, treating him as de facto president of Europe, concentrating the full might of the United States behind the very different Monti narrative of the crisis.”
Europe has not gone away. Two very clever technocrats, Monti, Premier of Italy, and Mario Draghi, head of the Euro central bank, both Jesuits apparently, are manipulating the levers of power to find a final solution to the crisis.
I use the emotive term “final solution” advisedly. It’s going to be bloody.
Meanwhile, in Olympics-besotted Britain, the euphoria goes on, stoked masterfully by Boris, Mayor of London, basking in its afterglow.
But with centrist politics collapsing around Europe — and even America paralysed by a Left-Right fight to the death — what lessons can we learn on this peaceful, Olympian side of the Channel?
David Cameron will find he needs to do something akin to Hollande’s breaking of the Franco-German alliance. The next election will be contested between “Old” Labour and sturdy Conservatism, with UKIP making the early intellectual running.
Cameron will soon face a difficult choice. Ditch the Lib Dems and turn distinctively Right, or cling to the apparent Centre and drift to inevitable electoral carnage. His temperament suggests the latter course.
But the Centre has moved. It has taken on a shade of Tory blue, unnoticed in the Downing Street bunker.
The recent “refreshment” of his ministerial team has sunk without trace. Nothing decisive was achieved, just nudges toward various interest groups and the accursed lobbyists, in whose thrall he appears stuck, despite his promises to ditch them.
When Tory peer and ex-Tesco and Vodafone head, Lord MacLaurin says he would not offer a job to a single member of the Cabinet, you must read the runes without prejudice.
Cameron won’t beat the resurgent Left under the two-Eded creature from Greek mythology unless he recreates the profoundly Conservative platform that so many people outside London yearn for. And Boris has proved that even London can fall to a proper Tory approach.
If Dave doesn’t develop a neo-Thatcherite stance well before the General Election, he could go down with a nasty thump, and “Predistribution” will take the country back to the Stone Age.
It seems the cuddly leaders of our trade unions have watched the wild exuberance of the Olympic Games with awe. So much so they have decided to launch a union version.
It’s called a General Strike.
Profundity of the Week
“I am convinced that to maintain oneself on this earth is not a hardship, but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely. … Simplify, simplify, simplify.” Henry David Thoreau.
… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.
Mystics in the Modern World is coming soon.
Recent Related Articles